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Democratization in Nigeria: nation – building versus state –building

CM Amaechi


Nigerians were highly excited by the inauguration in 1999 of the democratic regime, especially the termination of the protracted military stranglehold on the society, and the progressively widening political space. The freedom that followed opened the door to agitations and expectations. It is the position of this paper that much remains to be done because the transition or successful elections only mark the beginning of the democratization process and not the attainment of ‘full-fledged democracy’. It is only through a procedural identification of the problems of the nation and its ‘people’ as well as the setting up of necessary institutions and framework by the state that the latter can be attained. In favour of the indispensability of history, the paper argues that the previous democratization efforts failed due mainly to ethnicity, bad leadership, corruption, poverty, unwholesome ‘transplanting’ of foreign concepts of democracy without reference to local imperatives, and the inability of the state to rediscover the socio-political cum religious bases that sustained the traditional democracies of old. It avers therefore, that unless these problems are solved by the setting up of appropriate institutions and framework, with normative acceptance by different sections of the country, ‘democracy’ cannot be attained in Nigeria.

Key Words: Democracy, Democratization, Nation-building, State-building.