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Nigeria democratic governance: Opium or potency?

Cyril Chibuzo Ezeani


Looking at the political landscape in Africa and Nigeria in particular, one easily observes a divide between the political elites and the masses both in terms of socio-political and economic powers. The masses are simply kept on the periphery. Yet this is a polity that claims to be a democracy which has been described as ‘Government by the people, of the people and for the people.’ It is a situation like this that has made a number of scholars to view democracy as simply illusion and opium of the people. The concern of the present work is to argue that democracy is not an illusion, neither is it an opium. While acknowledging the conceptual and operational difficulties surrounding the conceptualization of democracy, it also factors the reality of oligarchic stranglehold. Using the method of hermeneutics, the paper interprets politics in terms of Karl Marx history of struggle which is basically a struggle between inclusivity and exclusivity of the masses. While the iron law of oligarchy is a reality, it is for the people to struggle to thin down the circle of power of the oligarchy or at least to increase their own sphere of influence. I argue that democracy is more suitable for this struggle given the psychological force of ownership that it projects. It nevertheless factors atomization of the masses, apathy, ignorance among others as what keeps the masses from achieving this. It observes that in Nigeria the hydra-headed factors of ethnicity and religious bigotry further incapacitate a unified action from the masses.

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eISSN: 1597-474X