Nigeria’s Fourth Republic and the Challenge of a Faltering Democratization

by Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju

Abstract

Nigeria’s present democratization, which culminated in the country’s Fourth Republic on May 29, 1999, started amidst great hope and expectations. Although the military regime that mid-wived the process could not significantly convince the generality of the citizens on its success, a huge section of the populace still believed it could herald the dawn of good governance in the country. Disturbingly, twelve years after the commencement of democratization in Nigeria the political landscape is yet to show clear evidences of good governance. The rule of law is merely pronounced, elections and electoral processes are subverted, and political parties and other important public institutions are manipulated in favor of the privileged few. This essay critically examines the probable sources and dimensions of the impediments confronting the democratic desires of Nigeria and its people who often proclaim their preference for democracy. The research methodology is both descriptive and analytical, while the framework of analysis is eclectic. It combines the explanations offered in Max Weber’s (1975) concept of patrimonialism with such others as Ekeh’s “two publics” (1975), the prebendalist perspective of Joseph (1991) and the World Bank’s “state capture” (2000). In conclusion, it suggests that the state and its institutions in Nigeria need to be strengthened for democracy to thrive in this country. In the light of this, it is noted that although the role of leaders or “who” is in charge cannot be underestimated, the “how” should be emphasized more.

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Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju specializes in Policy Studies and Comparative Politics and has many publication in these areas. He teaches political science at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

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