Nigeria At 58; A Call for Strengthened Democracy And Inclusive Governance

Abuja, Nigeria. October 2nd, 2018. An excerpt from NOIPolls’ National Survey conducted in 2017 revealed that Nigerians take pride in being citizens of Nigeria as 88 percent of the respondents surveyed declared that they were proud to be Nigerians. This is gratifying, especially in the face of ongoing agitation for secession and other critical challenges to the corporate existence of the country. Interestingly, further findings indicated that democracy and telecommunications were considered the greatest achievement Nigeria has made in its 57 years of existence. 

Given that nationalism is an essential component of statehood, it generally represents the deep feelings of attachment and belonging in citizens that inspire supportive attitudes and behaviours towards nationalistic symbols. One way of expressing this is the pride of being a citizen of a country. Thus, these findings call for strengthening of democracy through inclusive governance; which allows participation of Nigerians to foster unity and development in Nigeria. 

Nigeria’s Independence Day is celebrated annually on October 1st since 1960 and the 58th Independence Day was celebrated on October 1st 2018. Nigeria’s independence echoes the pride of citizenship which embodies the rights and duties of Nigerians or the essential for cultivating civic virtues and democratic values.[1] The nationalists who fought colonialism, nurtured expectations of political independence that would offer a sustainable path to redemption. But as it has turned out, the initial hope of independence has been squandered through bad governance. While Nigerians take in being citizens, the denial of full basic privileges of citizenship to individuals or groups for whatever reasons is usually accompanied by a drastic fall in citizens’ level of nationalism, participation, and trust in political institutions. 

When asked whether they were proud to be Nigerians or not, it is gratifying to note that an overwhelming majority answered in the affirmative. Overall, 88 percent of the respondents said they were proud to be Nigerians, while 12 percent felt otherwise as shown in the chart below.  There were no gender and age group differentiation in this respect as the least score across social categories was 87 percent.

The geo-political distributions of the responses make it all the more interesting. Across the six geopolitical zones, the least expression of pride in being a Nigerian was expressed in the South-South, where 74 percent of respondents still expressed pride in being Nigerian. This was followed by the South-East at 81 percent, North-Central and South-West at 89 percent respectively, and North-East and North-West at 96 percent apiece. One would have expected a totally different pattern of responses from the South-East and South-South given recent increase in the pace and tone of agitations and counter agitations in these regions.

The survey also gauged the perception of Nigerians regarding the greatest achievement of Nigeria since independence. In the assessment of respondents, the greatest achievements of Nigeria in its 58 years of political independence since 1960 included; democracy (19 percent), telecommunications (19 percent), agricultural development (10 percent), peace and unity (9 percent), and independence (7 percent) amongst others. It is reflective to note that 2 percent of respondents actually felt Nigeria has achieved nothing in 57 years of its independence, while another 5 percent claimed not to know Nigeria’s achievement during the same period.

In conclusion, the survey is reflective of the level of optimism amongst Nigerians despite years of bad governance which has affected sustainable development. Therefore, to sustain this embedded pride, there is need for synergy in creating and nurturing a culture of inclusive governance and protection of human rights. This will significantly raise eagerness and participation towards governance, while enhancing the common pursuit for national development. 

For Nigeria to be really independent, she also needs to experience economic prosperity and commonwealth where the human capital indices are not on the negative. An average Nigerian should be able to pride in the Nigerian state due to continuous growth and prosperity. The country which the founding fathers fought for is a nation void of corruption, nepotism, ethno-religious and cultural divide, sentiments, crimes, militancy and insurgency. Therefore, any independent movement should be mainly concerned with the pressure of good governance, one that can deliver the dividends of democracy to its citizens. It is only within such a democratic order, predicated upon popular legitimacy, transparency, accountability and effective service delivery that the notions of citizenship and independence assume any useful meaning. Though Nigeria is faced with various socio-economic and political challenges, it is important to emphasize the need for nationalism and true federalism especially as the election year is fast approaching and the vast majority of the adult population are expected to exercise their civic responsibilities, patriotism and national unity during the general election.

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published. 

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking. 

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[1]Engin F. Isin, and Bryan S. Turner, 'Investigating Citizenship: An Agenda for Citizenship Studies', Citizenship Studies, 11: 1, 2007, p. 5