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Professor Omo Omoruyi

Research Fellow, African Studies Center, Boston University


“Democratic Development will not be a Uniform Linear Process” by David Peterson in Freedom Review 24(1993) p. 17.




On February 24, 2003 I delivered a lecture on democratic transition in Africa from the point view of Nigeria under the auspices of the Dr. Sidney D. Redmond lecture series at the Jackson State University, Jackson Mississippi.***   This was on the invitation of the Department of Political Science of that University.   That occasion was my third time of appearing and speaking at a Historically Black University and College on African-related matters.   It is one community where there is a genuine interest in the plight of Africa and Africans.   Maybe I should mention the other occasions and when?  

The first occasion was in March 1996 at the Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio; the subject of the talk was “Crisis of Democratization in Nigeria”.   Central State was the first place outside Harvard where I observed there was a genuine desire of Americans to find out what actually happened in Nigeria.   This was not surprising to me.   Generally among the African-Americans, Nigeria is taken as the proverbial home to most Africans.   To many African-Americans, Nigeria with her population and resources of oil etc is the place that they think should have been the pride of Black people everywhere.   I used that opportunity to bare my mind on the six real reasons as distinct from the official reasons given by the military and peddled by its agents in the international community, especially in the US for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election.      

What I said at Wilberforce was with more details than what I said at Harvard in October 1995 about the real reasons for the annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential election.   They were outside the formal or official reasons peddled in the media by the junta and its handlers in the US.    It was after this occasion that I started to develop the distinction between the real reasons and the official reasons for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election that later formed the basis of other lectures.(1)   

The second occasion was at Lincoln University in November 1996 as a Visiting Professor, Political Science.   It was an opportunity for me to dwell on the relationship between the origin of Nigeria and the lingering political crisis in Nigeria arising from the annulment of the June 12 election.   This was the basis of the title, “Nigeria: A Case of a Failed Colonial Experiment in Africa”.    I argued then that the British design called Nigeria was doomed to collapse if the Nigerian political class that succeeded the British failed to face the nagging problems that consisted of two since 1960.   They were (a) how the various groups could live together and (b) how the resulting basis of living together could be translated into a mode of governance.   These are still the sources of the lingering crises in Nigeria that have been manifesting themselves in various forms since 1993.  

Lincoln gave me an opportunity to learn, first hand the root of two African political giants, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who were at different times students of Lincoln.(2)      

My appearance at Jackson State University will make the third occasion of my appearance at a Historically Black University and College.   What is remarkable about this occasion was that I was made to deliver one of the University‘s Sidney D. Redmond Lectures.   I spoke on the experience of Nigeria as part of Africa within the universal phenomenon, democratic transition. 

It is an honor and I thank the Department of Political Science of this University, especially its Chair, Professor Mary Coleman for the honor so done me in inviting me to join the number of speakers who before me spoke under the auspices of Dr. Sidney D. Redmond.  

I also wish to thank Dr Felix Okojie, the University Vice President for Research for the role he played in getting me to deliver this lecture. His office funded the lecture. 

I found the attendance of Attorney James Meredith, a renowned civil rights leader and a native of Mississippi at the lecture a big surprise.   His presence afforded me the opportunity to recall the part he played in my political knowledge.   I learnt a lot from him of the politics of race in the US and I shared a lot with him my knowledge of peoples and politics of Nigeria when he was a Graduate Student at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 1963.  His contributions to the lecture during the Q and A enlivened the atmosphere. 


May I crave your indulgence to emphasize some parallel and maybe difference between the life of Dr. Sidney D. Redmond and yours truly, my humble self?    From the way Dr. Redmond applied himself and his knowledge of Medicine and the Law to the affairs of humanity in the US makes me recall two episodes in my political life.   One has to do with what I tried to do with my training as a Political Scientist.   The other has to do with the advice I gave to my colleagues in Africa in 1979 that “politics as vocation” should also be taught to Africans. (Omo Omoruyi in Barongo, 1985)

Today I am more convinced that when I flew the kite in 1980 that there is a dire need for politicians in Africa to acquire the trick of their trade.   Unfortunately it is only in politics that there seems to be no training.   It should not be so.   My view then was that the teaching of political science should include the practical side of politics.   This still remains my view today that I can develop later.  

Just as Dr. Redmond joined a political party and used that position to push for the empowerment of the underprivileged in Mississippi, in my little way, I was part founder of a major political party in Nigeria, the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) that had a clear vision of Nigeria of how it wanted to achieve a society based on justice to all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.   The vision of NPP was different from the British Design for Nigeria that was founded first of the north and south and later of the three ethnic nationalities of Hausa. Yoruba and Ndigbo in the north, west and east respectively.

May I use this opportunity to spell out part of my past political activities?   I joined and coordinated forces in the Constituent Assembly in 1977/78 that tried to give a voice to the neglected groups in Nigeria, the minorities that I called the fourth dimension in Nigerian politics.   It was this fourth dimension that successfully moved the Nigerian politics to a new political order that since then took all ethnic groups, no matter their size, as critical to the Nigerian post-military politics in 1979.    This is what I called “beyond the tripod in Nigerian politics” that would recognize all the ethnic groups as functional equals. (Omo Omoruyi, 2001)

In my academic, partisan and public policy preoccupation, I have always argued for quality of the individual ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.   I have always been against the conception of Nigerian politics that focuses just on the traditional three ethnic nationalities in Nigeria (Hausa-Yoruba-Igbo) based on their number and not their quality. 

My life in partisan politics and in public policy formulation and execution in Nigeria spanning well over forty years is rich and complex.   It is not a matter of public record yet; some of the issues that I tried to wrestle with in the past are still with us.   My forthcoming book dealing with them will be a challenge to many of my contemporaries to write their part of the history of Nigeria. (Omo Omoruyi, in press).  Maybe we should draw the difference between Dr. Redmond and me.


While the application of his knowledge by Dr. Redmond earned him the accolade of this University and of the State of Mississippi, one may ask what happened to mine.   Yes, I was a major actor in the design and management of a democratic transition that successfully delivered “a free, fair and credible election” in Nigeria.   As the surgeon would say, “the operation was successful, but the patient died!”    The transition program successfully went well with the free, fair and credible election of June 12, 1993, but the result of the election was annulled on June 23, 1993. (Omo Omoruyi, 1999)

How the winner of that election, Chief MKO Abiola was arrested on June 23, 1994 and detained until he died on July 8, 1998 was recently documented in a monograph, published and in circulation. (Omo Omoruyi, 2001)   What was my prize?  

The Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) that I founded and ran for four years (1989-94) was recognized in a study done on the democratization in Africa by Claude Welch (Claude E. Welch, 1995) and other scholars.   The CDS in collaboration with the University of Michigan successfully bid and secured a research grant of over a quarter of a million dollars in 1992 that was to commence the US type American Voter in Nigeria on a four-yearly basis to correspond with four year Presidential election cycle.   There is no reason today why a collaborative effort could not be worked out between a Nigerian organization and a Historically Black University.  

The US government as per the letter from the US Vice President to me and to the Government of Nigeria recognized the contributions of the CDS to the democratic transition in Nigeria. This is cited also below.

The reports of the International observers from EU countries and Canada commended the unique role of CDS in the 1993 election.  

Maybe my prize was that I was shot by “unknown assassins” on February 3, 1994 because the authority wanted to make me shut up my mouth and stop talking of “a free fair and credible election”. (3)   Maybe they wanted to kill me as the best way of clearing the way when the new junta that succeeded General Babangida in November 1993 embarked on the denial of the election as having being held at all under the law.   

I spent the greater part of 1994 in hospital in London undergoing three surgeries to remove pellets from my hip and lower abdomen.

On recovery, I was forced into exile on August 25, 1995.   The Harvard University provided me an opportunity to reflect on the immediate past of Nigeria as a Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School for 18 months.   I used my period at Harvard and after in the US to reflect and discuss the real reasons in the annulment at many fora in the US.   Finally, the account was put together in a book, The Tale of June 12. (4)

On the public presentation of this book in Nigeria on August 1, 2000, the same annullist declared that there was still “a price” on Professor Omo Omoruyi’s head “for internationalizing the June 12” that the military thought was dead and buried with the annulment.   (Kayode Samuel, 2000).   That is the end of the difference between Dr. Redmond and me.         


I decided to accept to speak on the topic, “The Implementation of Democratic Transition in Africa” as it applies to Nigeria suggested to me by Professor Mary Coleman, Chair of the Department of Political Science.  When Professor Coleman made this suggestion, maybe she had in mind or had a preview of my past in three various past military regimes in Nigeria.   I believe she wants me to bare my mind on how Nigeria adopted and implemented the program of democratic transition from what I knew and not what is in literature.   What is in literature, people already knew; people could read these accounts on their own.   I shall try.   

This is the second time I would be talking about Nigeria from what I knew and not from what I read.   The first time was at Harvard at the Dubois Institute in June 1999 when I had to talk about the past, the present and the future from what I knew as a public officer.   In a limited way, this is what I am asked to do and I shall be focusing specifically on the Nigerian implementation of the democratic transition from what I knew or did and not from what I read in books or what I was told by others.   

It is difficult for me to talk about the various issues in the many years of Nigerian military regime that covered over thirty years of Nigeria as an independent country since 1960.    Nigeria only had two occasions to discuss the transition from military to civilian rule.   These occasions were in 1975-79 under General Murtala Muhammed/General Olusegun Obasanjo and in 1985-93 under General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.   The third one that would have been under General Yakubu Gowon from 1966 to 1975 never raised the matter for discussion.   I had different degrees of personal involvement on the three occasions that I will briefly mention before zeroing in on the one that I knew best as an actor in the design and implementation.   


The first period of military rule 1966-75 was the most trying period in Nigerian politics.   It covered the thirty month-period of civil war that resulted in over one million dead and about one million refugees and displaced persons.   This period left many lingering political problems till today.  

The end of the civil war only posed a dilemma for the military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon  who did not have a (a) plan for himself as General Gowon, (b) a plan for the military that was overgrown and a plan for the country that was traumatized.   I was, along with other Nigerian intellectuals a consultant to the Military Head of State on how to resolve these three issues:  

1.     What should happen to the young man (military Head of State) who moved from Lt. Col. to General within twenty four hours in 1966?   

2.     What would happen to the over-blown Nigeria armed forces of over half a million ill equipped, ill-trained and ill motivated just out of the civil war?  

3.     What would happen to the civilian political class who genuinely thought that the army should immediately go back to the barrack after the end of the civil war? 

I was tangentially involved in various capacities between 1973 and 1974 on how the military could adapt empirical successful transitions in history just as in Turkey and Mexico) to the peculiar case of Nigeria under General Gowon.   I was assigned to come up with a paper on the application of the transition process in Turkey and Mexico to the Nigerian case.   How I did this and the reception of my report are discussed in my forthcoming book.  

It was obvious that the list of issues announced by General Gowon in 1970 after the civil war as the problems that the junta would resolve before handing over to the civilian rule was bogus.    The announcement that the military would hand over to a civilian rule in 1976 did not say how.   He did not say how one issue in the list of subjects he announced was related to another.   Most seriously General Gowon failed to state the sequence of the order of implementation.  

After three years, it was obvious that the military Head of State had no plan (a) for himself, (b) for the military and (c) for the country.  Unfortunately many Nigerians were never told of the lack of vision of the regime leader on these three issues.  Nigerians were fed with rumors of what the Head of State had in mind for himself for the military and for the country.   

In 1974, General Gowon simply announced that the civilians had not learnt any lesson without saying what lesson he was expecting them to have learnt between 1970 and 1974.   He concluded that the 1976 he promised as the handing over date was unrealistic with out stating what date was realistic.   From that time, on the crisis over the three issues, what he wanted for himself, what he wanted for the military and what he wanted for the country was aggravated.  

I was not surprised when I heard in one morning on July 29, 1975 that he was overthrown in a palace and bloodless coup.   What made it a palace coup and what made it bloodless could be inferred from the character of the plotters and their relationship with the Head of State?  

Those who were involved in the coup were loyal officers of the military Head of State.   In fact the officer who announced the coup was the Commander, Brigade of Guards, the unit that should be defending the Head of State.   For the Commander of this unit to announce the change of government meant that this was an inside job.   All the major commander of the army, air and navy were in the know of the coup and so could not offer any resistance to the new order.     

