Rousseau’s General Will and Democracy in Nigeria: A Hermeneutic Study

  • Vincent C. Okeke Department of Philosophy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
  • G. I. Oginyi Department of Philosophy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
Keywords: Democracy, General Will, Nigeria, Rousseau


Man’s basic need is his well-being. For this very reason, several political systems:
monarchy, dictatorship, military rule, tyranny, democracy, etc., have been tried,
tested, and found wanting in one way or the other. But of all these systems, the one
less problematic and more promising, regarding the attainment of man’s wellbeing
through governance, is democracy. However, this work argues that this
“conventional wisdom” about democracy can be challenged if the performance of
any republic in Nigeria is critically assessed. It emphasizes the desirability of
democracy, but also posits that democracy as practiced in Nigeria has not brought
about the much-desired development and progress. Nigeria’s attempt to practice
representative democracy in all the republics has been a monumental failure. Ours
is a political system whose voice is the voice of democracy and whose hand is the
hand of autocracy. This work, thus, is an attempt to diagnose the protracted
problems of democracy in Nigeria and attempt a treatment with some deductions
drawn from Rousseau’s doctrine of the “General will”. By this, a hermeneutic
approach to Rousseau’s doctrine of the general will provides a therapy to
democratic practices in Nigeria.


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