Publisher: University of Calabar

Poverty, Inequality and The Challenges of Democratic Consolidation In Nigeria’S Fourth Republic

Ngara, Christopher Ochanja, Esebonu, Edward Ndem, Ogoh, Augustine Ogbaji, Orokpo, Ogbole F. E.
KEYWORDS: Poverty, Inequality, Democracy, Democratic consolidation, Challenge

ABSTRACT:

This paper argues that in spite of Nigeria’s rich human and abundant mineral resources (particularly oil), a disproportionately highly number of its population lives in abject with over 50% of the wealth concentrated in less than 10% of the total population. Utilizing content analysis spiced with empirical facts and with the aid of Marxist tool of analysis, the paper contends that liberal democracy cannot survive under certain level of national poverty. Thus, the widespread prevalence of poverty in Nigeria has placed major constraints on the country’s capacity to consolidate its emerging democracy leading to plethora of challenges. These challenges include: crisis of legitimacy and the rise of militant sub-nationalist agitations, ethno-religious and identity conflicts, corruption and institutional failures, crime and electoral violence, insecurity, injustice and political apathy with far reaching implications for the survival of the democratic system. The paper concludes by aligning its findings with one of the long standing assumption that democracy do not strive in a poverty infested environment and thus attributes the major challenges facing the present democratic experiment in Nigeria to the existence of poverty on a large scale. Therefore, to sustain Nigeria’s nascent democracy, the political class must embrace good governance through prudent use of available resources, provision of critical infrastructures and social amenities, conduct of free and fair elections, and the promotion of accountability, transparency and the rule of law.

This paper argues that in spite of Nigeria’s rich human and abundant mineral resources (particularly oil), a
disproportionately highly number of its population lives in abject with over 50% of the wealth concentrated
in less than 10% of the total population. Utilizing content analysis spiced with empirical facts and with the
aid of Marxist tool of analysis, the paper contends that liberal democracy cannot survive under certain level
of national poverty. Thus, the widespread prevalence of poverty in Nigeria has placed major constraints on
the country’s capacity to consolidate its emerging democracy leading to plethora of challenges. These
challenges include: crisis of legitimacy and the rise of militant sub-nationalist agitations, ethno-religious
and identity conflicts, corruption and institutional failures, crime and electoral violence, insecurity, injustice
and political apathy with far reaching implications for the survival of the democratic system. The paper
concludes by aligning its findings with one of the long standing assumption that democracy do not strive in
a poverty infested environment and thus attributes the major challenges facing the present democratic
experiment in Nigeria to the existence of poverty on a large scale. Therefore, to sustain Nigeria’s nascent
democracy, the political class must embrace good governance through prudent use of available resources,
provision of critical infrastructures and social amenities, conduct of free and fair elections, and the
promotion of accountability, transparency and the rule of law.


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