The coup took place when the Head of State was not in a position to have contact with officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces.   This was when he was attending the meeting of the Heads of State of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at Kampala, Uganda.   The main reason given by the officers who staged the coup was that there was a need for the military to disengage from politics.   The group quickly gained support of the Nigerians from all walks of life who were concerned that with General Gowon, that would be impossible as he did not have a plan for himself, for the military and for the country.  (Jonah Elaigwu, Joe Garba, David Ejoor)


The junta under General Murtala Muhammed and Olusegun Obasanjo that replaced the Gowon military regime announced various issues that would be addressed before handing over to a democratically elected civilian government in 1979.   The Nigerian political class took the new military regime seriously as it commenced the implementation of the various program unlike the one before it with out delay. (Oye Oyediran, 1981)

I participated in the process that led the country to move from the Westminster system of government to the US system of Presidential system of government.   This was as a Member of the Constituent Assembly in 1977/78 that deliberated and produced the Constitution for a post-military Nigeria.   I was a key functionary in a major political party (1978/79) in furtherance of the program of democratic transition. (Omo Omoruyi, 2001)


I was a major actor in the design and implementation of the transition from military to civilian rule under General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida who ruled Nigeria from 1985 to 1993.   My experience is too complex to be presented in a lecture of this kind.   I tried to dwell on some of the unexplained issues in these exercises beyond what is in the published books in my forthcoming book.  For this lecture however, I shall focus on the democratic transition under General Ibrahim Babangida (1985-93) because I was involved in a major way. (Omo Omoruyi; Claude Welch, 1995) 


The term “democratic transition” does not mean “democracy”.   It conveys an ongoing process, which begins with the transformation in the one party regime, the military regime and the apartheid regime leading to a new order based on the “will of the people”.   What form the process take would vary from one setting to another depending on the nature of the authoritarian regime.   This confirms David Peterson’s argument that we should not expect a “uniform linear process” in the study of democratic development in Africa.  

Democratic transition is not a one day switch from totalitarian regime to a democratic order.   It is a broad threshold that commences with the empowerment of individual citizens and groups that eventually leads to the installation a winner of an election and his survival in office of who rules.  

Democratic transition also has to do with the complex issues in the change in authoritarian regimes, such as (a) the constitution-making, (b) the laying of an institutional framework for the sustenance of a democratic order and (c) the evolution of political parties.  

In this paper, the focus of democratic transition shall be on the use of “the will of the people” as the basis of bringing about a change in the three forms of authoritarian regimes in Africa, the one party regime (Kenya/Zambia) or military regime (Ghana/Nigeria) or apartheid regime (South Africa/Zimbabwe).   What was common to the three systems was that they had a restricted or no franchise at all.  All of them denied their citizens the opportunity to express their grievances or even effect a change of an unpopular regime to one that comes to being or to one that is based on “the will of the people” or of the governed.    

As is noted above democratic transition is not a “uniform linear process”.   This lack of uniformity was well demonstrated in the seminar work by Michael Bratton and Nicolas van de Walle who concluded that there are divergent transitions in Africa.  (Michael Bratton and Nicolas van de Walle, 1997)   


Sometimes those who use the term, democratic transition in Africa have in mind what took place in Eastern Europe.   They seem not to be oblivious to the fact that the process could backslide.  Let me cite Nigeria where backsliding took place.   Nigeria oscillated from military to civilian and then to military and now to civilian.  It was this oscillation that gave rise to the two contending modes of coming to power that Nigerians know since 1966 either through coup or through election.

Nigeria was granted independence by Britain on October 1, 1960 with an elected civilian ruler.   The civilian rule continued for five years under very difficult conditions.   The civilian rule was overthrown in a military coup on January 15, 1966, thus commenced the first long period of thirteen years of military rule under four Generals (Ironsi, Gowon, Muhammed and Obasanjo).

General Obasanjo who succeeded General Muhammed in 1976 after the latter was assassinated in an unsuccessful coup made do the promise of his military colleagues that took over in 1975 to return power to an elected civilian rule and actually did so on October 1, 1979.    This civilian rule continued for another four years.  

The second post independence civilian rule was overthrown in a military coup on December 31, 1983 and thus commenced the second long period of sixteen years under four Generals (Buhari, Babangida, Abacha and Abubakar)

In summary, Nigerian as an independent country was under a civilian rule from 1960 to 1966 and from 1975 to 1983.   This is the first mode of coming to power, through the election.   Adopting the second route, Nigeria was under the military rule from 1966 to 1975 and from 1983 to 1999.  

It should be noted that the change from one military ruler to another was either by a palace/bloodless or a bloody coup.   A military regime is potentially unstable as all military officers are potential Heads of State.   Consequently the military regimes had many attempted coups or unsuccessful coups that led to heavy attrition rate in the military organization.


Any study of democratization in Nigeria must address the crisis or uncertainty over the civilian-to-civilian succession.   One could argue that the immediate cause of the termination of the civilian rule in 1966 and 1983 was as a result of disputed civilian-civilian elections that were badly rigged by the incumbent and highly disputed by the opposition parties.   This is why the 2003 election is keenly watched for “warning signs” if the process could backslide.   The world is watching and Nigerians at home and abroad are pretty apprehensive that the civilian-civilian election could be inconclusive and could end the way of the elections of 1964 and 1983 ended.  


The US, South Africa and the EU countries invested a lot in the Nigerian project in 1998 after the death of the Nigerian strongman, General Abacha.   I was not surprised that the former US President, Bill Clinton was the first to express his concern in late 2002 along with others. (5)   He intervened in a massive way to get the stakeholders made up of the retired and serving political generals’ move along the path of democracy with give and take.      He told his assembled military and political leaders

                        That there is nothing wrong with Nigeria

                         That cannot be fixed by Nigerians,

Recognizing the political atmosphere created by the self-succession election and where everyone thinks he would have to win, he counseled the Nigerian political leaders

                       Democracy is not about winning election;

                       It is about knowing when to let go.

                (This Day, September 24, 2002)         

Recently it was the turn of John Major the former British Prime Minister, who spoke in Nigeria on Thursday February 20, 2003.   His speech was reported in all the major newspapers (This Day and Guardian) in Nigeria of Friday 21, 2003.   According to John Major

                      This spring’s election is…..a test.

                     A successful ballot will entrench the transfer of power

                      to a civilian administration. 

                     The extent of that result would signal right across

                      the world that Nigeria, a modern democracy,

                       is open for business.  

                       It will signal political maturity.

I was prevailed upon by some concerned Americans to address the question whether Nigeria would survive the 2003 election. (6) 


The apprehension of Nigerians in Diaspora was the reason why I was invited to Vienna in August 2002.   The Nigerian community in and around Austria wanted to know what should be done by the various peoples and groups with stake in the polity in order to have a crisis-free election in 2003.   This apprehension had the 1964 and 1983 disputed elections in mind.   They knew what happened in Nigeria to the democratic order.   They wanted me to talk to them what should be done to avoid the 1964 and 1983 incidents. (7) 

They wanted me to speak to them from my experience as one who organized the 1993 election and who knew why it was annulled by the military.   Specifically they wanted me to address them on what should be done by the political class in Nigeria in preparation for the 2003 election.   They were concerned that Nigeria should avoid the issues in the annulment that acknowledged as still with Nigeria as Nigerians prepared for 2003.   

In the lecture, I emphasized that what was at issue was not whether the election would be free and fair,    What was at issue I emphasized was the credibility of the election process.   On this, I specifically called their attention to three issues.  

(a)   The need to define the election process as having three kinds of activities, the pre-election day activities, the election day activities and the post-election day activities.

(b)   The need to build friends, internal and international for the election process.  

(c)    The need to have a level playing field for all contestants, incumbent and challengers. 

 The subject of my lecture in Vienna in August 2002 was titled, 2003 Election could be free and fair but it may not be credible.   I followed this with a three-part essay titled, Neither an Office Holder nor a Candidate be”. (8)   


Nigerians who are concerned with democratic transition in Nigeria are also aware of the two contending modes (coup and election) of coming to power in Nigeria.   The oscillation between the two modes of coming to power is still with the Nigerian political class hence they are asking some pertinent questions based on the past experience.   For example Nigerians are asking   

1.     When will the civilian rule in Nigeria based on the will of the people be institutionalized?

2.     When will the civilian rule end, meaning when will backsliding occur?  

3.     Under what conditions would there be a permanent civilian rule in Nigeria based on the will of the people?

4.     Under what conditions would civilian rule be terminated through a coup, meaning under what conditions will backsliding occur?

It would appear that after over 40 years, Nigeria is still afflicted with two nagging problems: how the various ethnic and religious groups can live together and how to govern themselves. (9)   It would appear that the two nagging problems are further compounded by the issue of election of who governs.  

Election is about returning power to the people.   It is at the root of all democratic principles and practices.   The question is, is Voting a Right?


Is there something so called, the “right to democracy” as all other rights that we popularly refer to in popular discourse?   I am aware of the warning of Philip Alston that we should be careful with the proliferation of “new” rights in the discussion of human rights. (Philip Alston, 1984.   The advocates of the right to democracy as human rights are also aware of this. (10)    Why did the UN take democracy as a right?This is the subject of this lecture.  

The topic I chose to discuss today is common to all African countries just as it is common to the world and humanity.     It is the right to democracy as necessary ingredient of the right to human dignity.      

Nigeria like all the States of Africa is a member of the UN that at the fifty fifth session in 1999 for the first time recognized the existence of the “right to democracy”.   It is a matter of record that all attempts by Cuba to get the term “right to democracy” expunged from the final text was rejected by a majority vote of 28 to 11 at the Commission on Human Rights.  This was adopted on April 27, 1999.

It was at its 2000 session that the Commission on Human Rights finally came to term with the issue of “multipartysm as a pre-requisite to a free and fair election”.    It was passed by a majority of 45 for and zero against with 11 abstentions that included Bhutan, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Qatar, Congo (Brazzaville), Rwanda, and Sudan.   Nigeria like many African countries cannot claim to be ignorant of the universal demand for allowing their citizens to have a say in who governs.

The Human Rights Commission recently pointed out that there exists

                      “the large body of international law and instruments …….,

                         which confirm the right to full participation and the other?    

                         fundamental democratic rights and freedoms inherent

                         in any democratic societies.”   

(The Commission Resolution 2002/46, “Further measures to promote and consolidate democracy”).

I was a living witness to the struggle of the Nigerian people for what the Dag Hammarsskjod Foundation called the “second liberation” since the White man left Nigeria in October 1960. (Dag Hammarskjold Foundation 1992)

In Nigeria, the “first liberation” was the fight for independence from the White ruler and in most cases it usually involved every hand on deck.   No sooner independence was won than the winner took the new government as his ethnic plume.   This was the origin of the agitation of the losing groups in the plural society for another form of liberation from his fellow Nigeria ruler.   It could take the form of “self-determination” meaning liberation from the rule of another Nigerian group.   Hence, the “second liberation” involves the agitation for freedom from the hands of Nigeria dictators who rule in the name of one dominant political party or in the name of the military.   This form of agitation took variety of forms such as the quest for more equitable form of representation and agitation for more political homes for minorities in the country and agitation for more states and local government units.   This was why Nigeria moved from a three-region federation (1960-63) to a four-region federation in 1963-1966) under the civilian rule.   The current thirty six-state federation was fashioned by the various military regimes between 1966 and 95.

The way the dominant ethnic group in the party or in the military acts made me to characterize the relationship between the one party or military or apartheid regime and the groups left out as one of an “internal colonial order”.    This was the basis of the decision of the geo-ethno-military-clique to annul the June 12 election when the result was going to shift power from the north to the south on the basis of one person one vote. (11).  

It should be noted that Nigeria since its founding by the British in 1914 and its independence in 1960, has not been able to resolve the issue of how the various groups in the Nigerian plural society can live together.   The British adopted the principle of divide and rule in the politics of decolonization and in the resolution of succession from British colonial rule to the rule by Nigerians at independence in 1960.  The Nigerian political class at independence and after never addressed the politics of plural society on the basis of justice and fair play.   It was this that led to the second problem, the “mode of governance”.   This latter issue tends to dominate the debate in post first liberation period as the debate over “forms of government”.  It ought to have been obvious that one could not resolve the crisis over the mode of governance without first addressing the question, “how to live together”.

But the “right to political participation” or of “democratic rights” is the right to human dignity. (12)   Whether you are poor or rich or live in the exclusive residential areas in the country or in a one bed room accommodation with your family of ten or have a Ph D or an illiterate or a Professor or a cleaner in the University, the vote today is the common denominator in all democracies.   The beauty of this right is that the Election Day then becomes the only day in four or so years when all citizens join hands to elect who is to govern all.  

