Nnanna Onuoha Arukwe
Department of Sociology & Anthropology
University of Nigeria,Nsukka
This paper takes a critical look at democratization as part of the bane of African development. Locating the discourse on the Nigerian scene, the paper differentiates between democracy and civilian regime. It argues that, so far, in the current Nigerian experiment on governance, it has been difficult to differentiate between democracy and civilian regime as most ingredients of good governance and some basic elements of democracy appeal’ to be lacking. The paper highlights the ingredients of good governance that are lacking in the Nigerian process and provides a strategic perspective based on the principle of consensus (as against majority) for a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria to establish true democracy and good governance. A complementary option of restructuring Nigeria to ensure equity, and stability is further proposed.
After a long period of wide-spread military dictatorship among African states, the 1980s, 19905, and the early part of the 215‘ century have continued to witness increasing democratic ferment. The prior phenomenon of the centralized state in Africa has alas become a cause of pervasive disillusionment. Expressing the growing disillusionment at the failure of the centralized state in Africa, Wunsch & Olowu(1990: 1-3) have for instance, shown that in Ghana the high hopes of independence had faded as GNP declined-every year at an average rate of 1.3% between 1960 and 1982, while there had been 5 military coups, the civil service was demoralized, the economy devastated by inflation, talent ‘brain-draining’ away. And Ghana was not alone; in most other African states, like Nigeria, there had been coups, political inefficacy, administrative weakness, and economic decline or stagnation.
According to Diamond, Linz, & Lipset (1989: ix-x) there had indeed, been a progressive “democratic ferment in the developing world” beginning in the 1970s. Besides the end of the last 3 Western European dictatorships in Greece, Portugal, and Spain, most of the Latin American dictatorships collapsed or withdrew, there was democratic progress in several East Asian countries, and more equivocally so in South Asia, while democracy was “struggling to emerge” in Uganda and South Africa.
Beginning in 1989 and accelerating thereafter, there has been a general process of political restructuring in Africa as Allen, Baylies, and Szeftel (1992:3-10) have identified. The process involves a shift from authoritarian single ( or no) party systems, and has left a countries untouched. However “multi partyism, rule of law, (and) codification of basic human rights”, highly desirable in themselves, were necessary but not sufficient conditions for “participation, representativeness, accountability, [and] transparency1. Quite commonly, democracy had been a system legitimating and perpetuating class dominance and inequality. Democratization did no more than open a space to continue earlier struggles [or greater justice for the mass of the people.
In particular, Baylies and Szertel (1992:75-91) have analysed “the fall and rise of multi-party politics in Zambia”. General elections in 1991. supervised and monitored by outside bodies, resulted in victory for the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy a coalition of disaffected politicians with some academics and other eminent people, the business bourgeoisie, and trade union leaders, one of whom, Frederick Chiluba, became president. Baylies and Szeftel (1992) reckoned this as a major achievement for democracy, ending almost twenty years, of increasingly unrepresentative and coercive autocratic rule, unleashing public scrutiny of government, and making possible the beginnings or an autonomous civil society, with new independent associations and publications.
The particular area of democratization in Nigeria has also been severally analyzed. POI’ example, Oyewole (1987), analyzes the failure of the first democratization experiment in Nigeria in terms of certain defects in the constitution and the psychological make-up of the Nigerian political class. And while advocating political education of the citizenry as a possible way out, he foresaw a bleak future for democracy in Nigeria. Barongo (1987) explores the implications for connect and consensus of ethnic pluralism in the democratization of Nigeria and concludes that democratization could only present a real success story in Nigeria if political and economic institutions capable of eliminating the existing centres of conflict, antagonisms and contradictions are built. For him, the only way that Nigeria could ensure, by consensus instead of coercion, the harmonization of disparate groups as well as a stable, well integrated political system is via socialism. Oyovbaire (1987) likened the democratization of the political process in Nigeria to a political “Sword of Damocles”, which manifests easily in a “broomstick or protest revolution”. His contention being that democratization, which in the context of a country like Nigeria is a measure of achievement of military rule, could very easily lead to social alienation when political actors (eg executives and legislatures) at the various governmental units of the federation are seen by the people to have performed appallingly. Under such circumstances, the very forces and logic of the entry of such political actors, viz-a-viz the military actors, easily precipitate their exit.
