The Rule Of Law And The Nigeria Politics

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Rule Of Law And The Nigeria Politics


The rule of law was conceived as something that should map out the way and means of peaceful coexistence, progress and development of the society under a uniform rule-guided system. All sectors composed in the society are to be governed and subjected to the law. It encapsulates such ideals as government according to the law, equality before the law and the independence, and autonomy of the judiciary among others. It is the pillar of constitutional democracy. It serves as a blueprint for designing an ideal legal system. There is almost the absence of the rule of law in military rule. It is, therefore, the quest of this article to reflect on the origin, meaning, and development of the rule of law. In the end, the article reveals that there is a failure to understand and appreciate the whole gamut of rule of law in most countries across the globe. The trend shows that in the Nigerian context the concept is by and large judiciously applied but politically, it is used mischievously for ulterior motives. Finally, the article suggests that time has come to add a few other requirements for the rule of law in order to give politics, law and governance a new face that is rule of law friendly.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The concept of the rule of law is one of the prominent and important constitutional concepts. It is fundamental principle accepted as a standard not only for judging the performance of government, but also for determining which is beneficial or destructive to humanity. This concept is the bedrock of our system of justice. Being the bedrock of our system of justice, it is of great importance, so as to justify the legal order and legitimize the system of a given society. The rule of law collectively symbolizes the most important features of democratic governance such as government of the people, by the people and for the people; separation of power and checks and balances; representative democracy and substantive limits of governmental actions against the individuals (the protection of human freedom and dignity); limited government; and the review by an independent judiciary as a central mechanism for constitutional enforcement. Ahire, T. P. (1997). Hence, the rule of law is a hydra-headed concept that encapsulates very many issues in law, the polity and society. To Ojo, it is “a nebulous concept whose meaning and content vary from place to place.”

No one is sure when exactly the rule of law was formulated as a philosophical or legal concept.Ahire, T. P. (1997). There are some reflections of semblances of what has now come to be generally understood as the rule of law. Rule of law however, as a phrase has reportedly been in use since the 17th Century. But classically as a concept, rule of law is arguably traced to ancient Greece. Rule of law, in the current understanding and contents has become an acceptable political and legal norm and maxim that in its general intent and understanding states the cardinal principle that no person is immune to law.Ajayi, J.F. and Espie, I (1965). In the considered view of Aristotle the meaning and intendmentof the rule of law is that „law should govern‟Ahire, T. P. (1997).. This position is meant to challenge earlier preconception and belief that the sovereign is above the law that was characteristic of the Roman system and a host of other systems that borrowed, copied or followed the Roman system. Just like the hazy origin of the rule of law, it is yet unsettled as to the exact meaning, content and scope of the rule of law.Ajayi, J.F. and Espie, I (1965). This has forced a suggestion that the rule of law is an elusive thing that has over the years given rise to rampant divergence of understandings.Ake, C. (1996). But it is generally accepted that modern classical exposition of the rule of law should be credited to the works of A. V. Dicey.Ake, C. (1996). A number of suggestions have been made as to the way to understand and appreciate the concept, meaning and dynamism of the rule of law. One suggestion that appeals to this article is the one that has stated two dimensions that can be used to ground the rule of law as a legal concept and a measure of constitutional framework.Ephraim, J. and Hayford, C. (eds) (1970). This position has suggested that:

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Authors are critical to the over generalization and postulating of the rule of law as an idea that has one origin. Owing to the over emphasizing it as an idea that has its roots and origin in Europe and America has inadvertently slowed the progress and momentum of the rule of law and has denied it the obvious universal acceptance giving the new approach by some that is targeted at rejecting this somewhat absolutists view of the origin of the concept. As a reaction, it has now been stated, and this idea is most appealing, that other cultures must be allowed to reflect and contribute their perspectives to a new all-encompassing rule of law beyond the European and American understanding in order to make it dynamic and universal. Rule of law is not settled despite its 2000 years or so of history. The notion of rule of law is still rousing much practical and political interest as well as debates. The content, nature and scope or indeed the utility of the rule of law cannot be said to have been brought to an end. The reason for this, one can venture to say, is quite simple. This tour conviction lies in the claim that the rule of law originates and can only find expression in Western democracies or political exposition or philosophical groundings.