It was in this context that the Secretary General of the UN warned that

                           Poor people’s stomachs are not filled by rulers

                           who impose themselves by force,

                           who do not submit themselves to the people’s judgment,

                           or who do not allow the people to hear the views of their opponents. (UN, December 4, 2000)

This picture of what this right means was best exhibited in South Africa when all races, poor, rich, old and young for the first time in the history had to queue to cast their votes.    I wonder how many of us saw Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the international TV when he was given a ballot paper with his hand shaking; he exclaimed “free at last”, when he successfully cast his vote for the first time in his life.(13)   Participation is a right to human dignity; that feeling exhibited by Archbishop Tutu sums it all.(R. W. Johnson and Lawrence Schlemmer, 1996, Heather Deegan, 2001)


The euphoria in the scholarship on democratization that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European communist regimes subsequently posed dilemma for the leaders of African totalitarian regime.   The leaders of African countries who used to pride themselves as non-aligned suddenly found the world shrinking before their eyes.   They were ill-prepared for the politics of democratic transition.  

African leaders saw how the US and the EU rose to the support of the democratic transition in the old Soviet Union and in other Communist regimes.   This was how these countries were helped as they embarked on both economic and political transformation. 

African leaders also saw how the Polish-Americans and other European-Americans used their political leverage in Washington to facilitate the democratic transition of Eastern European countries and initiate the admission of these countries into the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and into the European Union.   All these former Communist countries are now part of the various democracy-promoting organizations in Europe.   

One would recall that at this time, Africa states that were created by the European countries were actually abandoned to fend for themselves.   They continued to be dominated by three kinds of totalitarian regimes: one party regime; military regime and apartheid regime and at the same time were faced with bilateral and multi-lateral political conditionalities with respect to economic assistance from the US and the EU countries. 


In Nigeria, I was involved in the “military in politics” as a major actor in the design and implementation of the transition program.   I knew what was going through the minds of the military ruler in Nigeria, General Babangida as far as returning power to the Nigerian people was concerned.  I knew how the Nigerian military leader was too concerned with what Washington (US), the EU and Japan were thinking than with what Nigerians were thinking.   I was involved in the marketing of the transition program to the US, UK and Japan.  

Since coming to the US, three questions were usually asked of me since 1995.  

(a)   Did I believe in what I was selling both in Nigeria and in the international community on behalf of the military regime?

(b)   Did I trust the military ruler that he bought what I was selling or that he was with me on what I was doing on behalf of the military administration? . 

(c)    Did the military President carry his two constituencies (the military and the north) with him if he believed in what I was doing on behalf of the military regime?  

I tried to address these and other questions in my forthcoming reflection, call it memoir.  

I strongly believed in what I was selling.   I trusted General Babangida that he bought what I was preaching on behalf of the military regime in the name of democracy.   But whether the military President I was working for carried the military organization with him in what I was selling was a complex issue to be adequately discussed through a lecture/paper like this.   From the issues in the annulment of the free and fair election in June 1993, it became obvious to me that he did not carry his two constituencies (North and military) with him in what he was doing and in what I was selling to the Nigerian people and the world on behalf of the military regime in the name of democracy.    

What should be noted is that the military President, General Babangida and not the military as an organization believed in the government based on the will of the people.  This distinction is important as this is critical to the understanding of the military regime as a one man organization where other officers are just waiting for their turn.(14)   The military as an organization never took over a government;  it would be unthinkable therefore to expect the military as an organization to plan how to return power to the Nigerian people in an election.     Taking over a government is the work of a clique and not a decision taken by the armed forces as an organization.   This was my experience in Nigeria since I came back to the country in 1970 and lived through many coups, successful and unsuccessful or bloody and bloodless. 

I noticed that what was going through the minds of other military Heads of State and the President of one party regime in Africa was no different from what the Nigerian military junta was going through.    The event in the Eastern Europe took them by surprise.   They had no time to adjust to the implication of the world that was turning into a one directional development under the US.  

They did not know what was going through the minds of the US President, then President George Bush.  The visit of the US Vice President, Dan Quayle to Nigeria in the Summer of 1991 was meant to see for himself what the Nigerian military was doing.   I was the one  who sold the transition program to the US officials.(15)  I then became the anchor man to sell the transition program to the US Vice President and his delegation.   At the end of the visit to Nigeria, the US Vice President sent me a letter thanking me for

                   The extremely informative and useful visit to

                    the Center for Democratic Studies.  

He went on.

                    In addition to the tour of your fine facilities,

                   we found the discussion of the transition to civilian

                   rule very valuable.  

                   We leave Nigeria with greater understanding both

                   of the challenges the transition program must overcome

                   and the great promise it offers.

Letter from Vice President Dan Quayle to Omo Omoruyi, September 17, 1991)   


Speaking from experience, the design of a program of democratic transition commenced before the fall of the Berlin Wall.   That program was given however more impetus after the fall of the Berlin Wall.   What should not be ignored was that this historical fact of the fall of the Berlin Wall further posed a dilemma for the military junta in Nigeria under the leadership of General Babangida. 

As his political confidant and counselor, I could vouch for what was going through the minds of the military dictator of Nigeria during this period.   One could recall how, why and when he suddenly decided to challenge his fellow dictators in Africa in June 1991 at the meeting of the Heads of States and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at Abuja, Nigeria in June 1991. 

One would recall that the deliberation of the Conference was dominated by two questions.   One was what to do with their authoritarian rule in the face of the new demands for democracy not from their people but from the West led by the US.   The second was what to do about the Liberian crisis.   This was an irony; how could they bring peace based without democracy?   These were the two attributes that most African leaders attending that OAU meeting did not have at home.   The Nigerian military leader saw this dilemma clearly that he could not sell democracy in Liberia if he did not have one at home or if he was not in the forefront promoting the same thing at home.      

The dilemma facing them as dictators in the face of the changes that had taken place in Eastern Europe dominated the formal and informal sessions of the OAU at Abuja.   

In the end, the OAU Heads of State and Government at that Abuja meting in June 1991 decided to endorse democracy and human rights.   This is the least discussed aspect of the quest for democratization in Africa that was initiated in Nigeria by the military President of Nigeria.   The host President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida impressed on his colleagues that there was no longer a place to hide in the world of democracies.   He was convinced that with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new democracies in Eastern Europe, there were no longer the two worlds, Eat and West.   Put succinctly, there was only one world led by the US.    General Babangida realized this hence he thought he should confront his fellow dictators in Africa with the new realities.  

This was why and how the Nigerian dictator had to respond to the dilemma facing his fellow African dictators during this period.   This was why and when he had to challenge his fellow dictators in his opening address to the 27th Ordinary Session of OAU on June 3, 1991 with the following words:     

                      The cost of maintaining structures of dictatorship

                      including the energy dissipated and the blood expended

                      in warding off challenges to the monopoly of power all

                      over our continent makes imperative that democracy is

                      not an attractive option but a rational and an inevitable one.  

He then urged his dictators’ colleagues to

                    Accept and comply with the wishes of those whom

                    we represent as no amount of force can forever stifle

                    the right of the governed to decide at periodic free and fair

                    election the fate of any government and that the free choice

                   of leaders by the governed is the essence of representative


(President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on June 3, 1991).

One would recall hosting key officials and advisers Presidents of Uganda, Ghana and Zambia to a dinner.(16)   They expressed the concern of their respective bosses.   They were all concerned about the implications of the address of General Babangida for the political fortune of their clients.   Of course, I used the occasion to warn them that the era of one party rule or of the military regime and of the apartheid or minority regime in Africa and in the world was coming to an end.  

One would recall the tough question that my guest had to ask in respect of their host.   My guests wanted to know if the Nigerian President was serious with what were the full implications of the address for the continent.  Specifically they wanted to know if General Babangida was serious with handing over of power to an elected civilian order.   One would recall the very forthright question posed to me by one if the Nigerian military leader was serious with handing over of power to the Nigerian political class.   One wanted to know how a man could hand over such an oil rich Nigeria to civilians.  My responses to these questions were positive.   On the specific question whether what General Babangida said was in accord with the Nigerian military, I went back to the same distinction between the President and the military as an organization in a military regime or when it came to taking over a government.        


What should be noted is that for the first time in the history of OAU, the Heads of State and Government at the Abuja Meeting resolved to commit the continent to the “principles and practice of democracy and human rights”.   Looking back now one could ask if General Babangida was trying to break away from his colleagues in Nigeria and in Africa.   One could also ask if he wanted to give the impression to the outside world that he was the genuine democrat as distinct from his colleagues in Nigeria and in the continent.   This was what one could make of his demeanor at the OAU meeting and after.

One also recall the unprecedented attempt by Nigerian military leader during this period to court the US.   One was not surprised that immediately after the OAU meeting the US Vice President undertook his visit to Nigeria and four other African states to drum to the ears of African leaders that the US heard what Africa said at the 27th OAU meeting and wanted to find out what the US could do to advance the goal.  This was not all.   

Immediately after the visit to Africa of the US Vice President, President Babangida of Nigeria felt so elated by the successful visit of the US Vice President.   This was why and how he as the Chairman of the OAU personally decided to carry the landmark OAU resolution to the UN in an open session.  


General Babangida as the Chairman of the OAU he was mandated to address the UN at the beginning of the session.   That meant that he would have to carry to the UN any message from Africa to the world body.   On this occasion, there was no other message other than the resolution of OAU at the June 1991 session.   He also undertook the marketing of the Nigerian transition program on the floor of the UN General Assembly and later to the US officials in various meeting he held with the US officials and businessmen,  

In his address to the UN General Assembly on October 3, 1991 he made the following declaration on behalf of Africa:  

In June 1991, the OAU meeting at its Summit

 deliberated on those issues (political and economic)

 and the Summit resolved that African countries

 should embrace the democratic culture to

  enable our peoples to enjoy Fundamental Human

   Rights and participate effectively in decisions that

                       affect their lives and well being.

President Babangida also used the occasion and the auspices of the General Assembly to parade what he was doing in Nigeria.   In his words,

                   The Nigerian democratization program

                   Was based on political learning,

                  Institutional adjustment and

                   Reorientation of political culture.

(Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on October 3, 1991.)


As was earlier stated the fall of the Berlin Wall was at the root of the action of the OAU in June 1991.   The donor countries added their pressure for democratization in Africa.   The one party regime were to open their polities to multiparty politics; the military regimes were to give way to democratically elected government and the apartheid regime in South Africa was to under the process that would lead to a multi-racial democratic order.     The implications of these developments on the three kinds of authoritarian regimes were of three kinds.  

One, it was obvious that from the OAU Summit in 1991, there was no longer the usual justification of “all hands on deck” in the name of economic development or of national unity by the one party regimes of Zambia and Kenya.  Multipartism was seen as an idea whose time had come; it was just a matter of when and how it would be commenced.  

Two, that the African military dictators in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo, etc. could no longer prevent political parties from emerging even if they did not want to in the name of wanting to check tribalism or promote economic development.   The era of military regime was on the wane and it just needed help from the developed democracies on how to move from military to civilian rule based on a free and fair election.  

The apartheid regime in South Africa even though not a participants in the OAU activities, also saw the hand writing on the wall that something would have to be done to move the country’s politics from “white only democracy” to “all races-democracy”.


The first casualty of the pressures from aid donors after the OAU commitment introduced by the Nigerian dictator was President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia in October 1991.  President Kaunda who presided over a one party regime for over thirty years in Zambia did not know when to bow out.   Through internal and external pressures he had to amend the one party Constitution and allow for a multi-party election that eventually ended his reign of over 30 years.   

The second one-party ruler, President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya had to face the internal and external pressures in 1992.   He too was forced to allow the change from a one party to a multi-party in the Constitution and allow for a free and fair election under international supervision like in Zambia.

President arap Moi was able to resist the pressure to go on the basis of the change following what happened in Zambia.   As a member of the International team of experts in Kenya in December 1992, I saw how the Kenya President was able to survive the pressure from the international donors.  The attempt by the international facilitating group to make the opposition parties to sink their differences as was done in Zambia failed.  

I also saw how President Moi was able to take advantage of the division among the leaders of the opposition parties along ethnic line.   In fact, it was rumored that he fueled the division of the opposition forces.  He learnt a lesson from the Zambian experience where the opposition forces united against the President and defeated him.  President Moi vowed that he would not go the Kaunda way and he survived owing to factors that were internal to Kenya.    