The Concepts of Democracy and Good Governance
As a concept and according to its etymology, Democracy is derived from 2 Greek words, namely, Demos (meaning the people) and Kratia (meaning Government or Rule). Thus, Democracy literally means Government or Rule of human beings. Democracy is therefore all about how human beings govern themselves.
Democracy has been classically defined as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” – a definition by one-time American President, the famous Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863 (Igwe. 2002: I 09). This means that Democracy is essentially a system of government where rules of governance are made or established by the people. It also indicates that Democracy is self governance (and not dictatorship or alien rule). The implication of this is that any mode of governance that amounts to an imposition on the people is non-democratic, as freedom of choice and participation are the litmus test of a democratic system.
Because the concept of Democracy is etymologic ally traced to Greek words, however, the view that Democracy therefore originated from Greece is often held. This view is erroneous. On the contrary, historical and ethnographic studies have shown that Democracy, both in its direct and representative forms has existed in many parts of Africa and Nigeria (among the Igbo for example) for millennia (Azikiwe, 1974:18; Nwala, 1985: 168-J74).
Democracy has numerous attributes the major amongst which we shall consider hereunder. In the first instance, it is a government by the people with their full and direct participation; it is characterized by equality before the Jaw; it favours pluralism – that is, respect for all talents, pursuits, and viewpoints; it has respect for a separate and private (as opposed to public) domain for fulfillment and expression of individual’s personality.
Amongst other requirements and attributes of Democracy include respect for the Constitution, transparency and financial probity, and the existence of various arms of government especially designed to introduce checks and balances as well as separation in the use of power. Democracy is often the preferred ideology because it makes the best provision for the freedom and liberty of the individual within the framework of the law, while it remains in the best position to ensure that those in authority in the state do not abuse the powers of their offices (CODES, 2003: I).
(ii) Good Governance
For governance to be said to be good it has to possess some notable essential ingredients. So any attempt at defining good governance entails a closer look at it into questions such as: Whether there is respect for separation of powers and the independence of the various Arms of Government? The extent to which the Government exhibits Accountability? Whether the Government shows good management of the economy? Whether the Government shows respect for the Rule of Law and the Constitution? To what extent the Government is dedicated to programmes of social and national development in the spheres of social infrastructure like Transportation, Power, Roads/Railroads, Water, Communication, Housing; the areas of Industrial Development; Science and Technology; Agricultural Development; Security; Job Creation and Provision for Social/Unemployment Benefits? What the attitude of the Government is towards Education in termsof free Education, Scholarship Programmes,
Learning/Teaching Aids, Laboratories/Workshops, Libraries, Teaching Orientation and General Funding for Education? What level of attention the Government pays to National Productivity and GNP? (CODES, 2003: 2)
2DEMOCRATIZATION UNDER THE NIGERIAN SETTING
The global liberal democratization ferment of the last two decades has had tremendous impact on African polities. So far-reaching arc such impacts that the consequences of democratization now constitute part of the bane of African development in contemporary times. When the initial wave of the liberal democratic ferment hit Africa in the late 1980s and early 1990s it sprung up in its wake such interesting plethora of political parties as: “250 in Zaire [D.R. Congo], 100 in Congo, 68 in Cameroon, 30 in Senegal, 25 in Burkina Fasso, 17 in Benin and 16 in Guinea” (Nwabueze, 1993: 1) as if democratization simply translates to multi-partyism. However, Nwabueze (1993: 1-2) contends that:
Democratization, in the fullest sense or the term, has a much wider meaning and compass than multi-partyism. It must seek, in addition, to democratise the society, the economy, politics, the constitution or the state, the electoral system and process, and the practice of government. Not only does the society need to be democratised, it must also be a society founded upon freedom, justice and equal treatment of all citizens by the state, one infused with the spirit of liberty, justice, equality, the Rule of law and order.
