Democracy, The Case For Transparency And Accountability In Emerging Societies; Nigeria As A Case Study

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq


On the backdrop of globalization efforts and the end of the cold war, the attention of the International community is directed at emergent societies. Of major concern is the inability of these systems to practice the classical system of democracy represented by the separation of powers, the rule of law and transparency and accountability of the government. Studies have identified the defects as caused by inconclusive elections, nepotism, bribery, kickbacks and “money politics”. This paper studies the case of Nigeria in the backdrop of Transparency International’s Perceived Corruption Index (PCI) and the USAID’s Handbook on fighting Corruption to prove or disprove the assertions.


Democracy shall be herein defined in the context of the ideal and compared to the problem and prospects of the same political concept in Emerging Societies.“Democracy”, is defined as a government that is not only representative of the wishes of the people but is also for the benefit of the majority.A government that is elected in a free and fair elections, where each individual of voting age has the freedom to cast their vote and be voted into office according to their individual wills.By “Emergent Societies” I mean developing countries coming out of conflict that have not yet attained the minimum level of societies comparable to the Western Hemisphere.I shall examine whether the classical concept of Democracy can be truly practiced in Emergent Societies, using Nigeria as a reference point.

Competent studies have shown that there is a current problem with the application of the pure forms of Democracy in these Emergent Societies, whether in Europe, Asia or Africa.The problem is how to balance between fair systems of letting the citizens determine what government they want against what is truly good for them in this era of 21st Century globalization.The effort at democratization worldwide is measured against the backdrop of an existing system of corruption represented by a lack of transparency in the political class of these societies.

The deficiency in extant studies is that they tend to assume that every society given the choice would opt for Republican Democracy as against Monarchy, Oligarchy or Theocracy for instance.If Democracy is a rule of the majority, an uninformed majority can be influenced or manipulated by the ruling class as is so often the case in these Emergent Societies, especially Nigeria.

Governments, politicians, scholars and analysts are likely to find this study of the effect of corrupt democratic systems with special regard to transparency and accountability in Nigeria of interest.


The purpose of this concurrent mixed method study is to measure, using extant criteria, if Nigeria’s Democracy is flawed by corruption.The study moves from the premise that “transparency and accountability” is a necessary component of Democracy. A lack, therefore, of this major component reduces the value of Democracy.To clarify the position of the country, research would have to address the postpositivist claim regarding whether we have or have ever had democracy in Nigeria.In this mixed model, we shall need to study extant facts contained in studies, literature, and official Government sources.Further, we shall need to augment the data with other sources by way of comparison.A sampling of Nigerian topical issues from internet articles on websites from 1999 to 2004 would validate or disprove claims.


1. Is Democracy the best system of Government?

· Can pure Democracy co-exist with endemic Corruption?

· Can there be Democracy without transparency and accountability?

2.Can there be Democracy without “money politics”?

· What, if any, is the role of money in politics?

· Does transparency and accountability help or hinder Democracy?

· Does the election of mostly the wealthy bring out the best rulers in a society?

3. Can Emergent Societies operate Democracy and survive 21st Century globalization?

· Does transparency and accountability in politics run counter to the interest of Emerging Societies?

· Is the rule of the majority good for Emergent Societies?

· Is Democracy beneficial to Emergent Societies?

b)“Mixed Method of Study of the Effects of Corruption on Democracy in Emergent Societies: the case of Nigeria ”


“Democracy” shall be herein defined as a system of a government that is not only representative of the wishes of the people but is also for the benefit of the majority as opposed to an Aristocracy, Monarchy or Mixed government.A government that is elected in a free and fair elections, where each individual of voting age has the freedom to cast their vote and be voted into office according to their individual wills and in a manner that is seen as transparent and fair to all.

“Emergent Societies” for the purpose of this study is used interchangeably with “Emergent Democracies” as well as “Emergent Economies”, which phrase refers to developing countries that have not yet attained the minimum level of societies in the Western Hemisphere.

