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Issue 2016, 2

Globalization and Democratic Experiments: A Sociological Profiling of Nigeria's Democratic Colonialism (1999-2015)

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Abstract: Globalization has become a contagious phenomenon that has not spared any society and social institutions. Events happening at the global arena has far-reaching impact and implications at the remotest village in virtually any part of the earth. The tidal wave of democracy as the most acceptable system of government and capitalism as the best economic system synchronized with the shattering hurricane of globalization around the world has been producing innumerable political changes. Nigeria like most countries in the third word that were formerly under military rule embraced the civilian rule in 1999 after 16 years of its suspension from 1983-1999. From this point of view this paper will seek to know the meaning of globalization, democracy and the inverse relationship of the two concepts on most of the third world countries in general and Nigeria in particular. A conceptual clarification of globalization and democracy will follow next. Methodologically, the paper adopted a qualitative methods of content analysis to analysed the literature and empirical studies on topic reviewed and provided some insightful sociological analyses and conclusions.

Keywords: Nigeria, democracy, globalization, colonialism, sociological analysis.


Globalization can be thought of as a process (or set of processes) which embodies a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions assessed in terms of their extensity, intensity, velocity and impact generating transcontinental or interregional flows and networks of activity, interaction and the exercise of power (Held et al. 1995). Sociologists such as Giddens (1991), Gereffi (1994), Castells (1996) and Rizvi (2004) regard globalization as a decoupling between space and time, in which production is coordinated on a global scale; while geographers and political scientists maintain that globalization entails a compression of space and time, a shrinking of the world (Harvey 1989; Mittelman 2000). Accelerated globalization in recent decades has unfolded in tandem with a notable growth of liberal democracy in many states where it was previously absent, such as in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America. A so-called ‘third wave’ of democratization in the late 1980s and early 1990s has gone hand in hand with contemporary globalization (Huntington 1991). Nigeria fall within the so-called third wave of democratization process as mentioned above, it was returned to civilian rule at the tail end of the 1990s that is why some commentators have argued that the system is still under experiment with lots of systemic failure on virtually all virile political and democratic indicators from electioneering campaigns, electoral voting, good governance as well as an improved economy for the well-being of the people.

Therefore, the objective of this is to provide a down-to-earth discussions and analysis of democracy and globalization in Nigeria in the last seventeen years of uninterrupted democracy which has never happened in the country independence in the 1960. In doing so, the paper adopted theoretical triangulation of World System Theory and Dependency Theory to explain the phenomenon and qualitative method was adopted and content analysis of existing theoretical and empirical literatures was used in the papers.

In an era of globalization, global democracy needs more than a democratic state structure. In principle, the growth of a multi-layered governance of local, regional and transnational bodies could be a hopeful development for democracy that may generally emphasize decentralization, checks on power use and abuse, pluralism and participation. In practice, however, post-sovereign, decentralized governance induced by globalization has proved to be decidedly less democratic than national governance in a sovereign state especially in Nigeria. Although the current worldwide trend of decentralization from national to provincial/state and local/district authorities may generally be welcomed taken in it’s first value, it has occasionally turned out to be a less automatically democratic progress, but rather democratic deficit, e.g. when local mafia hijacked the machineries of power in Nigeria from 1999-2015; the epoch witnessed disturbingly flagrant violation of democratic processes such as massive rigging and the use of money to buy votes, intimidation of voters, undemocratic imposition of candidates and political violence, these has produced a period where the country experienced an extensive identity violence, corruption and underdevelopment.

With the growth and influence of international business magnets and multinational corporations on the leadership of Nigeria, the entire democratic system has been commercialized where it is seen as the surest and easiest way of acquiring wealth and holding power. Similarly, in a so-called market democracy, consumers and shareholders ‘vote’ with their wallets and savings for producers that provide the highest returns in a global market. In this reconstruction of democracy, sovereignty is relocated from the national and state to the global market. It is argued that, while a state-centric democracy focuses on citizen rights and responsibilities, this obvious money-bag market-based democracy concentrates on product quality at the expense of human happiness and development. Consequently, the growing concentration of capital in powerful trans-border companies without any public control has presented a major problem for democracy not in Nigeria but in almost the entire third world countries. Nigeria has become a dumping ground for goods from China, Thailand, Malaysia and a huge market for substandard drugs from India and Pakistan. Prior to the 2015 General Elections, business tycoons such as Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Andy Uba, BUA Group, friends and associates of the former President Goodluck Jonathan of People Democratic Party (PDP) organized a dinner and donated $ 1 million to finance his reelection campaign while All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammad Buhari relied on donation from ordinary Nigerians. All those that contributed and finance the electioneering campaign expect a return on investment when their political party eventually ascended into power. This again played out as it is now evident in the appointment of ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammad Buhari where juicy ministries were given to those that contributed heavily to the victory of the party in the 2015 General Elections which has been trend since 1999. What follows next is the discussion on democracy proper.


Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries theorists of democracy have tended to assume a symmetrical and congruent relationship between political decision-maker and recipients of political decisions. In fact, symmetry and congruence have often been taken for granted at two crucial points: first, between citizen-voters and the decision-makers whom they are in principle, able to hold to account and secondly between the ‘output’ (decisions, policies and so on) of decision-makers and their constituents ultimately, the ‘people in a delimited territory (Held 1995).

