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Democracy in Nigeria; Overview, Brief History, Problems, Prospects

Democracy in Nigeria

Nigeria, as a country is developing and there are quite a number of things that needed to be improved. Nigeria needs changes in the areas of political, and economic, as well as, social development.

Someone talked about the history of democracy in Nigeria, and for me, history is not yet over. And l think Nigerians should recollect the origin of democracy in Nigeria.

Of course, we should know that no one country is perfect. Quite a number of countries are still in the process of learning how to tolerate, and also stay out of corruption, as well as choose the right leaders to run the government and plan for the future of Nigeria.

Read Also: Group tasks politicians on sustenance of democratic process

Democracy in Nigeria; Overview, Brief History, Problems, Prospects
Democracy in Nigeria – Photo Source:

The task at hand, however, is not an easy task. To be a republic is never a joke. Nevertheless, someone may ask, when did the country, Nigeria actually blame a republic? You may wish to read a brief history of democracy in Nigeria below.

Brief History of Democracy

The Origin

The term in old Greek means a rule of the people. The modern type of democracy we are practicing today was developed far back in the 19th and 20th centuries.

A country becoming a democracy has been the latest trend right from the 70s. That is why many nations of the world are today, sharing the values of democracy, and Nigeria, as a country is not an exception.

Read Also: The Role of Citizenship Education in Improving Democratic System of Government in Nigeria

When Nigeria Became A Republic

Nigeria actually celebrates May 29th as the official Democracy Day. But democracy in Nigeria began in the year, 1960. It was on October 1, of that year, when Nigeria was officially announced as a country that gained independence from Great Britain. And if l may say, there is a long history, however, of various government that were former in

Nigeria since when Nigeria gained its independence in 1960, and if you will not mind, l will love to mention some of the major stages and some dates as democracy develops in Nigeria.

Brief History of Democracy in Nigeria

After Nigeria gained independence in 1960, the country was ranked as the citizens of the 4th biggest democratic country the world over. Nigeria, however, had experienced the first military coup in the year, 1966, while its civil war actually broke out in the year, 1967, and lasted up till 1970.

Nevertheless, there was the possibility of restoring democracy for a couple of years in 1978, and that period was not a long period, it only lasted shortly and then, was over in 1983.

Nigeria, in a considerable year throughout its ‘young’ history, was characterized with military coups. Some Nigerian rulers, who were on the seat of power, had promised to return Nigeria to democracy, but, only General Abdulsalami Abubakar who assumed power after Sani Abacha death actually kept that promised, and Nigeria’s modern democracy and its Constitution officially Kick-started in 1999.

The elections conducted in 1999 were successful elections, which had put to a stop the military rule Nigeria. The new democratically elected President Olusegun Obasanjo then had put the end to military regimes in this country, and after that year till date, Nigeria is always transiting democratically from one government to another in the last 30 years.

And today, Nigeria’s democracy is celebrated on a yearly basis. Although, there are some political hurdles that Nigeria needs to overcome.

Nevertheless, the country has dreamt about a country that is prosperous with a better economy, and improved standard of living and also the security of lives and properties.

Read Also: Money Politics in Nigeria and its effects on our brand of democracy

Problems of Democracy

The problems of democracy in Nigeria are discussed below:

1. Socio-politically Inequality

Social and economic and political inequality in Nigerian democracy is one permanent feature, and you will that there are some set of persons, who have access to power, while others do not.

Social injustice has become an issue in Nigerian democracy. One can imagine the level of marginalization of ethnic minorities in the country, and another one, the religious manipulation for political gain, and all of these come from what is called the indigene-settler dichotomy.

2. Corruption

There is uncontrollable corruption at where politics is played in Nigeria, and both the government bureaucracy and their public officials are unimaginably corrupt.

Corruption has now become a culture in Nigeria, people are now accepting it as a way of life in the country, and one wonders why there is that deep mistrust on the part of Nigerian public for those who governed them.

3. Godfatherism

This is a problem in Nigerian democracy. How do you imagine some influential citizens of Nigeria trading on electoral positions, as if these are their private properties and/or their entitlements, and you wonder why those chosen by their political godfather for electoral position will not misrepresent their constituents who voted them into office, by pursuing their personal interest and those of their political sponsors.

Read Also: The role of the Church in Politics, Democracy and Governance in Nigeria

Prospects of Democracy

Below are some of the prospects of Nigerian democracy:

1. Equality Before The Law

Democracy preaches equality before the law, and that simply means every that every Nigerian, irrespective of his tribe or political geographical zone, is the same in the eye of the law.

Every person is treated fairly, no nepotism, no political connection, no favourism, everyone is treated equally. This is a noble idea when we talk about democracy.

2. Promotion Of Transition Of Government

There is changing from one democratic government to another without violence and crisis, while citizens are being provided with a sense of political participation, even when power is being changed from one political party to a different political party.

And in a situation such as this, the ruling political party is prevented from being more powerful, but making its citizens have a fair share of good governance

3. Prevention Of Monopoly Of Authority

The truth remained that, every government has an election term, and here political parties are competing to gain or regain power and authority. In a situation as such, democracy actually prevents a monopoly of the ruling authority over the other. The ruling party is at this point expected to work for the people otherwise, they will not be re-elected.

Read Also: 9 Ways to Improve Nigerian Democracy


A country becoming a democracy has been the latest trend right from the 70s. That is why many nations of the world are today, sharing the values of democracy, and Nigeria, as a country is not an exception.

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Joseph Athanasius

Joseph Athanasius is a Content Developer at InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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