3 Fundamental Problems Africa Must Address to Foster Economic Growth and Development

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By  Stephen Lazi Akhere Ph.D

Over a century, African Nations have strife so hard to maintain her position in global economy. But the reverse has not been favourable due to various socio-political vices imbedded in policy direction and poor leadership style. In a pre-colonial era and pre-slave commercialization, Africans had a stable economic system and centralized unit of control or power with which they led their own people. This was mostly achieved through monarch and other form of centralised unit of administration, this operational government system cut across the continent of Africa as it were.

The continent was graciously blessed by natural endowment. Starting from gold, copper, lead, crude oil, natural gas shade, timber, agricultural produce (arable and aquatic farming), and abundance of sun shine and rain. Her land was very fertile, yield without artificial earthy or botanical energizer like fertilizers or genetically motivated crops that is via through evolution science. All things were naturally beautiful in their own God given way.

Africa had a very stable and unique culture, which depit brotherhood or neighbourliness. A unitary and a communion system of living was the cord that bind citizenry together in all ramification until the advent of slave trade by the Western world in 18th century, which consequently breaded colonialism and neo-colonialism in the 19th century. In a pre-colonial era, Africans economy was agro base until late 19th century when other mineral resources were gradually being discovered in the continent, prominent of these are Lime stones, crude oil, Iron Ore, gold, bitumen, copper, lead, etc. the ironing of it all, is that, at the return of self-governance of each State, most independent nation within the continent refused to internalise her economic growth and development. Rather, tailor or patterned their growth towards their colonial masters’ ideology which ordinarily negated the value system of the African people thereby hampering sectorial development.

This situation enlarge the theory and principles of cultural imperialism within African States, thereby largely influences and patterned the structure of her socio-political and economic ideals towards their colonial masters depending on whose divide the country belong to among the Western Bloc (colonial masters). Nigeria, one of the colonies of British had her own share of cultural vandalism and imperialist mentality which has continued to be a stumbling block to her socioeconomic and political development till date.

There is no doubt, that Nigeria was once the giant of Africa continent, her big brother role in liberalization of some African countries from colonial slavery, military subjugation, assistance in on conflict resolution, mopping up of multifarious arms in circulation, control/ dismantling of militant prone region in the content, financial human resource assistance, among others, earned her the ‘Big Brother’ accolade of the continent. The discovery of large deposit of crude oil and gas and other solid mineral resources in the late 1950s, gave the country the economic leverage to stand out among her counterpart in the committees of States. But, with all these charitable benevolent accredited to her, she has become a toddler in the African economic scheme of events. Which has been adduce to poor structural policy style, inconsistency in leadership proficiency, long rule of military governance, elitist corruption, lack of focused leadership direction etc. has humbled the once known giant of Africa to mere economic toddler.

There are three prominent problems confronting the growth and development of the country, which we had ignore over decades, yet, our major setbacks as long as they remain unattended to. These are:

  • Structural Problem;
  • Generational Problem; and
  • Regional sentiment

Africa continent is great and God has given each of its nations seeds of greatness and except there is paradigm shift in her generational methodology, she will continue to remain the very way she is. We must stop being sentimental and begin to think and do things in a new way in our leadership portfolio if we must become greater and be recognized in community of nations globally.

As a growing child in the 70s things were better and life was pleasant, but busiest energetic economy then was that of Nigeria. We were focused, proud and have our pride in the country because our hope and fate was not dampened, our futures were full with aspiration to uphold the tenant value system that was handed over to us by our parents, teachers and our religious leader who constantly drum the ethics of responsiveness, honesty and hard work in our ears at all time. This kept us check and going. But unconsciously, there was a satanic paradigm shift from credibility consciousness to wealth consciousness leading to a gradual depletion of our values and culture which was built fear of God, morals, respect to one another, discipline, hard work, brotherliness, etc.

  1. Structural Problem:

The deliberate of introduction of Federal Character structure and Catchment Policy introduced to our education policy killed and brought socioeconomic gaps in our polity as the region begins to segregate in the oneness that once existed amongst Nigerians.

The decades of military rules in the country helped to also polarize the polity. Integrity was thrown off board, mediocracy, tribal sentiment took center stage, military elastic corruption became the order of the day creating a hug platform for regional and religious sentiment, wrong pegs  where found in the right holes paving way for nor performance and inefficiency, just to mention but few of these challenges.

During pre-independence of Nigeria, we had what looked like a perfect country because our Heroes had one and common agenda with the Colonial, to be liberated. And there were neither boundaries nor ideological or regional sentiment. Rather, there was one common enemy one battle and one ‘Nation” to die for. No sooner, independent was attained in October 1st of 1960  there was an urgent quest to pattern and structure the New Bride ‘Nigeria’ in a way that will benefit all Nigerians irrespective of religion, tribal sentiment, beliefs and boundaries. We were one indivisible entity.

Shortly afterwards came the ugly civil war of 1967 which created ethnic and regional barriers and political shift that triggered new class struggle among the military and public servant elite class, regional and segregation struggle emerged that created a gradual collapse of the common ideas of one nation that was handed over to a new dispensation by our forefathers.

