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The main objective of the study is to analyse how poverty affects political development and primary data was collected from the field keeping in mind the objective of the study, dedicated questionnaire was used to gauge the factors affecting political development in Nigeria.120 respondent were surveyed of which 118 responded and completely filled the questionnaire which was verified, checked and matched manually. This shows 98% response rate.  Therefore, required analysis was done with the aid of Statistical package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 17.0 versions.

The   analysis  shows that Politics is positively significant to development which have 0.64 coefficient that is to say 64% of the variable is explain by this variable (β=0.433.;t=1.765;p<0.001),while poverty (β=0.356.;t=1.5; 1.795p<0.001)  is positively significant, that is to say that poverty encourages democratic development in Nigeria

Key words: politics, poverty, political development, Nigeria





1.1       Background to the Study

Nigeria is a West African country with about 170 million people (ploch, 2012). It is by far the most populous country in the whole of Africa (Ucha, 2010) and host about “one-sixth of the black population in the world” (Chukwuemeka, 2009). It is a country that is highly endowed with human and natural resources. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2004 reports that Nigeria’s “crude oil reserves were estimated at 24 billion barrels in 2001” (USAID, 2007:1), and it has the 8th largest deposit of natural gas in the world (Chukwuemeka, 2009). By 2002, agriculture comprised 30 percent, mining and quarrying 37 percent, services 29 percent and manufacturing 4 percent of GDP (USAID, 2007:1), with over $500 billion in petroleum export since independence (Lewis, 2006).

In spite of the great endowments in both human and natural resources, particularly, the huge oil wealth and revenues, Nigeria still remain a poor country with per capita income average of $350 as at 2003 (USAID, 2007). In the words of Nwaobi, “Nigeria presents a paradox” (Oshewolo, 2010:) owing to the fact that since independence, majority of its population has remained poor in the midst of abundance. The UNDP has classified the country as 141 poorest nations on human development index. In its report, Nigeria is considered one of the 20th poorest countries in the world with 70% of the population classified as poor and 54.4% living in absolute poverty (Ugoh and Ukpere, 2009). Similarly, about 70.2 percent of the Nigerian population lives on less than $1 a day, while 90.8 percent lives on less than $2 a day (Oshewolo, 2010). The state poverty in Nigeria is often compounded by the widening inequality between the rich and the poor as “up to 95 percent of this great wealth is controlled by about .01 percent of the population” (Oshewolo, 2010). This situation has been clearly highlighted by Oshewolo (2010) that the total income earned by the richest 20 percent of the population is 55.7 percent, while the total income earned by the poorest 20 percent is 4.4 percent.

Amis and Rakodi (2014) rightly observed that the major impediment to democracy in Africa is poverty. Masses are easily cornered, brainwashed and their right of choices manipulated to a point that some of them are susceptible to bribery and can be used as political thugs to cause confusion, harassment or intimidate an opponent during elections (Maiangwa, 2009).

Poverty decreases both participation in democratic life and popular support for democracy (Mattes,  2003). Since the return to multi-party democracy in 1999, the political space has been the exclusive preserve of the elite as majority of the population have been excluded from the political process. While there seems to be a general consensus that mass poverty could cast a shadow on democratic consolidation, “precisely why poverty undermines democracy, however, has been much less clear” (Mattes, 2003). Thus, the main focus of this paper is to interrogate the subject of poverty, inequality and the challenges of democratic consolidation in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.

The fact is that 2/3 of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries- India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Yong ,2014). It is disheartening that despite the natural and human resources that Nigeria is blessed it, she is one of these countries. Poverty is a major problem of our time, which along with environmental threats, weighs heavily on our planet and the future of humanity. It has assumed unprecedented and unacceptable proportion in Nigeria, manifesting not only in abysmal decline in economic indicators and trends, but more glaringly and tragically in the suffering, hardship and general impoverishment of the vast majority of the people. The average Nigerian is far worse off than he was 54 years ago when the country achieved political independence.