If the origin of the rule of law is in „Western societies and cultures‟ and if until recently, the West took the lion share in the debate on that subject matter, it remains true there will be unending objectivism and that today, other societies and other cultures take an active and creative part in asserting their denial of this and challenging all the basis upon which this assumption is rooted and this even though can juxtapose the issue of the rule of law into a sustained philosophical-political debate, it also will affect the effort at formulating a universal standard that can be used to measure the presence of lack of the appropriate interplay of the ideals of the rule of law in a globalized political world. This should not be construed as making a call for developing international standards as far as the rule of law is concerned. It is not even making a call that international law rules should be used as a measure for the global utility of rule of law. Any assumption to these directions is regretted. The negative effect a call in this direction will have has been stated by an author to the effect that „international law and rule of law that is grounded on voluntariness or that relies by and large as a consent based or one established on self-interest and power as well as pragmatism will combine to impeach all rule of law regime to be a success, an international rule of law must be perceived to reflect the interest of the entire international community. Justice and the good of the community should be considered in any evaluation of the rule of law.‟Ephraim, J. and Hayford, C. (eds) (1970). It is against this background that this article will explore.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The general objective of this work is to assess the rule of law and the Nigeria politics. Other objectives include

  1. To find out the factors, causes or reasons responsible for the chaotic character of the political process in Nigeria.
  2. To investigate the extent to which the abuse and violation of Rule of Law and Constitutionalism, as informed by the negative, undemocratic behaviour of politicians

1.4 Research Hypotheses

Hypotheses one
  • Ho: The abuse and violation of the rule of law is not informed by negative behaviour of politicians
  • Hi: The abuse and violation of the rule of law is informed by negative behaviour of politicians
Hypotheses Two
  • Ho: Politics in Nigeria is not governed by the rule of law
  • Hi: Politics in Nigeria is governed by the rule of law

1.5 Significance of the Study

Political ideas have their roots in the historical and cultural situations of the people and society. Though the word democracy might have originated from Ancient Greek, Western societies have no exclusive claim to the term as a label for their own version of rule by the people, or government in accordance with the will of the bulk of the people. From the above therefore, it is incontestable that other areas of the World have a genuine historical claim to the title democracy as the non-liberal variant found in Africa and Communist countries. Democracy therefore needs to be viewed not only from the perspective of Western liberal theory; other cultures have contributed to the in-depth understanding of the term. Democracy is thus founded upon the culture of the people. This is on the one hand. Furthermore, and secondly too, the success or failure of democratization as a process and democracy as a political system depends on the behavioural nature and character of the actors namely politicians and other stake-holders.

The study further highlights the centrality of culture and traditions of the people to establishment of sustainable democracy. That democracy is built upon the foundations of cultural traits of the people as evidenced in the analysis that Law as an instrument of social change is central to democracy and exists in conformity with the cultural factors and climate of that society. In otherwords, laws are enacted based on current beliefs and practices of the people and which are accepted as part of the culture of the people. Furthermore, even Liberal Democracy was built upon the cultural beliefs of the Bourgeois class struggle and revolution.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is primarily concerned with having a critical and in-depth review of the rule of law and the Nigerian politics.

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

1.7 Definition of Terms


The activities of the government, members of law-making organizations, or people who try to influence the way a country is governed

Rule of Law:

Mechanism, process, institution, practice, or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a nonarbitrary form of government

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  1. Chapter one is concerned with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  2. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain a critical analysis of the rule of law and the Nigeria politics.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations are made, which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefit in addressing the challenges of

5.2 Summary

This study aimed at having a critical analysis of the rule of law and Nigeria politics. Two objectiveswere raised. These objectives include: To find out the factors, causes or reasons responsible for the chaotic character of the political process in Nigeria, to investigate the extent to which the abuse and violation of Rule of Law and Constitutionalism, as informed by the negative, undemocratic behaviour of politicians

5.3 Conclusion

Based on the above findings pertaining to the objectives of the study the following conclusions are drawn.
The rule of law is fundamental to a society. When the rule of law fails, as often happens in more recent postcolonies (less developed countries), such as Nigeria, the official law and justice are challenged through and by alternative social control. A society lacking the proper rule of law standard faces several present and future challenges. The capacity of the society to function optimally in the present is legitimately questionable mainly because of the dissatisfaction with which the citizens are likely to view it. The law and justice system of the society is likely to be both ineffective and inefficient as a result of its lack of proper and legitimate grounding among the citizens. Also, the future of the society will be highly speculative. Its survivability will become an open question. The high level of unpredictability of the future direction and actions of the society will substantially compromise the society’s present functioning and future. The present and future challenges will conspire to degrade the quality of the lives of the citizens of such a society.

5.4 Recommendation

Legal rules are a part of the standardizing; however, semi-legal or non-legal rules and expectations contribute greatly to society’s standard. It is one thing to have a clear legal or other normative provision on the proper way to behave, but it is another thing to have the self-control and responsibility to the other members of the society to avoid doing something that, although the law has not proscribed, will harm the society or set a negative example for others.

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