BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is unfortunate that despite the natural and human resources that Nigeria is blessed it, she is one of these countries. Poverty is a critical 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 over 50 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 advancement. 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.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with over 153million people (FGN, 2006). It is home to one-sixth of the world’s black population (Chukwuemeka, 2009:405). A country naturally abundantly bless with human and natural resources. As at 2004 the International Monetary Fund reported that the country has an estimated crude oil reserve of 24 billion barrels (See USAID, 2007:1), with over N 29.8 trillion in revenue from sake of cruse oil only (Tell,2008). Paradoxically, over 70% of its population lives in abject poverty (Sanusi, 2011). It is classified by UNDP as 141 poorest nations on the Human Development Index. Poverty in Nigeria from all empirically verifiable fact is a deliberate creation of the Nigeria’s political class; it acts as a clog in the wheel of the country movement to a true, people’s democracy. Thus state poverty in Nigeria is compounded by the widening class polarization politically and economically, where over “95% of the country wealth is controlled by about 0.01 percent of population” (Oshewolo 2010:267). Transition to the Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation referred to as the Fourth Republic began in 1998. This transition to what could properly be described as civil rule evoked and was facilitated by the massive mobilization of “the rich” and “the poor”. This was evident in the enthusiasm and pomp which the transition was received. Sooner than expected, there emerged a post honeymoon effect of the entire process; which “effect” is premised on the failure of the democratic government to deliver on its promised democratic (goods) dividends. It was the hope of the people that democracy not only provides liberty, but it also improves social and economic condition of the people. These are the motivating factors of democratic participation. Rather than improving the socio-economic well-being of the people, Nigeria’s democracy has turned a burden on the poor. But rather than providing democratic good, poverty is further created and corruption almost institutionalized, the net result being the receding of the euphoria that earlier accompanied the country’s democratization and a sharp decline in democratic participation. Mass poverty is a mechanization of the political class to exclude the majority of the people from the political process and shrink the political space for their selfish interest. Doubt therefore remains about how firm democracy’s root can become entrenched in a country where over 70 percent of the population are poverty personified. It is our position that mass poverty poses a threat to democratic participation and democratic consolidation than all other variables put together. While there is a seemingly general consensus that mass poverty undermine democratic participation, the ‘how’ is not much less clear. This is the task of this undertaking.
STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
The menace of poverty in developing countries Nigeria inclusive has had devastating effect on the democratic consolidation as it has resulted to electoral violence and underdevelopment by political leaders and resulting to stomach infrastructure and violence in winning elections. this has resulted to the current political underdevelopment on the continent with most countries experiencing coups and counter coup as a result of lack of adequate entrenchment of political structures.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objectives of the study are to examine the influence of poverty on political participation in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;
H0: There is no significant relationship poverty and political participation in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant relationship poverty and political participation in Nigeria.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense importance towards the eradication of poverty and improving political/democratic participation in Nigeria. The study would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to poverty and political participation in Nigeria using Uyo in Akwa ibom state. as a case study
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
OTHER SIMILAR POLITICAL SCIENCE PROJECTS AND MATERIALS