The great drive to democracy that dominated the last quarter of the 20th century started with the collapse of the European dictatorships in Portugal, Spain and Greece in the 1970s. Between 1979 and 1985 the military withdrew in favour of civilian governments in nine Latin American countries. Democratization began to spread to previously untouched parts of Asia in the 1980s and 1990s. The Philippines saw the end of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 and Taiwan, South Korea, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan all became or strengthened their democracies in this period, although in the last case democracy did not survive. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union saw the start of a process that spread democracy throughout Central and Eastern Europe. In Africa, Benin led a charge to democracy in 1990, followed by a process that led to democracy being established in South Africa in 1994. Other African states also established democratic rule during this period (Stoker 1996).

Flowing from the above discussions, since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999 it has domesticated series of decisions taken at the global arena that has turned to significantly touch the lives of the electorate. For instance, on 4th June 2004, Nigeria enacted an act for the establishment of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) (adopted in 2003) which is the first global in-depth treaty on corruption. Bound by demands voiced by the populace and restive international organizations for governmental accountability and probity within government, a major challenge that faced the Obasanjo Administration between 1999 and 2007 was how best to ensure genuine restoration of democracy and good governance in Nigeria and eradicate corruption. The Obasanjo government consequently approached the fight against corruption with greater vigour and determination than previous administrations. Globalization led to the adoption of neo-liberal economic and political policies whilst the administration adopted economic and legal rules aimed at crafting a response to corruption (Enweremadu and Okafor 2009).

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has brought new dimension in the fight against corruption on one side and as a tool for witch-hunting opposition politicians that seem to constitute threat to the government in power on the other side, though since its inception, it has been making high profile arrests of top public officers and the recovery of funds carted away especially by political office holders and their accomplices in the civil service. Again, the enactment of Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 and the adoption of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other plethora of international polices are replica of decisions taken at the international arena and assimilated by Nigeria in order not to be a pariah in the league of nations has been having far reaching implications on the lives of the Nigerians that are not aware of the conception and the motives behind such policies and convention at the global arena. The hasty implementations of such conventions, treaties and programmes in Nigeria illustrated how successive governments acted in line with wishes and ideas of the West which Held (1999) asserted that, globalization reflects a widespread perception that the world is rapidly being moulded intorelianced social space by economic and technological forces and that development in one region of the world can have profound consequences for the life chances of individuals or communities on the other side of the globe (Held 1999).

Furthermore, Brendalyn Ambrose, defines democracy as “a system of governance which allows people to freely elect their leaders and hold them accountable, and which provides opportunity for the greater number of people to use their human potential to survive in dignity” (Ambrose 1995). This definition is echoed by David Held, who sees democracy as “a form of government in which, in contradiction to monarchies and aristocracies, the people rule” (Held 1987). These are all broad definitions, of course. Samuel Huntington defines democracy in a narrower political perspective. According to him, a political system is democratic “to the extent that its most powerful collective decision-makers are selected through fair, honest and periodic elections in which candidates freely compete for votes, and in which virtually all the adult population is eligible to vote”(Akokpari 2000). A narrow conception of democracy, therefore, limits it to the procedures by which the people select their leaders whereas a broader interpretation sees it as a political system which allows the people to control public decision-making on an ongoing basis.

It is important to note that, whether broad or narrow, most if not all definitions of democracy have “people” as a focal point. As such, in a democratic society, leaders (or rulers) should be chosen by the people, they should be accountable to the people and they should act in the interest of, and on behalf of, the people. In a more holistic sense, democracy includes the respect of the rights of the people and the guarantee of equal opportunity for all people. Why most the elections in Nigeria have aftermath of violence?

This implies that if a country holds elections regularly, tolerates opposition parties to voice criticisms, and permits the media to report freely and question some governments’ policies without censorship is regarded as democratic (Hamilton 2004). This is however a disturbing assumption because of three reasons: first, a country may hold elections regularly under massive rigging, leading to electing the same people into office because they have money to buy votes. This has happened in several states including Nigeria in 2003, 2007 and 2011, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Sudan. Secondly, a government may choose to let the media report on whatever they want but remain adamant about the key issues hurting citizens. For example, the media has always reported about vote rigging in Africa but governments do little to curb the vice (Abuya 2010). Third, if any state weakens its bureaucracy, the technical organ central in implementing public, as it is the case in Pakistan (Rizwan and Jadoon 2010) and in Uganda under Amin’s regime between 1971-1978 (Tindigarukayo 1988). This therefore proves how Hamilton’s view of democracy is blind of many key dimensions, and therefore may be rejected by the epistemic community. Instead, this paper finds paramount in the analysis of a democratic state by Oyekan (2009) who discusses indicators of democracy as authority emanating from the people; impartiality of laws and respect for human rights; effective accountability; and guarantee of removal of an incompetent government which fails to deliver (Turyahikayo 2014).

The political temperature across Nigeria is always tense and simmering for violence in preparation for elections since 1999 because the embrace of western style of democracy by the global political brokers in 1999 has open space for power contests between former military leaders and their accomplices that made their fortunes during decades of military misrule. Corroborating further, CLLEN Foundation (2000) argued that, past elections in Nigeria have been characterized by high levels of violence, intimidation and fraud. This has resulted in public cynicism about the electoral process and the entire democratic system. Democracy as it proponents prophesized, supposed to bring stability, progress and development to Nigeria and most African countries in the democratization process but on the contrary transition to democracy in Africa constitutes a central point for locating the majority of violent internal conflicts that engulfed the region from the turn of the 1990s, whose lingering impacts have remained evident in endemic conditions of political fragility, instability and insecurity (CLEEN Foundation 2000). Having discussed the imported democracy in Nigeria and its implication on Nigerians, next discussion will be on globalization, democracy and global politics in order to know the position the position of Nigeria in the field of global politics and the impact of position and the role played on the citizens.

