BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The Nigerian state assumed a new governance status
in 1999 following the demise of authoritarian regime in the country. Military
dictatorship was replaced by representative democracy with the hopes and
aspirations of good governance much higher than what the seemingly collapsible
democratic institutions could fulfill. The source and nature of transition in
1999 was later found to constitute threat to the foundation of democracy and
obliterates the current efforts at consolidating democracy.
The reality of the attempts to subvert the concept
of democracy to serve the interests of a few, rather than a greater majority,
still looms high. The emerging democracy was artificial and reflexive of
external imposition. It is a weak democracy that repudiates inalienable ethos
of its true identity. Democracy in Nigeria and it’s effect on economic
development are related to good governance are interrelated and complementary
but appear to be antithetical in Nigeria. Democracy in Nigeria is alien and its
practice has proved difficult.
Democracy is abused, good governance becomes
elusive and evasive. This is what Darl (1989) describes as “virtual democracy”,
democracy that shares resemblance with true democracy but lacks basic tenets of
democracy. Democracy in Nigeria has three unique features which include:
insulation of economic matters from popular participation, manipulation and monopolization
of democratic process including the use of violence and electoral fraud to
secure legitimacy and peripheral participation of citizens. Surface-level participation
does not have far-reaching influence on the outcome of policy choices.
According to Oke (2010) democracy involves the
opportunity to participate in decision making in the political process. It
repudiates arbitrariness and authoritarianism. It extols the consent of the
governed and it protects human personality and values (Ake, 1991). Democracy,
whether liberal, African or modern, includes equal opportunity for all,
fundamental recognition of popular sovereignty, representativeness, majority rule,
minority rights, popular consultation, right of choice between alternative
programmes, consensus on fundamental issues, as well as essentially periodic
elections (Oke, 2005). The concept of democracy confers the opportunity to
participate in decision making by all.
Democracy here goes beyond opportunity of
election. Although, the centrality of elections to democratic process can not
be over-emphasized, democracy is not wholly centered on election. For democracy
to evolve good governance, it must be liberal and participatory. In this sense,
Liberal democracy entails not only free and fair elections in terms of voting
administration, it requires a more comprehensive fairness of political
competition embodied in the concept of a just and open competition. In a
liberal democracy, the electoral arena is open, and the playing field is
Only in a free society with opportunity of free
participation and respects for citizens’ rights can good governance be
achieved. True democracy places emphasis on freedom, and open competition,
popular and meaningful participation, responsiveness, transparency and
accountability. Freedom to organise, freedom to protest anti-people policies
and freedom to demand and assert citizens’ rights and interests, freedom of the
press to report, investigate and expose government policies and actions without
fear or favour. According to Diamond (2005), “Only in a climate of true
political and civil freedom can a country achieve the absolute fundamental
condition for development: responsible government—that is government that is
committed to the advancement of the public good, rather than the private
interests of its own officials and their families and their cronies”.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The experience with citizens’ participation in electoral
politics in Nigeria generally and Delta state in particular has not been
encouraging. Even where development of local participation is an important tool
of rural development and where political education in mass participation is a
key element of the development strategy, programmes have not developed genuine
participation and responsibility among the people.
The people have become recipients of development as if
development is something outside their realms of experience and right
respectively. There are political, socio-cultural and bureaucratic constraints
to economic development.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The main objective of this project work is to consider the
nature and extent of economic development by the people in a democratic system.
This, as noted above, will be carried out by assessing the involvement of the
people in electoral process in Asaba, Delta state.
Besides, this research work also aims at achieving other
important objectives which are also fundamental to the smooth operations of
governance in a democratic set up. The other objectives are enumerated below:
1. To establish any possible relationship
between political education and economic development in order to clearly state
the crucial ingredient of economic development;
2. To examine the legal framework of electoral
system and election administration in Nigeria in order to spot their
inadequacies and provide possible amendments;
3. To propose a number of strategies to
mobilize citizens for increased economic development and effectiveness
respectively in the country as a whole; and
4. To know the degree of confidence the people
have in the electoral system of their state/country as it is assumed that this
is reflected in their participation in electoral politics.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This research work is significant because it is aimed at
explaining economic development in the context of good governance. This will
enables us to appreciate the fact that the formulation of a national agenda
through dialogue by all stakeholders is a prerequisite for economic development.
Participation needs to be part of a broader conceptualization of
development, with much more attention to organizational structures and
linkages. However, participation has turned into a cliché for those
administering development; its values have been overemphasized, while doing
little to make it a reality.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This project work shall discuss the concept of economic
development, focusing mainly on what it is and what it is not within the
African context. The history of Nigeria’s politics shall be traced from the colonial
era to the present. The gathering of views on the electoral politics shall be
restricted to Asaba Delta State with reference to the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015
general elections covering Gubernatorial, House of Assembly and Local
Government elections in the state.
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The research hypothesis that will serve as the yardstick for the
administration of the questionnaire shall be based on the theoretical framework
that political education is fundamental to economic development. Therefore, the
research hypotheses are:
H0: That the extent of the economic development of the people in
electoral politics is not related to their political education.
H1: That the extent of the economic development of the people in
electoral politics is related to their political education.
Where H0 is the Hull Hypothesis, while H1 is the Alternative
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either
directly or through freely elected representatives.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; Economic
development can be defined as those actions
of private citizens by which they seek to influence or to support government
election is a formal decision
making process by which a population chooses an
individual to hold public office.