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DELETE - Analyst: Nigeria Making Democratic Progress

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Some Nigerians say they disagree with a top U.S. diplomat who told the Congress Thursday that democracy in Nigeria is 'fragile.'

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday,  Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson told U.S. lawmakers "political progress has been made, Nigeria sill faces significant polical challenges and uncertainty in the run-up to the next presidential and national assembly elections in 2011."

The United States government is not being realistic in its expectations say But Nigerians say recent amendments to their constitution go a long way toward addressing concerns about next year’s presidential and state elections.  As an example, they cite the amendment giving autonomy to the national electoral body.

But the United States has unrealistic expectations about Nigeria, says Professor Godwin Onu, Rector at the Federal Polytechnic in Oko, in the southeastern state of Anambra.

“Nigeria is passing through a period of difficult challenges, occasioned by the disruption in the political system," Onu said.  "I think as an emerging nation and a country that is just democratizing, one should not expect any kind of perfection at this particular state.”

Onu argues Nigeria has taken steps to address the concerns of the U.S. and international community.  “If you watch recent developments and actions taken by the acting president concerning the political system and the recent activities in the National Assembly, Nigeria is making some positive steps.  We cannot really be judged by what happened in the recent past,” he said.

Because of Nigeria’s peculiar circumstances certain matters of state need to be handled very carefully to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

“Nigeria is made of several societies; it is not just a federal state.  The character of the Nigerian society and state needs to be handled with caution.”

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