Globalization Democracy and Global Politics: A Critique of Nigeria

In order to be in the bandwagon of global politics fashioned by the Western powers, amidst international pressure, the military handed over power to the democratically elected President in 1999 after the demised of General Sani Abacha in June 1998, this marked the entrance of Nigeria into a new phase of political life with innumerable political transactions which accompanied the influence of international politics and decisions in the era of globalization. Globalization has a striking force that penetrated territories, state and undermine its sovereignty to the extent that political decisions affecting most countries in the third world were taken millions of miles away from their shores. In recent history, globalization has undermined democracy in most countries in the third work such as Ivory Coast which led to the clash between foreign vested interests on Alhassane Outtara and the local population supports of Laurent Gbagbo, the story is the same in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt that led to the overthrown of Ben Ali, Muammar Gadhafi and Mohammed Mursi, with the aid of social media, youths and protesters were mobilized and gathered and decidedly led to fall of the regimes. It is undeniable that globalization has been encouraging democracy by inspiring mass participation and popular representation, good governance and innovations in democratic processes and practices in Nigeria especially during the illness and subsequent death of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010 where the citizens massively demanded for the passing of power to the Vice President to be the Acting President. The social media and civil society organization has revolutionized democracy in the world not only in third world. However, it has made governance undemocratic in some instances like in Egypt, where a democratically elected President was overthrown by the military with the support of Western powers.

The anarchy of the international environment poses a threat to state within it: the threat of being conquered, occupied, annihilated or made subservient. The obverse of the threat is opportunity: power, dominion, empire, glory ‘total’ security. This state of war induces states to organize themselves internally so as to meet these external changes (Gourevitch 1978).

Furthermore, globalization implies a stretching of social, political and economic activities across frontiers such that events, decisions and activities in one region of the world can come to have significance for individuals and communities in distant regions of the globe. In this sense, it embodies trans-regional interconnectedness, the widening reach of networks of social activity and power, and the possibility of action at a distance (Held et al. 2000). The September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA and the subsequent war on terrorism has brought a new political dimension in the politics and security issues of countries that have not been affected by the attacks directly. The condemnation of the attacks on USA by the Nigerian Government has generated an uproar and protests particularly from Muslims population, because the stance of Nigerian government on any global issues has a direct relationship with the degree of support from Nigerians and the life of the government in power. It has been acknowledged that, one of the factor that led of the defeat of PDP government in the 2015 General Election was the fall out between USA and Goodluck Jonathan’s rejection to support same sex marriage.

However, it is argued that globalization has a tendency to narrow the scope of democracy (Zeleza and McConnaughay 2004). One of the inevitable consequences of globalization in developing countries is the rearrangement of social classes by the creation of a dominant capitalist class. When this happens, the sphere of private decision-making expands at the expense of public decision-making. This is particularly evident since the commencement of privatization and commercialization of public enterprises and corporations especially those in the provision of utility services such as Federal Houses, Nigerian Telecommunication Company (NITEL), African Petroleum (AP), National Electrical Power Authority (NEPA), Nigerian Airways etc. government’s involvement in the provision of public services has been relegated to a bystander inspired by the IMF slogan of “Government has no business doing Business”. This has resulted in the increasing influence business magnets over governments and decision-makers. The private businesses are prospering accruing profits on daily basis while other industries owned by small scale entrepreneurs are collapsing and closing because of their inability to compete with the quality of imported goods as result of agreements with World Trade Organizations that opened the markets of developing countries accessible and easy for importation with virtually no trade tariff.

This narrowing of the control of democracy is particularly worrisome in Africa, where problems of social inequality are more severe and social-economic disparities more prevalent. Dailami (2000) caution that capital account liberalization may limit the ability of governments to deploy redistributive taxation, regulation, and risk-sharing policies, thereby weakening support for democratic forms of governance. That there have been parallel trends in the direction of political democratization and economic globalization in the last quarter century is undeniable. How globalization affects the state is another important indicator of the tension between globalization and democracy. It has been argued that the widespread disengagement of the state from economic activity (as a result of globalization) has made the state a victim of globalization (Zeleza and McConnaughay 2004).

From this perspective, “globalization has undercut the conventional national economic as well as political authority of the state” (Zeleza and McConnaughay 2004). The other side of this argument is that globalization has elevated economic issues into prominence at the expense of democratic concerns. For instance, “government’s important foreign policy decisions are informed more by economic than political considerations” (Akokpari 2000). As a result, a situation emerges where “both the state and democratic forces are losing effective control over decision-making” (Akokpari 2000). A significant tension between globalization and democracy is what could be referred to as globalized dependency. Africa’s growing dependency on Western patronage is well-known. This patronage has a disastrous impact on democracy and governance. Because most of their revenue is generated through such patronage, many African countries are more accountable to Western donor countries than to their own people. An example is often given of Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria which, having achieved important advances in terms of poverty alleviation and HIV policies, is considered to be an “effective reformer” and is a recipient of generous international aid packages. But, it has been pointed out, “the fact that these government today depends on donors for 53% of its revenue has clear implications for governance because ultimately these governments are more answerable to donors than to its citizens” (Mubangizi 2010).

