Worldwide, issues of democracy, good governance and concomitantly development, have dominated political, social and economic discourse. At the international, regional and domestic levels, concerted efforts are being made by way of standard setting, towards achieving the goals of democracy, good governance and development. At the global level, these issues form part of the key objectives of the 21st Century set by the United Nations as Millennium Development Goals. At the regional level, the African Union has adopted the “Declaration of Election, Democracy and Good Governance.” This paper examines democracy as an imperative to good governance and sustainable development in Nigeria.
The paper points out five reasons why democratic governance is imperative. First, democracy has as its basic tenets, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. It also promotes accountability and leadership by choice. Second, military rule is an aberration. Third, democratic governance is preferable to military rule. Forth, democracy is indisputably, the best form of government. Fifth, democratic rule must be nurtured to grow and prevail in Nigeria.
The authors discuss how Nigeria, like many nations of the world have embraced a democratic form of government, though it must be conceded that there are numerous imperfections in the system. Without doubt, one of the greatest threats to sustainable democracy in Nigeria is the problem of bad governance. Governance in Nigeria as in many African countries has been characterized by bad leadership unbridled corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, legislative lawlessness, executive recklessness and judicial rascality.
The paper concludes that in order to achieve sustainable democracy in Nigeria, dire need for good, efficient and effective governance is required. In addition the paper recommends the following:
building appropriate institutions
developing stronger vehicles for formal political participation and representation through political parties and electoral systems
developing free and independent media
devolving power from the central government to the provinces and villages
strengthening checks on arbitrary power by separating powers among the executive, judiciary and legislature, and by creating effective independent entities
government functionaries at all levels must strive to shun corruption