SURVIVAL OF THE NIGERIAN STATE: ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS

NIGERIA CHANGE

Nigeria as a country has been through different stages in its
continuous growth and development. The journey started in the year
1914 when Nigeria was amalgamated by Lord Lugard. During this period
the country was colonized by the British. They built schools,
constructed railways, amongst several other things. Despite these, the
demand by Nigerians to rule themselves began to gain momentum and
eventually by the 1st of October 1960, she gained her independence.
She later became a republic in 1963.
At independence, the Nigerian nation held out a lot of promise, both
politically and economically. For instance, she had 3[three] self
sustaining regions which subsequently increased to 4[four] in 1963.
These regions were known as Northern Region, Western Region, Eastern
Region and Mid Western Region respectively. These regions had their
different political administrations which reflected the diverse
social, political and cultural wishes of the majority of the Nigerian
people. Hence it was not surprising that Nigeria witnessed a
tremendous growth and development in its economy during this period.
It was during these era that groundnut pyramids in the North gained
ascendancy, the cocoa plantations in the West became popular, and even
Malaysia came for Nigeria’s oil palm seeds in the oil palm plantations
in the Easter region. In addition important monuments such as the
Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Cocoa House in Ibadan and the
University Of Nigeria Nsukka were built during this era.
However, these positive trends in the development of Nigeria, was
interrupted by the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities at
Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State and also by the several military
incursions into the governance of Nigeria over the years. Some
scholars have attempted to link the present not to impressive position
of the Nigerian economy and politics to the activities of the military
during their rule. By their very nature, the military has a structured
and centralized command system this some have argued, is incompatible
with a diverse and plural nation like Nigeria. This has led to a
situation where in an attempt to gain legitimacy and compel obedience
amongst the county’s diverse people several decisions which tend to
rubbish national institutions and also desecrate national values and
ethos with its multiplier effects on the economy and politics of
Nigeria. In addition the several military incursions stifled dissent
which also led to the breaking up of the country into many states some
of which were not viable. The concentration of too much power in the
center and in the hands of the president, has also contrived to slow
down the economic and even political progress of Nigeria.
In addition to these, the discovery of crude oil in Nigeria which
coincided with the oil boom era [increase in the world prices of crude
oil] led to the abandonment of the agricultural sector, in pursuit of
easy and free money which consequently turned the whole Nigerian
economy into an import driven economy. During this era, the country
was awash with money so to speak as many projects across the length
and breadth of the country. Although the country was just emerging
from the throes of a civil war some analysts were of the opinion that
Nigeria could have laid the foundation for an enduring development of
the economy then. But this was frittered away as it was during this
period that corruption and nepotism became rampant in Nigeria’s public
service. A period which should have transformed the country
progressively led to an unprecedented decline in the fortunes of the
country due to corruption and mismanagement by her leaders.
In conclusion, for the survival of the Nigerian state, both
economically and politically, particularly in the 21st century, we
need to take a look at how the Nigerian state is organized, as this is
what determines our political and economic development. This can be
done by giving agriculture a place of prominence and also empowering
the states of the federation to be able to use their resources the way
they deem fit.
OBIOMA G NDUKWU AND BABS IWALEWA

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