As Ajayi notes, “globalization has brought many welcome benefits to many countries. Increased international trade and capital flows have been a major source of unprecedented growth and rising standards of living around the globe”. Globalization has brought a lot of good to the world at large including African countries but has also created problems, some with catastrophic effects. As Ghosh and Guven note, “To see globalization as a purely positive experience for all may be utopian rather than realistic”. Globalization has opened markets and niches for many people in African countries. Unfortunately, years of misrule and mismanagement of the economy has produced a populace of African people that are largely uneducated and business non savvy. African countries have for a long time been resource dependent, that is, depending on the sale of their natural resources for revenue. Business today has largely been a focal point and many Africans are only relatively recently, imbibing it, especially now in Nigeria when the President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to diversify the economy from the over reliance on oil which its price has been nose diving in the world market. Globalization of trade has made the Nigerian markets vulnerable which has resulted in a situation where for a long time, the Chinese, Lebanese and the Syrians are into retailing business in Nigeria. From ShopRite from South Africa and Sahad Stores from Lebanon in grocery business, MTN Nigeria Limited, etisalat and Zain service providers in telecommunication sector and myriad of construction companies has found Nigeria an enterprising place on one hand and sent the indigenous companies to extinction. In sum, in the business sector globalization has done a colossal havoc on Nigeria. The monopolistic control of oil sector by the foreign sector has produced conglomerates marketers oil magnets that pillaged the resources in the Niger Delta region and destroyed the ecosystem and farmlands.

These has produced a situation where there the oil barons become super-rich comprised of these ethnic minorities, and another relatively well-off group consisting of bureaucrats and government officials who have benefited from the dipping of their hands into state coffers and from the largesse of these ethnic groups in the Niger Delta. Thus as Richard Sklar aptly notes, “A small minority of the (Nigerian) population is conspicuously wealthy and privileged while the vast majority seethes with discontent”. Keepers of the national conscience frequently deplore the plunder and waste of Nigeria’s wealth by corrupt officials in collusion with unscrupulous businessmen (Sklar, n.d.). So in many African countries with even rule of law, the pillage and plunder of the resources by forces of globalization and democratization poses a huge threat to social stability in Nigera and the eventual attainment of democracy as resentment boils like a cauldron which sometimes explodes into conflict, as the masses watch the government officials and these minorities flaunt their wealth. As Nicephore Soglo writes, “Democracy is only consistent with strong economy and a more just society. There cannot be a democracy for the poor and a democracy for the rich” (Soglo 1992). This effect of globalization in its unbridled form can cause massive social dislocation like the one Nigeria has been struggling with it, the global war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attack in USA has produced myriads of Islamist fundamentalists groups in Nigeria such as Boko Haram, Ansarul Islam, Nigerian Taliban etc. which uprooted millions of people from their niches in North-Eastern Nigeria since 2009 as result of the attacks they have been unleashing on inhabitants of those villages, governments institutions, schools and security outfits in the area. The above discussion needs a theoretical framework for analysis of the issue at hand and World System Theory will be adopted as a framework of analysis.

Consensual Decolonization in Nigeria: The Root of Weak Democratic System  

Consensual decolonization is process by which colonies become independent of the colonizing country. It was gradual and peaceful for some British colonies such as Nigeria, Ghana were largely settled by expatriates but violent for others like Kenya, where the native rebellions were energized by nationalism. Consensual decolonization has been the root of fragile democracy in Nigeria because power was voluntarily relinquished to the emerging nationalists by the colonial masters who were not democrats but petty bourgeoisie and unwitting accomplices of the British government and merchants were mostly the elites who were trained to take over the colonial administration, they had also been brainwashed into accepting and furthering the European liberal democracy, therefore the aspiring African leaders did not rejected the structures of the colonialist exploitation but they only rejected the foreign rulers, nationalists that pushed for the decolonization and independence of Nigeria such Herbert Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Anthony Enahoro, Sir. Ahmadu Bello, Ladoke Akintola and host others were trained and educated in Britain, this informed the rationale behind building Nigeria along western capitalist democracy, in this way, the colonialist find it convenient to hand over power to the cooperating Nigerians without recourse to democratic mores and tenets who will safeguard their interests and investments. It was also particularly expedient with the enormous cost of maintaining direct political in the colonies.

The independence process was ignited by the basic resolved of the colonized people to take their destiny unto their hands. The earliest struggle in Nigeria for independence took the form of protest for more participation in the colonial government instead of laying a solid foundation for workable democracy and the mood later changed for desire for self-government, the nationalists were against the violent overthrow of the colonial government. The nationalists were able garnered the support of the people because of the general resentment against the colonial government, the peasant and the protesting about their marginalization, high taxation and cheap or low prices for their commodities, the workers and their general outcry over their poor wages and working conditions etc. these dissatisfactions culminated into open disturbances and crises. For example, in 1929, the Aba women violently resisted against attempts to impose taxation on them, unpopular Warrant Chiefs were attacked and their properties destroyed. In the 1940s workers were organized into trade unions and they used their association to strike so as to paralyze essential services such as railway, telecommunications, coal mining, coastal ports etc. the strikes was supported by newspaper owned by nationalists such as Nnamdi Azikiwe;s Pilot and Comet Newspapers. The colonialist considered these agitations and increased wages demands, they introduced the constitutional reforms of Richard Constitution reform of 1946 which provided room for more participation of Nigerians in the colonial government through democratic means. However, by the time the British accepted the reality of handing over power, Nigerian nationalists and petty bourgeoisie competed against themselves by trying to outsmart one another for the political crown. The regions which were created then served as the platform for the intra-patty bourgeoisie squabble.

