Monday, May 29

Development in Nigeria – Professor Princewill Alozie

Prof. Pricewill Alozie
Prof. Alozie

In many respects, it is a misnomer to speak of development in Nigeria the way we understand it generally to mean positive improvement in life. Development however, entails motion relative to a notional starting point and can veer towards any direction of a compass. It can be negative or positive as we say in terms of integers in mathematics. It is probably better in discussing the development, to be talking about the deepening of over-exploitation in Nigeria. 

Nigeria, following Claude Ake’s logic, belongs to polities where “there is really no state, liberal or autocratic”. That assertion by Ake makes it pointless to discuss Development Paradigm in the sense Thomas Kuhn used the term in his Structure of Scientific Revolution. A paradigm in the scientific sense has to do with something concrete, and possibly verifiable.

A theory or theories would be involved with implicit ideologies that enable the scientist perceive the world in a particular way. Ake correctly observed that the struggle for political power was akin to warfare; and development was couched in an abstract language with numerous contradictions which the neo-colonial powers and their agents in Africa (as it is in Nigeria) have foisted on the polity. Claude Ake’s Democracy and Development in Africa correctly showed why Africans, including Nigeria, will have to wait for a long time, before socio-economic positive development will come.

What we have to emphasize here, is that multi-national corporations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the various coercive and dubious organisations of the industrially advanced countries collude and determine that Nigeria and Africa should remain as a source of raw materials, cheap labour and land that is expropriated from the peasants and wretched in society. Besides, agriculture that will help feed the nation, as well as forms the basis for agricultural-based industry, received superficial attention.


Development plans for agriculture, as approved by the capitalist rulers and their foreign partners was designed to make the wealthy to become wealthier. In addition, agricultural development projects had the apparently unintended aim of generating social tension between the ruling class and the majority of the population. This tension, resentment on both sides often leads to violent clashes and ruthless displacement of the native inhabitants.

The Nigeria government, over the years, had enacted law that legitimizes the land grab purportedly for the general well-being of the masses, but in reality for redistribution to the ruling class or to the multi-national corporations. Land so acquired, often are not utilized for food production. In some cases, the land is used for the production of export crops that serve as raw materials for colonial powers.

It is important to remember that massive hectares of land were acquired by Nigerian government in different parts of the country under the barner of the River Basin Development Authority (RBDA). Several billions of naira was involved. As of now, only few are truly functional. Food crop production for the nation appears not to be of primary concern to the RBDA’s.

Subsistence peasant agriculture is not faring better either. There is the challenge of accessibility of the farms and food crops to areas there is need for products. The bad roads are not passable. The Food Production and other agricultural products suffer further blow from excessive low prices or payments for their products and labour.

Recent intensified clashes between cattle herdsmen, who are usually armed with guns, and farmers is a serious deterrence to agricultural activities. These clashes are fast taking the form of civil war and anarchy in society. Added to the inability of the Nigerian ruling class to develop agriculture in a modern form that will be beneficial to the majority of citizens, is the inability to develop the industrial sector of the economy. Economic development that excludes industrialization is a farce. Let us have a very brief review of what happened to industrialization.


One of the major indications that industrialization is not on the priority list of Nigerian leaders is the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project. The manpower for that project was developed for Nigeria by the Former Soviet Union that also was establishing the iron and steel industry for Nigeria. Half way along the Ajaokuta iron and steel project, the Nigerian ruling class were informed by their imperialist educators that the Russian iron and steel industry is inferior to the German, Canadian, and other European ones. The project was truncated. The Nigerian manpower for the project migrated to the U.S.A and other countries of the world where they have been warmly welcomed and offered citizenship status. The Germans and other industrially advanced countries that the Nigerian ruling class thought will quickly complete the project, tactfully abandoned it. Nigeria is still a toddler in that industry up till now.

Simple economic reasoning should have made the Nigerian ruling class realize that the development of iron and steel industry in Nigeria will jeopardize the sale of iron and steel products from the industrially developed countries. Railway tracks, engines, coaches, cars, building and construction industries that rely on the supply of Iron and Steel products from outside Nigeria will be happy that the project has been stalled. Similarly, the petro-chemical industry that is a required component of an industrialized nation is not making any progress either.

Development of the economy or the needed diversification of the economy could not take off in Nigeria mainly because the deadly poisonous developmental socio-economic pill, specially concocted for the neo-colonies by predatory capitalism has been swallowed plentifully by the Nigerian State functionaries. The name of the poisonous pill is Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). SAP has many varieties and has different names. The ingredients of SAP include: Fiscal discipline; Reordering Public Expenditure Priorities; Tax Reform, liberalizing Interest rates, Trade Liberalization, Liberalization of Inward Foreign Direct Investment; privatization, Deregulations and Property Rights.

These prescriptions by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, are used to ensure that Nigerian citizens generally, as well as other under – developed peoples of the world live like slaves. These conditions explain why the U.S. Dollar that was exchanging for sixty kobo at a time, is rushing to exchange for about six hundred naira or above for a U.S. Dollar.

You can figure the type of culture that will feature among human beings as we have in Nigeria that have been dehumanized, brutalized, and kept under slave-like condition.