Quite unlike in Zambia where the opposition forces were united against the one party regime and were bent on throwing out the one party regime of Kaunda with the support of the international community, the opposition forces in Kenya were in disarray during the election partly engineered by the President and partly from the ethnic fears in Kenya.   All efforts made by the international community to assist the opposition forces unite against Moi failed.   This was why with less than 40% of the total votes in 1992 and in 1997 President arap Moi won the 1992 and 1997 elections.   It was obvious to me then that as long as the opposition forces were in disarray, the force of arap Moi would continue to dominate the political order with less than 40% of the popular votes.(17) (D. Foeken and T. Dietz, 2000)


Some states in Africa mostly from the Francophone countries yielded to the call for a National Conference.     This was an unplanned, ad hoc assembly representing all sorts of individuals and groups.   Pearl Robinson (1994) and Walter S. Clarke (1995) did comparative studies of the phenomenon, National Conference in Francophone countries.   They demonstrated its varieties. (Pearl Robinson, 1994 and Walter S. Clarke in Harvey Glickman 1995)  

The National Conference could last from few days to several months.   The size varied from several hundreds to thousands.   It was usually presided over by a nominally neutral cleric.   This was the mode in Benin where the National Conference first started and spread to over ten countries.   What should be noted was that the National Conferences yielded divergent results. 

This also applies to the concept of sovereignty.   Should a National Conference be sovereign?   This was an incidental issue that arose after the commencement of the Conference in Benin.   President Eyadema of Benin had no choice at the stage when he had to agree to the cession of sovereignty to the National Conference when he did.  The state had collapsed and short of the National Conference there was nothing that could have been put in place to commence a normal regime in Benin.   This also raises another question; should there be a collapse of an existing order in order r to have a Sovereign National Conference?     This is the contentious issue in Nigeria where some politicians since 1999 have been agitating for a National Conference whose outcome would not be vetted by the existing political office holders.    It should be noted that all attempts to repeat what happened in Benin especially with the addition of “sovereignty” elsewhere failed.   The only two non-Francophone countries that convened a variant of a National Conference were Ethiopia in July 1991 and South Africa in December 1991.   

Nigeria under General Babangida strongly resisted all attempts by some people and groups in civil society in Nigeria to have a National Conference.   His argument then was that the Political Bureau that went throughout the country to canvass for opinion on how Nigeria should be governed was adequate for the Nigerian military to decide on the way forward.   It was on this basis that the Nigerian military junta set up a Constituent Assembly in 1987 that was partly elected and partly nominated to address the basis of a Constitution for the democratically elected government.   This was how Nigeria reaffirmed the change from the Westminster model of government (parliamentary system) to the Presidential system of the US type that was initiated in the late 1970s.

What should be noted was that the Nigerian military opted for a programmed democratic transition a little different from the one of 1975 under Generals Muhammed/Obasanjo.    This will be taken up later.


I was surprised when I was a guest speaker at a college in Pennsylvania in 1997 that there was something called the “West African Model of Transition” by the US.   This model had to do with the self-succession of the military Head of State.  An example of this was in Ghana where the Military Head of State formed a political party and ran from office and won as the “democratically” elected President of Ghana.   Togo, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso were of the variant of the West African Model of Transition promoted by Washington.

One should note that what was called the West African Model of democratic transition as it affected the armed forces was nothing new.   A variant of it was applied in Turkey, Mexico and Egypt.

In Nigeria, it was inconceivable that a military Head of State would form a political party and run for election.   No military Head of State  had the gut to tell the Nigerian people that he was interested in staying in power under another plan outside the military.   Beside General Yakubu Gowon (1966-75) who was suspected of trying to transform himself into a civilian ruler for an indefinite period or General Buhari (1983-85) who failed to even talk about the need for civilian rule at any time, General Obasanjo (1976-79) and General Babangida (1985-1993) were committed to the idea of handing over to an elected President.  

It was under General Obasanjo that Nigerians started to hear of something called the transition from military to civilian rule program that was evolved under the administration headed by his predecessor in office who was assassinated on February 13, 1976.   It was unique in Africa that a military Head of State could commence a process that would eventually lead to a democratically elected civilian rule.   This is still one of President Obasanjo’s feats today.   One was not surprised that this was so used during the period the country wanted someone who would take Nigeria out of the dilemma it found itself after the death of the military dictator in 1998.   

The discussion of the West African Model of Democratic Transition would not be complete without mentioning the attempt of certain forces in the US to sanction the self-succession project of General Sani Abacha.   I am referring to the innovation by General Abacha (1993-98) who organized five official political parties that in the end jointly nominated him in April 1998 as the sole Presidential candidate.   To his handlers in the US and some “Nigerianists” this was a variant of the West African Model.

One would recall that they prevailed on the US President, Bill Clinton and his Special Envoy, Rev Jesse Jackson during Clinton’s visit to Africa to make a pronouncement on the matter which he did.   President Clinton said categorically that the US was not opposed to General Abacha succeeding himself in 1998, if and only if he would put down his uniform and allow others to compete with him.   It was death that put an end to this phenomenon.  

I participated in some of the various meeting hosted by the State Department and the US Institute of Peace that were meant to evolve a policy for the US-Nigerian relations under President Clinton and General Abacha.   I am referring to the policy of “Constructive Engagement” under which the US officials would engage the Nigerian military leader (General Abacha) to have ‘a soft landing’ as he turned himself into a civilian ruler.(18)   This was the most fraudulent attempt by some elements within the US foreign policy establishment aided by some leaders in the African-American community and some Nigerian intellectuals in the US to develop a policy that was against the democratic forces in Nigeria.  

What shocked me was the attitude of these officials to the June 12 and the winner of that election who was languishing in detention because he dared to lay claim to his mandate.   These officials knew that the winner of the election of 1993 was still in the military gulag.   The US failed to develop a policy on Nigeria that would address the following issues:

(a)   how to make the Nigerian dictator free political prisoners;

(b)   how to stop the political assassinations in the country;

(c)    how to stop chasing the Nigerian pro-democracy forces outside the country;

(d)   what to do about the winner of the June 12 who was in the military gulag.  

Modesty aside; the truth should be told.   I was one of the planners of the election of 1993.   As far as the record would show, I was the only person in government who ever pronounced the election free, fair and credible before and after the annulment.   This was why I became one of the victims of the planned assassination of pro-democracy forces.   This was why I found my way to the US on exile in August 1995 after surviving assassination in the hands of “unknown assassins” on February 3, 1994.   I used every opportunity between 1995 and 1998 while living in the US to make my views on these subjects known.   My views were well known as against the policy of “constructive engagement” in my meetings with the US officials in the State Department and in various memoranda before and after the death of General Sani Abacha, the Nigerian military Head of State.     


The most expensive and complex program of democratic transition in Africa was in Nigeria.   It was the one evolved under General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1985.    We may never know the total cost as many of the items were unbudgeted and hence could not be officially verified.   It is part of my resume that I was a major actor in the design and implementation of this program between 1985 and 1993.  

This program set out the stages and steps that would have to be taken to move Nigeria from military to democratically elected government.   The program was a broad threshold of transition that involved the progressive introduction of the democratically elected civilians to replace the military from the local government to the national levels. The logic and philosophy of this plan had been thoroughly discussed elsewhere by me. (Omo Omoruyi, 1992)

It should be noted that this transition program was reduced into a law called Decree.(19)   From the beginning to the end, social mobilization and political education were stressed.(20)


The international resolution of the Namibia independence on March 21, 1990 issue commenced the weakening of the apartheid regime in South Africa.   At this time the Berlin Wall had just fallen.  

One would recall that the Namibia issue involved the US and Soviet Union on the one hand and Cuba and South Africa on the other.    Did anyone anticipate the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union?   I will say no!

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Namibia, the apartheid regime knew that its days were numbered.   One was not surprised when the Apartheid regime in South Africa had to yield to the ‘wind of change’ blowing through out the world and making life untenable for dictatorial regimes anywhere.  The leaders of the regime in South Africa found that it was the only power left in Africa that was not yielding to the political renewal in the continent.   Gone were the days when the leaders of South Africa could call itself the defenders of democracy and others opposed to it as ‘Communists’.   Communism was dead with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  One was not surprised that the leaders of the apartheid regime had to come up with the assistance of the West on a program of ‘soft and safe landing from apartheid regime to a multiracial election.   

The process could be called a mixture of a programmed democratic transition and the National Conference.     The way the apartheid regime was transformed made two fundamental contributions to the program of democratic transition in Africa that should be noted.  

One was the principle of “Power Sharing” through the “Government of National Unity” as a part of the transition process.  (Nelson Mandela, 1994).  

The second was the setting up of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” under an eminent cleric and civil rights campaigner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu as part of the post transition process. (Lyn S. Graybill, 2000)         



The first lesson that Nigeria learnt was that the Nigerian implementation of democratic transition should be based on the sanctity of the ballot box as the only basis of determining who was to govern.   This was based on a sound philosophy that equates the vote with the voice.      

It should be noted that there is a general saying that the voice of the people is the voice of God.   However it was in my sojourn at Harvard that I started to reflect on the relationship between the annulment of an election as in Algeria, Burma and Nigeria and the denial of democratic rights on the one hand and the relationship between the denial of democratic rights and the catalogue of human rights nightmares and the denial of the right to human dignity on the other.   These relationships were summed up by Justice Hugo Black in Wesberry v Sanders and reported by Henry Steiner.   According to Justice Hugo Black,

                No right is more precious in a free country

                than that of having a voice in the election

                of those who make laws under which

                as good citizens we must live.

He concluded:

                   Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory

                    if the right to vote is undermined.

(This is reported in Steiner, 1994)

The vote is the voice of the people in a democracy; in fact it was even acknowledged that the “Voice of the People is the Voice of God” vox populi vox dei.   This was why the Vote was recognized as such as right immediately after the founding of the United Nations in 1948.   This was the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that has today become the right of passage for all nations as part of becoming members of the UN.   Later what was just a right of passage was made an enforceable right in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1976.   This right was further given teeth in many international conventions against all forms of discriminations. 

The vote changed the character of regime in Eastern and Central Europe, Philippines, Cambodia, Mozambique, Zambia etc.   One would recall how China reacted to the first time the Taiwan regime organized a free and fair election in 1996 to choose who would govern the Taiwanese people.   What is unique in all these elections is that the vote is made to change the conception of sovereignty from “State sovereignty” to “popular sovereignty”.   Hence O’Donnell and Schmitter called this type of election, “Founding Elections”. (G. O’Donnel and P. Schmitter 1991).

What is critical about this right is that unlike the first generation rights and freedoms, the democratic right or the right to political participation, as noted by the eminent jurists holds a positive entitlement to which states that are party to the International Covenant are obliged to adopt “positive measures” to hold democratic elections.  (Mathiew-Mohia and Cherfayt of 1987 in Steiner 1988)  

Of recent, eminent scholars such as van Haegedoren summarized the norms of democratic rights as follows:

1.     the right to vote;

2.     the genuine elections;

3.     the periodic elections;

4.     the universal suffrage;

5.     the secret ballot;

6.     the right to stand for election;

7.     the related and conditional rights such as the freedom of the press;

8.     the fair access of all political associations to the media;

9.     the freedom of association and of assembly and

10.  the freedom to organize intermediate groups.   

Van Haegedoren and others such as Fox, Evans and Olidge, Franck etc have argued that the international community led by the US and the EU countries has taken it upon itself to get involved in “norm setting” and the “norm enforcement” mechanism of democratic rights.   In the process, states are made to comply with the obligation to promote, guarantee and respect citizens’ democratic rights. (Geert van Haegendoren, 1987, Evans and Dariyl T. Olidge, 1990, Thomas Franck, 1992, Fox, James Crawford, 1993, Jack Donnelly, 1999).   Consequently, “norm setting” and norm enforcement” of democratic rights no longer belong to the municipal law of individual countries.


The second lesson that Nigeria learnt from the above was that the Nigerian democratic transition should be sanction an international involvement in the process of democratic transition.   One would recall some high profile cases of this involvement in Africa such as in Zambia in late 1991 where the practice started and went on to Kenya in December 1992, South Africa in 1994 and Zimbabwe in 2002 to mention a few.   The practice of international involvement in election from outside Africa has never gone down well with the African political leaders.   They were shocked with how President Jimmy Carter literally took over the conduct of the election that saw the end of President KK Kaunda of Zambia.   African leaders still do not have any mechanism for dealing with this.

How and why the Nigerian military junta leader, General Babangida accepted the international involvement in the electoral process is still one of the unexplained aspects of the Nigerian politics.  The use of international observer as mechanism for the accrediting of election world wide was one issue that was not properly handled in 1999; it was still not properly handled in preparation for the 2003 polls.(21)

In my view the practice of inviting the international observers for the Election Day activities violates the rule that says election should be construed as a “process” with three parts that should include the pre-Election Day activities to the Election Day activities and the post Election Day activities.   This will further discussed later.