2.1 Democracy or Civilian Regime?
With regard to the current Nigerian experiment at democratization, it would be useful to differentiate between civilian rule and democracy. It must benoted that while all democracies accept the supremacy of civil authority not all civilian regimes are democratic. Indeed examples abound where civilian regimes become autocratic and tend more and more towards totalitarianism. It usually begins with such civilian regimes willfully subverting those essential attributes of democracy as independence of the various arms of government and the press, pluralism, equality before the law, respect for the Constitution, transparency, financial probity; and such autocratism often gets legitimized by civil society acquiescing in such situations, sitting around and doing nothing about .the full and direct participation of the people.
Democracy on the other hand makes the best provision for the freedom and liberty of the individual within the framework of the law, while ensuring that those in authority in the state do not abuse the powers of their offices. This is why liberal democracy appears to be the most commonly adopted ideological variety of democracy in contemporary times.
However, it has been difficult to differentiate between democracy and civilian regime in the current Nigerian democratization experiment. This trend has. nevertheless, also not been of recent origin. Indeed political actors and commentators on the “democracy that failed” are accused of wrong perception and misinterpretation of the democratic context in Nigeria right from the first Republic (Oyovbaire, 1987b: 9). following Coleman (1958) and Ezera (1964) Oyovbaire (I987b: 9) demonstrates that by 1960 democracy could never be said to be existing in Nigeria as is clearly indicated by the history and development of Nigerian constitution and politics up to 1960. However all those who are concerned about the democratization process as part of the African development crisis, and what the sociopolitical fate of the continent and its countries should turn out to be may want to follow Nwabucze (1993) to enquire what the change consequent upon the current wide-spread democratization ferment has really meant in African countries? Specifically: What actually has changed from what used to be? Would transition from one-party, military or communist rule to multi party system has changed much else where the same person(s) as before remains still in control? Have the new multi-party regimes shed the authoritarianism and autocracy of the one-party, military and communist regimes they supplanted (Nwabueze, 1993:1).
How apt these posers made over a decade ago still appear against the backdrop of the current Nigerian democratization experiment (or transition), especially with the virtually hypocritical mantra being bandied about of transparency and good governance.
Whatever is the case, even though the format of democracy may differ from country to country there are still certain essential ingredients of democracy, universally acclaimed.
(i) Freedom of choice, i.e. the right of a people to freely choose their leaders through free and fair elections:
(ii) Freedom of association, especially the freedom to form popularly based political parties. This is basic and fundamental;
(iii) freedom of expression and a free press, so as to facilitate debate, dialogue, consultations and political campaigns;
(iv) Supremacy of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary;
(v) Respect for human dignity and protection of human rights;
(vi) Transparency and accountability of government:
(vii) A conscious, mobilized and advice civil society, which is deeply in lovewith the ideals of democracy, human rights and social justice (Nwala, 1997: 5).
2.2 Democratization and Good Governance; the Case of Contemporary Nigeria
Like we had seen earlier, Democracy that is aiming for good governance must be able to: show respect for separation of powers and independence of the various arms of government as well as the press; show impeccable accountability; display a sense of good management of the economy; show respect for the Rule of law and the Constitution; be dedicated to programmes for National Development in the areas of Social Infrastructure, Industrial Development. Science and Technology, Agricultural Development. Security, Job Creation, Unemployment Benefits; also pay attention to Education, as well as National Productivity and GNP. Deriving from the highlighted foregoing ingredients of good governance in a democracy we may proceed to make a random evaluation of the performance of the present Nigerian experimentation in democratic governance.
With regard to respect for separation of powers and independence of the arms of government and the press, the present Government both at federal and state levels have left much to be desired. Cases of brazen executive meddlesomeness in the leadership o[ the legislature abound. In the South-Eastem geopolitical zone in particular we have witnessed some cases of split legislatures (with one faction constituting an appendage or a rubber stamp of the state executive), and legislative factions in exile. The recent Federal Government clampdown on the Insider Weekly news magazine is also indicative of how tolerant the present Government is of opposition viewpoints as well as the level of independence it is prepared to grant the press.
