• Sunday, May 26, 2024
businessday logo


Understanding the foundation of Nigeria’s development crisis

Understanding the foundation of Nigeria’s development crisis

The relevance of development as a theoretical postulate is precipitated on the high premium governments attach to it in their respective programmes. This has made it imperative to discuss the various theoretical perspectives of development crisis with the view to adequately setting for understanding the development crisis in Nigeria.

Development crisis is a common phenomenon in Nigeria and other developing countries of the Third World. The case of Nigeria is centred on the various crises of poverty, leadership trust, technological artefacts, education, industrialization, health, transportation, governance, welfarism, and the general social and economic dimensions.

As will be shown later, some people have viewed development in Nigeria as that which should be seen as an effort to catch up with the Western World and an increasing acquisition of artefacts found in developed countries.

Such artefacts include cars, roads, hospitals houses, and others. For more comprehension of the crisis, such theoretical perspectives of development crisis as modernization, underdevelopment, dependency, and mode of production will be discussed to elucidate the foundation of Nigeria’s development crisis with the view to proffering solutions.


Corroborating with Olukoshi A., the cardinal thought associated with this school is the “backwardness” of the Third World nations as a consequence of the unending and abundant traditional structures that has vehemently withstood development.

Development, in this case, is perceived in the light of the removal of such long-standing traditional structures. In addressing the problem of development, this school of thought addresses a number of issues. One such issue is consensus-building against conflict and contradiction.

In this respect, change is seen as being caused be external” forces. This issue was challenged by another factor such as the psychological thought which saw change in the Third World as a consequence of complete changes in individuals in the society.

However, the institutional exponents believed that contradictions in developments caused instability in societies. Nevertheless, furthering Olukoshi’s submission, this article accepts consensus-building and individual changes on the basis of inherent strength as long as all the effort would be geared towards creativity that would bring about the development of individual latent powers in turning the environment into productive centres.

Another central fact held by this school is that which explains that “history has a single line of development, a single motive force and a common conclusion”.

It shows that Third World countries could follow the path the so-called developed nations like the U.S.A, Britain, etc took and arrived at the same level of development as most African States, it tried to explain the crisis in most Third World countries as a crisis of the state,

“…. arising from its failure, and that of the bitterly divided and factionalized ruling classes, to create order in civil society and create the conditions for a successful take-off.”

This school of thought holds sway in Third World countries, including Nigeria with such prevailing problems of balance of payment, low standard of living, inflation, political instability, etc. It was from this background that the under-development school established a basis for its ideology.


Accepting the argument of Development and Underdevelopment scholars like Walter Rodney, Olukoshi Adebayo, Joel Samoff and others, this school of thought arose as a result of the perceived deficiencies of the modernization school on assuming that the backwardness of the Third World countries was synonymous with traditional structures which moved to modernity.

Unlike the modernization school, the underdevelopment school saw backwardness as having a direct relationship with the expansion of global capitalism rather than an unyielding system to traditional structures. As Rodney argued, a crucial part of underdevelopment is that it shows a relationship of exploitation of one country by another.

The various countries that are tagged “underdeveloped” are said to be exploited by the developed nations. Underdevelopment is an offspring of Capitalist and imperialist exploitation. For instance, African and Asian countries were developing independently before they were disarticulated by the capitalist power. Consequently, exploitation increased with the export of surplus goods and the affected countries were sobbed by the benefit of their labour and natural resources.

Underdevelopment sees human social development as unequal and that some human groups have advanced by producing more, becoming wealthier. Such a difference calls for questions. For example, while Britain was leading the rest of Europe in the 18th century, Adam Smith was resultantly fascinated to look into the wealth of nations. Where, however, the Third World countries are seen to experience economic growth, it should be regarded as “growth without development” and self-sustaining capacity.

This school has not given an adequate definition of development because it is a mere comparative analysis of wealthy and poor nations. Development is not based on the influx of capitalist surplus from the advanced countries to the Third World countries in which Nigeria is a prominent case. Development, therefore, in the context of this article is devoid of exploitation.


The exponents of dependency school like Olukotun Ayo, Olukoshi Adebayo, James Caporaso, Behrooz Zare, Johan Galtung, Heraldo Monoz and others, went further from the underdevelopment thesis which held the view that development was a mere relationship between the advanced and Third World countries.

Agreeing with this opinion, while they accepted that there is a form of development in these countries, they also believed that the development is “dependent”, “distorted”, and “conditioned” by the world capitalist system. Some of the underdevelopment scholars embraced this new order in appraising the concept of development.

However, consequent upon the fact that though the pattern of the dependency school was fashioned from the framework of “centre-periphery”, relations, and the same problem of underdevelopment schools was inevitable.

While the dependency school did not support the unilineal development propagated by the modernization school, the notion of a form of development in the peripheral countries resulting from their relations with the advanced economies has left much to be desired as far as development is concerned.

The capital accumulation in the periphery has rather left them with a lot of contradictions that have resulted in “disjointed” and “truncated” economies over the Third World countries.

The picture of “centre” and the “periphery” propagated by the dependency school is made clearer in Galtung’s work on “structural imperialism.” Galtung shows the “centre-of- periphery nation as a surrogate of imperialism in the periphery by maintaining the “status quo” within a region of the Third World.

While showing the main problem of the world economy as the “tremendous inequality within and between nations in almost all aspects of human conditions, “Galtung identified three main features of imperialism as

a. A Congruence of interest between the centre-in-the-centre nation and in the centre-in-the-periphery nation.

b. Greater polarization within the first periphery nation than within the centre nation.

c. Polarization between these periphery-in-the-centre nations.

To come to grips with the theory of dependency, the various component pointed out by Caporaso et al must be identified as follows:

a. External reliance (e.g. in trade, capital, and technology).

b. Restriction of choice (the structural limitations imposed by the nature of external links).

c. Internal fragmentation (disjointed and weakly connected parts).

The problem with dependency school, therefore, is how to identify

“…. both how the relation of dependency was reproduced and how it could be transformed. It could neither identify those classes central to the reproduction of the relation, nor those classes which would have an interest in its transformation”.

As Olukoshi pointed out, the dependency and development schools looked at the Third World countries as not being developed because they have failed to be what the advanced economies are; the dispositions were not made manifest. In the opinion of this article, however, development has not been given its right definition from various assumptions of these schools, including the dependency school.

Read also: What young African entrepreneurs need to create 10 Dangotes – Aliko

In the opinion of this article, therefore, development should be fully viewed from the dimension of growth that is rooted in the rudimentary genesis of development activities in the various countries, including Nigeria, before the colonialists invaded to distort the process of growth.

Nigeria should, therefore, look inwards more than ever before to tap from the great potentials and creative energies for development.

Enormous entrepreneurial skills are in abundance in Nigeria to transform the many natural resources to tangible infrastructures that will adequately address poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, poor electricity, poor health conditions, housing, transportation, poor logistics and delivery systems, traffic congestion on roads, air pollution from manufacturing emissions, inimical regulatory policies, etc.

Professor Emeje is executive chairman, Courier and Logistics Management Institute (CLMI)