Challenges of National Development in Nigeria

Challenges of National Development in Nigeria

Development is important for the growth of any nation. A developed country is one able to provide a good quality of life for her citizenry. In this article, we address some of the major challenges of development facing Nigeria. These problems have deprived Nigeria of development despite the huge human, material and natural resources of the country. Furthermore, we consider the strategies for achieving sustainable development in Nigeria. From our conclusion, there is the need to address corruption and promote committed leadership in order to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria.



Development as a concept is difficult to define. However, development can be defined as an idea that embodies all attempts to improve the conditions of human existence in all dimensions.

It implies improvement in material well being of people, (not just the most powerful and rich), in a way such that today’s consumption does not imperil the future. Development improves personal physical security and livelihoods and increases life chances.

Development involves not only economic growth, but also some notion of equitable distribution, provision of health care, education, housing and other essential services all aimed at improving the individual and collective quality of life. Hence, development is not only an economic exercise, but also involves both socio-economic and political issues and pervades all aspects of societal life.

The pre-requisites of development include socio-political and economic stability. However, considering the problems of urban overcrowding, rural under-development and stagnation, unemployment, and increasing inequalities facing Nigeria, (and other less developed countries) development seems impossible.

It is a sad commentary that Nigeria has been unable to foster meaningful development despite the nation’s huge resource endowment, poverty, unemployment and starvation is ravaging majority of the citizenry.

National Development

This can be described as the overall development or a collective socio-economic, political as well as religious advancement of a country or nation. This is best achieved through development planning, which includes a country’s collection of strategies mapped out by the government.

Nigeria has had series of National development plans till date. Indeed, two years after independence, the first National Development Plan policy was formulated between 1962 and 1968 with the objectives of development opportunities in health, education and employment and improving access to these opportunities, etc. This plan failed due to poor financing. In addition, the collapse of the first Republic and the commencement of civil war also disrupted the plan.

In the years after the civil war ended 1970, series of national development plan have been launched with priorities in agriculture, industry, transport, manpower, defense, electricity, communication, water supply, provision of social services, rural development, increase in the real income of the average citizen, more even distribution of income among individuals and socio-economic groups, increased dependence on the country’s material and human resources, a reduction in the level of unemployment and underemployment.

Unfortunately, despite these attempts at development till date, Nigeria’s enormous oil wealth was not invested to build a viable industrial base for the country and for launching an agrarian revolution to reduce mass poverty.

Indeed, the country has attempted various strategies for development with little or no success. Some of these were the structural adjustment programme (SAP), Vision 2010, national economic empowerment and development strategy (NEEDS), creation of development centres, etc.

Challenges (Problems) of National Development in Nigeria

The problems of national development in Nigeria are indeed enormous. The question is ‘why is it still difficult to generate meaningful development in Nigeria despite the huge resources at our disposal? Numerous factors work together to undermine national development in Nigeria.

In the following paragraphs, we discuss some of these challenges:

1. Lack of Good Governance:

This has hindered national development in the country. In the absence of good governance, development becomes a mirage. Poor governance results from bad leadership in the country. Majority of our leaders lack any sense of commitment to development.

Our leaders have no vision of development, all they were interested in was access to power and privileges and not development.

2. Pervasive Corruption:

High level of corruption and indiscipline is another challenge of development in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the Nigerian state is managed by corrupt leaders who have made the state an instrument of capital accumulation, rather than using it to project the interest of the citizenry.

3. Nigeria’s Over-dependence on Crude Oil:

Another important challenge of development in Nigeria is the mono-economic base of the country. The country largely depends on crude oil for her survival to the detriment of other resources. Consequently, all other sectors of the economy are neglected. For instance, agriculture, which constituted the mainstay of the Nigerian economy in the 1950s and 1960s, has been neglected over the years. The Nigerian economy is not diversified and this is not suitable for a sustainable development.

4. Lack of Executive Capacity:

In most cases, there is the lack of executive capacity needed for the formulation and implementation of development plan. What we usually see are officials entrusted to such a position but without any meaningful executive authority.

Strategies for National Development

Indeed, most of the past development plans failed due to implementation problem and lack of committed leadership. In order to successfully move the nation towards path of development, it is necessary to incorporate the following:

First, development requires total commitment on the parts of the leadership. There is the need for discipline and honesty on the part of those implementing the plan; such officials should show enough discipline, interest, willingness, dedication and honesty.

Second, it is very uncertain whether the Nigerian state as presently constituted can ensure meaningful development considering its embarrassing level of corruption, and inefficiency. Thus, there is the need to address the pervasive corruption in the country.

Third, there is the need for Nigeria to revamp the agricultural sector. Agriculture used to be the mainstay of Nigeria economy until the discovery of crude oil.

Fourth, human resources development is crucial to Nigeria national development. Since, development depends on human knowledge and skills; it is the necessary to give citizens a high quality and functional education and training aimed at meeting the country’s development needs. This is because it is the people who develop and unless there are large numbers of suitably qualified people, development is impossible.

Finally, there is the need to reform electoral process in order to foster socio-economic and political development. Electoral fraud is one of the banes of Nigeria’s development. When a leader assumes office by fraud, such leader is bound to fail in his effort to generate meaningful development. This is due to the fact that such illegitimate leaders tend to display characters that repress development such as; selfishness, corruption, pride, thuggery and inefficiency and also, there is apathy to development plans by the people as they fail to see such emerging leaders as the products of their consent through voting. Therefore, there is the need to reform the electoral process to ensure that nobody assumes power (political) through fraudulent means.


In this article, we examined the problems of national development in Nigeria, and also suggested some viable strategies needed to foster sustainable development in Nigeria.


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