Both India and Nigeria were colonized by the British, and are characterized by extreme divisions within the country. Yet, India has been more successful than Nigeria in democratization, because of a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons for success of democracy in India, is its constitution. Every care is being taken to ensure that no authority is supreme. All authorities are answerable to some authority. Power is shared between the Prime Minister, who is the Legislative head of the country and the president, who is the constitutional head of the country. Both are answerable to each other.
Except the President, there is no authority which has a secured time frame. This ensures that any type of autocracy is never born, and if at all it is born, it is never nurtured. Indira Gandhi tried to become autocratic, and she was thrown out of power by the people. The election commission in India is an autonomous body, and hence free and fair elections are a reality in India. This is not true of Nigeria. Her constitution has no checks for growth of any type of autocracy. Another reason is that Independence in India was a result of massive awakening of the people, led by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, who never wanted any power.
Selfless service was very much in vogue in India. This was completely absent in Nigeria. There were no political leaders to induce the spirit of self confidence in the people of Nigeria. India had only one very influential national political party, the Indian National Congress, for many decades since its Independence. This fact, coupled with a very strong leader like Nehru, ensured a stable governance to the country.
Nehru was re-re elected the Prime Minister of India for almost 14 years. Stability of government ensured a very firm foundation for democracy to flourish in India. This was not the case with Nigeria. It had many political parties (History of Nigeria) which were eager for development of their own groups only. Selfishness prevailed amongst the leaders, and they were not ready to take accept defeats(Kurlantizick Joshua ). This gave a severe blow to the democratic dreams of its masses.
1. History of Nigeria, wikipedia the free encyclopedia, 21 July 07, Retrieved on 27 July 07 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Nigeria