The Impact Of Democracy and Development of Rural Areas Evidence From The Nigeria Fourth Republic
Despite complaints of fraud by political opposition in each election held since 1999, local and international election observers have regarded each of Nigeria’s general elections as relatively free and fair.
On the economic front, Nigeria is now the largest economy in Africa and 26th globally. It now attracts more foreign investments than in the military era.
Taken together, the Nigerian democratic experiment seems to have come a long away.
The study offers interesting detail and finely reasoned conjecture about the paradoxical relationship between democracy and rural development in Nigeria. In this thesis, I organise the main ideas of the paper into five chapters 1-5:
The thesis demonstrates that Nigeria continues to face massive developmental and institutional challenges. This is despite the implementation of western liberal democracy and the good governance reforms driven by donors. The challenges include human capital deficits and extreme poverty. This is due to under-investment in health, education and infrastructure. For example, Nigeria’s human development index value for 2020 was 0.539, placing the country in the low human development category.
Of all African countries, Nigeria faces the most significant challenges for reducing poverty and inequality due to rapid population growth. More than 40% of Nigerians (83 million people) live below the poverty line of $1.90 a day.
Another 25% (53 million) are vulnerable. Yet, the combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men is $29.9 billion. According to a recent report by Oxfam International, the combined wealth of the Nigeria’s five richest men could end national poverty. The implication here is that democracy has led to massive increases in poverty and economic inequality in Nigeria.
The thesis flags another major challenge: high unemployment, which has continued to increase since 1999. At 33%, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the world. Youth unemployment is higher than for older workers. This means the risks of violent conflict and civil unrest are especially high.
And despite anti-corruption campaigns, Nigeria is still perceived to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Nigeria ranked 149 out of 180 countries in 2020, the second lowest in West Africa after Guinea-Bissau.
Then there is the security issue. Bandits, separatists and Islamist insurgents increasingly threaten government’s grip on power. Mass kidnappings, killings, maiming and other forms of insecurity are on the rise nationwide. This is true even in more stable parts of the country.
By and large, the book empirically demonstrates that the democratic experiment of the last 20 years has had negative results on Nigerians. Nigeria’s corrupt political elites (with a few exceptions) have largely been the beneficiaries of the democratic experiment. Not the masses.
Overall, the thesis makes a compelling argument for why democracy has failed to produce inclusive rural development in Nigeria. It offers perceptive insights into what the country needs to do to overcome its developmental and institutional deficits. It’s a very illuminating book and enjoyable to read. It is a valuable research for students, scholars, policymakers, politicians and development practitioners who want to comprehend the political dynamics of Nigeria. It is also an important contribution to the literature on the challenges of democracy and rural development.