Culture as we generally know it, is the total way a people organize, do things and sustain their livelihood. It embodies the science, arts, music, technology, politics and socio-economic activities of the people. But Marx and Engels had correctly stated in The Communist Manifesto that the capitalist “compels all nations, on point of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production, it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst i.e. …it creates a world after its own image (Marx & Engels). Frantz Fanon reinforced this Marxian position by stating that colonialism dominates the present and future of the colonized. In addition, Colonialism distorts the history and culture of the colonized, and crushes it. Colonialism’s treatment of Africa is continental. The map of Africa, after the Berlin conference of 1884-85 is just one view of Africa. The imperialist powers, despite the contradictions among themselves, collectively decide how to deal with African peoples. They are in agreement on what Ghana, Mali, Guinea, Nigeria, Egypt and Libya should be.

The people of Nigeria and Africa have to be alive and free, before the issue of culture can meaningfully be on the front burner. Culture is not just dressing, dancing, and art forms, although all these are included. Culture is not just customs or traditions of our ancestors. There are numerous things that could be relevant today. The traditions and customs of our ancestors are very useful historical artifacts. These are not all necessarily, living culture.

The realization of this point is probably why Paulo Freire developed the concept of cultural synthesis. Cultural synthesis will raise the consciousness of the people to enable them radically and positively transform reality.

Language is definitely a part of culture. The Nigerian and African Languages are worthless under the present situation where the owners of the languages are gradually being annihilated. A modern and useful language must necessarily include thematics in modern mathematics, physics, chemistry, nuclear technology, space technology, modern medicine, etc. North Korea, Japan, Cuba, Iran, China and similar countries have made their culture relevant in the world today. Our languages must be able to explain the reasons for being object of history and not subjects of history for almost six hundred years. If the Nigerian music, poetry, literature, as well as the political science, law, economics cannot show the compass for escaping from mass suicide, then such disciplines become unnecessary luxuries for now. The educational system need to be overhauled, in order to usher in a cultural system that will bring about socio-economic, technological and defence – oriented progress. 


Knowledge is a cultural phenomenon. The Educational system is a faster and surer route of acquiring knowledge, and transmitting or transferring relatively objective knowledge. The Educational system is composed of the formal and informal types. The Informal Education is acquired outside the confine of educational institutions. The Media, Music and Film industries, Religious input in social discourse, works of arts, games, Apprenticeship of a trade, folklores and Traditional non-formal education in homes constitute what we loosely refer to as Informal Education.

Formal Education is mainly domiciled within an institution; or controlled by an institution, or state agent. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty captured the import of formal education lucidly thus: A general state education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.

What is manifest there, is that education that will produce the knowledge, that will impact on technology, environment and socio-economic well-being is controlled by the ruling class in the state. To have a kind of education that has a transformatory tendency, there should be put in place, a conducive learning and teaching environment. A cultural synthesis that will reduce or harmonise the economic and socio-political contradictions in favour of the majority of the citizenry will be required. An anti-people, totalitarian political regime will hardly make the knowledge industry attractive. Intellectuals and highly skilled persons migrate to politically and economically conducive environments. In this case, these experts and intellectuals will off-load their bagagges of acquired knowledge to the new country. On the contrary, socio-economically backward countries like Nigeria will be experiencing what is known as “brain-drain”. These results in technologically advanced countries receiving additional experts to the detriment of the countries that are weak in science and technology base.

The situation in Nigeria and Africa in general require that efforts are made to retain the producers of new knowledge. The philosophy of education found in Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the oppressed could be adopted with great benefits. Education is seen as the practice for freedom and of awakening critical consciousness. This is known as Dialogics, which is counterposed by Anti-dialogics which stands for Oppression, Tyranny and Manipulation of citizenry for the interest of the few members of the ruling class.

Quite often, people in the benighted part of the world like Nigeria speak of knowledge transfer. It is also known that knowledge properly perceived and used, translates to power. It will be an exercise of basking in self-deceit if we imagine that another country will transfer powerful knowledge to another country. You do not handover an atomic weapon to a rival, or to some persons you had oppressed or exploited in the past.

Knowledge has to do with perceiving and interpreting the world and reality. Knowledge is enveloped with, and deconstructed by Philosophy. When many people talk of knowledge transfer, these people perceive knowledge as a finished product, which can be transferred to a user. Knowledge for them is not a process. The idea behind this view of knowledge is what is termed the Banking Concept of Education. The Banking Concept of Education assumes that the academic authority in a discipline, the Professor, the Nobel Prize Laurriet, the standard textbook, etc, contain the unquestionable, final truth about knowledge. You only have to master the dogmas and reproduce them to show that you are adept in the particular field.

Professor Eskor Toyo in a paper titled: Technology and the Future of Civilization in Africa – warned against the catch-up Syndrome. What is it really that people are catching up with? Self-interest, individualism, greed, capitalism, ruthlessness and penchant for autocracy. Toyo advises that “Africa should contribute to the future of mankind by making a pathway changing revolution in the directions of good sense, dignified liberty, independence, un-greediness, and a profound humanism. This does not exclude scientific and technological sophistication, but on the contrary calls for the most intensive and extensive scientific and technological education and originality”. Nigerians have to acquire knowledge by themselves consciously, and not wait for any transfer of knowledge from elsewhere. 

Prof. Princewill Alozie is  the Head, Department of Philosophy, Lagos State University. His main  areas of specialization and interests are: Philosophy of Science,  Political philosophy, Philosophy of Economics and the Social Sciences,  Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Law and Philosophy of  Education.

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