Between the Theory and Practice of Democracy in Nigeria: An Assessment of Obasanjo's First Term in Office by Academics and Practitioners
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Obasanjo's first term in office as a civilian president (1999 - 2003) was a major litmus test for the future of Nigeria's fledgling democracy. Set in a critical conjuncture characterized by high popular expectations and international goodwill on the one hand and weak institutions and deep-seated social cleavages exacerbated by years of military rule on the other, the new civilian governments at the Federal and State levels were expected to quickly deliver the 'dividends of democracy' to prevent an authoritarian throwback. The expectations included a quick improvement in social service delivery, ending egregious human rights violations of the military era, improving infrastructure, strengthening institutions of governance and creating jobs. But how did the Obasanjo regime fare in meeting the citizens' expectations in its first term in office? What were the challenges faced by practitioners in all the branches and levels of government in achieving their electoral promises and public expectations? And how did they respond to those challenges? In this book, some of Nigeria's leading academics dialogue with politicians who hold or have held key political positions, including Governor Ibrahim Idris of Kogi State, former state governors Orji Kalu, Sam Egwu and Chris Ngige, as well as other key political practitioners to find answers to some of the above questions. The contributors address numerous thorny issues in Nigerian politics and governance including federalism and presidentialism, elections and the electoral process, the judiciary and courts, parties and the party system, the economy, as well as foreign policy. Specifically, they address the issues of executive-legislative relations, executive-judiciary relations, party-government relations, Federal and State relations and the relations between President Obasanjo and State Governors that he regarded as recalcitrant. The book is unique in that it departs from the conventional academic balance sheet approach of matching popular expectations against government's service delivery to actually incorporate the views and experiences of the practitioners in the field. This is done not for self-justificatory purposes, but to genuinely articulate and perspectivise the challenges the practitioners faced and their own efforts at coping with such challenges. ____________________________________________ Elo Amucheazi is a distinguished retired professor of Political Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and former Director-General of National Orientation in Nigeria. He is currently adjunct Professor of Political Science at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the Anambra State University. He has published widely on Nigerian Politics, including the classic study of pressure group politics in Nigeria entitled Church and Politics in Eastern Nigeria (1986) Okechukwu Ibeanu is professor of Political Science and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the adverse effects of toxic wastes on the enjoyment of human rights. He has published extensively on conflict and security issues in the Niger Delta, including Civil Society and Conflict Management in the Niger Delta (2005) and Oiling Violence (2006), which is on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Niger Delta. His latest book is Election and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria (2007).