Democracy, the rule of law and good governance; are seemingly interrelated concepts. These concepts are considered vital elements necessary for the development of an ideal state. The general thought is that every state, regardless of how crude or authoritarian, is saddled with the rule of law and sound governance principles.
Democracy as a government system avails states with an enabling environment for the rule of law to thrive while the rule of law, in turn, sustains democracy. However, good governance elevates and strengthens both the rule of law and democracy in a given nation. As good as this sounds, this triumvirate relationship is more often provided in most states’ principles, rather than in practice. What then is the Nigerian experience?
After the 1960 political independence, successful Nigerian leaders have advocated for a democratic system where the law is supreme over the ruler and the ruled, otherwise known as the principle of the rule of law exists. As such, Nigeria has an intricate provision for democracy and the rule of law with the sole aim of achieving the beinghood of good governance. This is entrenched in the nation’s 1999 constitution as amended.
Another elaborate provision of the constitution is the separation of powers which allows for check and balance and in the long run, guarantees the existence of the rule of law. Also, Nigeria is a member state of various international organisations. It is part of different charters and treaties that protect and promote fundamental human rights and other principles of law rule. It is therefore apt to conclude that Nigeria, in no small extent, operates the rule of law, at least, in theory.
The crux of the discussion is that democracy is presumably at work in Nigeria, combined with other African nations that are also part of different international organisations and treaties where the rule of law upholds. Regardless of democratic provisions for the rule of law, good governance has never been a thing to reckon on among these nations. Nigeria, however, has some limitations on her democratic system.
These limitations include economic inequality which has deprived several citizens access to and participation in government. This economic inequality includes poverty, a high rate of unemployment, among others.
In general, it’s no doubt that good governance has been a mirage in Nigeria, despite the provisions from democracy and the rule of law. The reflection of this is the blatant negative index of Nigeria in evaluating good governance; this is due to different socio-political and economic problems, such as electoral malpractices, corruption, unemployment, low quality of life, declining economic growth etc.
Democracy thrives on the existence of the rule of law, while good governance its mechanism for sustenance. On the other hand, both democracy and the rule of law gear towards achieving good governance.
Good governance is the destination of both democracy and the rule of law. The media has worked hard to sustain both the rule of law and democracy despite some structural and institutional problems. Unless there’s a revamp of the nation’s bureaucratic system, democracy and the rule of law would continue to be an article of faith, while good governance remains a mirage.