Nigeria: development or underdevelopment? consists of selected seminal papers written and/or presented in various fora in the 1980s and 1990s. The book broadly examines significant development issues in Nigeria. Since independence in I960, Nigerian leaders and policy-makers have attempted to conceptualize, formulate and implement economic -policies that will positively transform the economy so as to improve the standard of living of the citizens. The intention was to grow the economy by increasing the gross domestic product (GDP) by 7 percent over a ten-year period. The economy has experienced several booms — agricultural, oil and ﬁnancial — yet none of the booms was ever linked to the real sector. Even when the economy registered a GDP growth rate of about 7% in the 1970s, there was no economic development evidenced by high rates of unemployment, lack of basic needs, and decayed infrastructure, among others. There was growth but no development. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, there was some evidence of an emerging middle class. Schools were qualitative, the crime rate was reducing and tension in the polity was minimal.
However, from 1984 the economy entered a recessionary phase; several austerity measures put in place to ensure recovery did not work. In I986, the leaders and policy-makers implemented a full-blown Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) type Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) with the aim of stimulating growth and development with minimal inﬂation. The available evidence showed that the economy rather than recover entered a depressionary phase. All efforts to revamp the economy in a macro sense failed to yield the desired results. Hence. the economy rather than develop seems to be underdeveloping. Significant economic indices such as the rate of inﬂation, rate of unemployment, real interest rate, deﬁcit/GDP ratio, GDP/current account balance. growth of GDP per capita etc. were moving in the wrong direction. The military governments in theory were running a federal state but in practice the system was unitary. There were human rights abuses; democratic principles were violated; corruption became the order of the day. Social indices such as life expectancy, student/teacher ratio, provision of basic needs etc., were all below the global average.
It became pertinent to ask: Is Nigeria developing or underdeveloping particularly as 72 percent of the population lived under poverty in 2000. Therefore, the issues in the book remain topical as Nigeria struggles to conquer backwardness, poverty and underdevelopment. Chapter 1 and 2 raise the challenges in managing Nigerian universities — papers written long before the author even knew he will one day become a Vice-Chancellor. Chapter 4 analyses the relationship between economic reforms and the national question while chapter 10 addresses the importance of the national income and Nigeria’s working people. This paper was presented to trade unions in the early 1980s. Series of papers examined Nigeria’s match to democracy. What will the economy look like during the “Third Republic” is presented in Chapter l7 while in Chapter 18 the challenges of democracy in the “Third Republic and Beyond” are discussed. It is significant that the nature of the debate in Nigeria’s recent democratic experiment were raised years ago in both chapters l7 and 19. The role of soldiers in the society is articulated in Chapter 21. The author continues to ponder why the paper in Chapter 21 attracted the attention of security agents during the period of the middle 1980s and beyond.
The book: Nigeria; Development or underdevelopment? (Selected Seminal Papers) has addressed significant policy issues affecting all facets of the Nigerian economy. It has presented radical perspectives to development matters on the Nigerian economy. The analysis is robust and rigorous. The book should appeal to all those interested in Nigeria’s economic development. For policy-makers, students, politicians and academics, the book should be seen as compulsory reading.Akpan H. Ekpo