• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Nigeria, foreign aid, and the dependency theory

Nigeria, foreign aid, and the dependency theory

Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, foreign aid has been seen as a beacon of hope and a source of funding for the economic growth of developing countries and their overall progress. Over the years, foreign aid has evolved and is seen as a way to rescue most African countries from the cold grasp of poverty and underdevelopment.

However, beneath this helpful hand lies a disturbing reality. Foreign aid is a tool of neo-colonialism, disguised as financial support. It is safe to say that foreign aid is a way to control not just Nigeria’s economy but its growth by promoting the dependency and dominance of foreign powers on Nigeria’s economic landscape.

Foreign aid can be obtained bilaterally or multilaterally, involving multiple nations and international financial institutions. Nigeria, since its independence in 1960, has received aid from the US, UK, China, Japan, the European Union, and the World Bank. It has also provided aid to African and Caribbean nations. However, Nigeria’s high dependency on primary product exports and weak technological development have led to its reliance on foreign aid, a significant issue in its underdevelopment.

Foreign aid is often intended to promote economic development, alleviate poverty, and promote self-sufficiency in recipient countries. However, Nigeria, despite receiving billions of dollars in aid since independence, continues to grapple with poverty, corruption, and underdevelopment. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that Nigeria received over $36.16 billion in official development assistance between 2015 and 2022. Despite the high inflow, the data reveals a concerning pattern of dependency and exploitation in the country’s economy.

Disguised as a benevolent gesture, foreign aid is a means for foreign powers to maintain control over Nigeria’s vast resources and economic destiny. The Dependency Theory, as opined by scholars such as Raul Prebisch and Andre Gunder Frank, states that underdeveloped countries will remain subordinate to developed nations due to their reliance on them for capital, technology, and market access. Foreign aid in Nigeria is a neo-colonialism tool to keep Nigeria reliant on international countries and stop real economic growth. Even though it’s meant to help Nigeria grow, several conditions attached to getting foreign aid are hardly economically friendly.

Foreign aid is often viewed as a catalyst for sustainable development in recipient countries, but it has not been successful in Nigeria. Many aids are directed towards specific projects, often executed by foreign contractors and consultants, which undermines local capacity-building efforts and creates a dependency on external expertise. The aid returns are often pumped back into the country’s economy, highlighting the need for more effective and sustainable development strategies.

Nigeria’s reliance on foreign aid has led to a cycle of dependency, causing the country to prioritise external assistance over domestic priorities. This has resulted in a lack of accountability for effective governance and a focus on donor interests, rather than addressing issues like corruption, inequality, and infrastructure problems. This perpetuates a cycle of dependency and underdevelopment.

The narrative surrounding foreign aid in Nigeria must be reframed to reflect the realities of neo-colonial exploitation and dependency. Instead of passively accepting aid as a solution to Nigeria’s economic woes, policymakers and Nigerians must advocate for greater economic independence.

The truth is, foreign aid in Nigeria is not a move for poverty alleviation or economic development; rather, it can be seen as a vehicle for neo-colonial exploitation and dependency. The staggering amounts of aid flowing into Nigeria have done little to catalyse sustainable progress or empower the Nigerian people.

The call for the eradication of this dependency on foreign aid requires a paradigm shift towards sustainable, inclusive development strategies that prioritise local ownership, capacity-building, and grassroots empowerment. Rather than relying on external handouts, Nigeria must harness its abundant human and natural resources to drive genuine economic transformation and social progress.

To break free from dependency and move towards the path of economic sovereignty, Nigeria must reclaim control over its economic growth. As Nigeria navigates the complex terrain of international development cooperation, it must remain vigilant against the allure of foreign aid and assert its sovereignty in shaping its own future. Only then can Nigeria truly emancipate itself from the vestiges of neo-colonialism and realise its full potential as a vibrant, self-sustaining economy.

Also, transparency and accountability must be upheld as cornerstones of development cooperation, ensuring that aid is utilised effectively and in the best interests of the Nigerian people. Civil society organisations play a crucial role in holding both domestic and foreign actors accountable for their actions, fostering a culture of transparency and participatory governance.

Foreign aid should be the last resort for any nation for its national development. Nigeria, the giant of Africa, being reliant on foreign aid for its development not only leaves her citizens at the mercy of foreigners but also undermines the power and struggle of her people towards personal growth.

Nigeria, a nation blessed with numerous resources, is rich enough, if all the resources are well managed without corruption, to give foreign aid to other African countries.

To break free of dependency shackles and eradicate neo-colonialism, Nigerian policymakers must be ready to take charge and be truly independent (as we are indirectly still dependent on foreign nations for support).

Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye sent this piece from London, United Kingdom. He can be reached via [email protected].