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Democracy in Nigeria
After 20 years, Democracy in Nigeria remains true to its goals of sustaining a strong political authority for socioeconomic growth. Home to Africa’s largest economy, 65 percent of Nigeria’s wealth derives from its oil and gas production. The country itself continues to recover from a recession in 2016. However, it also suffers from its recent unemployment rate increasing to 23.1 percent in 2017. A study from the World Data Lab revealed that an estimated 90 million Nigerian people continue to live in poverty.

Government Efforts to Reduce the Wealth Gap

Fortunately, the Nigerian government’s implementation of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill seeks to change these conditions. The bill functions as an investment to promote Nigeria as a future leader in the oil production industry. Research from the International Monetary Fund indicates that between 2019 and 2020 Nigeria’s economy should grow by at least 2.2 percent.

Amid strides towards economic development, many Nigerian people find it hard to put their trust into newly-elected leaders. After gaining independence from the British in 1960, Nigeria’s government endured corruption from previous leaders that led to polarization both politically and economically.

Nigerian legislators earn the most globally, with salaries starting at $48 million a year for senators. With the average Nigerian salary at $1,294, most Nigerians feel disconnected from their leaders because of this wealth gap. In most cases, optimal advocacy for Nigerian citizens translates to decentralizing power to more local government representatives. Consequently, this would ensure more groups of people receive equal access to policy implementation. The decentralization of government in Nigeria corresponding with democracy in Nigeria elevates the power of the population.

Reelection of President Buhari

The current democratic government, known as the Fourth Republic, attempts to restore hope to the Nigerian people. In February 2019, Nigeria re-elected its President, Muhammadu Buhari, for a second term. Only 28 million of the 80 million registered voters in Nigeria voted in the election. The majority of the four million votes that allowed President Buhari to win the election emerged from his popularity with the poor population in the north.

Democracy in Nigeria succeeds in giving a voice to the voiceless, as opposed to utilizing mass poverty to exclude impoverished people from the political process. In the end, the essence of democracy encompasses a nation that can elect its own representatives.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) helps to:

  • Establish civic organizations.
  • Strengthen political leadership.
  • Promote accountability and openness in governments around the world.

For over 35 years, NDI has partnered with more than 156 countries to advance democratic progress globally. By getting citizens to recognize elections as a fundamental human right, the NDI strengthens the political power of that country, which solidifies the idea of accountable democratic governance. The NDI also understands the importance of inclusion in policymaking and works to increase democratic participation from marginalized groups by addressing laws that target them.

As a result of this organization, Nigerians with visual impairments had the opportunity to vote for the first time in the 2019 election. Democracy in Nigeria exemplifies that growing global efforts to impose effective societal change starts with a government that truly reflects and endorses the interest of its citizens.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Flickr

Better Internet Access in Africa

Africa stands as a vast and untapped continent that holds high promise for harnessing the power of the Internet. As better Internet access in Africa increases, more people are using the tools of the Internet to empower themselves. They are additionally using it to fuel innovation to find solutions to many of their problems. A term that has started gaining emphasis concerning the Internet in Africa is The Internet of Things. It presents a harmony between hardware and software systems toward the goal of automating many different aspects of society. According to McKinsey & Company, the Internet of Things “has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion” in Africa, meaning that Africans who properly tap into that potential can wield its power to empower themselves.

An important aspect of the Internet of Things is how simple it is for common African citizens to create apps that can provide amazing solutions that address specific and local problems. With a basic education in technological skills, anyone can bring electricity to a village or proper air conditioning to houses in their neighborhood.

Investing in Better Internet Access in Africa

Many global internet companies are attempting to accelerate the expansion of the Internet in Africa by heavily investing in the continent. One example is that “with Internet.org, Facebook wants to provide millions of people…in Africa, with access to the Internet.” This access would be provided for free. Africans can harness this Internet for startups and other entrepreneurial pursuits. These pursuits can boost African nations’ ability to be competitive in the global economy.

In the Congo, Tujiung is “a computer resource center for women coping with violence.” This is essential for the recovery of many women who are victims of the violence that has become rampant due to the political instability in the country. Tujiung provides women with access to information, education and support services through the Internet. This line of communication can help women effectively cope with violence. Additionally, it empowers them to move past being a victim and strive for a normal life.

Making Africa Computer-Literate

With overall low computer literacy in Africa, women are striving to fill in open jobs. For example, a volunteer group called Help to Help attempts to improve gender equality by having boot camps that teach young Tanzanian women how to code and develop their tech skills. Those girls are empowered by their newly developed skills to get into tech careers that propel them to the forefront of innovation in Africa.

The Internet, with its amazing capabilities, provides promise for the biggest continent in the world, Africa. The Internet is rapidly growing in Africa. Better Internet access in Africa results in rapidly increasing empowerment for African citizens. Women are pushing to gain technological literacy. Their skills give them the ability to gain more equality in the workplace and society at large.

-Anish Kelkar
Photo: Flickr