The prevalence of poverty and misery in Nigeria is however, a paradox. Nigeria should, by no means be a poor nation. Apart from being an oil-producing nation, Nigeria is endowed with other natural and human resources which are enough to put her on a solid path to economic development and greatness. But Nigeria still wallows in abject poverty despite her stupendous wealth. Deep concerns have been expressed about the sustainability of the democratic process in Nigeria, as poverty-induced agitation and violent conflicts spread across the country. Stakeholders in the Nigerian democratic enterprise appear to be at crossroads on what to do to alleviate poverty, which is generally regarded as the greatest threat to the nascent democratic process in the country. Large segments of the population are demanding the dividends of democracy as the incidence of poverty continually grows throughout the nation. Geo- political zones are crying out against impoverishment, deprivation and marginalization. Countless ethno-cultural associations and pressure groups are being formed to articulate interests for a better share of the national cake, even when such interests threaten the very basis of democracy in the country.

It is a fact that the rising incidence of poverty in Nigeria poses a serious threat to the democratization process. The concern of this paper therefore is to highlight the challenges posed by poverty to democracy in Nigeria. Conceptual definitions of poverty and democracy are presented, the causes of poverty and the implication of poverty for democracy is also examined, while suggestions for reducing the incidence of poverty across the country are also put forward.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

On 29th May, 1999, Abdulsalam Abubakar, the then military Head of State handed over power to a democratically elected government headed by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Many Nigerians believed this was the dawn of a new era and another attempt at democratising the country which will usher in a better society- one that truly brings the genuine dividends of democracy to the people. Unfortunately, democracy has not had significant and direct benefit to the people, particularly those at the lower strata of the society because of the rising incidence of poverty in the country. Poverty is made manifest in unemployment, hunger, poor health, poor standard of education, low self-esteem, low economic status, lack of security and exclusion from civic and political life which negate the essentials of democracy. This research work chiefly examines the threats of poverty to the sustainability of democracy in Nigeria and make suggestions on how the country can come out of the mire of poverty so that democracy can be sustained and thereby have the expectant effects on Nigerians.

1.3       Aims and Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. Investigate the causes of poverty in Nigeria
  2. Describe the impacts of poverty on democratic development in Nigeria
  3. Explain the rate at which poverty grows in Nigeria
  4. Suggest ways by which poverty can be alleviated in Nigeria

1.4       Significance of the Study

This study is significant in a number of ways among which are:

It will help in knowing the poverty level in Nigeria democratic republic.

It will reveal the impacts of poverty in the country.

It will expose us to the causes of poverty in the country.

It will also suggest possible solutions on how poverty could be alleviated in Nigeria

1.5       Research Questions

Based on the objectives outlined above, the following research questions were formulated to guide the study

  1. Is there any effect of poverty on democratic development in Nigeria?
  2. What is the growth rate of poverty in Nigeria and on her citizens?
  • Is democracy the source of poverty in Nigeria?
  1. In which way can poverty be reduced using democracy in Nigerian?

1.6       Methodology

The methodology adopted in this study is a blend of historical, descriptive and analytical research methods. The historical research will allow us to describe the antecedent and precedent from the past and present and learn from them which can be purely factual and descriptive. This means invariably the source of the data will be from the field (primary) for convenience   and   Statistical analysis (regression) was employed to find the relationship among the variables, which are poverty, democratic development and politics in Nigeria

1.7       Scope of the Study

This study covers the impacts of poverty in Nigeria and it is limited to democratic period in Nigeria. It also tried to study why despite the rich resources in the nation, poverty still strives even when the country adopt political frame works which worked for other developed countries

1.8      Definition of Terms

POVERTY is the scarcity or the lack of a certain (variant) amount of material possession or money. Poverty is a multifaceted concept, which may include social, economic and political elements. Absolute poverty, extreme needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

DEMOCRACY (Greek word demokratia, literally “rule of the people”), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representative from among themselves to from a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.

DEVELOPMENT is a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advance or mature stage) “the development of this ideas took many years”, “the slow development of her skill as a writer” Development  (biology) the process of an individual organism growing organically a purely biological un folding of events involved in an organism changing  gradually from a simple to more complex level, “he proposed an indicator of osseous development”.


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