In the Northern region, (Jam’iyyar Mutanen Arewa) a Northern Nigeria cultural association that later evolved into a political part and became a dominant party in northern Nigeria was led by Malam Aminu Kano and Northern People Congress chaired by Sir. Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa and host of youths in their ranks such as Yusuf Maitama Sule, Abubakar Rimi, Mudi Speaking, Wada Nas etc. these two leading parties alongside other minority parties charted the course of the people throughout the 1st and 2nd Republics. In the Western region of Nigeria, Egbo Omo Oduduwa served as a platform for promoting Yoruba’s unity and protecting their economic, educational and political leadership especially against the challenge from the Igbo, it has midwifed the birth of Action Group (AG) as the political vanguard for the Oduduwa people. In the Eastern region, the leadership of National Congress for Nigerians Citizens (NCNC) which had broad political interests changed and became more increasingly interested in the affairs of Igbo State Union. The only radical and transregional association was Zikkist Movement (ZM), they took the path of militant confrontation with the colonial authorities, it also encouraged and supported industrial actions and picketing such as the coal miner’s strike in Enugu where 21 workers were massacred, because of the militancy of the ZM, ten (10) of their leaders including the frontline leader Mokwungo Okoye were arrested and imprisoned in February 1949. The founding fathers of the ZM such as Nnamdi Azikiwe dissociated himself from the violent strategy of the ZM and the colonial government banned the movement in April, 1950.

The rising militancy and agitation by the nationalists in their effort and struggle for independence resulted to the first general election that was held in 1951/52. Expectedly, the NCNC go the East with a large majority landslide, the AG won 49 seats out of the 80 seats in the West while the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) had swept the Northern region. At the national level, the elites of the three regions disagreed on the time table for independence, while South at the instance of a bill by Anthony Enahoro of Action Group (AG) demanded for self-government in 1956/57, the North argued that independence should be granted only when practicable. From 1952 thereafter, a lot of constitutional reforms, concessions and compromises were reached which finally culminated in the formal granting of independence on 1st October, 1960 with dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as the first black Governor General and Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister and Head of Government.

From the above sociological analysis, it has evinced that the process of political conquest, the process of decolonization in Nigeria had created certain indispensable set of people that were required to provide both manual and mental labour. These are essentially the peasantry, working class, proletariat, petty bourgeoisie, it was the same classes of people that revolted against the oppressive and exploitative nature of the colonial system that laid the foundation of regional, religious and ethnic politics in Nigeria, because the struggle for independence was hinged on regional and ethnic considerations and the departed colonial masters reinforced it handing over power based on that social arrangements. These tenuous democratic collapsed six years after independence (1966) when the first military coup took place, regional, ethnic and religious politics also permeated the military regimes. Amidst global pressure from world political powers notably the United States of America to Nigeria to democratic system synchronized with the demised of Gen. Sani Abacha in June 1998, the military organized a general election in 1999 and handed over power to a retired military general Olusegun Obasanjo that was brought based on regional arrangements to console the people of Western Nigeria over the annulment of June 12, 1993 which M. K. O. Abiola from Western region was the adjudged winner. Ethnic, regional and religious politics become deeply entrenched in the Nigerian democracy in People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which held power at centre and most States for sixteen years (1999-2015) where the issue of rational presidency was brought to limelight between the three regions after the two term of Olusegun Obasanjo, the demised of Obasanjo’s successor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010 created disaffection among the northerners in the PDP, demanding the return of power to North to complete its two term which Goodluck Jonathan did not bow to the primordial demands until 2015, when most of the key politicians in the PDP decamped to All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure the seat of the President is return to the North, expectedly with support from former colonial lord Britain and USA, Goodluck Jonathan was defeated in the 2005 General Election by Muhammadu Buhari. Based on the colonial and decolonization antecedents of Nigeria, the country was built by colonialist and its founding fathers on the foundations of parochial and primordial factors that stunted democratic growth and development, that has been destroying democratic ethos and customs that level playing field for all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, social background and economic status at best Nigeria is witnessing what Larry Diamond observes, “elections without democracy” (Diamond 2002).

Theoretical Frameworks  

Wallerstein (1974) stated that a world-system is a “multicultural territorial division of labour in which the production and exchange of basic goods and raw materials is necessary for the everyday life of its inhabitants.” This division of labour refers to the forces and relations of production of the world economy as a whole and it leads to the existence of two interdependent regions: core and periphery. These are geographically and culturally different, one focusing on labour-intensive, and the other on capital-intensive production. (Goldfrank 2000). The core-periphery relationship is structural. Semi-peripheral states act as a buffer zone between core and periphery, and has a mix of the kinds of activities and institutions that exist on them (Skocpol 1977). Among the most important structures of the current world-system is a power hierarchy between core and periphery, in which powerful and wealthy “core” societies dominate and exploit weak and poor peripheral societies.

On the political side of the world-system a few concepts deem highlighting. For Wallerstein, nation-states are variables, elements within the system. States are used by class forces to pursue their interest, in the case of core countries. ‘Imperialism’ refers to the domination of weak peripheral regions by strong core states. ‘Hegemony’ refers to the existence of one core state temporarily outstripping the rest. Hegemonic powers maintain a stable balance of power and enforce free trade as long as it is to their advantage. However, hegemony is temporary due to class struggles and the diffusion of technical advantages. In order to ensure and maintain their political dominance in most the third world countries, European Union and USA are in the fore-front in financing, monitoring and pass verdict on the credibility, fairness and otherwise all elections in Nigeria since 1999. That is why on the ever of the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria, the APC Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari was invited and delivered a lecture in Chatham House, London as part of his electioneering campaign which was a pointer that world powers were in his support. They did it for a reason, i.e. to ensure the President support their views in global politics and protect their multinational companies’ base in Nigeria. The relationship is for the perpetuation of imperialism and hegemony.

