Annals of the Social Science Academy of Nigeria 22(1) 2018/19 DOI: 10.36108/ssan/191802.22.0110
Democracy and Challenges of Participation and Exclusion in Nigeria
Democracy is cherished because of the opportunities it offers people to contribute to issues affecting their lives. This reasoning accounts for the celebration when this form of government was restored in Nigeria in 1999 after protracted military dictatorships. In 2019 there were further jubilations over 20 unbroken years of democracy, the first since independence in 1960; issues of inclusion and exclusion were not mentioned. Yet, there are widespread exclusion of ethnic minorities and women through which their participation in running for office is circumscribed by circumstances of birth. Experiences in Plateau and Benue States are used as illustrations. It is here contended that until more deliberate efforts are made to include everyone, Nigeria’s brand of democracy will continue to exclude ethnic minorities and women. The dominant mantra of ‘majority carries the vote’ only aggravates the problem, a deliberate policy to resolve exclusion is necessary. Rwanda has led the way in gender inclusion, just as the USA had also shown that through policy reforms such as universal suffrage and affirmative action, African Americans and other minorities can become part of the mainstream, even producing a President and recently, 2021, the Vice President.
Keywords: Democracy, Inclusion and Exclusion in Nigeria