1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The practice of democracy in Nigeria over a decade ago has not yielded much needed good governance. This is because democracy is practiced in such a way that responsible and competent people are scared away. Scholars and keen observers have attempted at unraveling the factors militating against translating democracy into good governance through the conduct of election, (Abiodun, 2002).
The fact is that 2/3 of the world‟s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries- India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Yong ,2014). It is disheartening that despite the natural and human resources that Nigeria is blessed it, she is one of these countries..Poverty is a major problem of our time, which along with environmental threats, weighs heavily on our planet and the future of humanity.
It has assumed unprecedented and unacceptable proportion in Nigeria, manifesting not only in abysmal decline in economic indicators and trends, but more glaringly and tragically in the suffering, hardship and general impoverishment of the vast majority of the people. The average Nigerian is far worse off than he was 54 years ago when the country achieved political independence. The prevalence of poverty and misery in Nigeria is however, a paradox. Nigeria should, by no means be a poor nation. Apart from being an oil-producing nation, Nigeria is endowed with other natural and human resources which are enough to put her on a solid path to economic development and greatness. But Nigeria still wallows in abject poverty despite her stupendous wealth. Deep concerns have been expressed about the sustainability of the democratic process in Nigeria, as poverty-induced agitation and violent conflicts spread across the country. Stakeholders in the Nigerian democratic enterprise appear to be at crossroads on what to do to alleviate poverty, which is generally regarded as the greatest threat to the nascent democratic process in the country.
Large segments of the population are demanding the dividends of democracy as the incidence of poverty continually grows throughout the nation. Geo- political zones are crying out against impoverishment, deprivation and marginalization. Countless ethno-cultural associations and pressure groups are being formed to articulate interests for a better share of the national cake, even when such interests threaten the very basis of democracy in the country. It is a fact that the rising incidence of poverty in Nigeria poses a serious threat to the democratization process. The concern of this paper therefore is to highlight the challenges posed by poverty to democracy in Nigeria. Conceptual definitions of poverty and democracy are presented, the causes of poverty and the implication of poverty for democracy is also examined, while suggestions for reducing the incidence of poverty across the country are also put forward.