The supplement some of the deficiencies of the World System Theory, Dependency Theory has been adopted. Dependency is as “an explanation of the economic development of a state in terms of the external influences be it political, economic, and cultural, on national development policies” (Sunkel 1969: 23, in Ferraro 1996: 1). Here, the term dependency refers an important dimension of political economy of Third World countries: Both economy and politics in these countries are heavily affected by their dependence relationships with rich Western countries. The notion of dependency focuses on asymmetrical relationships and ties among nations, small groups and classes within the Third World and between the ones in Third World and the ones in Western World. In other words, although dependency is mostly seen between nations, it includes broader ties among classes and groups within and among nations who have common interests. The Western democrats are the ones championing the campaign for the introduction of democratic system in Third World countries that were under dictatorial regimes. Globalization and modernization have become the intellectual vanguards of democracy, preaching the gospel of democracy which is always accompanied with freedom and development that are totally absent in some of the Third World countries. In order not to be a pariah state in a world turned to global village by globalization, Nigeria and other African countries reluctantly embraced democratic system of government in 1999 amidst accolades and expectations of better future. With the return to democracy, Nigeria has been receiving aid and grants from foreign governments and donor agencies like USAID (United Stated Agency for International Development), European Union (EU), DFID (Department for International Development) and United Nationals organization to strengthen it democracy by conducting credible elections and reforms that would pave way for the establishment of strong democratic institutions that have trickle-down effects on the lives of the Nigerians. Though Nigeria has been relying on aid to finance it democracy and technical assistance, this asymmetrical or unequal relationship to a large extent has helped in the sustainability of the democracy in Nigeria, which the donor countries and organizations influence the outcome of the elections results, who become the President, appointment of ministers, and budget preparation. This was evident during the past governments of Olusegun Obasanjo Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was brought from World Bank to superintend the Ministry of Finance, during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Dr. Mansur Muktar from African Development Bank and Dr. Shamsudeen Usman from London School of Economics was brought to supervised Ministries of National Planning and Finance respectively. With the demised of Yar’Adua, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was brought by Goodluck Jonathan when he became the President to oversee the Ministry of Finance. From the above discussions, it is an indisputable fact that globalization has helped in the institutionalization of democracy in Nigeria on one hand and subject the country to external control on the other.

A Critique of Globalization and Democracy

Historically, the forces of globalization, including in particular mercantilism and British colonialism, created the political and economic structures which have over the years been undermining the forces of democracy in Nigeria. The first salient structure in this regard is the initiation of comprador character of development during pre-industrial mercantilism. This took place mainly between 1500 and 1799. In the various parts of what now constitutes Nigeria, mercantilism stalled the requisite social structures for development. For instance, the key articles of trade that were taken out were slaves, gold and elephant tusks. Even though the economy had not been monetized at the time, there were three key trade routes through which contacts with the outside world were made: Trans Saharan, East African (Indian Ocean) and Trans-Atlantic routes (Umezurike 2012). Slave raids led to wars and all-round insecurity. Moreover, African development was mortgaged to the advantages of those of Europe and North America. This was further consolidated by British imperial conquest and the creation of a particular character of state in Nigeria which has been undermining the forces of democracy. Imperial conquest took place between 1800 and 1945. The character of imperial conquest and subsequent colonization for the period consolidated comprador development through the maintenance-dissolution effects produced on peasant production relations. Thus, there has been a conjunctive exploitation of the political economy by imperial capital, traditional chiefs and mercantile middlemen (Umezurike 2012).

Who benefited from globalization? In a broad sense, the Western community did. During the past few centuries, the share of the European stock in the world’s population has risen substantially (Cipolla 1964). Within Europe, those who benefited the most were those governments and states and their subjects that led and controlled the process. At first the Iberian monarchies grew powerful on its proceeds, the Dutch, the English and the French (Modelski 2000). During colonial rule, British imperial capital exploited peasant economy by subjecting it to produce cash crops for metropolitan industrial manufactures. The major cash crops which were produced included palm produce, cocoa, groundnut and cotton. The period postdating the Second World War has been perpetuating the same character of political economy in Nigeria fostered by transnational corporations, multilateral institutions, including especially the IMF and the World Bank. The modus operandi has been via foreign direct investment, foreign technological transfer and effective maintenance of the current global financial order by the Bretton Woods institutions. Nevertheless, the hallmark of Nigeria has remained unmitigated political crisis, economic and technological dependence and debt crisis. While the Nigerian petty bourgeoisie has remained the conveyor belt of this character of development, they have equally fostered incessant ethnic conflicts and undermined the development and political struggles of the working class in Nigeria’s post-colony. Invariably, the direction of the largely confrontational relationship has been such that both the forces of globalization and the forces of democracy have been mutually antagonistic. Part of this era has been the neo-liberal regime in which these antagonisms have been mostly revealed (Umezurike 2012).

Globalization has transformed states in Africa, and reduced their economic and political independence. For neoliberal globalization builds the growth and development of one part of the world on the back of other parts. That is done through the idea of a global free market, yet we know that the most basic feature of neoliberalism is the systematic use of state power to impose market imperatives through a domestic process that is replicated internationally. Part of Africa’s difficulty is thus countering the intellectual deceit peddled by international financial institutions – that globalization brings universal economic growth rather than a continued subordination to the rule of capital. Globalization brings poverty and inequality to Africa as a result of the continent’s uneven incorporation into the world economy. The main hope for the future is not free trade, open markets and technological gains; rather, it is resistance to the impact of globalization by workers and peasants, and the construction by Africans themselves of an alternative future (Umezurike 2012).

According to Bush (2007), there has been a preoccupation with Africa’s perceived weak state capacity as the reason for the continent lagging behind others and this is a smoke screen for persistent western intervention. The doctrine of good governance – a feature of the 2006 UK DFID paper on eliminating world poverty continues the standard anthologizing of African politics. There has been little effort to understand some of the difficulties faced by African states, their inherited political structures and boundaries, the continual outside intervention in democratic initiatives when they have not accorded with western interests, and the collusion between western business and local elites in perpetrating undemocratic regimes. Yet there have always been struggles to deepen democratic practice – recent examples are Togo and Ghana; and despite the violence after the Kenyan elections, there are signs that politicians are finding new solutions to the state’s historical problems. There have also been intense struggles in Nigeria for political liberalization, and contested although badly flawed Presidential and Municipal elections in Egypt, Uganda, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea.

