Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Analysis of the Fourth Republic

Omonu Yax-Nelson is a columnist at Leadership, a newspaper published in Abuja. In this essay, he analyzes the state of governance in Nigeria on Democracy Day.

If Yax-Nelson had submitted this as a rough draft of a paper in my class, I would have left lots of blue pencil marks on it. If you read the whole thing (which is worthwhile), you'll see that his three (four?) main topics are braided throughout the essay, there's a big section in the middle which is a quotation from another writer, and his conclusion is somewhat of a let down.

Nonetheless, students might learn a lot by comparing Yax-Nelson's anaysis with what's in their textbooks.

18 Years of Nigeria's Democracy - the Highs, Lows
Since attaining self-rule in 1960, Nigeria has made several attempts at enthroning virile democracy, with some of them always ending in a fiasco, but the fourth republic, which began on May 29, 1999 seems to have broken that jinx…

On the foregoing premise, Nigeria set out to join the rest of the world as a democratic state when it attained independence in 1960, but three frantic attempts ended in a colossal failure. However, in 1998, two 'quick' events took place that 'permanently' changed Nigeria's historical trajectory- the sudden death of Gen Sani Abacha on June 8 and that of MKO Abiola on July 7…

The Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led military junta ushered Nigeria into its fourth attempt at enthroning democracy. Despite the push and pull that have characterized the last 18 years of Nigeria's democratic experience, analysts believe there is much to be celebrated. They reckon that in the 57-year history, this is the first time the country is able to hold out without military intervention after five consecutive general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 respectively, despite the dissatisfaction with the outcome of the exercises.

To put icing on the cake, a feat, according to political observers, was achieved during the 2015 general election when for the first time in Nigeria's political history, the opposition was able to defeat the ruling party, something hitherto thought to be a mirage.

However, just when politically conscious Nigerians were beginning to roll out drums and basking in the euphoria of 18 years of unbroken democratic journey, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, took the nation by storm with the announcement that certain elements within the political class were courting some soldiers for a possible military intervention in politics.

The latest development is a sad reality of the fact that, after 18 years of democratic practice, our politicians have not learnt much. Analysts say this sad development can be explained within the stand point of the fact that our politicians see the game of politics as a do or die affair or an investment that must be protected at all costs…

Politically, the behaviors of the political actors have remained a constant cause for concern. Like it has been since the first republic in 1960, political parties are riddled with one crisis too many…

In advanced democracies, democratic culture is entrenched through the instrumentality of political party ideologies. But in our clime, political observers say, there is lack or absence of clear cut party ideologies. Political scholars have severally described the character of political parties in Nigeria as a mockery of an ideal democratic system. This, they say, portends political immaturity and might be an attraction for the military class…

Economically, analysts say the fourth republic, which began in 1999, has not delivered on the mandate of democracy, which is better life for citizens…

Many attribute Nigeria's democratic paradox of increasing poverty to the greed and recklessness of the ruling elite. In the face of astronomical earnings from crude oil and other collectable taxes, the majority of Nigerians continue to slide into abject poverty…

Corruption is rife in Nigeria and for decades politicians have focused on milking cash from crude oil exports, which average more than 2 million barrels per day, rather than developing infrastructure and creating jobs for locals…

Despite holding the world's seventh largest gas reserves… more than half of the country's 160 million inhabitants live without electricity, while the rest have to rely on expensive generators run on diesel supplies controlled by a small and powerful cartel of importers.

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