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The problems addressed by the study were: (i) did democratisation enhance the national
development especially the economic performance of Nigeria and South Korea between
1999 and 2009? And (ii) did democratisation improve the quality of life of Nigerians and
South Koreans between 1999 and 2009? The qualitative method of research was used.
This encompasses data from official documents of government, international donor
agencies, Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Korea, United Nations Development
Programme, Department for International Development, Central Intelligence Agency,
African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development and other library materials. The study was conducted with
the aid of the theory of the developmental state. The theory faults the regime type
hypothesis insisting that development is not amenable to any kind of regime. It holds that
leadership’s resolve to develop the country and the capacity of the institutions and a
disciplined population are more critical factors. The data were analysed using the
qualitative method aided by graphs, charts, tables, and simple percentages. The results
revealed that development is not regime-specific. South Korea achieved the bulk of its
development under autocratic regimes and continued on the path of development into the
current democratic system. On the other hand, Nigeria was unable to maximize the
opportunities at the disposal of autocratic regimes to achieve national development in all
the years of military dictatorships. Development still remains dicey in the current era of
democratization. GDP per capita at Purchasing Power Parity of Nigeria rose marginally
from 1,542 in 2000 to 2,156 in 2008 while South Korea experienced a corresponding
increase from 18,537 in 2000 to 29,518 in 2008. The value of Nigeria on the UNDP
HDR’s HDI declined from 0.438 in 1990 to 0.423 in 2008 whereas South Korea
experienced an improvement from the value of 0.722 in 1990 to 0.877 in 2008. Average
life expectancy in Nigeria rose marginally from 44.8 in 1980 to 48.4 in 2008 whereas
South Korea experienced a corresponding significant rise from 65.7 in 1980 to 79.8 in
2008. Beyond the regime type hypothesis, the character of the political elites, governance
style, the capacity of the institutions and the willingness of the state to champion the
cause of national development are major considerations in development studies.

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