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Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

Nigeria democracy
Civic engagement improves government transparency
International Republican Institute


There are roadblocks to a strong democracy in Nigeria at all levels of government. Conflict—triggered by political competition and communal, ethnic, religious or resource allocation rivalries—poses a major threat to democracy. Corruption pervades the daily lives of Nigerians. Many government institutions do not adequately engage with citizens or the private sector and lack the capacity to carry out their mandates. Further, civil society lacks both the capacity and the resources to effectively engage with government and advocate for change. 

USAID supports responsive governance at state and local levels, enhanced credibility for elections, and increased capacity for civic engagement. USAID builds capacity in key government agencies to strengthen fiscal responsibilities and improve transparency. In addition, USAID advances the rule of law by strengthening the capacity and transparency of the justice system and increasing judicial independence at the federal level.

Civil Society and Media

Although elites dominate the political structure, civil society organizations are becoming a voice for democratic reform. Their efforts to push for inclusive governance have been successful in many ways, but they lack the capacity and resources to carry out their functions fully. USAID works directly with a diverse representation of Nigerian civil society and media organizations, building their internal management capacity and strengthening their ability to engage with the government on issues of fiscal accountability, budget monitoring and transparency within extractive industries.


In 2011, Nigerians participated in what were arguably the most credible and transparent elections since the country’s independence. USAID is capitalizing on this positive momentum to improve elections in 2015 by supporting the organizational development of political parties and the independence of the electoral commission, and by increasing civil society input into electoral and constitutional reform dialogue. Assistance includes strengthening Nigeria’s electoral commission to develop a new voters’ register and to plan and execute the 2015 elections.  

Last updated: November 10, 2015

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