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Nigeria Leaders And Democratic Evolution

Nigeria got her name from Flora Lewis Shaw, the colonial editor of a British  Newspaper The Time in 1897. The name Nigeria was first used that year to describe the Amalgamation of the River Niger and the surrounding areas. She later married Frederick Lugard who become the first governor of the amalgamated British Coloney (Nigeria) in 1914. On first January 1914, the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorate into a sovereign Nigeria took place. The history of Nigeria could be said to begin with the amalgamation of the two protectorates precisely between 1884 and 1885. Prior to this time, an infamous conference was held in Berlin where the Colonial Masters gathered to share African Continent among themselves. George Taubman Soldie attended the conference but Lord Fredered Luagard did not.
  The Amalgamation was however pregnant with many questionable activities that one may not bother to highlight here. Therefore, from the amalgamation till date, the following leaders took turns in ruling Nigeria; Sir Hugh Clifford, Sir Groomo Thomson, Sir Donald Cameron, Sir Bernard Bourdillion, Sir Author Richards, Sir John Macpherson, Sir Willson James Robertson, Namdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafewa Belawa, J. T. U. Aguiji Ironzi, Gen. Jakubu Gowon, Muritala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasannjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babomosi Babargida, Sir Ernest Shonekan, Sani Abacha, Abulsalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo, (as civilian president)  Shehu Musa Yara'Adua, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari again as civilian. All these leaders have unbroken link and inter-play of the colonial and post colonial traits in the affairs of the Nigeria States, fashioned in the character of the colonialist.
  The above cream of leaders is a mixture of democrats and military juntas, therefore it is essential to recall that the first electoral process in Nigeria began from the pre-independent year when the Electoral Commission of Nigeria (ECN) was commissioned to conduct the December 1959 election to elect people into local councils, regional and federal legislatures. However, history have it that the First Republic election was conducted in 1960 by the Federal Electoral Commission (EFC), chaired by late Mr Eyo Esau, which installed Dr Nnamdi Azikwe of the defunct National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) as the first indigenous president of Nigeria. In the first republic, Nigeria practiced parliamentary system of government which was in line with the Bristish democratic model. This system collapsed following the civil war from 1966 to 1970, that brought the military governments that ruled till 1978 to 1979 when another election was conducted by the Federal Electoral Commission of (FEDECO) in 1978. This election brought to power Alhaji Shehu Shagari of The National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The chairman of (FEDECO) was Michael Ani. The Second Republic also collapsed due to military intervention in government, and in 1980, Ovie Whisky conducted another election still under FEDECO which terminated in 1983 for another military government.
  Other elections were 1987 to 1989 when Professor Eme Awa under the National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON), Professor Hunfrey Nwosu (1989-1993) still under NECON, Okon Uya 1993- Chief Summer Dagogo-Jack (NECON) 1994-1998, Justice Ephraim Akpata under the Independence National Electoral Commission INEC) 1998-2000, Dr Abel Guodadia (INEC) 2000-2005, Professor Maurice Iwu (INEC) 2005-2010, Professor Atahiru Jega (INEC) 2010-2015 and Professor Mahmood Yakubu (INEC) 2016 to date.
  The above gave rise to several perceptions that the electoral umpires in Nigeria have had over time are tilting towards the believe that they are not truly doing their assignments satisfactorily that their activities and results of their conduct shows little ambience of independence which can ensure impartialities. For instance in the colonial administration, the British were behind their selection as electoral umpires and under the military, the Electoral Commission chairmen were either appointed to extend the tenure (Babangida) or to blatantly destroy the yearnings for democracy (Abacha). Uptil date, things have not changed much under the 1999 Constitution and INEC is considered to tilt in favour of whoever is head the government of the day that appointed the chairman. The judiciary are not helping matters, for upturning election result in the past, thus portraying INEC as not truly independent. It is worse at the state electoral bodies responsible for conducting local government elections. However, the recent Edo state governorship election have given Nigeria the hope that true democracy is possible in the future and that Nigeria will survive all her electoral challenges if the people cultivate good ethical values . Happy 60th Independent Nigeria.               


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