Nigeria, an enviable democracy
With zeal to chart a new course for a great nation such a Nigeria, Nigeria regained democracy in 1999 when it elected Olusegun Obasanjo, the former military head of state, as the new President of Nigeria. This ended almost 33 years of military rule (from 1966 until 1999), excluding the short-lived second republic (between 1979 and 1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d'Útat and counter-coups.
Nigeria is a federal republic modeled after the United States, with executive power exercised by the president. The government of Nigeria is also influenced by the Westminster System model in the composition and management of the upper and lower houses of a bicameral legislature. The president, however, is the head of state, the head of government, and the head of a multi-party system. Nigerian politics takes place within a framework of a federal, presidential, representative democratic republic, in which executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is held by the government and the two chambers of the legislature: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Together, the two chambers make up the law-making body in Nigeria, called the National Assembly, which serves as a check on the executive arm of government. The highest judiciary arm of government in Nigeria is the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Nigeria also practices Baron de Montesquieu's theory of the separation of powers.
Democracy Day is a public holiday in Nigeria. It is held annually on May 29. This public holiday commemorates the restoration of democracy in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The year 2015 marks a turning point, a momentous stride for democracy, not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent as a whole as well as also for those around the world who believe in the tenets of democracy and in the fundamental right to the ballot box. In the year 2015, Muhammadu Buhari defeated President Goodluck Jonathan to become the new president of Nigeria and in a rare show of acknowledgement, President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat and sent words of congratulations to his successor.
The Huffington Post puts the moment in very apt terms: We must recognize the bravery and heroism of the Nigerian voter. In Borno, the Northeastern Nigerian state devastated by the murderous rampage of Boko Haram, the terrorist organization threatened before the election to shoot those who voted and to bomb polling sites. And yet, in Borno's state capitol of Maiduguri, internally displaced people reportedly walked for miles to vote. A polling site set up for those internally displaced reportedly became an emotional reunion for those reunited with loved ones they thought massacred by Boko Haram.
The people of Borno, whose children were stolen and murdered in Chibok, whose markets have been bombed, whose homes ransacked, whose women raped, who have bore the brunt of Boko Haram's carnage, stood undaunted. Hundreds of thousands of people rejected extremism and exercised the most fundamental of human rights. Images of perseverance and people power pervaded social networking sites. Great-grandparents voted, those who couldn't walk to the polling sites were aided by nurses, the enterprising set up shop and fed the masses and the young passed the time by dancing. And when they couldn't vote on Saturday, many made the journey back to their polling site and stood in lines for hours the next day when voting was extended. Sporadic violence did not deter them. The rain did not deter them. The scorching hot sun did not deter them. The long lines did not deter them.
President Buhari crowned it all in these fine words "I am immensely grateful to God Who Has preserved us to witness this day and this occasion. Today marks a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate her freedom and cherish her democracy. Nigerians have shown their commitment to democracy and are determined to entrench its culture. Our journey has not been easy but thanks to the determination of our people and strong support from friends abroad we have today a truly democratically elected government in place."