Nigerian Shrinking Governable Space

Perceived deficits and rising discontents associated with the responsibility of the Nigerian state to protect and provide have raised the stakes of politics and access to power in the country.

nigerianDespite the return to democratic governance in 1999, there are concerns that prospects for consolidating democracy and democratic governance is far from being achieved as poverty, inequality and an effective service delivery system holds the country and its people siege.

All these have contributed in undermining chances for good governance, democratic consolidation, security and stability. There appears to be renewed efforts by a few of the political class, technocrats and private sector towards putting the system back on track – although at a huge cost.

The weak capacity of the Nigerian state to protect its citizens has further heightened vulnerability concerns for the people, as a result of the emergence of armed non-state insurgents and militias on a large-scale.

Boko Haram has unleashed terror on both the state and its citizens in the northern part of the country leading to the death of thousands of people. Nigerian security agencies have come to a near conclusion that they were not ready for such high-level insurgencies in terms of its frequency, intensity, coordination and sophistication.

Nigerian security struggles to confront the Ombatse phenomenon in Nasarawa state which has caused the death of over 80 security agents, and the Boko Haram which killed thousands of Christians and Muslims. We Nigerians still suffer from weak institutional systems and frameworks for planning, implementing and evaluating policies.

As the 2015 election approaches, there are various forms of ethno-regional tensions arising from a shared feeling of marginalization by all the zones, with the exception of the south-west.

In the long run, absent a transformative leadership and good governance, popular protests will provide a sound basis for a paradigm shift from a people who are held hostage by fear, into asserting their fundamental rights as sovereigns and custodians of constitutional democracy. This is the surest way to reverse the scepter of poverty and powerlessness that thrives in the body polity. Time alone will tell.

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Chris Kwaja is a lecturer and researcher at the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria. He is a Doctoral candidate of International Relations and Strategic Studies at the Department of Political Science, University of Jos, Jos Nigeria. His research focuses on the politics of identity in Africa, the privatization of security, democratization, conflict and peace studies, and security sector reform.