The terms of accountability, the present government appears to be the most deficit of all the governments Nigeria has witnessed to date. For example, money that was stolen by some Nigerian government officials, and kept in foreign accounts rose from ($) 50 billion U.S. dollars in 1999, when the government came in, to 170 billion U.S. dollars in 2003, at the end of its first tenure (Agande, 2004: 3). Before now, the reality of the present government’s accountability status had been eloquently brought home to Nigerians via the Auditor-General’s Report. According to the Report, the Presidency, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information and National Orientation, Ministry of Power and Steel, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water Resources and Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation between themselves could not account for over 23 billion naira of public funds. That the Auditor General, Mr. Vincent Azieh, was quickly removed on his releasing the Report merely underlines the panicy actions of a financially indisciplined Government (Arukwe, 2003:227). Similarly, the out-going Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission had repeatedly charged that W300 billion is perennially missing from NNPC accounts. Ironically, the current President is also the Minister of Petroleum Resources. Also the British Government has accused the Nigerian Presidency of perpetrating 55% of all corruption in Nigeria, while the United States agency, USAID, maintains that of all corruption perpetrated in Nigeria, the Nigerian Presidency has 51 % share of it. Transparency International has similarly rated the current Nigerian government as the second most corrupt in the world (The Conscience of Ndi Igbo, 2003: 3,7).
With regard to management of the economy, while it is possible to find areas of peripheral improvement, the overall picture appears to be that of deterioration since the beginning of the current democratization experiment. For example, the value of the naira to major currencies like the dollar, pound sterling, and euro has continued to depreciate. While at the inception of this regime in 1999 the dollar was exchanging for W85, the exchange rate has since slid down to between WI40 and W145 leading to more economic hardship for Nigerian peoples. The economy has also been bogged down by stupendous wastes in the business of governance. For instance, the World Bank says that the Abuja stadium that cost over 60 billion naira should have cost not more than W19 billion (The Conscience of Ndi Igbo, 2003: 7). Equally important in bogging down the economy has been the numerous avoidable industrial actions and strikes in virtually all segments and sectors of the economy.
On rule of law and respect for the Constitution, the present regime still has a long way to go. The Government’s disdain for the Constitution and Rule of Law was dramatically captured towards the end of its first tenure when the upper chamber of the National Assembly, the Senate catalogued about 32 offences that could lead to impeachment against the President which border on breaches the Constitution; whereas the lower chamber, the House of Representatives had Earlier catalogued 17 of such offences against the current President (Anyagafu, 2002: 9). Most of the state governors under this regime have not been any better. Similarly, with regard to the current regimes position on the rule or law, the Anambra state situation is illuminating.
Concerning programmes for national development, the present regime has been alleged to be sectional and to favour particular ethnic group(s) to the exclusion of some. Quoting the Daily Trust (Monday, 27lh January 2003) and the Vanguard (I0th April, 2002) the Conscience of Ndi Igbo (2003:2) shows that recent appointments of AIGS and Major Generals in the Police and Army respectively arc disproportionately skewed in favour of the President’s ethnic group, the Yoruba of South West Nigeria. Similarly, a Thisday write up of 2nd March, 2003 (cited in Arukwe, 2003: 227) shows how, using the celebrated Yoruba Permanent secretary, Mr. Julius Makanjuola, who embezzled N480 million and was let off the hook, a new breed of sacred cows are being created out of corrupt government officials from the South West geopolitical zone. Oha-na-EzeNdi Igbo (2002: 48-52) has demonstrated how the programme of national development of the present regime excludes Ndi Igbo from such vital areas of national life and development as the National Security Council, the Armed Forces, Nigeria Police, Allocation of Ministries, as well as how programmes of social disempowerment and racial discrimination are being carried out against the Igbo by the present regime. The Conscience of Ndi Igbo, Igbo (2003: 2.7) also shows that all sources of revenue for Nigeria has a member of the President’s ethnic group on the Driver’s seat; and that even though the South West geopolitical zone already has 4 power stations, the President personally diverted a new power station, proposed for Ala Oji in Abia state (South East zone) and sponsored by the Chinese government, to Ota in his Yoruba ethnic area. It is obvious that where there is a genuine aim to democratize the political process nay the polity, pursuance of any form of ethnic hegemony by an incumbent regime would invariably compromise any programmes for national development that such a regime may wish to propagate. The Government’s otherwise creative energies when channeled more towards nepotistic ventures would most likely lead to less noticeable results despite the extremely huge resources that may be funnelled into programmes of social infrastructure in terms of Power, Transportation, Roads/Railroads, Water, Communications, Housing, etc. The incumbent President himself seems to have acknowledged this when after spending over N300 billion on roads he declared that he is ashamed of Nigerian roads.