The civil war brought about a new paradigm shift in tribal sentiment, catchment differences, quarter system regionalism in the federal and state public service, splitting Nigerians into three major ethnic groups, religions differences etc. while another section of Nigerian known as Minority Groups come together to fight as bloc of the under-dogs in the country polity

The above sentiment, led to a gradual systemic and structural decline of the country’s Unitary force that once bind the country together which further enthroned scientific disintegration and the opening up of primitive acquisition of wealth, multifarious arms possession, poor political class, regimental policy framework, poor administrative efficiency of appointees, and the heighten of power struggle amongst the ruling class took the center stage of our socioeconomic and political platform to the detriment of national peace.

The pre-colonial structural heritage was thrown to the wind. Traditional respect and values became a taboo while greed for power, wealth and position took the norms and values of most Nigerians. Regional sentiment grew out of proportion given a wider margin of structural or systemic failure of post-independence ideas gradually became elusive.

Here we are today, unable to define what system of government we truly practice. Some regional glamour for regional government, some true federalism, some presidential system of government; what a confused state of nation we are. Any nation with the aforementioned will definitely collapse. The current economic recession in Nigeria is a pointer to this undisputed fact.

Our selfish drive for power, led to the killing of our foremost nationalists who were not given enough time to instill and mentor younger generational for leadership was one of the country’s greatest undoing. Here we are almost 60 years post independents we are still complaining whether to remain in light or darkness. While nations with almost same years of independence from same colonial master have gone far ahead in development, we’re still picking the pieces of structural failures pillared by lack of leadership style.

Nigeria structure is based on Neofanatism, tribal, religious, regional sentiment. Nigeria is one country that have perfect hatred for those who are intelligent, love for mediocracy, and those who are very lazy who possesses greater skills for manipulate them at will.

Nigeria is a country where most of their socio-political parties are bereaved of nationalistic ideas, rather the parties are garnish with administrative wickedness, illogical manifesto, and unrealistic ideas that has further lunch the nation retrogressively into a neolistic era of the current ongoing economic recession witnessed in Nigeria. Although, the current recession should been seen as a teacher of experience, this means that, Nigeria should domesticalise her development purposefully with the intention to avoid her past mistakes in her derive for development. Thus, our structure needs serious visitation or else, we are likely to be confronted with depression.

  1. Generational Problem:

Nigeria is one country that kills or distorts the growth of the younger generation deliberately. Leaders, either die in power or bequeath power to their next of kin with the intension to strategically position them for future  leadership position whether qualify, fit or not. As long as his/her is from their lineage he/she fits.

Take a look at the class of those ruling or had led this country, Late General Murtala Mohammed, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu kano, Anthony Enarhoro, etc they were known as nationalists. But, this can’t be said of our present leaders. Now the absolutism am talking about is found in obsolete ideology promoted by older generations who have lost touch with modernity, science and technology. A threefold element that drives the global development is: technology, socioeconomic policy and human capacity development of countries of the world which Nigeria is aspiring to become.

Every developed economy entrenches younger generation to the scheme of events with a view to mentor them into good leaders when they finally passes on. But this can’t be said of Nigeria leaders. If by chance younger generation gets close to power, they are pushed or frustrated out with various forms of treats. When a generation out leaves its usefulness it can’t generate new ideas that will move a new generation forward. Surely older generation should give way to a new dispensation, while the old order stays as advisers or mentors. Fundamental theory of nation building recognizes change. It is only the principles of positive change that can trigger meaningful development. As long as the Nigeria Nation continue to recycles her older generation, thing will only remain the same old ways of doing thing and can’t be better. The theory of absolutism is a quest for radical change that will effectively energize industrial development. Serious thought should be accorded to this concept. Hence, the country will continue to move in a circle of non-achievement.

  1. Regional Sentiment

Any nation that want to grow and develop must approach it daily activities with the best of hands not trading on sentiment of any such. The argument in some quarters in the country is that, Nigeria is multicultural ethnic groups with diverse cultural heritage. It’s a statement of fact. But, no country I n the world has one culture or value system. What they have in common is one linguist or a common language, yet they are fact developed. What makes them tick? Is self determination to get the best in all spheres of their endeavors? Until we realign our divided boundaries of hate, religious bigotry, tribal sentiment, nepotism, etc. we might remain static in the Common Wealth of Nations. The currently crisis perpetuated by different militias groups in the country is a trickle impact of long neglects of one minority social groups or the other within a particular region.

Sentiment is a social killer, it hinders growth and efficiency and unproductiveness within the system where its encouraged to function or where it’s dominant. Nigeria has no business being in the current position she finds herself.  A country that is much endowed with high potentials of natural and human resources, none has seen in other developed and developing economies of the world. Our inability to effectively manage these resources has led us to where we are. Nigerians level of intellectualism in every facet of discipline across the globe is amazing. Yet, we are where we are today. The gains of creditability outweigh the dividend of mediocracy. Sentiment encourages laziness and enthrones woeful failure and retrogression.

Knowledge of tremendous increase globally, and actuation should be enforced in Nigeria, skill and scheme developed for others, the slogan, ‘this is my brother, friend, religious affiliate’, etc. should be done with; while meritocracy take front stage in polity of our country. Only at such instances we could be bold enough to collectively confront our lapses, fears, worries and enemies and being leap-frog further in growth and development.  Once these steps are taken, structural development will begin to set in.

Nigerians should appreciate the current ongoing recession. It means the country is great and she has the power and potentials to bounce back to economic acreage. What this mean is that, we must domesticalize our industrialization process and markets strategies, motive the labour force to be  result oriented, harness our natural human resources, bravely and boldness to execute profitable policy direction and structurally reposition the public sector towards functionality driven sector and economy diversification will give the country a new socioeconomic independence to develop.