Over years, Nigeria has been wallowing in the coffin of poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, power instability, securities menace, and political hullabaloos, all this has been a problem combating a nation that was once giant of Africa, { Democracy In Nigeria }. All these issues, combating a nation that was once the best country in West Africa countries, where is the problem coming from? What brought about the problem, style of leadership? Yes, style of leadership, we shall be discussing on prospects and problems of democracy in Nigeria.

Sit back and read through the lines, as we go through brief history of democracy in Nigeria, what are the features of this system of government, how does it come to stay over time, what are the challenges face over years, prospect of this system of government all this and many more will be explained the latter paragraphs of this write up.


The beginning of democracy in Nigeria can be traced to the early years of independent Nigeria, particularly, the first republic. Even though Nigeria acquired Republican status in 1963, the first republic in Nigeria began on the 1st of October, 1960 and came to an end on the 15th of January, 1966. Before the commencement of the first republic, structures had been put in place in the course of the late 1950s which ensured that Nigeria adopted the “Westminster” model of parliamentary democracy. Elections were held in December 1959 which ushered in the first republic in which the NPC and NCNC formed a coalition which led to the emergence of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime minister and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as governor general and later on, as President. From the second year of Nigeria’s independence, there was massive instability and unrest that lasted till the 13th of January 1966 when a military coup led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu toppled and overthrew the democratically elected government and thus, ending the first republic of Nigeria.

The Nigerian government was dominated by the military till October 1979 when Democracy was, once again, restored, thus, announcing the second republic. Elections held in August 1979 and were won by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) consequent upon which Alhaji Shehu Shagari became the president. Soon enough, corruption allegations were in constant increase against the government and thus producing tension and unrest in the country until finally the democratically elected government was again overthrown by a military coup which ensured that Major General Muhammadu Buhari became the military leader in on the 31st of December, 1983.

The third republic was characterized by a little bit of drama and was aborted prematurely. The elections which held on the 12th of June, 1993 was won by Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, known as MKO Abiola. However, Democracy was not allowed to have its way as Ibrahim Babangida, the then incumbent military leader annulled the elections, hence aborting the Third Republic.

Democracy took a completely different turn in Nigeria from 1999 till date. After the death of the military dictator, General Sani Abacha in 1998, General Abdusalami Abubakar who took over governance from him is known to have worked out Nigeria’s return to Democracy or Democratic rule. The election that was conducted in April 1999 ensured that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won as a result of which former military leader, Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in May 1999. Obasanjo also won the April 13th, 2003 elections and ruled for another term as provided by the constitution. In the 21st, April 2007 elections, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the People’s Democratic Party was elected and sworn in. However, things took a little bit of a different turn when Yar’Adua died on the 5th of May 2010 and Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in, in his place. Jonathan completed Yar’Adua’s term and also won the 16th of April 2011 elections with 22,495187 votes. Powers, however, changed hands in Nigeria’s Democratic rule in the 28, March 2015 elections which when the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the elections and thus, former military leader, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in.

Problems of Democracy in Nigeria

A range of challenges has been identified as the incipient obstacles to the Democratic vision of Nigeria, from the ubiquitous phenomenon of corruption to ‘godfatherism’, poverty to selfish interests of leaders or the inefficiency of leaders, etc. Corruption, no doubt, out of all, stands out as a monster amongst the other challenges against democracy in Africa. This owes to the fact that corruption has, over the years, been seen to be the bane of the inefficiency of every government in the country. This view on corruption has been quite generally embraced on the basis that if corruption is annihilated in the country, the minor issues such as poverty, mismanagement of funds, election rigging and the likes will be easier to control. However, in a situation where corruption is found to have eaten deep into a Nation’s system such that its leaders are not left out, the possibility of ensuring strict adherence to the rule of law or enforcing the principles of democracy, is not feasible.

Problems Of Democracy In Nigeria Prospects

The problems of corruption in Nigeria is easily spotted when one observes that unlike the general understanding of democracy as government by the people and for the people, it appears that the Nigerian model of Democracy is, ‘government by the few and for the few’. Relevant examples of this malady are easily revealed in a few cases.