“Corruption” refers to “the abuse of public office for private gain.It encompasses unilateral abuses by government officials such as embezzlement and nepotism, as well as abuses linking public and private actors such as bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud.” It is also a deliberate perversion of the pure practice representative democracy in theory or practice as defined the authoritative handbook on fighting corruption of the USAID.This includes “institutional attributes of the state as well as societal attitudes toward formal political processes” which is geared toward being self-serving as opposed to public-serving behavior.

“Transparency and accountability” is used in the sense of openness in government activities with the ultimate results being the promotion of judicial reforms, institutional as well as societal reforms “to change attitudes and mobilize political will for sustained anti-corruption interventions” where the leaders are subject to the rule of law and due process in administration.


This study is delimited in scope to Nigeria and data regarding its practice of democracy within the period between 1999 and 2004, in a two year election cycle.Using the postpositivist as well as qualitative analysis, the limitation of the study is that the time in reference is not sufficient to be fully representative of practices and the quantitative method of data collection of Internet articles favors the opinions of the literate elite over the rustic rural dwellers.


The study would be of interest to scholars, politicians, Governments, nongovernmental organizations and other persons interested in recurring social policy issues.It would also be of interest to organizations that focus on Democracy, the rule of law and international public policy issues of corruption and the entrenching transparency and accountability in governments, especially in Emergent Democratic Societies.This study, though not sponsored, goes to augment competent research undertaken by the USAID in this area of public policy.


There has been competent Quantitative research done on the subject of Democracy in Emerging Societies. I shall endeavor to review such herein and make it a part of our on-going discourse in this regard. Starting with the extant Research regarding Democracy, the authoritative work of the USAID compiled in the paper, Democracy and Governance, A conceptual Framework, a working handbook of studies in support of the promotion of Democracy worldwide as a foreign policy objective of the United States of America.

Allied to the above is, A Handbook on Fighting Corruption:

This handbook presents a framework to assist USAID missions develop strategic responses to public Corruption. The framework sets out root causes of corruption, identifies a range of institutional and societal reforms to address them, and introduces a methodology for selecting among these measures.

As contained in the introduction.

I shall also be referring to the Quantitative analysis of USAID in the research contained in Money in Politics Handbook: A Guide to Increasing Transparency in Emerging Democracies. In seeking for the proper definition of Democracy, I shall be relying on the classical work of Thomas Jefferson, while Alexander Hamilton will be referenced to further delimit what is Republican Democracy.


Regarding the problems of Democracy in “Emergent” or “Third World Economies”, I shall examine the authoritative work of Fareed Zakaria and compare it to the poor copy of Democracies around the world, especially in “Third World Countries” as enunciated by the ex-CIA analyst, Patrick E. Kennon. Looking to apply international systems of Democracy in the economy, the rulers of the countries in Africa always have to balance between the democratic Interest of the majority and what works to bring development to their nascent societies. Obiora M. Iheduru takes up this issue along with the postulation of Fareed Zakaria that emergent Democratic societies like Nigeria have a hard time balancing the views of the majority to the necessity for economic reforms that involve painful choices to bring their societies at par with modern economic trends.


I shall also qualitatively review studies of Emerging Democracies that showcase corruption in the system in these societies, in “Emerging Markets”, in Sub-Saharan Africa, and with particular reference to Nigeria.

In the mixed method of analysis of data proposed to be applied, I shall seek to clarify the application of the analysis and suggested remedies contained in the USAID research on Corruption, how it affects the political system in particular and hinders the pure practice of democratic norms in Nigeria.


I shall attempt to review the current research in this area while analyzing the issue of transparency and accountability in its application or lack of it to Nigeria. In seeking for legal “Emancipatory” prescriptions, I shall determine to what extent persons including corporations have contributed or may contribute in diverse ways.


In analyzing current democratic trends worldwide with special emphasis on Emerging Economies, reference shall be made to both Quantitative and qualitative research to find out the true reaction of the people to democratic government. “Why for instance, market-capitalism can both favor and harm democracy”, ”the interplay of power, authority and government efficacy” and a plethora of other voices through Nigerian topical websites.

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1 comment

Kabir Hamisu Kura October 18, 2008 - 4:01 pm

This is a good presentation that is educative. Keep it up


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