In reality, ‘good-enough governance’ is a label that can be conveniently attached to any state that is in a subordinate relationship with the west. Development, in the age of neoliberal globalization, has come to mean a dependent relationship. Attempts by African states to control national resources, to promote alternative development, to empower resistance to globalization, are thwarted: donor assistance is only forthcoming if you toe the line. Globalization in Africa means: have a civil society but make sure you control it; have electoral politics but ensure no radical politician takes power; have improved transparency around mineral and oil wealth but do not allow indigenous people control over resource access (Bond 2006). Analysts have been unable to expose why Africa is in crisis, other than to heap blame on poor capacity, war, poor education and the need for more trade. But these are not explanations of crisis, only a shopping list for future palliative care. And the intention of the solutions on offer is to ensure continued flow of African resources to the west, and the retention of African people in Africa (here poverty reduction becomes a trope for control and subordination of African populations) (Bush 2007).

A key feature of globalization is that it has increased the vulnerability of national economies to competition. Take the case of trade. Trade theory predicts that lowering barriers and opening up to trade leads to improvements in economic efficiency even though there may be distributional consequences. But for poor countries, these efficiency gains can often be purchased at the price of greater job insecurity, greater risk, and vulnerability to contagions (Enweremadu and Okafor 2009). For instance, the textile industry in Nigeria, like that elsewhere in the globe, has been decimated by competition from China. Vast quantities of cheap textiles imported or dumped from China and South Korea have made it impossible for most Nigerian textile manufacturers to compete. Factories have closed down and jobs have been lost in the last few years.

There is another side to the story of the disjunction of capitalism and democracy, and it is equally serious. Democracy does not make people rich, poverty has been skyrocketing in Nigeria with an alarming rate of unemployment. It does not even guarantee that the foundations and motive forces of a capitalism that benefits all are provided. Yet this is what people seem to expect. Missionaries of democracy at least hint that with the adoption of democratic institutions the conditions of growing wealth are in place. Many people who support the spread of democracy see it as a means to the end of greater prosperity. In countries which have shed illiberal regimes the belief is widespread among people that once they have the vote they have the entry ticket to the American dream as well. When disappointment sets in, they abandon their belief in democracy even before that in capitalism (Dahrendorf 2006).

Democracy, Globalization: Nigeria in the Global Social Network  

Social networks can be mechanisms for coordination, trust, commitment, especially in developing countries where formal law and political institutions are weak (Gourevitch 2005). Since 1950s when old was discovered in Nigeria, the country has strong trade ties with foreign multinational companies in the exploration and exporting of oil such Chevron, Texaco, British Petroleum, Total, Elf, construction firms like Julius Berger from Germany, PW from Scotland and Borini Prono from Italy have dominated the construction industry in Nigeria for decades, while Nestle Foods and UAC on grocery business. Social network with the countries in the metropole means Nigeria opening it economy to the dictates of multinational conglomerates. Because of their economic interests in Nigeria, these countries in the metropole are the major donors sponsoring elections in Nigeria since 1999, European Union (EU), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Department for International Development (DFID), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) etc. and influencing the outcomes of elections.

Klaus Müller (2005) argued that, a more modest approach is being debated in recent years under the headlines of Global Public Policy and Global Governance. In these cases, states pool their sovereignty to solve specific problems and may invite, case by case, the private sector or civil society groups for consultations. This idea is taken serious by several procedures to “democratize” the multi-lateral institutions, which in practice means to improve and to co-opt non-government organizations of different types. Even the IMF and the World Bank have been receptive to this idea by installing civil society forums to enhance transparency. Not at least, the UN has postulated a governance by the “international public domain” which would include “civil society organizations, the private sector, parliamentarians, local authorities, scientific associations, educational institutions and many others” (Annan 2000: 13).

The most ambitions approach aims at a global democracy in the full sense of the term, resting on transnational institutions. The UN-General assembly would, in the long run, develop into a system similar to the European Parliament. In this sense, David Held and Anthony Giddens think, a cosmopolitan democracy would be a pre-condition to re-regulate the globalized world economy, to reduce ecological risks and economic inequalities – and also to give new life to democracy on the lower levels (Giddens 2000). Giddens is cautious enough to present this perspective as “utopian realism”. This seems fair enough. But how to weight the “utopian” and the “realism” in this formula would be another discussion. Until now it seems that globalization is posing more problems for democracy than solutions.

Democratization Process in Nigeria and Effects of Political Communication  

Political communication is largely mediated communication, transmitted through the print and electronic media (Brants and Voltmer 2011). The media alter the message, in their roles as reporters of and commentators on it. They are, therefore, political actors in their own right. As a general rule, the effects of political communications of whatever kind are determined not by the content of the message alone, or even primarily, but by the historical context in which they appear, and especially the political environment prevailing at any given time. The “quality” of a message, the skill and sophistication of its construction, count for nothing if the audience is not receptive. President Clinton’s media adviser in the 1996 re-election campaign, Dick Morris, writes in his memoir that “if the public won’t buy your basic premise, it doesn’t matter how much you spend or how well your ads are produced; they won’t work” (1997: 152).

