The term “good governance” is frequently used nowadays to denote best practices in the exercise or management of state power. Bad governance appears to be found on the opposite side of the spectrum. Bad governance is, therefore, conceived as the root cause of most of the evils associated with the acquisition of state power.
It is now almost settled that democracy is the form of government which best guarantees opportunities for good governance. Neither Montesquieu nor John Locke was concerned with forms of government, when they advocated for the separation of governmental power. Indeed, they appeared to be more concerned with how to minimize and not how to supplant the absolute power of the monarch.
But their model has won the admiration of advocates of democracy. And it seems one could hardly speak about democracy today while overlooking the important role which the separation of powers plays in it. At the heart of the tripartite division of state power lies the important function of the judicial arm. Albeit, the third arm its role in good governance appears to be most challenging. This could be discerned from the enormity of trials which it has often been exposed to.
This paper attempts to outline the most important trials and the travails of the judiciary, in Nigeria. But, it is submitted that it has not always been travails as there have been moments of triumph as well. Attempts will also be made at suggesting fundamental or model principles of good governance and the tools with which the judiciary as an institution can utilize in contributing to entrenching good governance.
For case of discussion only we shall segment the paper into: the fundamentals of good governance as it relates to the judiciary; its role during the post – independence era; the period of military dictatorship; the second republic era and; the present period of democratic governance.