48 Years Of Nigeria’s Underdevelopment: A Fruit Of Failed And Recycled Policy!

All over the world, there has been progress in many areas over the last 48 years — life-saving medicines, the Internet, oil boom and , under-water exploration, airbus, the advent of mobile phone and whatsoever — yet the same poor way of doing things as seen within October 1960 looms even today in Nigeria. Instead of coming up with better innovations and development strategies, this government makes life miserable and put across one of the worst ideas ever: confused, drawing plans, postponing and re-introducing bills yet the years were exhausting.

Even if our governments are not the only ones that are bad, they have ranked low for decades on most international comparisons of corruption, state failure, red tape, lawlessness and dictatorship. Our platform “nigeria4betterrule” does not recognize such lousy but tyrant government– this would be an insult to the many of us who risk their lives to protest this government. Instead, corrupt and mismanaged governments inside this country reflect the unhappy way in which our colonial masters artificially created most nations, often combining antagonistic ethnicities. Anyway, the results of states economics by bad states was a near-zero rise in GDP per capita for us, and the same for the average African nation, over the last 48 years.

The flaw came just as the regime’s second development plan to build roads, schools and drinking water projects in the country was getting underway. Most half-done construction of schools and roads has been. Everyone agrees that Nigeria’s education is a mess. Constant tinkering and experimenting with reforms since 1975 has resulted in politicized government schools with falling standards. Most private schools that moved in to fill the demand are run like businesses. The result exposed a school system ridden overtaken with inequities.

Have you ever questioned yourself why we are lagging behind in attaining developed status? Does one have to telecast the reasons to ascertain the comparisons between our nation and fast growing countries viz., Japan and Singapore)? Do I have to mention again that, overpopulation, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment in addition to nepotism, corruption, caste system, religion, regionalism and irresponsible citizens etc., are the major hindrances in country’s growth?

I would say that, it’s foolish to dig deep into the past, blaming the colonial and the British rulers, who though had looted us to a greater extent (as the governments especially the politicians do at present date) but were unsuccessful to last longer? Have you ever raised your voice against the present administration system which is betraying us in almost every possible manner? Development implies creating the skills and capacity to do things; greater freedom, self confidence, creativity, self discipline, responsibility and mutual well being.

Nigeria has faced, however, numerous challenges in achieving sustainable development since independence in 1960 in spite of its abundant human and natural resources. From the time Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960 to date, repeated efforts have been made to define a suitable framework for socio-political and economic development. In this regard, not less than five national development plans have been inaugurated. The first between 1962 and 1968, followed by the second development plan, 1970 to 1974, aimed at accelerating post-war reconstruction.

The third national development plan, 1975 to 1980, tried to jump-start industrial through the strategy of import substitution. This was followed under the military regime headed by General Ibrahim Babangida by the introduction of a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). A subsequent National Rolling Plan was instituted between 1990 and 1992 to consolidate the ‘achievements’ of the SAP and to address the problems that still hindered economic development. Vision 2010 was yet another development plan initiated by another military ruler, General Sani Abacha. It was meant to herald socio-economic prosperity for the citizens of Nigeria.

It is still worthy to note that all these development plans had the intentions of doing the following: Developing a stable broad-based democratic system; Generating employment opportunities and meeting the basic needs of the people; Achieving food security by massively investing in agriculture ;Investing in education; Developing critical sectors of the Nigerian economy; Establishing an effective macroeconomic framework that attracts investment; Directing the formal and informal sectors of the economy; Promoting economic stability and sustaining non-inflationary growth and social justice; Nurturing independent and responsible media, labour unions, NGOs and other institutions of civil society; Developing an effective and efficient public service, judiciary and law enforcement system; Reorienting Nigerian society along the path of honesty, probity, God consciousness, mutual respect, trust, tolerance, gender sensitivity and co-operation; Ensuring sincere and committed leadership and an enlightened and empowered citizenry; and strengthening and sustaining Nigerian’s leadership role in Africa. All the above development plans were brilliantly formulated but suffered from deficiency of scope, poor implementation, budgetary indiscipline and general corruption.

When the civilian administration of President Obasanjo came into limelight in 1999, the government gave Nigerian’s at home and abroad a lot of hope for a better Nigeria where unemployment, poor educational institutions, lack of portable water, poor power generation, non-existent health care system, inadequate infrastructure and insecurity of lives and properties would be a thing of the past. Regrettably, seven years have elapsed, with these expectations far from being met.

Despite being a signatory to the Commission for Africa and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the focus on halting poverty and hunger, infant mortality, illiteracy, provision of food and shelter by 2015, on current trends, Nigeria will not only miss all the MDGs by 2015, but also would likely take another 50 years to reduce the high level of poverty and hunger in the country. The key economic platform of the Obasanjo administration is the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), which was launched in 2003. It is set out of the government’s economic policy objectives, part of which is to create about 700,000 jobs over a period of seven years, to reduce poverty, to increase employment generation and also to decelerate inflation through the stabilization of the exchange rate.

