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This research work sought to assess the attitude of youths toward democratic values and the implication these would have on social studies education in Nigeria.  The youths of Nigeria has been confirmed to form the bulk of the citizens which is the decision-making group in the society.  The lack of a democratic attitude of mind has been identified as the major obstacle that has mar democratic consolidation in Nigeria.  Thus, both elites and youths have been observed to surprisingly show weak commitment to the basic symbols and values of democracy.  The youths must possess a good grasp of democratic values which will aid, guide and direct their conduct in the discharge of their civic responsibilities.  And that the possession of democratic values is not only essential for youths to participate in democracy but is essential for them to participate well and positively.

In order to carry out this study, nine research questions were raised to investigate the attitude of youths toward some selected democratic values.  The survey research design, using the descriptive method was employed in the study.  Six hundred subjects were selected from the four universities in Edo State.  The study made use of the frequency and percentage statistical tools to analyze the research questions raised and a t-test for the hypotheses raised.

At the end of the analysis the following underlisted findings were arrived at; that:

  • Youths hold the values of respect and tolerance in high esteem why discharging their civic duties.
  • Youths hold in high regard the virtues of equality and the rule of law as a necessary tool for effective citizen participation.
  • Youths hold in high regard the value of one-man-one-vote during civic practices (why exercise their franchise).
  • Youths hold in high esteem the virtues of honesty and patriotism why carrying out their civic duties, etc.

And based on the above findings, some useful suggestions and recommendations were offered and were as follows; that:

  • Social studies curriculum selection and organization should be reviewed regularly to cater for the constant changes in societal values, attitudes and behaviours which tend to affect citizens adherence to democratic values.
  • New democratic values such as transparency, due process, your vote must count and one-man-one-vote etc that are currently gaining access into Nigeria core democratic values need to as a matter of urgency be introduced into the social study curriculum.
  • All agencies, bodies, organizations like INEC, NOA, civil society groups and Non-Governmental Organizations should assist to create the awareness, understanding and internalization of democratic values in youths that have missed the opportunity of being imparted with such values through social studies teachings.

These suggestions and others is carried out would help to forestall/reduce the undemocratic attitude and behaviours prevalence in our society.



1.1       background to the study

One of the challenges facing Africa today is how to provide opportunities for the continent’s more than 200 million youths so that they can have decent lives and contribute to the socio-economic and political development of their countries (G. Genyi, 2016). According to the United Nations (2010), Africa’s population as of 2011 was estimated at 1.05 billion and is expected to double by 2050. About 70 per cent of the Africa population is 30 years of age or younger.

In 2011, youths, who are defined here as those between 15 and 35 years of age, constituted 21 per cent of more than 1 billion people in Africa, whereas another 42 per cent was less than 15 years old. Slightly more than half of the African youth population is female, and there are more rural dwellers than urban dwellers. With such a large proportion under 15 years of age, Africa’s youth population is expected to grow in the years to come while the Youths population in other parts of the world shrinks (Gyimah- Brempong and Kimenyi, 2013:2).

Since Nigerian independence in 1960, Nigeria has been struggling to install a viable and durable democracy but its dismal politics is characterized by consistent inability to conduct credible and transparent elections in which its citizens have access effectively protected opportunities to exercise their franchise but in the choice of their leaders, has made the agenda of democratic sustainability largely a mirage. This accounts for the so many failed attempts at democratic transitions (Dudley, 1982; Akinsanya, 2005; Agbaje, 2005).

Youth political participation captures the involvement of youths in responsible and challenging political action that meets the genuine needs of the people with opportunities for planning and/or decision-making affecting others in the political system. That is to say, political participation which involves recognizing and nurturing the strengths, interests, and abilities of young people through the provision of real opportunities for them to become involved in decision making that affects their daily life (Aniagoh, 2016).

Youth political participation fosters a sense of citizenship and makes policy processes more transparent and accountable towards young people. At the same time, helps the youth build self-confidence, develop a sense of initiative and acquire and test skills that are relevant for the workplace, such as communication, negotiation or teamwork, in a practical environment (EACEA, 2010/03).


A close observation of the degree of political participation and training of youths in Nigeria tend to reveal that they have not been actively involved in the process of sharpening the political system. It is rather unfortunate that with the large population of youths and the kind of influence they can weigh on national development, they have been relegated to the background as the elderly politicians use them for various vices.

Nigeria is living witnesses to the fact that some youths are used as political thugs and touts during campaigns and election periods. For instance, the youths criminal organization known as ‘Yan Shara has been executing their evil operations especially in areas of Kawo, Unguwan Kudu and Tudun Wada. These criminals engage in different social vices using traditional weapons and their activities usually increase by a significant percentage during campaign periods or elections. In other instances, they are recruited as personal bodyguards to corrupt politicians.

