Nigeria is a democratic state or that is what it is supposed to be. However, the country has experienced obstacles that have hindered the implementation of democratic principles and caused stagnation of the nation’s growth. This article writes on Problems of Democracy in Nigeria and solutions.
Problems of Democracy in Nigeria & Solutions
Corruption is the first and major cankerworm eating deep into Nigeria. It has become the norm in Nigeria and is now difficult to condemn. Many Nigerians even believe that everyone has to be corrupt once they get to the seat of power. This is because many politicians have proven that they are in office simply to steal the nation’s money. It is baffling how politicians amass wealth, even that which they do not need. This is a major red flag to the success of democracy in Nigeria. The masses see that those who loot the nation’s money can easily get away with it and thus have no faith in the government. A solution to this problem is that there should be penalties that match up to the grave crime of embezzlement and looting. Penalties such as 30 years’ imprisonment and confiscation of the assets of corrupt government officials without the option of bail. This would deter those in political positions from stealing public funds and would also restore the trust of the people in the Nigerian government. This would be only right because democracy is supposed to create strong institutions that would discourage corruption.
Poor Justice Delivery
The Nigerian Judiciary is another weak institution that has aided the fall of democracy in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the rich are above the law because they can buy it out. Over the years, the poor in the country have suffered a grave injustice. If a politician is prosecuted for stealing billions of naira from pension funds, he or she can be given two years behind bars with the option of a fine of N750,000 while a man who stole a phone would spend about eight years in prison without an option of a fine. If one is rich in Nigeria, one can twist the wheels of justice. In Nigeria, many corrupt government officials go on enjoying the money they have looted while the poor cannot afford basic services of lawyers and therefore languish in jail over minor offenses. The solution to this is that judges and security agents found guilty of corruption and partisanship be prosecuted and also pay dearly for this crime by dismissal without gratuity.
High Cost of Governance
In Nigeria, we cannot boast of improved living standards of the citizens. Only a few, lawmakers and other appointed public office holders have increased wealth and a better standard of living. It is supposed to be the aim of every government to ensure her people are well taken care of, but this is not the case in Nigeria. It is reported that a Senator in Nigeria earns over N20 million per month. Ministers are reported to spend several millions of Naira on bulletproof cars and flights. The presidency is not left out with several jets unused when in countries such as Britain, the Prime minister is reported to fly commercial jets. First, Nigerian lawmakers are too many and irrelevant to the Nigerian economy. We have a large train of special advisers and assistants, which all makes the government unnecessarily bloated. This also influences the country’s expenditure. The salaries and allowances of lawmakers and ministers cannot work in a country with low-income revenue as Nigeria. The solution to this is that the salary of public office holders is drastically reviewed downward for the benefit of the Nigerian citizens.
Poverty and Illiteracy
The challenges that poverty and illiteracy pose to Nigeria democracy cannot be over-emphasized. 80% of the Nigerian population is poor and uneducated. Poverty and Illiteracy make the people gullible and they can be easily bought over by corrupt politicians. Then, eligible and good-hearted citizens cannot win elections because of money politics. Electoral violence and crimes are also on the increase because unemployed and idle youths are easily recruited to cause crimes during elections. Because of poverty, many will vote against their conscience. Job creation and employment is crucial in a democratic environment. The people must be well informed and able to ask questions, criticize government policies, make enquiries into how resources are being allocated and make demands on the government. It is only in this way that true democracy can be practiced as the citizens then partake in governance. When we address the issue of poverty and illiteracy in Nigeria, electoral violence will be reduced minimally and people will vote more rightly.
This is another great threat to Nigeria’s democracy. In the southern part of Nigeria, the issue of kidnapping for ransom is on the rise. While in the northern part of the country, there is the problem of terrorism by Boko Haram. This has wasted several lives and destroyed properties of the nation worth billions of Naira. There is also the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) that clamours for Independence for the region. Nigeria thus faces a threat of secession which is a result of poor governance, weak military power, and unequal allocation of revenue.
We have addressed the issue of corruption in Nigeria. We have very many greedy politicians in Nigeria. These ones always want to remain in power at all costs. Hence, they see nothing wrong in defecting to other political parties once it offers them the opportunity to run for election. In Nigeria, you will find many politicians defecting from their parties to the ruling party when it is almost time for the election. In fact, many politicians use the money they have looted to defect to another party. The effect of this is that we have a very weak opposition party. For there to be good governance in a democratic society, there needs to be a vibrant opposition party that can stand up to the ruling party and put them on their toes. However, this is no longer the case in Nigeria because it is now all mashed up.