UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Deliberative democracy and problems of democratic governance in Nigeria Ajaja, Oluwaseun Oluwasegun


Problems of democratic governance in Nigeria are traceable to the impact of colonialism on, the prevalence of identity politics in, and the skewed structure of Nigeria’s constitutional framework. Previous scholars who have inquired into these problems had mostly concluded by either recommending the alteration of Nigeria’s constitutional composition or proposing the (re)enactment of the Nigerian constitution. However, both proposals had proven futile, as previous attempts to actualize them had resulted in several ethnoreligious conflicts - including the ongoing Boko Haram menace in northern Nigerian and the Biafra secession agitations in eastern Nigeria - both of which continue to undermine the prospect of genuine nationhood in Nigeria. Analyses of these challenges reveal bottlenecks that neither constitutional amendment(s) nor alteration of Nigeria’s constitutional order could address. For instance, the theme that runs through the Boko Haram menace and the Biafra secession agitations is the dissatisfaction of marginalized Nigerians with the governance of Nigeria and its political economy. Against this backdrop, this thesis examines and proposes means through which the voices of marginalized Nigerians could henceforth become central to the norms and integral to the tactics that the Nigerian government would subsequently rely on to govern. In democratic and political theories, only deliberative democracy - which emphasizes inclusivity and civic dialogue in the decision-making process - has the potential to actualize the above-noted aspirations. Deliberative democracy intermittently achieves said inclusivity by strategically manipulating and maneuvering civil discourse to ensure that participants in public spheres reach agreements that express and reflect their collective desires. Despite the potential of deliberative democracy to address Nigeria’s endemic democratic governance problems, several challenges undermine its fruition. These challenges inter alias encompass governance practices of elite domination, corruption prevalence, and the unwillingness of the Nigerian government to accommodate and encourage civil disobedience of Nigerians. Conceptualizing how and modifying the precepts of deliberative democracy to address these problems is this thesis’s overall objective. To guarantee that subsequent democratic decisions in Nigeria would produce fair and just outcomes for all Nigerians, this thesis concludes by arguing that confluence and not consensus should be the ultimate aspiration of deliberative democracy in Nigeria.

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