While youths are being deployed as campaign agents for crowd mobilisation at rallies to chant political slogans and for successes at elections, at the end of the day they are relegated to the background.  Even some positions they naturally deserve like the national youth leader, etc are assigned to people like Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo who is 46 years of age! That is far outside the scope of youth.

After elections, the hopes and aspirations of the youths are usually ruined. All campaign and pre-election promises of vital appointments and jobs made by the so-called elderly politicians, which mostly entice the youth to engage in sometimes untoward activities at campaign rallies remain largely unfulfilled after elections. It is noteworthy that on rare instances those promises are fulfilled. But since the youths have a future ahead of them, they have to strive to seize such opportunities so as to secure their future in public life. It will be wise to have youths in various advisory boards, commissions, ministries, etc.

Purpose of the Study

This study was carried out to assess the attitude and conduct of Nigerian youths so as to ascertain the extent to which they are aware, understand, and have imbibed the democratic values that guide Nigerian democratic process; the extent to which democratic values regulate our youths as participants in the various democratic processes.

Specifically, it is to find out the attitude of youths toward:

  • the virtues of respect and tolerance while indulging in/carrying out political activities;
  • the virtues of honesty and patriotism while discharging their civic duties;
  • transparency and following due process in their civic practices;
  • the provision of justice for every citizen in our democracy;
  • equality of every citizen in our democracy;
  • the principle of one-man-one-vote in the political process;
  • freedom of action in the democratic process.

Research Questions

The following underlisted research questions were raised to investigate the study:

  • What is the attitude of youths to the virtues of respect and tolerance in the political process?
  • What is the attitude of youths to the virtues of honesty and patriotism in the democratic process?
  • What is the attitude of youths to the virtues of transparency and due process in the democratic process?
  • What is the attitude of youths to the provision of justice in our democratic process?
  • What is the attitude of youths to the provision of freedom of action in our democratic process?
  • What is the attitude of the youths to the virtues of equality and the rule of law in the political process?
  • What is the attitude of the youths to the principle of one-man-one-vote in the political process?
  • Does the attitude of the youth in public universities toward democratic values differ from those of the private universities?
  • Does the attitude of full-Time youth of democratic values differ from those of the Part-Time youth?


  • The Attitude of youth in public universities of democratic values do not differ significantly from those of the private universities.
  • The attitude of full-time youth of democratic values do not differ significantly from those of part-time youth.



Significance of the Study

This study was undertaken at the time the Nigerian state is passing through a trying moment in its democratization process.

The study will specifically expose what social studies as a school subject has done so far in terms of citizenship transmission – producing citizens (youths) that are civically conscious, responsible and competent.  And the lapses in the school subject why it is not living up to expectation.

The work will also be useful to curriculum developers when deciding which subjects should feature as core; and at which level should they feature and when should they not.  That social studies education terminating in JSS III in our school system before now has done great disservice to good citizenship transmission.  And thanks to the newly introduced civic education that will be offered at senior secondary school (SSS) in our schools.

The study will also be useful in identifying the democratic values that would be taught to the youths in our school system.  It will also be useful in the informal settings or gatherings organized by MAMSER, INEC, political parties such as rallies venues, campaign grounds, sensitization programmes etc as there is acute limited work or literature on the concept, democratic values.

It will also help to identify the undemocratic attitudes and behaviour Nigerian youths are associated with/indulged in our democratic process so as to provide INEC, security agents and political parties with the adequate information and possible ways of forestalling such ugly menace.

Finally, it will help to correct the attitude of indifference and general apathy of many Nigerian youths to electoral process and democracy in general.  That is to sensitize the youths to be a part and parcel of the mechanism that makes and shapes the decisions and policies that determine their future rather than living it in the hands of few elites who are selfish and parochial in their judgments.  And why acting in this capacity to imbibe the democratic ethos that ensure electoral credibility and democratic consolidation.


The scope of this study was restricted to the attitude of Nigerian youths within the ages of 18 and 45 years of democratic values.  The composition of youths for this study was made up of undergraduate youth of the universities in Edo State.  In a nutshell, the study is restricted to the attitude of subjects in Edo State but the findings will generalized on the entire Nigerian youths.

Definition of Terms

The core words or concept are defined operationally as used in this study:

Democratic Values:          Are the fundamental belief and the constitutional principle which guide the democratic government put in place in a particular society.  They are the ethos that regulate the extent, level and the involvement of participants in a democracy. Examples are rule of law, patriotism, equality, freedom, self-reliance, the common good, justice, toleration of diversity, transparency, etc.



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