23 years of infantile Nigerian Democracy: Participatory roles of citizens & statesmen 


Now that Nigeria’s status of democracy clocks 23, questioning the profile of the system within the Country’s setting in the face of the desideratum is pertinent. If democracy has proven its juicy packages in the Western world where it has been attached and associated with development, assessing the Nigerian situation to justify claims of such remains a mind-boggling subject.

Although the celebration of this year’s Democracy Day brings the Country’s record of uninterrupted administration of democratic government to 23 years, it is insightful that many are largely dissatisfied than a few who would say otherwise. The informing grounds for such dissatisfaction would not be farfetched from the disappointment of the expectations many believed would be the case on the installation of a democratic government. The falling short of the expectations by many who experienced the days of military rule have begun to raise a perspective of juxtaposition of the military days and the civilian democratic rule of 23 years. What is believed to be wide gap of disparities in the condition of living between the former and the latter is beginning to raise nostalgia for the days of the military. The arguments by those nurturing this return of the military have been premised on the fact that if the conditions under the civilian democratic government have brought untoward hardship against what used to be the case under the days of military administration, then the restoration of military rule becomes justifiable regardless of their draconian tendencies.

It is saddening that a call for the return of the military to power is gradually beoming popular despite the limitations of human rights that characterised the days of their autocratic dictatorship. The thirst for such rule despite the experience of limitations, evidently give reflection to the degree of untoward conditions of living which would push many to the position of options of sacrificing their fundamental human rights just to ease the burden of hardship. It is apparent that the deepening of inhumane conditions of living has been pushing many to unbearable end.

The resultant effects of these conditions have been the ground on which many have resorted to criminal adventures and sharp practices. The yearnings to get out of the clutches of economic hardship have led many to venture into variants of illegal activities driven by the ill syndrome to do anything to get out of penury. The sediments of these tendencies have been the source of various delinquencies which continue to collide in recent time to heighten insecurity situations across the Country.

It is indisputable that all indices to assessing conditions of living in the Country are apparently on the negative sides. The records of the worsening profile of the economy which has been a major instigating force of wings of societal turbulence remain a topical subject. The myriads of cause and effect offsprings holding bearings to the devastating state of the economy have brought the entire Country to a state of shambles. The impacts of the shortfalls appear to be more debilitating than could be directly coted.

The rising debts profile of the Country in recent time without concrete results to show for the loans has been a source of worry to observers. Arguments have been raised on the limitations that servicing the debts would pose to growth and development. The concern has anchored on the strains that stand ahead the Country in the face of heavy burden of servicing debts with over 90percent of the Country’s revenue, in a situation where the results of the loans in terms of capital projects for which they were obtained for are not concrete enough for returns.

According to the Debt Management Office (DMO) the country’s total debt stock as of December 2021 was N39.55trillion. In March, the total debt stock of Nigeria was projected to hit N45trillion as the DMO had disclosed plans to borrow an additional N6.39trillion to finance the 2022 budget deficit. A  document by the Director-General, DMO, Patience Oniha, had explained that the overall deficit in the 2022 budget was N6.30trillion, representing 3.46 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. According to Oniha, the budget deficit was to be financed mainly by borrowings from both domestic and foreign sources, as well as privatisation proceeds. “N2.57trillion will come from domestic sources, N2.57trillion from foreign sources, N1.16trillion from multilateral and bilateral loan drawdowns and N90.7billion from privatisation proceeds,” the document had read partly. It was added that debt service in the 2022 budget was N3.6trillion, making it 21 per cent of total expenditure and 34 per cent of total revenue.

However, while the toddling state of the economy remains a source of worry and the causative agent of several socio-economic calamities, it is essential to note that there are several other defective patterns in the character of societal institutions in the Country. The question of the state of democracy itself as a culture is a subject of critical concern in the Country. The toddling state of the Country’s political architecture in the administration of a democratic government remains troubling. The inability to address such matters of top political concern as restructuring the Federation, cutting the cost of governance,  state police among others, are subjects of controversies. The lack of will to overhaul the working patterns of the structure of various government institutions to respond pragmatically to new realities has left deformities which have continued to raise resistance against modern development. The controversies which have been pulled round such pressing subjects still reveal the depth of toddling culture in the practice of democracy in the Country.

It is high time custodians of the political architecture of the Country began to advance the course of deliberate political socialisation in the Country. The infantile state of democratic culture within the political space in the Country is much distasteful. The mannerisms with which custodians of power attend to critical state matters of broad concern speak in the negative light to nurturing the ideologies of good government among the people in the light of democratic principles. The practical syndrome of the custodians of the political architecture have more or less created a counterproductive atmosphere hostile and unconducive for democratic culture to thrive. As the 2023 general election draw near, the do-or-die winner-take-it-all system is feared to assume a stronger dimension, sending wrong signals of turbulence, largely unprofitable for democracy. Over time, this is being largely driven by political warlords who are meant to be statesmen. It is a perversion when statesmen act in the ill-form of such disposition. The resultant effects have been unbecoming which form the reflective deficiencies of political retardation, institutional decay and more troubling — the ebbing of the economy, among other socio-cultural deformities currently ravaging the Country.

The crawling state of Democracy in the Country is undesirable. The perceivable disposition of antiquated postures poses threats of infanticide against the survival of the system in the Country. The nauseating effects of such debilitation have only successfully created strains of restricting strings which have entangled the Country in the web of turbulence. It is only rational and instructive for the custodians of political powers to redefine their ideological disposition to democracy as a standing political culture, while leading the course to drive the perceptions among the populace. The need on the part of custodians of political architecture, as statesmen, to show the evidence of the developmental realities that accompany the system of democratic administration is paramount.

The place of the Nigerian populace’s exposure and disposition  to plausible democratic culture remain sacrosanct. Enlightenment to embrace such practices which are best of citizens’ model of obligations are critical, not only to build the system with upward growth, but also sustain same to reap the benefits of its efficiency. If democracy has shown its profitability to development with evidences across the world, Nigeria’s situation shouldn’t be an exception, if all work pragmatically to uphold the demands of its acceptable tenets.