One would recall that the African leaders who frowned at the international involvement in their election adopted a different attitude when it came to South Africa.   In fact, the African leaders were the first to demand the international involvement in the democratic transition not just in the Election Day activities in South Africa.  

When the African leaders made a case and demand for international involvement in South African democratic transition, they were right as that was the only way to put an end to the “White on Black” violence in that country.   They were saying in so many words that “black on black“ inhumanity is permissible and qualitatively different from “white on black” inhumanity.  In my view, I equated one party regime with a military and apartheid regime above because they all deny their citizens a voice in the polity and hence their right to human dignity.   The African leaders, who were apprehensive of the use of international observers in their countries, supported the use of the international community in seeing to the end of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.   They knew that but for the international involvement in the electoral process from the preelection day activities to post Election Day activities, the change in South Africa would have been frustrated.   The African dictators ought to have seen their hanging on to power for an indefinite period under a one party rule or under the military in the same light as the apartheid regime in South Africa.   The African leaders ought to have seen the “black on black” inhumanity as equally as despicable as the dreaded “white on black” inhumanity.   

One would recall that Nelson Mandela is facing this dilemma in Burundi where a small group, Tutsi and black is presiding over a majority group, Hutu another black.   That is also the situation in Rwanda.   A free and fair election as was done in the past would reverse the roles in both countries.   Would this not be in accordance with basis democratic principle and practice?   Could the army be used for an indefinite period of making the minority to lord it over the majority?   The problem in Burundi and Rwanda is not with one person one vote, but with the formation of government that would provide for all stakeholders as a transitional measure as was done in South Africa.(22)     


Nigeria also learnt from the above that the goal of democratic transition should have an election that is not only free and fair, but credible.     In my advice to the military President of Nigeria, I pleaded with him that the goal of election should not be whether the election was free and fair but on whether the people who were to live with it thought of it to be so.   This is what we call credibility.  It is a matter of belief.  This belief is anchored on faith on the part of the citizens that on balance, the result of the election approximates “the will of the people”.   The citizens should believe that the election is not the end and that there would be another day.

What is a credible election?   I first used the term, “credible election” in Nigeria in June 1993 when I responded to a reporter who wanted me to assess the election in Nigeria and I said that the “Presidential election was free, fair and credible”.(23)   No one asked me what I meant by the term credible election.   I recently delivered a lecture in Vienna, Austria that the election in 2003 could be free and fair and may not be credible, which is the title of a book in press. (Omo Omoruyi 2002)

My view is that at the root of the crisis of democratization in Africa is how to make an election not only free and fair but also how to make the process of election credible.   How is this a problem?

Let me use the Zimbabwe case to respond to the question.  The controversy over the Zimbabwe election posed a hiatus between the African conception of a credible election and that of the White Commonwealth, the EU and the US.   To the African countries that sent observers to Zimbabwe, everything went well; but the EU and the US and the White Commonwealth saw it differently.   Unfortunately, the African leaders tend to believe that there should be a difference.   There are two areas that should be considered and discussed.  

As was emphasized above, and based on the UN the notion of election should be redefined to mean a process that consists of three interrelated parts.   Nigerian military President was advised by me to buy this during the period of the design of the transition program and the election.   This is based on the UN’s definition of election as a process with three interrelated parts: Pre-Election Day Activities, Election Day Activities and Post-Election Day Activities.  (UN in 1990; UN in 1991).  

One observed in the 2002 Election controversy in Zimbabwe that the White Commonwealth, the EU and the US applied the UN’s definition of election as a process that must be transparently organized from pre-Election Day activities through the Election Day to post Election Day.   It would appear that the African leaders generally tend to focus on the Election Day activities as if those are the issues that matter.   The African leaders ought to have appreciated that election results in Zimbabwe would have been compromised if the pre-Election Day activities as was noticed in many cases were compromised. 

The second has to do the role of internal and international mechanisms for according credibility to the process. (Geert van Haegondoron, 1987; W. W. Reisman, 1992),

Up till now the African leaders have not quite bought the idea that the international community should be involved in the elections in Africa.   They hate the idea of the former colonial masters telling them what to do.    This was why leaders of the African countries subscribed to two contradictory resolutions at the UN General Assembly on virtually the same day in December 1991.

The first was the Resolution, the Secretary General’s Report on Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Principle of Periodic and Genuine Elections, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the UN on December 17, 1991 with all the African countries including Nigeria voting for it.   This Resolution was to govern the UN monitoring missions.

The second was another Resolution, the Respect for the Principle of National Sovereignty and Non-Interference in the Internal Affairs of States in their Election Processes was moved and passed on the same day by the same body.   This Resolution was sponsored by China, Cuba, Libya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.   What a company to keep!

It should be noted that up till today, China, Cuba and Libya do not know what is called multi-party election.  

At that time, Tanzania was still a one party regime.   It should be noted that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe toyed initially with an idea of a one party regime after Zimbabwe was granted independence in 1980.   He only change his rhetoric and not his policy when he became the President of Zimbabwe in 1980 and remain an since then.   He does not like opposition parties and made that known in all elections in Zimbabwe since then.  

At the time joined these countries to sponsor the second resolution, Nigeria was still a military regime with a commitment to a transition program that would end with a democratic political order.  

What is significant is that the leaders of both Nigeria and Zimbabwe subscribed to these two contradictory UN Resolutions.   That means that these African leaders at different time frowned at the concern of the US and the EU in the elections in their countries.      

What shocked me as a major actor in the design and implementation of Nigerian democratic transition program was that I did not know of the contradictory positions of Nigeria until I came to Harvard in 1995 when I was going through the UN documents.   

How President Babangida, the promoter of the OAU Resolution on Democracy and Human Rights of June 1991 could agree to the Nigerian contradictory positions at the UN still remains one of the aspects of the Nigerian program of democratization still in search of explanation.    One may ask if General Babangida was able to recall his declaration on behalf of the OAU and Nigeria in November 1991 in the context of this resolution.   Something went wrong here that I would not be able to explain.  

What happened between June 1991 when he led the OAU to pass that landmark resolution that he took to the UN in October 1991 and December 1991 when he directed the Nigerian Permanent Representative at the UN to cosponsor an anti-democratic resolution?      It was obviously a U-Turn.   He would have to respond to these questions in his memoir.

What I later observed was that the same OAU that approved the Resolution on Democracy and Human Rights in June 1991 turned down the private initiative by former dictators of Nigeria and Tanzania (Obasanjo and Nyerere respectively) that Africa should have a framework on “Security, Stability, Development, and Co-operation in Africa”.   What was unique in Obasanjo’s plan was that it would have been another democracy-enhancing provision for the newly democratizing countries in Africa that would have included intra-African monitoring procedure. (24)  

One was not surprised that the African leaders at the earliest opportunity under the current African Union and NEPAD came up with identical initiative of Obasanjo and Nyerere of 1990 without saying so in 2002 in what they call “Peer Review” system that is still being worked out.   There is an urgent need for the African leaders to tell the world that the peer review is not an endorsement of the Resolution barring the use of monitors in the election in member countries sponsored by Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, China, Libya and Tanzania in December 1991.  

Why are the African leaders running away from opening up their election to the world?  What was the source of apprehension of the African leaders on the use of international observers in the elections in their countries?   I shall use two countries to respond to this question, Nigeria in 1993 and Zimbabwe in 2002.


One would recall when, how and why the Nigerian military dictator General Babangida reacted to the action of the international community to the junta’s annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election.  

Modesty aside, not because I was involved in the planning and in the implementation of the election process, it should be noted that that election was declared the only free, fair and credible election in Nigerian history.   To the protest in the international community, President Babangida had this to say:

                Although the Nigerian Electoral Commission and

                the Centre for Democratic Studies invited the

                foreign observers for the Presidential election,


                the administration (military under him) did not

                and cannot accept that foreign countries

               should interfere in our internal affairs

                and undermine our sovereignty.

This was an obvious reference to the institution that I headed, the CDS.   As one involved in advising the Nigerian military President on the election and as one who was assigned the function of accrediting the international observers at the critical election, I felt disappointed when I heard General Babangida take the denial of human dignity for the people of Nigeria as an internal affair of the Nigerian dictator. 

He went on to make another blunder when he said,

                 The Presidential election was not an exercise

                  imposed on Nigeria by the United Nations or

                 by the wishes of the of some

                 global policemen of democracy”. 

(Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida June 26, 1993)

How could General Babangida call the US, the EU countries and Japan the “global policemen of democracy”?   One would recall that I worked with him when he used the same mature democracies as the basis of legitimizing his program design and implementation.   One would still recall the visits one made to these countries to sell the Nigerian program of democratic transition.  

What many Nigerian did not know and what one came to know later was that the same General Babangida who was forced to make the above two blunders on June 26, 1993 by his two constituencies, the military and north rushed to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on July 29, 1993, a month after his denunciation of the West and a month before he left office.   This is one of the unexplained aspects of the annulment saga.  

The effect of this last act by General Babangida on successive military dictators was reflected in the actions on Nigeria by the UN Human Rights Committee in 1996 after the extra-judicial execution of the minority advocate, Ken Saro Wiwa.  (UN Human Rights Committee, July 24, 1996).  


President Mugabe of Zimbabwe used identical language of the Nigerian military President to denounce the action of what Babangida called the “global policemen of democracy”.   To President Mugabe, the global policemen of democracy were the White members of the Commonwealth, the EU countries and the US that declared the election process in Zimbabwe flawed before the day of election.      President Mugabe even accused the opposition parties, especially the person who ran against him as working in the interest of the former colonial power, Britain.    

The mixing of the issue of land with the need to promote, guarantee and respect the democratic rights of the people of Zimbabwe gives the impression that only President Mugabe has answer to the land question in Zimbabwe and that other Zimbabwe leaders do not have.   This is unfortunate.


The resistance of the Nigerian military to the issue of democratic rights is not unique.   It is common to all African countries.   As an African phenomenon, it raises three critical issues. 

1.     The Nigerian leaders, like other African leaders should appreciate that there is a relationship between democratic rights and human rights.   

2.     They should appreciate that human rights may not be disaggregated at all and that the different aspects of human rights may not be arrayed in some meaningful sequence.

3.     They should appreciate those human rights issues should be pursued as if they are domestic issues.  

Let us take three issues one by one.  


On the first issue, one should refer to the United Nations recently organized international conference on the theme, “The interdependence Between Democracy and Human Rights” between November 25 and 26 2002.    There are important papers from this conference that emphasize the link, relationship and interdependence between democracy and human rights. (UN, 2002: David Beetham, Shadrack Gutto and others, 2002)

One would recall the Hugo Black’s dictum as a way of responding to the first question, that there is a relationship between democratic rights and human rights.  To repeat, “Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined”.   This has been borne out by the changes in the political empowerment of the Black people in the south following the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s.   This is the reason for the general focus on voters’ registration in the otherwise marginalized communities in the US by civil rights leaders.


On the second issue, Henry Steiner provided five dimensional categories which are summarized as follows:

      1.  Negative Rights:   Most countries whether democratic or not profess this negative rights that usually start with “shall not” and usually includes such statements as, “shall not kill”, “shall not torture”, “shall not engage in human trafficking such as slave trade” or “shall not deprive any citizen his spiritual autonomy”.

       2. Procedural Fairness and Protection: This is usually the due process clause in the national constitutions in many countries that is supposed to guarantee citizens right to court and humane treatment of prisoners.   Most countries would profess to guarantee citizens this right.

      3. Anti-discriminatory Rights: Most countries would profess to convince the world that they do not practice any discriminatory laws on the basis of race, tribe or gender etc.

      4. Expressive Rights:   Most countries wrestle with the issues in free speech, assembly and association.

     5. Participatory Right: This consists of the right to vote and be voted for.   It should be noted that this was highly contentious at the time the International Covenant was initiated and discussed within the international community.   In the end, it met different things to different countries.   As was conceived and understood today, the right touches on the “distribution and exercise of political power”. (Steiner p. 80-84) 

I had argued elsewhere that what Steiner called the “divergence over meanings” with respect to the import of the right of political participation is gradually yielding place to what could be called the “convergence over meanings”.(25)

On the convergence over meanings, it should be noted that the former Soviet Bloc countries that objected to what they called the liberal democratic import of the right to political participation under the ICCPR are today members of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and members of the NATO and the EU and many other organizations.   Even the membership of the Russian Federation in the G8 is based on the status of Russia one of the leading democracies and economies in the world that are today imposing the so-called “political conditionalities’ on African countries itching for economic assistance.    

What we should note is that the cardinal principle of these organizations is strict adherence to political pluralism, right to vote and be voted for in a periodic election.   This new meaning about the status of the vote now confers a universal consensus on the vote as the voice of the people.  

