DEMOCRACY, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA; CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS, 2007-2015
1.1 Background to the Study
The quest for democracy, good governance and national development has been the major preoccupation of the Nigerian state since independence in 1960. These laudable objectives have suffered serious setbacks due to poor leadership and the inability of the followership to hold those in positions of authority accountable for their actions and in actions. The country has thus, been left in a poor state of development characterized by endemic corruption at all levels of government and society; abject poverty and hopelessness; insecurity of lives and property; high rate of unemployment and youth restiveness; kidnapping and armed robbery; religious extremism; infrastructural deficits; among others.
Those in positions of authority have remained indifferent to the plight of the poor, the hungry and unemployed; instead, they are obsessed with siphoning the fortunes of the country, hence social injustice, corruption, poverty and insecurity have brought untold hardship to the people. The desired national transformation of the country is still a mirage in spite of the abundance of human and material resources, which should have ordinarily translated into a buoyant life for the citizenry. The greatest threat to democracy and good governance in Nigeria has thus been poor leadership, which breeds hostile political environment for national development. Since the return of democratic governance in 1999, Nigeria has been experiencing deepening political crises as a result of the defects of the democratization process and the apparent ineptitude of the political leadership.
The problem of leadership has continued to abort efforts at genuine democratization through exclusion of some segments of the political elite from effective participation in the politics of the country. According to Fayemi (2009), the long years of political misrule and bad governance exemplified by civilian administrations and military dictatorships since the country’s political independence has left the nation politically de-mobilized, humanly underdeveloped and economically sterile with an ample population ravaged by poverty. Thus, with the return to democratic rule in the country in 1999, Nigerians had expected that the new wave of political leadership and democratic governance would accelerate the tide of development in the nation. The political leadership was expected to grapple with the socio-economic and political problems of the country, which border on poverty, corruption, lack of good governance, corrupt electoral system, unemployment, and insecurity, among others.