One of the most surprising and promising political developments of recent decades has been the rise of democracy across Africa, holding out hope that the rule of law, investment and economic growth would soon follow. But these young democracies remain fragile, and nowhere is the threat to representative self-government clearer than in Nigeria, according to Abdulsamod Balogun, a fellow at African Liberty, who documents accelerating institutional erosion in Business Insider, warning, “Nigeria’s democracy is hanging by a thread.”
- Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country with over 190 million citizens, and its largest economy with GDP of $376 billion in 2017. Events in Nigeria can influence the rest of Africa due to its sheer size, which is why it’s especially important to shore up Nigerian democracy while there’s still time.
- The second inauguration Muhammad Buhari in May marked two decades of democracy and massive economic growth, with six-fold expansion over this period.
- However major problems remain: the country remains totally dependent on oil exports, more and more children don’t attend school, corruption is worsening, and Boko Haram Islamist militants continue to terrorize the country’s unstable northeast.
- The democratic process has also often been attended by violence, including 800 people killed in election-related violence in 2011.
- Even worse the two dominant parties, All Progressive Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, have stoked popular distrust in the democratic process itself for short-term political gain.
- Most recently the government postponed presidential and national assembly elections in February on trumped-up pretexts, not supported by any real emergency.
- Balogun proposes a number of fixes, including a total revamp of the Independent National Electoral Commission, purging it of political cronies, and enforcing spending limits to suppress vote-buying. The full piece is available here.