This new universal meaning of the vote also confers on this right, the status of a right not only as fundamental but also as critical to democratic transitions in authoritarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.  

The UN is now using the vote as the voice of the people in all peace-making exercises in all non-self-governing territories and in societies afflicted with protracted civil wars.  It was used as the basis of democratic transitions in one party regime such as in Zambia and Kenya, military regimes such as in Nigeria and Ghana and in apartheid regime such in South Africa.     Many cases of this use in Africa are the cases in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and Mozambique, Liberia and Sierra Leone to mention a few.   .


On whether the promotion of democratic rights should be governed by the municipal law or whether it excludes the international community (as argued by Babangida and Mugabe of Nigeria and Zimbabwe respectively), African leaders should be reminded that human rights issues transcend domestic boundaries.  

The Nigerian military leaders should have appreciated that once Nigeria was party to many international treaties with the obligation to promote and guarantee democratic rights of its citizens, the Nigerian military dictators could and should have been held accountable for what Nigeria was party to.  

One would expect that the international community would continue on the pain of sanction remind the African leaders that they  should no longer plead domestic argument to deny their citizens the relevant right to human dignity.   This has not been done to the satisfaction of the African people.  

This is where the African-American leaders in the US should have constantly been on record as reminding the African leaders that they should not expect a lower standard of respect for human dignity for the African people.   They should tell the African leaders that the human dignity of the African peoples is equally as precious to them as the human dignity of African-Americans in the US.   In fact, they are linked.   An enhanced human dignity in the African continent would have consequential effect on the human dignity of the African-American in the US and vice versa.      This issue will be revisited later.  


For the purpose of this paper/lecture, may I itemize the relevant treaties with the relevant sections on democratic rights?   They are:

1.     The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21;

2.     The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 25;

3.     The Convention on the Political Rights of Women, Articles I, II, and III;

4.     The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 5.

The unique in the above human rights protocol are the right to vote and be voted for and the right of access of all citizens to governance already itemized above.  


We cannot understand the Nigerian case without examining the nature of the crisis of democratization in Africa and how the African leaders have been grappling with the right within the African continent and within the various countries in the context of the Commonwealth and the Americas.    Why are African countries not keeping up with what is going on in the world in which Third World countries are part, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Commonwealth?    


The OAS consists of the Latin American countries (except Cuba), the Caribbean countries and the two mature democracies of Canada and the US.   The US and Canada pushed for the restoration of democracy in the otherwise military dictatorial regimes that was the feature of most of the Latin American countries.  

To cap this effort, Canada introduced what is now called the Santiago Declaration on Representative Democracy of OAS as the mechanism for dealing with any threat to democracy in the hemisphere in a decisive manner.   By this resolution, member states of OAS resolved to take immediate collective action, if the democratic process should be interrupted in any member country.   The procedure for resolving the matter is as follows:

                 To instruct the Secretary General (of OAS) to call

                for the immediate convocation of a meeting of the

                Permanent Council in the case of event giving rise

                 to the sudden or irregular interruption of the

                democratic political institutional process or

                 of the legitimate exercise of power by the

                democratically elected government in any of

               the organization’s member state, in order

                within the framework of the Charter to examine

               the situation, decide on and convene an ad hoc

                meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs

                or a Special Session of the General Assembly,

              all of which must take place within a ten-day period.

This was the basis for initiating action at the hemispheric level on the Haiti that later led to the UN intervention.   The world saw how it was used to restore democratic government in Venezuela.   (Christina M. Cerna, 1992)  


It should be noted that there is no counterpart resolution of the type of the Santiago Declaration within the Commonwealth that would have led the Commonwealth to deal with the annulment of election in Nigeria and the coup against elected regime in The Gambia, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.   This is an opportunity to deal with the defects in the so-called Harare Declaration as it applies to the denial of democratic rights to the African people between 1993 and 1995. 

Nothing in the famous Harare Declaration can be compared with the Santiago Declaration.   From the way the Commonwealth adopted a benign neglect to the issue of human rights between 1993 and 1995, one came to the conclusion that the Commonwealth was a toothless bulldog because its Harare Declaration had no enforceable mechanism like the Santiago Declaration.  

One would recall that Canada would have been helpful in making the Nigerian military in the Commonwealth meet the goal of democracy.   One would recall that it was Canada that initiated the action within the OAS that led to the famous Santiago Declaration in 1991.   The question one would ask is why Canada, one of the founding members of the Commonwealth a member of the G8 could not initiate this kind of Santiago Declaration in the Commonwealth?   Why did the Commonwealth sanction the lousy resolution called the Harare Resolution that could not be evoked to bring into order anti-democratic actions in Nigeria and The Gambia in 1993 and 1994 respectively even though the so-called Harare Declaration had been in the book since 1991? 


For the purpose of this lecture/paper, it should be noted that the White members in the Commonwealth successfully got the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government in 1991 at Harare, Zimbabwe to pass a resolution that referred to the

                           individual’s inalienable right to participate by

                            means of free and democratic political process” 

The resolution further called on member states

                          “to work with renewed vigor……

                            to achieve democracy, democratic process,

                            and institutions”;

It requested member states

                              “to entrench the practices of democracy”.  

                               (Commonwealth 1991). 

It was merely a pious hope that member states in the Commonwealth would voluntarily abide by this resolution.   The so-called Harare Declaration did not have a time frame with all the military regimes and one party regimes that dominated the African countries who were members of the Commonwealth should democratize.(26)   Even the host country, Zimbabwe, did not believe that the Harare was an instrument for monitoring the conduct of democratic governance of the members states.  

The Commonwealth later realized that the Harare Declaration had no enforcement mechanism especially when it had no mode of calling the Nigerian military junta to order after the annulment, especially after the extra-judicial execution of the minority rights advocate, Ken Saro Wiwa in November 1995.   The Commonwealth also appreciated that the continued denial of the democratic rights to the Nigerian people could not be visited with the Harare Declaration.  The Commonwealth must have been further embarrassed that the Harare Resolution could not be used to deal with the coups in The Gambia and Sierra Leone.  

One was not surprised that it was in the attempt to deal with these flaws that members realized that a new instrument was necessary.   This was the basis of the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration passed by the Commonwealth in 1995 that today constitutes the enforcement mechanism for the Harare Declaration.   This is a welcome change in the practice of the Commonwealth; it still falls short of the OAS Santiago Declaration.

Under the Millbrook Plan, a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group is to monitor the compliance of the Harare Declaration such as in Fiji, Nigeria and Pakistan. (the Milllbrook Plan of the Commonwealth, 1995).

The Commonwealth should introduce a Charter like the Charter of Paris for a new Europe if the Commonwealth really thinks that new Commonwealth had emerged since 1991.   Nigeria democratic transition planners that included me were influenced by that unique document least mentioned in the discussion of the program in Nigeria by political scientist.   I am referring to the Charter of Paris for New Europe that makes provisions for two democracy enhancing mechanisms. 

The two democracy enhancing mechanisms are

(a)   the international observation of election and

(b)   that the democratic norm forbids annulment of any elections.  


On the use of internal observers for election the Charter states specifically:

              That participating States consider that the presence

              of observers both foreign and domestic can enhance the

              electoral process of States in which elections are taking place.


On the denial of annulment in any election the Charter of Paris states that participating states shall

              Ensure that candidates who obtain the necessary number

                of votes required by law are duly installed if office

                  until their law expires or is otherwise brought

                    to an end in a manner that is required …….

Some Nigerian officers who accused me of internationalizing the June 12, Presidential election ought to have appreciated that I was guided by these universal principles in defending the outcome of that election.   The Nigerian military president, General Babangida could not claim to be ignorant of these principles.   His avowed commitment to these two principles made him go before the UN in November 1991 to defend the African Resolution and the Nigerian program of democrat transition.     Why he reneged on both counts would have to do with the real reasons for the annulment and the denial of Nigerians’ right to human dignity.    This should be left to his memoirs.

Nigeria like most African States is party to the ICCPR and other Conventions of democratic rights.   From the Status of Ratification of Human rights by member states of the UN of December 2, 2002, only Mauritanian and Swaziland are still to ratify the ICCPR.   All of the African countries including Nigeria are party to other Covenants identified above.  



Despite the commitments of Nigeria and most African States to the ICCPR and other covenants on democratic rights, there is a gap between what African States are party to and what they practice at home. 

There is also a gap between what the leaders of African States subscribe to under the ICCPR and other Covenants and what they under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) passed as the human rights protocol in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.  

Let me specifically cite Article 13 of the African Charter to illustrate these two gaps.   Article 13 states as follows:

1.    Every citizen shall have the right to freely participate in the government of his country, either directly or through chosen representatives in accordance with the provision of the law.

2.    Every citizen shall have the right of equal access to public service of his country.

The flaw in the African Charter is obvious.   It makes no provision for the vital ingredients of the right to political participation in the ICCPR and other Covenants.    This should be addressed.   The planners and implementers of the program of democratic transition in Nigeria and in the African continent should deal with the following issues:

1.     The right to vote and be voted for at genuine periodic elections.

2.     The right to universal and equal suffrage; 

3.     The right to secret ballot which is supposed to guarantee the free expression of the will of the voters;

4.     It makes no provision for the defining of election as a process having three parts as specified by the UN;

5.     It makes no provision for the use of international observation of elections as spelled out in the Charter of Paris;

6.     It says nothing about forbidding annulment of elections as spelled out in the Charter of Paris;

7.     It makes no explicit commitment to the UDHR and ICCPR, a practice that exists in other regional human rights protocols. 

It was not a flaw at the time the African Charter was approved by the OAU.   The continent was dominated then by dictators (one party zealots and military rulers) who had a restricted view of participation as excluding voting.  

It should also be noted that the African leaders before 1989 were too preoccupied with their newly won independence, maybe.   Some of them found the politics of the Cold War an opportunity to jump from one pole to the other under the name of “non-alignment” while flirting with the one party regime in Eastern Europe and even of China.  

In pursuing their non-alignment policies, African leaders tried to get the best of both worlds in a world that was divided into the Soviet and the US Blocs.   African dictators wanted to continue to wallow in the traditional absolutist sovereignty and were afraid of the notion of popular sovereignty.    The quest for democratic rights was a source of tension between these two notions of sovereignty.  It is taking a new form today; they are still wallowing in some archaic notion of sovereignty that tends to subordinate the citizens of Africa to the capricious whims of their rulers.  In fact the Nigerian elected President did not see the flaw in equating himself with a sovereign.   In fact, when he was pushed to correct himself, he told the Nigerian people that he was exercising the people’s sovereignty on their behalf.   This was an argument he used against the idea of convening a Sovereign National Conference to address the lingering political issues afflicting the country.


The least appreciated solution to the crisis of democratization in Nigeria is the recognition of the value of education.   Yet this is the solution from classical times to today in matured democracies.  

It would appear that not many Nigerians recall that civics was part of the education of the colonial people where Nigerians were told that Britain was the mother country.

Education for citizenship of an independent Nigeria is lacking.   There is a dire need to teach the Nigerian political class, in particular and the Nigerian people, in general that human rights and accountable regime are not a white man’s innovation.   The Nigerian political class and the people should be told that the responsibility of the governor to the governed was in many Nigerian traditional political systems before the advent of the European in the country. 

I designed the programmed political education for the new breed politicians under General Babangida as the Director General, Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) in 1989. (27)


If one is not a taxpayer, one would not be able to demand the fruits of ones government performances.   Nigeria has become an economy too extremely dependent on oil and gas and less on tax, except from those who pay as you earn.   

There is a counterpart of this economic issue in the political realm.   If one is not a voter or if one sells ones vote one will not be in a position to demand good conduct from ones’ public officers.   Some citizens in Nigeria sell their votes to the highest bidder to the extent that an office holder could boast “I bought my office and paid for it”.   

One hopes that one day Nigerians would be like the citizens of The Philippines who have perfected what it means to demand ones democratic rights.   This is what is called “the peoples power” that started with the way the corrupt regime of Ferdinand Marcos was forced out of power on February 25, 1986 after over 20 years in power through martial law.   The knowledge gained during this period was perfected 15 years later when Joseph Estrada was forced out of office on January 20, 2001 for corrupt practice and replaced by someone else.

(G. Sidney Silliman and Lela Garner Noble, 1998; Carl H. Lande, 2001).

This was my notion of what a Civil Society should be with a plea that the so-called civil society in Nigeria should have imitated the Philippines during the post annulment period.  (Omo Omoruyi in Ebere Onwudiwe 2002).