Other areas like Industrial Development, Science and Technology, Agricultural Development, Security, Job Creation and Unemployment Benefits do not appear to be faring much differently. Education seems to be faring just as badly. For example, of the 26% minimum of the national budget which the UN recommends for developing countries to spend in education, the present regime in Nigeria could only manage a miserly 1.8% in 2003 (ASUU, 2003: 1). The government rather despotically resorted to confiscating the 3 months salaries of university workers for their daring to go on strike. A classical case of playing the ostrich instead of boldly facing the issues in the crises in the country’s tertiary educational system. Issues of education funding, scholarship programmes, learning and teaching aids, laboratories/workshops, libraries, teaching orientation are often treated as luxury which the present government cannot afford even against the backdrop of blatant stupendous waste in public resources.
On national productivity and the GNP, the non-oil components of Nigeria’s GNP despite marginal improvements in some areas would on a generalscale appear ‘to be shrinking. This is in spite of the huge potentialities that continue to exist for the diversification of Nigeria’s economic base via the development of the non-oil sectors of agro-allied, industrial, manufacturing, solid minerals and human resources for export as well as domestic purposes.
On freedom of choice or the right of the people to freely choose their leaders through free and fair elections, the incumbent regime has scored one of its lowest points. This is captured by Mbah (2003 :21) when he reports that:
A deep and widening mistrust grip [sic] Nigerians over the electoral process as they watch politicians with consternation and outrage cleverly rig themselves into power, putting the country’s embryonic democracy on the danger list.
3.0 SEARCHING FOR AN APPROPRIATE DEMOCRATIC MODEL
To determine a fitting democratic model for a multi-ethnic country of the character and proclivity of Nigeria can either be given to any magic method nor to any express formula. Nevertheless, we could immensely benefit in such an endeavour by availing ourselves of the lessons of the political history of Nigeria and any other multi-ethnic African society, by extension.
3.1The Pluralistic Nature of Multi-Ethnic Societies
Multi-ethnic societies are said to be characterized by pluralism. In a pluralistic society there exist cross-cutting loyalties, multiple affiliations, and a tolerance of diversity. The example of European immigrants to the U.S.A. drawn from different ethnic origins and of different religious affiliations is often cited as typical of a pluralistic society (Smith, 1966). Kuper (1969) contrasts’ pluralistic’ society with ‘plural’ society. The plural society, as an antithesis to pluralistic society, for Kuper (1969) is one held together by domination as conceived by Furnivall. Using the USA still as an example, Kuper (1969) shows, however, that the position of the African Americans was more like that in a Furnivall-type society, hence the pluralistic model was much more problematic when applied to them. Equality before the law and equal individual rights would therefore appear to be the hallmarks of pluralistic societies as conceptualized by Smith (1966) and Kuper (1969). Nigeria as a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic state among other things possess the structural characteristics of a pluralistic society (Oyovbairc, 1987: 16, 17;Nwala, 2002: 15).
