In spite of its enormous human and natural resources, Nigeria for the last fifty years has been battling with the problems of development. In this post, we examine some of the problems and challenges of national development in Nigeria as well as ways for achieving sustainable development in Nigeria.
Development as a concept is difficult to define. However, development is an idea that embodies all attempts to improve the conditions of human existence in all ramifications. It implies improvement in material well being of all citizens, not the most powerful and rich alone, in a sustainable way such that today’s consumption does not put the future at risk.
Development entails reduction both in poverty and in inequality of access to the good things of life.
It is important to note that development does not only entail economic growth, but also some notion of equitable distribution, access to quality education, provision of health care, decent housing and other essential services in order to improve the individual and collective quality of life.
Thus, it is important to understand that development is not only an economic growth, but also involves social, economic, political, and even cultural change in the positive direction.
The word ‘national’ refers to a phenomenon that embraces a whole nation. Therefore, national development can be described as the overall development or a collective socioeconomic, political, cultural, as well as religious advancement of a country or nation.
We have had series of development plans in Nigeria. 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 because of poor funding. Furthermore, the collapse of the first Republic and the onset of civil war in 1966 also disrupted the plan.
After the civil war in 1970, the second national development plan 1970 to 1974 was launched, the plan priorities were in agriculture, industry, transport, manpower, defence, electricity, communication and water supply and provision of social services.
The third plan, covering the period of 1975 to 1980 was considered more ambitious than the second plan. Emphasis was placed on rural development and efforts to revamp agricultural sector.
The fourth plan 1981 to 1985 recognized the role of social services, health services, etc. The plan was aimed at bringing about improvement in the living conditions of the people. The specific objectives were: an increase in the real income of the average citizen, more even distribution of income among individuals and socioeconomic groups, increased dependence on the country’s material and human resources, a reduction in the level of unemployment and underemployment.
During these periods, Nigeria’s enormous oil wealth was not invested to build a viable industrial base for the country and for launching an agrarian revolution to liquidate mass poverty.
In the recent past, various strategies for development have also been tried with little or no result; among these were the structural adjustment programme (SAP), Vision 2010, national economic empowerment and development strategy (NEEDS), creation of development centres, etc.
In spite of series of development strategies, put in place by successive governments, and sometimes, all attempts to generate meaningful development have proves futile despite the vast resources at our disposal.
This is because a lot of factors have combined together to fetter the nation’s development.
This is another problem of national development in Nigeria. The lack of good governance has hindered national growth and development. Where there is no good governance, development becomes a mirage.
This is as a result of ineffective and poor leadership in the country. Most of our leaders have no sense of commitment to development.
It appears that political leaders in Nigeria are only interested in access to power and privileges and not development.
High level of corruption and indiscipline is a major problem of national development in Nigeria. Indeed, this is probably the greatest barrier to development in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, the Nigeria 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. A good development plan marshaled by thoroughly corrupt leaders can hardly yield development outcomes. Corruption hinders development.
Another problem with national development in Nigeria is the mono-economic base of the nation. Nigeria depends almost entirely on revenue from crude oil sales for her survival to the detriment of other revenue sources.
Since the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in the country, successive governments in Nigeria had neglected other sectors of the economy. For instance, agriculture, which was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy in the 1950s and 1960s, has been thrown into limbo over the years.
An economy that depends almost entirely on revenue from one product is unsuitable for a sustainable development.
In our previous discussion, it was mentioned that most of the past development plans failed as a result of implementation problem and lack of committed leadership etc.
Development requires total commitment on the parts of the leadership. The need for discipline and honesty on the part of the project executors cannot be compromised; such officials should show enough discipline, interest, willingness, dedication and honesty. Without these attributes and the will to pursue set economic goals, all other ingredients of development present would amount to nullity.
There is the need for Nigeria to revamp the agricultural sector. Agriculture used to be the mainstay of Nigeria economy but the discovery of crude oil succeeded in putting agriculture into state of oblivion.
Human resources development is also necessary to Nigeria national development. Development depends very much on human knowledge and skills. This must be such that a high quality of education and training is achieved for a large majority at a reasonable price and the context and quality of such education and training should be relevant and adequate to the country’s development needs.
Additionally, the need to reform electoral process is necessary for socioeconomic and political development. Electoral fraud is one of the banes of Nigeria’s development. The role of leadership in development cannot be overemphasized, all efforts towards development must be coordinated and directed by the leaders; therefore, the leaders must be development conscious, have genuine interest for development and the political will to propel such development. When a leader assumes office through electoral 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 and natural detachment to development plans.
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