However, the propositions in the NEEDS document are largely nebulous as it has failed to spell out, for instance, how the 700,000 jobs will be created. Are these jobs to b created by the three tiers of government, the private sector or some foreign investors? Besides, the NEEDS blueprint has failed to specify the stages of implementation of Nigeria’s economic reform programs. More so, not even the chief economic adviser to the former president and then head of the Nigerian economic team, Dr. Osita Ogbu, said precisely at what stage of implementation we are.

At this time, Nigeria’s deteriorating economic situation is baffling. One major problem confronting our nation is the issue of sustaining growth. There is therefore an urgent need fro us to be able to improve and sustain our means of development so that we may not find ourselves at the mercy of the unpredictable forces of globalization. We need also to ask ourselves serious questions. How do we balance the need for development and growth against the need to protect the natural environment? How to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs and aspirations of the future generations?

Or isn’t a period of sixty years sufficient enough to shed out the past and strikeout on an independent path? It’s piteous but truth that, though we are democratically independent are still more or less dependent on other countries for various sources. Please do not mistake me, for I am not discussing anything related to collaborations here.
Nepotism in Nigeria is one of the major drawbacks. Although, Nigerian Constitution facilitates the right to equality, it hurts me always when I see people segregating co-humans in the name of caste. I felt surprised when I heard that, in some remote village’s “untouchability” and ill-treating is still in practice. I had witnessed the people who tore the posters of Atiku Abubakar with rage, pasted on my own department walls. I feel sorry for all those who are ignorant about the facts that, the Nigerian Constitution just doesn’t discuss only about reservations to scheduled castes/tribes but it is a highly appreciated draft around the globe with a powerful agenda that focuses various issues/measures for the benefit and uplifting of whole nation. It is really pathetic to state that, even today some people are still into this evil practice and the others after encashment by playing tricks with the emotions and sentiments of the above listed castes/tribes.

Irresponsible behaviuor of the citizens also damages the country’s destiny. There are many an educated youth who are not willing to take up on the responsibility to construct the nation and give it new dimensions. I already quoted in my last article, about the necessity of the realization that one educated youth must undergo to make his/her nation attain development, but everyone is after his/her own prosperity. It is no harm to think about one’s own prosperity, but it is highly inappreciable if he/she doesn’t giveback something to their country. And in my view, it is not the unemployment that is responsible, but it is the constraints that the youth had imposed on themselves to some horizons which they never wish to cross. It frightens me, when I think about the nation as a whole because in the jurisdiction of personal business itself, I had found many chaps gossiping around just sitting idle at local cafés since morning till evening as a part of their daily routine.

Sympathy also destroys the nation’s building to a wider range. After assassination of Murtala Mohammed, Obasanjo was appointed due to sympathy veil. In his regime, the country had faced a lot of crisis, because during that time the country was emergent financial nation, and the situation existed such that presidential rule had to be imposed compulsorily in the name of Financial emergency. But, the then Obasanjo had saved the country from the crisis with the three “golden rules” viz., privatization, monetization and due process, (which are been followed by every government till date formed after his).

Militancy, an outcome of regional agitation, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment etc., also hinders the development. I had always felt sorry about the Militants, who utilize the technology to kidnapping for ransom. I always wished that they might utilize the technology they possess in a right manner to reach unanimous agreement with the government in the near future. But, it never happened. Though, there might be many a reasons behind Militancy, viz., social inequalities, injustice etc., but it would be better. Rather than following up every viable solution, instead this government play hide and seek from jungles, fight openly from the public by representing themselves and their own problems as if it were for a peaceful course.

To instantiate, Democracy Principles are ideal to attain peace and success. Regionalism is a new source of hindrance to the nation’s growth. Political Parties are after dividing the States. Again, the foul play with the emotions and sentiments of the people in order to attain power, the representatives in Senate, the Lower House and the national level who are after acquiring huge wealth are deceiving us. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is just an instance. The selfless revolution of the oil companies against indigenes raped the lands of its values by molesting innocent women .This is insult and is highly practiced today. Without any knowledge of the past that had witnessed the heavy bloodshed and tears of the recent oil war, every politician in this region is promising to separate the region into two, seems really ironic.

All the youth should think for the betterment of this country and try hard to attain it. It’s we the youth, who are similar to bricks, who can construct the Nation only if we are good at character viz., good bricks. Every one has to realize the fact that, one must repay what ever had had learnt/acquired for the benefit of the nation. Nigeria, needs selfless people, who can sacrifice their worldly pleasures for the sake of country and gave their best to the Nation. We must follow noble ideas in order to attain development & peace.

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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