Breaking Nigeria’s underdevelopment jinx

Nigeria has untold potential.
It may be easy to dismiss this statement as familiar rhetoric, but fundamentally as a nation, we have the opportunity to transform elevated growth rate into sustainable economic development.

And going by our huge population and market size, the full economic development potential of Nigeria is yet to be unlocked.

What remains critical is breaking underdevelopment jinx that informed the deficiencies of our yesterday and indeed today.

And as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr puts it in his timeless statement: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.

We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing of time.

Life often leaves us standing bare naked and dejected with a lost opportunity.”

These words sought to resonate with us on issues concerning Nigeria and the reality of underdevelopment.

Underdevelopment is a direct opposite of development. It connotes backwardness and absence of concrete development.

There might be presence of resource but what it takes to harness and harmonised the resources is lacking.
Gunder Frank pointed out that underdevelopment results in the complex interplay of internal and external factors that allow only a lop-sided development progression.

While the symptoms of underdevelopment include lack of access to job opportunities, healthcare, education, drinkable water, food, housing, infrastructure and lack of industries etc.
Many factors have been offered to explain the apparent underdevelopment challenges in Nigeria: the colonial legacy, social pluralism and its centrifugal tendencies, the corruption of leaders, poor labour discipline, the lack of entrepreneurial skills, poor planning and incompetent management, inappropriate policies, the stifling of the market mechanism, low level of technical assistance, the limited inflow of foreign capital, falling commodity prices and unfavourable terms of trade, low level of savings and investment.
These factors are not irrelevant to the problem, alone or in combination they could be serious impediment to our developmental drive.

However, our interest today is via the implementation of core structural reform, particularly reforms that involves coordinated intervention in the real sector as well as the nation’s industrialisation project.
We must focus on the areas of the economy that have elongated and deep impact value chain.
Some of these include social infrastructure such as power, health, education human capital and industrialisation.
The fact that we are yet to adequately address these areas is the very opportunity that we need to squarely target and work towards.

It is also more realistic to tackle the myriad of challenges that have held these sectors backwards for decades.
If we keep our eyes focussed on the lessons from our counterparts in other emerging market economies, the possibilities of a better future await us.

Olamilekan is a political economist and development researcher and editor, Innovation Nigeria News Magazine.

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