3.2A Proposed Model for Nigeria to Possibly Establish True Democratization
The ‘conscociational’ model of democracy or ‘consociationalism’ has been severally advocated for plural (actually pluralistic) societies of which
Nigeria is a suitable example. These recommendations flow from the analysis and determination of the failure of the Westminster-style and, in some cases, the USA style of democracy in some multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies (Lewis, 1965; Lijphart, 1977, 1984; Oyovbaire, 1987b; Nwala, 2002); making consociational democracy (or consensus democracy) a more realistic democratic model for such societies.
Consociational democracy or consociationalism as a phenomenon applies to culturally segmented systems which attain democracy (Lijphart, 1969; Daalder, 1974). The rationale for consociationalism is that plural societies needed coalition government and not polarizaton with the opposition excluded for long periods. Instead of the head of state being required to send for the leader of the biggest single party to form a government after elections, he should be made as a matter of constitution to send for the leaders of all the parties which had received more than a given minimum proportion of the votes to divide the cabinet amongst them. Also the different segments should be proportionately represented in all decision-making bodies, and the electoral system too should provide for proportional representation through a single transferable vote. Then there should be a federal constitution according a considerable degree of autonomy to regions or provinces (Lewis, 1965).
Like Lewis (though Lewis did not exactly use the term, consociationalism) Lijphart (1977) put forward similar recommendations acknowledging that it was difficult though not impossible to achieve stable democratic government in a plural society. He cited such European examples as Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland. For Lijphart, consociationalism rested on 4 constitutional provisions designed to foster cooperation among the leaders of the different segments. These were: a permanent [Grand] coalition; minority veto rights; proportionality; and autonomy for the segments.
The Grand Coalition which Lijphart advocates is diametrically opposed to the British adversarial model of government versus opposition, with a bare majority sufficing for even the most important decisions. Consociational democracy entails a ‘Grand Coalition1 as the normal state of affairs, HOt a response to a crisis; or, conversely, the plural society itself being seen as constituting a permanent crisis.
Similarly, in consociationlism, minorities had veio rights to protect their integrity and vital interests. A rule of proportionality governed the distribution of public funds, civil service appointments, and the like, while the electoral system also provided for some form of proportional representation, the list system rather than the single transferable vote. Like Lewis, Lijphartfavoured a federal constitution with a high degree of constitutionally guaranteed internal autonomy for the segments. And he criticised the Westminster model for its fusion of powers, with the cabinet dominating parliament, in contrast to the USA’s separation of powers.
Contrary to the British system, a consociational democratic model did not give rise to a strong opposition, as under the proportionality rule parties which had received more than a given minimum proportion of votes were taken into the government and only small weak parties were excluded. It could be argued that it did not bring about positive reconciliation but only accommodation; that might ‘however’ be judged better than strife (Lijphart, 1977; 1984).
In the case of Nigeria, Nwala (2002) has observed that there are problems with regard to the application of not only the Westminster British model but the majoritarian principle in governance in Nigeria. While the adoption of the British Westminster model in Nigeria between 1960 and 1963 resulted to major constitutional crises (and therefore necessitated the preference for the US Presidential model in 1979) its application in Nigeria led immediately to the problem of exclusion of minorities or even the true majorities because of the adoption of the majoritarian principles without qualification. According to Nwala (2002: 12):
Geopolitical marginalisation is common in a multi-ethnic society where the majoritarian principle is the yard-stick for determining Government policies. 111 some multi-ethnic States, Parties may have ethnic base. This certainly would mean (hat the major ethnic group could control the dominant or ruling Party. In a situation where there is concentration of power at the Centre, the minorities may become victims of economic and political domination. The situation gets worsened in a unitary system of Government. Since independence in 1960, the Nigerian State has been crises-ridden as a result of its “multi-ethnic character and application of the majoritarian principle. Even in the British system, the Welsh and the Scot suffered these limitations until certain steps were taken to give those minorities greater access to political participation through the creation of local legislatures and devolving certain powers to them.
