Technical Analysis of The History of Democracy in Nigeria


Introduction of Different Government Systems
A system of government is said to be a type of government which has its own style and is unique in the way it operates. All over the world, many countries exit on different continents and each country has its own system of government which it enforces on its citizens.
Systems of Government  
There are different systems and types of government which is practiced all over the world, they include:

  1. Democracy: A system of government in which they citizens determine what happens in the country. In a democracy, the citizens exercise power, share the power or they elect people who will represent them and bear their interests.
  2. Monarchy: A monarchical system of government is a government which is headed by a king. The system here is hierarchical and since it has to do with royalty; the continuity depends on the family lineage.
  3. Oligarchy: Oligarchy is a system of government which only a few people rule in the country. In an oligarchy, the rulers may be elected or appointed based on wealth, fame, influence etc
  4. Gerontocracy: Gerontocracy is a system of government which old people rule. When old people rule a country, it is said that the country is using a system of government known as a gerontocracy.
  5. Totalitarianism: This is a system of government which is headed by a dictator. In this system of government, the leader dictator) has access and right over everything that belongs to the citizens including their properties, wives, wives, personal life, liberty, family etc. Everything possessed by an individual or to the people is owned by the dictator as the dictator has the final say.
  6. Theocracy: Theocracy refers to a system and form of government where religious bodies and figures rule. Examples are the Pope, Pastor, Reverends, Canons, Imams, Reverend fathers etc. In Theocracy, religious leaders and teachers rule. An example of the country where this system is practiced is in Vatican City.
  7. Military Rule: This system of government is headed by soldiers and the decisions made are taken, enforced and executed at the army barracks.
  8. Republican system of government: In a republican system of government, the citizens choose the people who will represent their affairs and represent them in government.
  9. Unitary System of government: In a unitary system of government, there is one source of authority. There is a high degree of centralization in a country which practices a unitary system of government because powers are not shared or divided among any organ or arm of government
  10. The presidential system of government: In a presidential system of government, the president is responsible and accountable to the electorate. The president is the head of state and the head of government.
  11. The parliamentary system of government: A parliamentary system of government is a system of government which the prime minister is only responsible to the parliament. The parliamentary system is also referred to as a Westminster system of government or a cabinet system of government. The president performs ceremonial functions while the prime minister is the head of state.
  12. Autocracy: An autocratic system of government is a system of government which is ruled and headed by a dictator. The dictator has his say and his way, he is the ruler and he has the final say over matters and issues in his jurisdiction.
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The Structure of Nigeria’s Economy

What is Democracy?
The word, “Democracy” is made up of a combination of two Greek words which is “demos” meaning (people), and krates which means (rule). From this two Greek words, the term “democracy was formed. This history and origin of democracy can be traced to the ancient city of Athens, in the present day, Greece. Democracy came about when all the citizens and the people came to make the common laws which should be obeyed and followed in their country.
Meaning of Democracy
In a simple definition, democracy is a system of government in which the people and the citizens rule. In a democratic state, all citizens have an equal share of power and resources in the economy. Unlike an autocratic state, which is headed by a dictator. Democracy ensures that there is no form of autocracy or dictatorship; because power is being shared equally among all the citizens.
History of Democracy in Nigeria
The history of a democratic system of government in Nigeria can be traced to the independence era. After Nigeria gained her independence from her colonial masters, Britain in the year, 1960, she borrowed the cabinet or parliamentary system of government from Britain. A parliamentary system is a form of democracy which entails that the citizens partake and participate in the decision-making process of their country. The citizens partake through participating in census activity, voting and casting of ballot boxes in an election, choosing a candidate to represent them and the constituency in government, engaging and participating in public opinion.
The first prime minister of Nigeria was Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the first president was Chief Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe; both men were nationalists who influential in fighting for Nigeria’s independence and after independence, they still remained relevant and resourceful as they participated in political activities.
Six years after Nigeria’s independence, the military struck. There was a coup d’etat in the early hours of Friday, 15th of January 1966. A coup d’ etat is an unconstitutional way of changing a government, it is always forceful and at times, it is bloody and lives are lost.
On January 15, 1966, an unprecedented event was recorded as some group of mutinous army officers led by Major Chukwuma Patrick Kaduna Nzeogwu and Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna did the unimaginable by killing and assassinating their leaders. Some key people who were killed were the prime minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Finance minister, Chief Festus Okotie Eboh, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello who served as the premiere of the northern region and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola who was the Premier of the Western region.
After this unfortunate event, it seems like Nigeria’s democracy had died and may never return back. This is because the country witnessed series of political instability such as the civil war, coup d’etats, failed promises from the military governments to hand over power to a democratically elected government.
After nine years of military rule, the military kept to her promise of handing over power to civilians in 1976 under the regime of General Mattew Aremu Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo. A constitutional drafting committee was set up and soon the drafting of a constitution began, that same year (1976), the ban on politics was lifted and political parties were formed and registered for the upcoming elections. Five political parties registered for the 1979 general elections and they were;

  1. Unity Party of Nigeria (U.P.N)
  2. Great Nigeria People’s Party (G.N.P.P)
  3. People’s Redemption Party (PRP)
  4. Nigeria’s People’s Party (N.P.P)
  5. Northern People’s Congress (N.P.C)
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Shehu Shagari of the NPC won the election and on October 1st, 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was sworn in as an executive president of Nigeria. The victory of democracy was short-lived and the taste of democracy did not last for long as the military junta stroke again after 4 years of democratic rule.
On December 1st, 1983, Major General Muhammadu Buhari removed the democratic government led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari. By January 1st, 1984, Nigeria was awoken by the new year news that the democratic government has been toppled by the military.
By June 1998, a new leader, General Abdulsalam Abubakar came up after the former head of state, General Sani Abacha died mysteriously. General Abdulsalam promised to return power to the civilians. During that moment, a transitioned programme was planned and a constitution drafting committee was set up to make the 1999 Constitution.
By 1999, elections were conducted, the former military head of state, Olusegun Mattew Obasanjo who contested under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party emerged victorious in the general elections and by 29th of May 1999, he was sworn in as the executive president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Olusegun Obasanjo ruled Nigeria as the president for 8 years in two different tenures. Then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua became Nigeria’s president, his successor was Goodluck Jonathan. By 2015, Goodluck Jonathan was defeated by Muhammadu Buhari, who has remained the president of Nigeria, till present.
Democracy was restored in Nigeria and from 1999 till date, Nigeria has enjoyed 19 years of untampered and uninterrupted military rule. That is why “May 29” of every year is referred as a public holiday in honor and remembrance of democracy in Nigeria. May 29th of every year is celebrated in Nigeria.
Reasons For adopting Democracy
1) To enable more participation in government activities
2) To make the citizens and the people to govern themselves
3) To eliminate every form of dictatorship
4) To make the people choose their leaders
Benefits of Democracy

  1. A democratic government increases the awareness and influence in the decision-making process of the country.
  2. There is no or less violation of the fundamental human rights of citizens in a democratic society.
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III. Democracy produces good governments that represent the minds and aspiration of the people.