THE IMPERATIVE OF DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA THROUGH CREDIBLE ELECTIONS
Since the fall of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes in West Africa, the sub-region has witnessed democratic change with the installation of multi-party political systems in almost all the countries. Today, democracy sits on the horn of a dilemma in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria. The tactics and tantrums of political actors in Nigeria and the shortcomings of the political process has showcased the inadequacies of democracy and its practice as a political ideology in Nigeria. Free and fair election which is one of the features of true democracy has eluded Nigeria since the advent of her nascent democratic dispensation. For democracy to thrive and consolidate in any political system, periodic elections should be free and fair, such that it will not be impossible to replace an incompetent and unpopular government from power. The weakness of the electoral umpire in Nigeria as shown in the series of controversies, litigations and court decisions on election matters that trail successive elections, and the behavior of the political class has cast doubt on sustainable democratic consolidation in Nigeria. This paper looks at the meaning and content of democracy, and highlights the challenges and prospects of democratic consolidation in Nigeria under the prevailing socio-economic and security challenges. The paper examines the link between democratic consolidation and credible elections, and how the growth and sustenance of democratic consolidation is threatened by electoral fraud and visionless leaders. Finally, the paper discusses the imperative of good governance, and the argument it advances is that without this imperative, socio-economic and political instability will pose as a feature of Nigerian democracy.