How do we explain the mismanagement of the economies of Africa, the high level of corruption and the lingering wars?   My view is that they are associated with the erosion of the faith of citizens in various African states.   What about the civilian leaders!   This is one of the unexplained aspects of the crisis of democratization in Nigeria.   I am referring to the dearth of civilian political leaders for the highest office in the land.   The civilian political leaders are fast losing their faith in the capacity to fund political campaign.    

This leads me to another area, which is the declining faith of Nigerian politicians in the existing political order.  How do we explain the phenomenon in Nigerian today that the two serious Presidential candidates in 2003 election were not only former military Heads of State but they are extremely dependent on other retired military officers.   Some say that the money they use is from the IOU from the list of donors to the two campaigns.  


One of the discovered political pathologies in the Nigerian politicians is the feeling that the system would not last.   The Nigerian politicians have no faith that election could be free and fair.   To them every election is the last election.   This is why they believe that they are contesting the last election.   This is why would do everything to win.  

The sad part of the political pathologies is that the Nigerian politicians do not believe that losing an election to another candidate is an alternative.   This is why they mortgage everything including their houses for an election.   Since the winner would end up becoming the winner for all times and since the loser could end up the loser for all times, the choice before the candidate is not losing.   How could all candidates believe that they could win the election?   They forget one of the basic requirements of a free, fair and credible election is that the candidates should believe that there would be another election.

To overcome these prevailing pathologies the Nigerian politician should believe as follows: 

1.     That he is not contesting the last and only election.  

2.     That  he is involved in a series of election.  

3.     That there would be another election.

4.     That there would be  a level playing field for the office holder as a candidate and other candidates.

5.     That what  is to aimed at would be not just   a  free and fair election but a credible election. 

These are areas that education can address.   This was part of my work during the transition program in 1989 -1993.


There are two types of African-Americans in the US today.   One consists of the original ones with only one passport; the other consists of those who pride themselves that “we carry two passports”.   This is where the distinction would end.   What I am going to discuss has to do with what African-Americans can do to move Africa forward.

This is an area that touches on the basis of the US politics.  The US politics is group politics.   It is a common knowledge that nothing goes on in the US policy formulation and implementation that cannot be explained in terms of the group in the US that is pushing it.   Of the three Is (Israel, Italy and Ireland). The first I representing the Jewish-American community is usually named as the most powerful group relative to its size in the US in influencing US policy vis-à-vis Israel.(28)   It was this that generated the debate within the African-American leadership in the US foreign policy community “Can the African-America do for Africa what the Jewish-America did and are still doing for the State of Israel?”

Maybe the quest to respond to this kind of question might have been the factor behind the formation of the Constituency for Africa and the Summit on Africa.   What have they achieved?  

My view is that the existing US Africa-oriented organizations are not effective.   They are adopting what I might call, a firefighting tactical response to a deadly serious matter. This is the way they deal with such issues as, HIV/AIDS, Debt crisis, internal wars, crisis over refugees and displaced persons, famine and human rights violations,


My view is that these organizations fail to and ought to appreciate that the problems of Africa calls for strategic plan containing many tactical measures.   I strongly believe that this is where the HBCU and not Harvard can lead in the development of such a “Strategic Plan for Africa”.    This is an issue that I can develop later as a subject matter.

The second category of African-American in the US called by various names consists of the “Africans in Diaspora”, the “two-passport Africans”, the “African Migrant labor” in the US and the “Refugees from African Failed and Failing States”.   The number of African-Americans in this category is growing everyday with the increase in the deep-seated uncertainty in Africa. 

This group of African-Americans is afflicted by the “immigrant fanaticism” and would readily go back to Africa, if the condition of life in the continent improves.   What about their children born in this country?    Technically the offsprings of these Africans are US citizens and with the US idols as their idols.   There is a disconnect here; while the parents of these children who are technically US in all respects are afflicted by the immigrant fanaticism, the children are not.  The children do not speak any African languages as the children from the Haitian and Latin American families.    They are not mentioned in the list of immigrants in need of special services as the Haitians or Latin American kids.   This is why the former Nigerian Ambassador to the US, Professor Jubril Aminu advised the Nigerian community to embark on ‘immersion program’ for their children.  He even told them to learn from the life story of Madeline Albright and Henry Kissinger who came to the US as grown up kids who later got immersed in American culture and became the US Secretaries of State.   What he tried to convey to the Nigerian community was that the future of Nigeria depended on the how these children could immerse in the US community and be in a position to argue the case of Nigeria and indeed Africa in the US. 


The 54-state Africa is not congenial to lining up support for the various African countries that are hardly listed in the telephone books.  The African Union now realizes that a system of 54 countries going after the traditional constituency of Africa in the US was unhelpful to the cause of the African countries in the US in the past.   The Interim Chairman of the African Union (Mr. Essi) was recently in the US to do three things:

(a)     Enlighten the “Africans in Diaspora” on the new focus of a pan-African organization AU  as distinct from the former OAU;

(b)     Build a support among “Africans in Diaspora” for the African Union as the first line of support for the cause of Africa in the US; and

(c)     Build support among the African-American leaders in the US for the African Union as the basis of assisting the African people and the continent.  

Will the African Union operate as the European Union?(29)   Will the African Union like the EU adopt a common foreign policy for the countries of the EU?  Will the African Union be prepared to adopt the democracy-enhancing and monitoring mechanism of the EU?   These are questions that would be obvious in the next few months.


How do I conclude this lecture?   A government that is based on “the will of the people” still remains the best system known to man.   But the concept of the people and how to determine the will of the people still remain unresolved issues in Africa in general and in Nigeria in particular.    

Democracy cannot come about with one election; there is a need for learning.   Therefore, there cannot be democracy until at least after three uninterrupted election circle.   The Nigerian election of 2003 will pass; we will have to expect another one before we can begin to talk of Nigerian democracy.  

Democracy cannot survive without a stable party system.   There cannot be a stable party system until there is an inter-generational transfer of party affiliation covering three generation of members.   This is the yardstick set by LoPalombara that inter-generational transfer of party affiliation determines whether a political party can be so called.   This is well acknowledged in mature democracy that intergenerational transfer of party affiliation is critical to a stable political order.   What we have today cannot promote a stable political order.      

The African politicians are fearful of the power of the people and the change that can come about as a result of empowerment of the people.   Let me end this lecture with the inspirational words of Nelson Mandela on the value of the vote that he uttered during his trial in 1964, which he repeated as soon as he stepped out of the Robin Island Prison as a free man on February 11, 1991:   

                  I have fought against white domination and

                   I have fought against black domination.  

                   I have cherished the idea of a democratic and

                   free society in which all persons live together

                   in harmony and with equal opportunities.  

                   It is an idea, which I hope to live for and to achieve.  

                  But if needs be, it is an idea for which I am prepared to die. 

(Nelson Mandela in 1964 and again in 1991 in Heather Deegan, 2000).  

These words that center around the right to human dignity were uttered in court during his trial in 1964 and incidentally that was when the continent was dominated by authoritarian regimes of one party variety.   He repeated the same words in 1991 also when the continent was dominated by the three kinds of authoritarian regimes, one party, military and apartheid.   All African leaders celebrated the release of Mandela, but unfortunately there is no African leader who can say so today that black domination of black is equally as despicable as white domination.   

African leaders should adopt the three legacies of Nelson Mandela, which are germane to democracy.   They are term limit; power sharing and reconciliation.    These three issues dominate the Nigerian politics during the 2003 election and will continue to dominate it after the election.

*    NIGERIA is a name that Flora Shaw coined in 1914 for the “real estate property” of Britain made up of over two hundred ethnic nationalities in West Africa to form one of the largest British colonies in Africa.  

*     NIGERIA became independent on October 1, 1960 without addressing the nagging problems of how the various ethnic nationalities could live and work together and how Nigeria could be governed..  

 *   NIGERIA is blessed with abundance of human and natural resources but it lacks since independence, a core of visionary leadership to blend the abundant human and natural resources in the interest of over 120 million people and of the black world.


** OMO OMORUYI is a graduate of both the University of Ibadan (B.Sc 1962-65) and the State University of New York, Buffalo (MA; Ph D 195-70) in Political Science.

    He is a foundation participant as the Senior Executive Course No. 1 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) (mni, 1979-80).     

    He is a retired Professor in the Nigerian university system (1970-95).

    He served as the founding Director General, Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS), Presidency, Nigeria (1989-94).

    He was  a Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School (1995-96) and a Visiting Professor, Political Science, Lincoln University (1996-97).

    He is now a Research Fellow, African Studies Center, Boston University and a part-time Professor, Political Science and African-American Studies, Northeastern University.

    OMO OMORUYI also provides advisory services on various aspects of democratization and political risk analysis in Africa under the Consulting Group, Advancing Democracy in Africa (ADA).


***I wish to acknowledge the support of Dr. Felix Okojie Vice President of Research of Jackson State University whose office funded the visit and lecture at Jackson State.



1., The six real reasons for the annulment were of two types: primary real reasons and secondary real reasons.

     The primary and secondary real reasons were

(a)   those attributed to the identity crisis of the military leader who had difficulty meandering the terrain of the Nigerian plural society;

(b)   those attributed to the ethnic-military ruling clique from the north and their satellites in the south that did not know how to disengage from government;

(c)    those attributed to the fears of the Lugard’s children who had been spoiled by many years of living on the federal government and could not imagine what life would be outside the federal government;

(d)   those attributed to the fear that one ethnic group should not control the economy and the polity.   Even though this was one of the primary fears of the north about the Yoruba, it was used also to recruit the Igbo to join the annullist;

(e)   those attributed the fear of the Governors outside the party of the winner (SDP) that voted for the presidential candidate of another party.   This was a secondary reason that was used to recruit the NRC Governor of Akwa Ibon, Cross River, Kano, Kaduna and Lagos;

(f)    those attributed to the urge to revenge that was used to get the Igbo leaders on board of the annullist.

      The official reasons for the annulment were as stated in the unsigned and undated statement on a piece of paper released to the international media on the early hours of June 23, 1993 and later by the military President, General Babangida on June 26, 1993.   Some of the official reasons were

(a)   that the election was conducted in spite of the court order that forbade the conduct of the election;

(b)   that the election was inconclusive; and

(c)    that it did not have a winner.  

These official lies were peddled within the international community especially in the US until he died in June 1998.  

       It is no longer in dispute that that election was the best in the nation’s history and that it had a winner and that that winner was Chief MKO Abiola who died within one month in detention in July 1998, a month after the death of his capture, General Abacha who died in June 1998.  

        What should be noted is that the real reasons still formed the basis of the new transition program that then made the junta under General Abubakar and the retired military officers to go for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.   Because of Chief Obasanjo’s antecedent, the US, EU and South Africa rallied to the support of the new junta to go for the former military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo .


2., Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the foremost Nigerian political leader who became the first and only Nigerian Governor General and the one and only ceremonial President from 1960 to 1966.  

     Dr Kwame Nkrumah was the first President of an independent Ghana from 1957 to 1966.


3., I was the only one in government who dared to pronounce the Presidential election as “free, fair and credible” before the annulment.  African Concord, June 28, 1993.   After the annulment, I lamented and called the election the best in Nigerian history even after the annulment (Newswatch, July 5, 1993).


4., The title of this book was derived from the statement credited to Professor Claude Welch from his study of the democratic transition in Nigeria where he came to the conclusion that the “tale” should start with Dr. Omo Omoruyi. See Claude E Welch Protecting Human Rights in Africa (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, 1995) p. 242.


5., President Bill Clinton had to interrupt his stay in Kigali Rwanda to go to Nigeria and turned back after his impromptu address to the Nigerian political leaders. 


6., This was the basis of two papers by me on two occasions in late 2002 and in early 2003.  

    In   the Department of African-American Studies of the Northeastern University I was asked to address the University community on the vexed question, “Will Nigeria survive the 2003 election?”  of  October 22, 2002.   

     I followed this with another paper titled “Religion, Ethnicity and Politics in Nigeria” under the auspices of the US Institute of Peace and the Department of African-American Studies on February 14, 2003.  


7., I was a living witness to the crisis before and after the 1964 election as a student at the University of Ibadan.   I was elated that Attorney James Meredith who was at the lecture confirmed my observation and told the audience that he had to take some people who were dying and dead during this period in his car.  

      I was a partisan politician in the 1983 election.   The pre-election and post-election political situation in Nigeria was no different from that of 1964.

      What was an issue in both cases was that the officeholders were also the candidates and managers of the election.   This is why I have been arguing that only a level playing field of the kind that exists in Bangladesh would augur well for any election in Nigeria.  

       In Bangladesh, the officeholder does not have anything to do with the election in which he is a candidate.   Under the 13th amendment to the Bangladesh Constitution introduced in 1991, the Government must vacate his office at the end of its term and the new election would be handled by a neutral body.  

