Democracy and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Nigeria and Malaysia



Democracy, development, comparison, leadership, Nigeria and Malaysia


Nigeria and Malaysia share certain features in common. Both are plural societies; both experienced colonialism and both are federal and “democratic” states. However, unlike Nigeria, Malaysia has been able to tackle not only its cultural and religious differences, but also economic challenges. Within the past three decades, it has deepened its democracy and achieved a significant level of economic development via responsible political leadership as well as consistent economic planning hence, Malaysia is now one of the emerging economies in the world with a prospect of joining the league of developed nations in the nearest future. This is a great feat for the country that was far behind Nigeria in the 70s in terms of economic development. Using descriptive and historical approach as well as data from secondary sources such as text books, journal articles, newspapers, magazines and monographs, this paper, comparatively appraises the practice of democracy, and development efforts in both countries over the years. The aim is to unearth how Malaysia was able to strengthen its democracy and achieve economic transformation, whereas Nigeria has not. The paper concludes that the Malaysian experience is a clear testament that democracy and development can be achieved in plural societies like Nigeria, but only when public policies are informed by collective interest and driven by an unfailing political will.