Political communication is a category communication that includes a large proportion of all deliberative and hortatory activities that take place outside of the household (Sills 1972). For example, the speech of a candidate is political communication; but so, by this definition, is an employee’s request that his superiors address him as “Mr.” rather than by his first name, or a letter from a club to its members telling them that the dues are to be raised. However, a narrower definition of “political communication” refers only to the activity of certain specialized institutions that have been set up to disseminate information, ideas, and attitudes about governmental affairs. This narrow definition is often embedded in institutional studies of political communication (Diedong 2013). For example, studies on psychological warfare may focus on across-the-lines broadcasts and leaflet distribution (Lasswell 1938; Lerner 1949). Studies on election campaigns may focus on the use of newspapers, posters, billboards, and speeches (Herring 1940; Childs 1965).

There are a wide varieties of election process that can be influenced by political communication. Major contributions to the field prior to 1914 range from Plato’s Gorgia’s, which considers morality in propaganda; Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Mill’s System of Logic, which analyse the structure of persuasive argumentation to Machiavelli’s The Prince and Lenin’s What is to Be Done? which are handbooks of political communication for the securing of power. One tool political parties and their functionaries use during political campaigns is propaganda. Just as during World War 1 when propaganda was used a lot because of its so-called mythical power, to the extent that the myth was expressed in a large body of German literature that overestimated the power of propaganda, today politicians still have such exaggerated views of the influence that propaganda can wield if used efficiently.

Since 1999 when power was shifted from the military Head of State to democratically elected President, political communication has taken a new dimension in Nigeria notably in the preparation of the 2003 General Elections, public own media outlets were dominated the government propagandists of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the central government, the same situation happened in various States of the federation, the political party in power often controls the media in its domain. The same with newspapers and other print media, though there are a lot of private print and online media outfits than the government-own in Nigeria, it is often the voices of the incumbents that is mostly heard, because those in power have access to the public treasury hence use public fund to buy airtime on Radio and Television and spaces on the newspapers which has overarching influence in shaping the electoral choices of Nigerians both rural and urban dwellers. From 2003 onwards marked the turning point of the proliferation of public and private radio stations control by State and Federal Government in almost all the thirty-six states in Nigeria, the same happened with the private print and online newspapers which revolutionized the entire democratic psyche of the Nigerians. Private media outfits both traditional (radio, television and print newspapers) have been providing alternatives for the Nigerian to discuss and debate political issues in public space which is new phenomenon in a country coming from decades of military dictatorship. Political jingles and electioneering, as the fourth realm of the estate, private media were the ones that echo the voices and campaign rallies and adverts of the opposition parties.

The aim of mass media is to provide such analysis as would enable the people to secure an adequate understanding and background to events; to assist in the articulation and pursuit of the national interest; to help strengthen the economic, social and political fabric of the nation; and provide informed criticism and viable alternatives to public policies as well as strengthen the democratic governance. These and other functions were largely neglected by the domestic medias both public and private until the waves globalization dismantled the entire social barriers of government and wealthy owners of mass media in Nigeria with the evolution of social media on the internet. Foreign media especially radio stations that broadcast in local language from the USA, Voice of America (Hausa and English Services) Radio France Internationale (Hausa and English Services), Duechevelle DW Germany (Hausa and English service, these Hausa sections (Hausa is one of the largest spoken language in the Northern Nigeria) has ignited political consciousness among the citizens and reawaken their interests on government and activities of their leaders during and after the elections among largest population that are living in rural areas that hardly access internet, that is why the use of Hausa language and radio stations has achieved a tremendous results that led to the defeat of the incumbent government of the PDP by APC in 2015. The political communication has in no small scale with the aid of globalization as the engine the moves it, was evident in the 2015 General elections in Nigeria. The public media outlets were preoccupied with campaigns of calumny against the opposition parties notably All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari, cognizance of the lack of space in the domestic media because the Goodluck Jonathan government muzzled the voices of the private media outfits by handing heavy fine and sometime ban on radio stations and electronic media bloggers that received adverts from the opposition; Liberty FM Station in Kaduna, Vision FM in Abuja, Sahara Reports an electronic TV and news page based in New York were among the media outlets clamped down by the then PDP government. The globalization and revolution brought by electronic means of communication has collapsed the old barriers to information about the activities of government, now in almost all part of Nigeria, Nigerians a following every unfolding political events, such as the live covering of the sitting of parliamentarians at the National Assembly in Abuja, with the aid of smartphones and wireless internet connectivity provided by mobile telecommunications service providers.


From the foregoing discussions, it is glaring that basic undemocratic feature of globalization is on the nation-state that has a right to membership of WTO and IFIs (International financial Institutions). One would have thought that demands for global democracy, a global parliament, and a world government would be the logical visionary alternative suggested by the critics of today’s intergovernmental organizations (e.g. one along the lines suggested by the world federalist movements). But just the opposite seems to be the rule: The anti-globalists seem more local than global in their visions when it comes to political decision making (“glocalism”), where the views and opinions of the local citizens supposed to dictate the pace and direction of the Nigerian government but on the contrary it is acting on the script written in Washington, Paris, London and Beijing which has been the trend when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed into Office in 2015, he visited more than 20 countries in the world.

Thus, issues on international trade and globalization will continue to be handled by governments in intergovernmental organizations and by diplomats and other civil servants. Then, negotiations and decisions are prepared and taken in processes that are not always open and to be effective many times cannot be open except with a time lag. This is a classic problem of democratic accountability in foreign and security policy, and it is not specific to WTO and IFIs. The problem is handled in slightly different ways in different democracies, and generally speaking, through parliamentary committees with special rights to secret information, to closed sessions, and to the possibility of being consulted and deciding on negotiating positions.


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DOI: 10.12893/gjcpi.2016.2.9