      It is my view that Nigerian civilian-civilian succession would always be a problem as long as the office holder is also a candidate.


8., I have since put together a monograph on how an election can be made credible from the experience of 1993.   The monograph is under assessment by Heinemann for publication.


9., This was the subject of the Independence Essay I was commissioned to write for Nigerian Independence Anniversary on October 1, 2001.  See Vanguard October 1, 2001.


10., The discussion of the generations of rights is common in modern literature on human rights.   The right to democracy is part of the second generation of rights that forms the basis of the two International Covenants, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,   The most recent set of rights such as the right to development, the right to health, the right to education belong to the third generation of rights.


11., See note no. 1 above for the real reasons for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election.


12., The equation of the two rights can be found in the Report of the Secretary General UN on Haiti.


13., I saw from my hospital bed the jubilation of first time voters in the South African election in South Africa and through out the whole world.   It was an amazing picture.  


14., The former Nigerian Defense Staff (General Domkat Bali) made a distinction between a one man dictatorship and a collective dictatorship.    

     When only the military Head of State rules, we have a one-man dictatorship; if the ruling body such as the Supreme Military Council or the Armed Forces Ruling Council form part of the administration, we have a collective dictatorship.


15., I performed the function of selling the transition program in Japan, UK and the US.   I served as the anchor man with many of the foreign missions in Nigeria and foreign correspondents that wanted to be briefed on the transition program.  


16., Ghana was led by a military Head of State, Jerry Rawlings; Zambia was led by President Kenneth Kaunda who also presided over the one party; Uganda was led by a believer in no party regime, Musoveni. 


17., The opposition forces learnt their lesson of 1992 and 1997 and made a pact of unity in 2002 election and succeeded.   The pact among the opposition forces then debunked the usual explanation that President Daniel Arap Moi weakened the opposition forces through the policy of divide and rule along ethnicity.


18., The African-American leaders who were pushing for the policy of “constructive engagement” were Rev. Jesse Jackson, Senator Carol Mosely Baun, Rev Lyon    Sullivan of Florida and the National Baptist Convention and Lois Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.


19., The principal Decree that governed the transition to civil rule in Nigerian between 1985 and 1993 especially after 1987 was The Transition to Civil Rule(Political Programme) Decree 1987.     


20., The function of social mobilization was assigned to the Directorate of Social Mobilization and the function of political education and implementation of the transition program was assigned to the Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS).


21., This is part of the manuscript of the forthcoming book under consideration.   It deals with how to introduce the domestic monitors and international observers as “internal and external” friends respectively.


22., This was how the various groups at the national and provincial levels in the post apartheid government in 1994 formed part of the government as a transitional measure.   This is the origin of what is called Government of National Unity” in popular discourse today. 


23., This was how the interview I granted on June 16, 1993 was captioned in a banner headline, “The Presidential Election was Free, Fair and Credible” in African Concord June 28, 1993.  


24., The two former Heads of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Julius Nyerere used the auspices of the new guerrilla leader who became the President of Uganda, Museveni of Uganda to organize a pan African NGO and political parties with a view to having an African counterpart of  Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).


25., This was from my first luncheon paper as a Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School, titled: “Your Vote is Your Voice” in October 1995.


26., In 1991 when the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government met at Harare, Zimbabwe, most of the African members attending were dictators.   All of them were at one time or the other guests of the Queen of England.


27., The CDS organized training programs for party workers and their  leaders, elected officers at all levels, women leaders, trade union leaders and journalists.


28., The three Is are Ireland, Italy and Israel. 


29., This was the goal of the Obasanjo/Nyerere private initiative in 1991 which the OAU Heads of State in Abuja in June 1991 rejected.   It would appear that the goal of the African Union is the same as the goal of the European Union (EU).    





Abbink, Jan and Gerti Hesseling eds. Election Observation and Democratization in Africa (London, Macmillan Press, 2000). 


Alston, Philip, “Conjuring up New Rights: A Proposal for Quality Control” American Journal of International Law, 78(July 1984) .


American Society of International Law Proceedings: “Self Determination of Peoples and Politics” 1992


 Archibong, Daniele, “Democracy and the United Nations”, in Takashi Inoguehi, Edward Newman, and John Kean, The Changing Nature of Democracy (Tokyo, United Nations Press 1995) pp. 244-245.


Babangida, Ibrahim Badamasi “Address to the OAU” , (June 3, 1991);

     “                    “              ‘          “Address to the UN”, (Oct. 3, 1991);

     “                    “              “         “Address to the Nation” (June 26, 1993).

All in Sam Oyovbaire and Tunji Olagunju eds. Crisis of Democratisation in Nigeria: Speeches by IBB (Lagos, Malthouse 1996)


Bratton, Michael and Nicolas van de Walle, “African Divergent Transitions: 1990-94” in Democratic Experiments in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).


Bratton, Michael “Participation in New Democracy” Comparative Political Studies 32 No. 5(August 1995) pp/ 549-599.


Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute, The October 31, 1991Election in Zambia (1992)


Cerna, Christina M, “The Case of Haiti before the Organization of American States” in American Society of International Law Proceedings (1992) pp. 379-383.


Clarke S. Walter, “The National Conference Phenomena and the Management of Political Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa” in Harvey Glickman, ed. Ethnic Conflict and Democratization in Africa. (Atlanta: The African Studies Association Press, 1995) pp. 227-254.


Commonwealth Secretariat:

(a)     The Harare Declaration of 1991 and

(b)     The Milbrook Declaration on the Harare Declaration of 1995 


Crawford, James, “Democracy and International Law”, British Yearbook of International Law, 44(1993) pp. 113-132.


Dag Hammarskjod Foundation, The State in Crisis: Africa in Search of Second Liberation, (Uppsala, 1992).


Deegan, Heather, The Politics of the New South Africa: Apartheid and After, (London, Longman 2001) for Mandela’s inspirational address, pp. 228-230.


Doornbos, Martin, “The State in Africa in Academic Debate” Retrospect and Prospect”, Journal of Modern African Studies 23 (June 1990) pp.


Donnelly, Jack,”Human Rights, Democracy and Development” Human n Rights Quarterly 21(August 1999) pp. 608-32.


Ejoor, David Reminiscences (Lagos, Malthouse, 1989)


Elaigwu, Jonah Isawa Gowon (Ibadan 1986)


Evans, Michelle and Darily T. Olidge, “What Can the Past Teach the Future? Lessons from Internationally Supervised Self-Determination Elections 1920-1990”, New York International Law and Politics 24(1992). Pp.


Foeken, D. and T. Dietz “Of Ethnicity, Manipulation and Observation: the 1992 and 1997 Elections in Kenya”, Abbink and Hesseling eds. Election Observation and Democratization in Africa (London, Macmillan Press, 2000) pp. 122-149.


Fox, Gregory, “The Right of Political Participation in International Law”, Yale Journal of International Law 17(1992).


Fox, Gregory and Brad Roth eds. Democratic Governance and International Law. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000), especially the following articles:

(a)     Michael Reisman “Sovereignty and Human Rights”, pp. 251-258 and

(b)     Thomas Franck “Legitimacy and Democratic Entitlement”, pp. 25-47.


Franck, Thomas, “The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance”, American Journal of international Law, 86 (February 1992) pp. 46-91.


Garba, Joseph N. Diplomatic Soldiering (Lagos


Heilbrunn, John R. “Social Origins of National Conference in Benin and Togo” Journal of Modern African Studies 31-2(1993) pp. 277-299.


Higgins, Rosalyn The Development of  International Law through the Political Organs of the United Nations. (London, Oxford University Press, 1964).


Johnson, R.W. and Lawrence Schlemmer eds. Launching Democracy in South Africa: The First Open Election in April 1994 (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996).


Joseph, Richard, “Africa: The Rebirth of Freedom” Journal of Democracy (1992) pp. 11-25.


Lande,Carl H. “The Return of Peoples Power in the Philippines”  Journal of Democracy 2001.


Mathieu-Mohin and Cherfayt’s judgment of March 2, 1987 in European H. and R. series 1 and 2.


Mandela, Nelson: Long Walk to Freedom (Boston, Little Brown, 1994)


O’Donnell G.  and P. Schmitter, Tentative Conclusion about Uncertain Democracies (Center for Latin-American Studies, Stanford University Press…). 


Omoruyi, Omo, “Teaching Political Science as a Vocation in Africa”

                               in Yolanda Barongo ed. Political Science in Africa

                                (Zed Books, 1985) pp. 6-116.

    “             “           Programmed Democratization: Nigerian Experience”

                              Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences (Japan)

                              Vol. 1992 No. 2. pp. 83-95. 

                               This paper grew out of a paper delivered at Tokai University

                               held at the Tokai University Pacific Center,

                               Honolulu Hawaii in March 1992 at a Special Seminar on

                               “Democratization Processes in Comparative Perspective”.

  “               “        “Designing the Nigerian Programme”

                              in OmoOmoruyi et al eds.

                              Democratisation in Africa Vol. 1 (Abuja, CDS, 1994) pp. 196-209.

                              The Presidential Election was Free, Fair and Credible”

                              African Concord (June 28, 1993.

  “              “          The Right to Political Participation as Human Rights

                               in Africa: A Neglected Theme”, an unpublished paper

                               delivered at SUNY Binghamton (June 7, 1996).

“                 “          Nigeria: A Case of a Failed Colonial Experiment

                               in  Africa (Occasional Publication,Center for Diplomacy

                              and Public Policy, Lincoln University, 1997).

“                “         Beyond the Tripod in Nigerian Politics (Benin City/Lagos,     2001)

“                “          The Tale of June 12:The Betrayal of the Democratic

                              Rights of Nigerians(1993). (London, Press Alliance Network, 1999).

“               “        The Trial of Chief MKO Abiola and the Criminalization of Democracy

                             in Nigeria 1994(Somerville, ADA 2001)

“               “          How to Make an Election Credible: Lessons for 2003 from 1993

                              Election (under consideration in press).

“                “          Disillusioned Democrat: Reflection on my Forty Years in Nigerian

                              Public Life (Ibadan: Heinemann in press)


Oyediran, Oye ed. Survey of Nigerian Affairs 1976-77 (Lagos, Macmillan, 1981)


Peterson, David,  “Africa’s Rocky Ascent” Freedom Review 24(1993).


Rich, Roland, “Bringing Democracy into International Law”, Journal of Democracy 12, no. 3(2001) pp. 20-34.


Silliman, G. Sidney and Lela Garner “Citizens Movement and Philippines Democracy, GS Silliman and Lela Garner eds. Organizing for Democracy: NGOs, Civil Society and the Philippine State. (University of Hawaii Press, 1989).


Robinson, Pearl, “The National Conference Phenomenon in Francophone Africa”, Comparative Studies in Society and History 36(1994) pp. 575-610.


Steiner, Henry, “Political Participation as Human Rights” in Harvard Human Rights Yearbook 1(Spring 1988) pp. 77-134.


GAOR 44th Session Agenda item Enhancing the Effectiveness

                           of the Periodic and Genuine Elections (1190)

UN GAOR 46th Session Agenda Item (1991)

UN Report of the Credentials Committee (1957).

UN Secretary General’s address to the Conference of New and Restored 

       Democracies at Contonou, Benin, December 4, 2000.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Proceedings of the Seminar

       on the Interdependence between Democracy and Human Rights (Geneva,

       November 25-26, 2002).   Relevant Papers are:

(a)     David Beetham, “Democracy and Human Rights: Contrast and Convergence”;

(b)     Shadrack Gutto, “Current Concepts, Core Principles, Dimensions, Processes, and Institutions of Democracy and the Inter-relationship between Democracy and Modern Human Rights”;

(c)     Diego Garcia-Sayan, “Strengthening the Rule of Law in Building Democratic Societies: Human Rights in the Administration of Justice”

(d)     Nancy Thede, “Civil Society and Democracy”;

(e)     Roman Wieruazewski, “United Nations Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures and the Strengthening of Democracy”;

(f)      UN Department of Political Affairs, “The UN System and the Promotion of Democracy: Achievements and Challenges”.

UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2002/46 “Further Measures to

       Promote and Consolidate Democracy”


van Haegondoren, Geert, “International Election Monitoring”, Revue Belge de Droit International Vol. 28 ( 1987) pp. 86-123.


Welch, Claude E.   Protecting Human Rights in Africa: Strategies and Roles of Non-Governmental Organizations  (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995)  especially the section that dealt with the Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) and my role in the program of democratic transition in Nigeria between 1989 and 1993 at pp. 241-248 and p. 259.



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