An apt case is the 2012 national budget in which about 176 million naira was allocated to the extension of the gates of the Aso Rock Villa apart from another 280 million naira allocated for the purchase of two bulletproof vehicles as well as other hundreds of millions allocated just for furnishing the villa resulting in a total of 1.5 billion naira allocated just for the private use of furnishing the presidential residence.

Another more recent relevant example is in the 2017 budget in which over 2.9 billion naira was voted for honoraria for the President and its agencies. More glaring corrupt practices as found in the corridors of those occupying key positions in the current government and those who served with the previous governments are clear indicators of the corruption malady the Nigerian state is faced with.

That is why it is of no surprise that the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as released by Transparency International puts Nigeria as No 148 out of 180.  This reality of corruption has yet and yet again be seen to be a deep-seated reality of the Nigerian state. In the year 2005, Nigeria was ranked the 8th most corrupt state, in 2006, the 21st most corrupt out of 163; in 2007, Nigeria was ranked 33rd out of 180 countries and has since then been consistent amongst the list of the most corrupt countries in the world. Except for the problem of corruption in the country is therefore resolved, there seem to be no feasible means of upholding Democracy in the state.


Democracy is not in view if the principles of separation of Power, Checks, and balances and the enforcement of the rule of law are not in view. In the Nigerian situation, however, the breach of these principles is a constant reality as a result of the deeply seated phenomenon of corruption in the country. This is why the current government in the early days of its administration, seemed to have been concerned with tackling corruption. However, this vision was not successfully actualized as the government seemed to have been politically influenced. Consequently, to uphold Democracy in Nigeria is to eliminate corruption in the state.

Now, to successfully tackle corruption, the major anti-corruption agencies in the country like Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) should be more empowered to fight against corruption irrespective of who or isn’t involved. Otherwise, the government should establish new independent agencies equipped to fight corruption, constantly and critically sensor and investigate all political office holders and aspirants. Most importantly, the masses should be constantly orientated on the functions of these Agencies so that relevant information useful for the prosecution of corrupt parties can be passed across safely. These agencies should also have occasions where they are answerable to public queries either via televised programs or public meetings. By this, there will be a level of transparency as to the government/masses relationship in the country. Thus, the possibility of eradicating corruption is in view.


Fingers and pointers of different parastatals of the nation point to a viable and strong hope for democracy in the coming generation, has it will be the best system of government ever practices, even though there might be improvement in the way people see democracy, also there might be paradigm shift in the stand of many stakeholders on what democracy has to offer, yet assurances and speculations are all around showing bright future of democracy.

With recent bills been passed and sign into the constitution young people of over 18 years can now contest for public offices even with the lest age of 35 years as the president of the nation, this are one of the proven evidence democracy will take a good shape and stand in the coming generation, also, the level of consciousness from the youth and general populace has increased in recent time which has never been earlier, but people are getting on to involve in the recession making and process of government in the country has they have come to the actualization that, the decision made by the ruling elites has a drastic effect in the economy and also their productivity, this has made the general populace raise more head and also see to the affairs of their respective constituency.

Despite all pointers giving directions to bright and hopeful future of democracy, the only determinant to make that see the light of the day is how to present and current situations are been manage. As evidence are all in the air showing and pointing to every act and laws current people in the helms of affairs are enacting to bring a rigid system of Oligarchy and Gerontocracy system of government, as it is being as see as business of some sets of people, nose are kept off the aroma coming from the political scene in the nation.

Nevertheless if all of this situation are properly managed and handle, the future of democracy in the country is very bright which bring about more development, more innovation and a paradigm shift of government of some people for some people or some cabals to government of the masses to the real masses which is the real definition of democracy from inception of government of the people for the people and by the people, the people in this context are the common men on the street and sons and daughter of nobody.


After a thorough breakdown of history of democracy in Nigeria, how it emancipated, and people who made the country practice what we know as democracy today after following the style of their colonial masters, also problems of democracy which ranges from all spheres and diaspora to current trend happening in the democratic environments, discussion has also be made on how possibly problems combating democracy can be practically and technically solved.

Prospect and future of democracy have been vividly discussed as what the future of democracy is going to look like and possibly what can hinder the bright future of the democracy has been forecasted too.


Tags: Solutions To The Problems Of Democracy In Nigeria