Interestingly, the Nigerian political class could not be said to be strangers to the consociational model or consensus democracy. Most of the contemporary political actors in Nigeria today have had a kind of a test-run experience of consociationalism because,
During the 1994 -1995 Abuja Constitutional Conference, the delegates adopted principles analogous to the consociational model. For the conduct of the Conference itself, consensus was adopted as the basis of taking decisions. This enabled the delegates to resolve, through hard bargaining, such major issues as Rotational Presidency and Power Sharing. Principle of One-term only for the Chief Executive, Federal Character Commission, Devolution of Power, Government of National
Unify to eliminate the winner-takes-all-syndrome. Tribunal for the Recovery of ill-gotten Wealth, etc. (Nwala, 2002: 15).
In the light of all the foregoing considerations it is the position of this paper that democratization and good governance would be bettered in Nigeria if the country should adopt the consociational model of democracy as the basis of its democratization experiment. There may not really be any guarantee that this model would be an instant success or adequately preempt the problems associated with the other models Nigeria has experimented with. However, it is hoped that given the tendency of the Nigerian and indeed African political class to be sectional and to lack discipline in following democratic principles as well as to have the penchant for engendering social alienation of the people, the provisions of the consociational model, namely, Grand Coalition, segmental autonomy, proportionality and minority veto would ensure stability against the background of centrifugal forces that are constant in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic (pluralistic) society. It is also hoped that the consociational model would naturally broaden the scope for participation in democratic politics in Nigeria.
Also, to further ensure stability and equity in Nigeria, a Conference of Ethnic Nationalities or Sovereign National Conference has been advocated for Nigeria against the backdrop of latent systemic crises in the country that have grave implications for social development. It is believed that such a Conference would engender broad-based social change in Nigeria. Also, that it would not only be a timely solution to the ticking time bomb that is Nigeria’s National Nationalities question but that it shall be in a position to solve Nigeria’s myriad problems of social, political, economic and religious dimensions, both in the immediate and long run, as these severely retard the developmental progress of the country (Arukwe&Chukwu, Forthcoming).
What we have attempted to do is to examine democratization as part of the bane of African development in the context of the current Nigerian democratization experiment. Even though the literature shows that the concept of democracy is not essentially alien to Africans the uncritical adoption of the Westminster model or even the American Presidential model of democracy in some cases has meant that Nigeria and other African countries have continued to be bedeviled by some avoidable problems which have grave implications for societal development. A preliminary inquiry into the state of the democratization experiment in Nigeria reveals that the current civilian regime scores low on several counts. Central to the low scores ill many spheres by the incumbent regime is the apparent application of the majoritarian -principle in the Nigerian experiment which makes it easy for ethnic or geopolitical hegemony to thrive, or promotes the tyranny of the majority. Against this background, a democratic model, consociational democracy, based on consensus (as against sheer majoritarinism) is advocated as best suited for a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria.This is because adopting sheer majoritarian considerations tends to exclude vital parts of the society who can be, in the minority or even in the majority. To avoid this state of affairs, the consensus principle of consociationalism makes provision for such features as Grand Coalition, segmental autonomy, proportionality, and minority veto. However, for the consociational model to succeed or fail it is still subject to how well or poorly the Nigerian system attempts to sustain it (Oyovbaire. 1987b: 17). For Nigeria to sustain consociationalism and therefore talk of democracy and social development, there must be present the basic elements of democracy. Similarly, for us to talk of good governance, the basic principles of democratic practice must be inculcated in the government that the adopted model delivers.The principles of democratic practice includes participation, separation of powers, accountability and transparency, Rule of Law, Consensus. Whereas equality and justice are the two most fundamental elements of Democracy, any process, activity, relationship or institution that is not hinged on them is not democratic. When equality and justice are assured, then other elements of Democracy as orderly succession, peace and security, free and. fair .elections would inevitably follow. Thus to help achieve equality and justice also in contemporary Nigeria, restructuring Nigeria through a Conference of Ethnic Nationalities or Sovereign National Conference has further been proposed.
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