African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382

Full Length Research Paper

Political intolerance as a clog in the wheel of democratic governance: The way forward

S. T. Akindele1, O. R. Olaopa2* and N. F. Salaam3    
1Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. 2Department of Training and Research, National Center for Technology Management, OBAFEMI Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. 3Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.    
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 16 July 2009
  •  Published: 30 September 2009


This paper synoptically discusses the concept of political (in)tolerance and its implication on any democratic setting alongside with the concept of governance.  Against this background, it argues that most African states took over from centralized and unrepresentative colonial ethnic and religious separatism – tribalism – and become victims to centrifugal aspirations of ambitious politicians speaking in the name of ethnic, religious and regional minorities (Esman, 1997). This monocratic political order (which derives from the Hobbesian notion/conception of the state) not only failed as a system but led to serious in tolerance and in some cases disastrous consequences for the economy and people of Africa (Olowu, 1995). And as a result, enormous amount of money is being spent worldwide on questions of political tolerance. Political intolerance and lack of debate, according to literature, had caused retardation in ideas, innovation, creativity and growth of political consciousness among people due to the fear of misconception of such ideas by their political opponents or fellow comrades. This makes democratic transitions arduous thereby threatening the consolidation of democracy. Political tolerance is not easy to practice. However, its exercise, without jettisoning social justice or the abandonment or weakening of one's conviction will promote a culture of political pluralism. This, without any controversies, will guarantee peace and harmony which is a cornerstone of democratic consolidation. For democratic engine to be well propelled, regardless of any strategy, the best public policy should arise out of citizens’ willingness to imbibe positive values as well as any other attribute and be ready to tolerate the expression of a plurality of political opinions, including those different to their own.  This is essential because, instrumental to good democratic governance is human beings with positive values and other dimensions of human performance that enable social, economic and political institutions to function and remain functional, over time (Adjibolosoo, 1995).


Key words: Political (in)tolerance, democratic governance, political consciousness, monocratic, democratic engine, positive values, centrifugal aspiration, ethnic and religion separatism, social justice, hobbessian, democratic consolidation.