Book title: Nigeria Democracy Without
Development: How to fix it
Author: Dr Omano Edigheji
Year of publication: 2020
Number of pages: 197
Reviewer: Muritala Ayinla
No time could be more apt for the publication of the book titled: Nigeria Democracy Without Development: How to fix it”, than now.
The five-chapter book written by a renowned scholar and administrator, Dr Omano Edigheji, x-rays the nation’s journey to democracy and carefully analyzes the paradoxical relationship between democracy and development in Nigeria.
The 197-page book chronicles Nigeria’s brand of democracy and how the system fails to bring about the desired development expected of a democratic system of government.
It raises questions on the credibility and legitimacy of the kind of democracy being practised in Nigeria. It reveals why the once-held aspiration of Nigeria becoming one of the twenty leading economies by 2020 has become a pipe dream.
The early chapter of the book, specifically, chapter one, focuses on the nation’s journey to Nigerian democracy, where the writer methodically analysed the nation’s tulmoltous journey to democracy; how the nation’s activists fought hard to kick out the military government that has impoverished the people and worsened the economy.
Highlighting the events of various systems of government practiced so far since the nation’s, the writer also chronicled the events that led to the June 12, 1993 election and how the election where Late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida-led military regime.
The struggle for the de-annulment of the June 12 presidential election, which has become synonymous with the struggle for democracy. It noted how some prodemocracy activists particularly in NADECO were detained, killed, gravely wounded, while some went in exile.
It, however, how some subsequently betrayed others and abandoned the struggle by taking appointments under the General Abacha Military regime while other became apologists for the regime.
According to the author, the struggle for for democracy was not just to do away with military dictatorship, I was also a struggle for qualitative improvement of their living condition.
Therefore, he averred that the quest for democracy cannot be separated from the quest by citizens for improved livelihood and enhanced human wellbeing. Chapter two of the book, centres on the gains and challenges of Nigeria democracy since 1999.
The author, in this chapter posits that Nigeria’s electoral democracy has not resulted in the quantitative im- provement of living conditions of most citizens. The book emphasises that only the wealthy few and their hanger-on have benefitted in the democracy.
It pointed out that while the larger populace are yet to fully experience improvement in their living conditions, there has been no significant structural transformation of the economy, which continues to be dependent on the production of crude oil, subsistence agriculture and other informal sector activities.
The latter two, according to the book are the main absorbers of labour in the country. Using graphical illustration to explain the missing link in Nigeria’s democracy and development, book maintains that unemployment and underemployment in the democratic era are more and that larger percentage of the populace yet to feel the impact of the nation’s democracy.
According to the author, “Every part of Nigeria is a victim of the poor management of the country by inept political leaders since independence. Secession is unlikely to bring development to any part of the country, and we do not look any farther than the quest for states and local governments – the creation of more states and local governments have not resulted in the desired development of the country. With the right leadership, Nigeria’s diversity can be its strength.”
The third chapter focuses the ideological orientation of the Nigerian political class. The author argues that it is important to understand the institutional architecture of the state and the consequent development outcomes, that is, its impact on growth and development.
According to the author, two factors are very crucial for the developmental success of a nation. These factors, he said is leadership and institutions. He believes in the ideological and programm-driven political parties that are anchored on the whishes of the people to sincerely drive a developmentalist agenda.
Chapter Four focuses on the ideological and institutional underpinnings of democracy in the country. Specifically, it describes a political elite that lacks an ideology of development nationalism and the technical, administrative and organisational structures (institutions) of democracy. It shows that the managers of the Nigerian state, have neither the political nor technical capacity necessary to propel a structural transformation of the economy.
They have also failed to formulate and implement any policy that could promote inclusive development, social justice and address the problem of climate change.
The concluding chapter,Chapter Five, the writer argues that to overcome the current development deficits of democracy, Nigeria needs a political class that is principled and organised in clearly identifiable, ideologically-driven political parties, that will prioritise investment in human capital and infrastructure, thus promoting a structural transformation of the economy.
For the nation to overcome the development and institutional deficits, it adds that democratic governance must embrace, effect developmentalism as an overarching national development agenda. In effect, the development needs to be carried out democratically in the context of overarching endogenous national developer plan and anchored on a long term national development vision.
The book which was published by A’Lime Media Limited makes a worthy argument for a democracy of purpose, experts, especially Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai describes the book as a timely call for democracy to propel institution and measures that substantially improves the lives of citizens, develop the economy and improve the process for selecting and electing leaders.
The author also proffers practical solutions on how to fix the Nigerian state, politics, and the public service to ensure that all citizens enjoy its development dividends and to transform the economy from dependency on oil, agriculture and low value-added services.
The author argues that the sustainability and legitimacy of democracy in Nigeria will be dependent on its ability to ensure inclusive development, whereby every Nigerian, not just the elite, reap the benefits of democracy. In a nutshell, the book titled: “Nigeria Democracy Without Development: How to fix it” is a very book for student of history, political science and anyone who wants to a lucid picture of the nation’s democratic history and its impacts on the people.
The writing language and style reveales that the writer is thorough-bred scholar, going by the referencing style meticulously published in the book