The Nigerian Economic Development: A Case Against Liberal Democracy I; By Alpha J. Marshall

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“Development is not economic growth.
“Development is not a project, but, a process – a process by which the people create and re-creates themselves by their life circumstances to achieve higher values of prosperity, according to their choice of values.
“Development is a process in which the people are the end, the means and the agents.
“It is the people that should conceive the idea of development. There has never been an attempt to ask the people what they really want. Development should start from the grass root.
“The dominant explanatory variable for the differences in the rate of economic growth and development in all human societies – all boils down to the nature of their state and the nature of their politics.” – Adrian Leftwich

THERE is no correlation between a democracy and development, defined as economic growth. This is so because, some nations have developed under a liberal democratic conditions. For example, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil and South Korea. (these are countries at the same league with Nigeria in the early 60s and 70s). More also, some other countries have achieved high rate of economic growth under dictatorship. For Example: China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE.

“Virtually, every government policy in Nigeria is subject to political innuendos, making of compromises and negotiations to suit ethnic sentiments.”

According to a foremost and seasoned development scholar – Adrian Leftwitch, who postulated that: The practice of liberal democracies tends to be conservative in nature, while the process of economic growth and development tends to be radical and revolutionary. Meaning that Liberal democracies has the potentials of stalling the process of economic growth.

The United States of America had been existing for over 200 years since 1776.She only became a world power after the second world war in 1945.

The way in which politics is played by states (be it domestic or international) determines the rate of economic growth. Most governments tend to politicize economic policies and economic blue prints. Once politics gets involved, then negotiations, consensus building and compromise comes into play, thus resulting to slow growth and development. One can then come to a conclusion of a fact, that, there “exists the “primacy of politics” in development and economic growth.

A good case in point was the Balewa administration, during the First Republic.

Nigeria in a quest to establish critical infrastructures, set up a pool of professionals, who recommended the immediate establishment of a single steel plant in the present Kogi state due to the much abundance of bauxite and iron ore. The Balewa government accepted the proposal but also directed that similar plant be built also in the Northern region. The Ajaokuta steel plant today, is a white elephant project, bugged down by government policy somersault.

Virtually, every government policy in Nigeria is subject to political innuendos, making of compromises and negotiations to suit ethnic sentiments.

Adrian Leftwich classified every state into two (2) viz: The planned ideological states – who believes in full control of the economy by the state, e.g. China, Cuba, Venezuela; and the regulatory states – these are states that make laws and policies that give direction to the private sector for the purpose of economic development.

Furthermore, Leftwich, classified states into: the developmental states – states that are able to manage the private sector of the economy and the market, towards the achievement of economic growth of 4% of the GDP per annum; and the non-developmental states – these are states in which the economy is incompetently managed, leading to low economic growth.

“In the second part of this piece, I will attempt to describe and to dissect the appropriate type of democracy that is suitable for Nigeria’s development. Such a variant democracy will prescribe a sound model of development, that engenders real development and economic growth.”

Liberal democracy as a variant of democratic process, poses a danger to rapid economic growth, because, the process of liberal democracy is a process of consensus-building, making of compromises and negotiations. This process cannot tolerate the transformation of the economy in a fundamental manner, bearing in mind that the process of development and rapid economic growth is – radical, revolutionary and transformative.

Nigeria, as she stands presently, will require a radical, revolutionary and transformative process of development and not a liberal democracy.

For over 60 years and counting, our nation Nigeria is presently the poverty capital of the world, relinquished to her by India, who, invariably had moved a majority of her population out of poverty index. Majority of Nations that were at par with Nigeria in the 70s and 80s (Brazil, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the UAE – Dubai etc.) had all attained a relative economic growth and massive Development. Quo Vadis Nigeria?

The way forward:

In the second part of this piece, I will attempt to describe and to dissect the appropriate type of democracy that is suitable for Nigeria’s development. Such a variant democracy will prescribe a sound model of development, that engenders real development and economic growth.

A Proposed Developmental Model:

A formation of a pool of developmental elites – made up of a group of patriots drawn from a facades of the society, who are non-corrupt and genuinely committed to economic development.

A collection of powerful, professionally competent economic bureaucrats with capacity to manage the private sector of the market. The then President Obasanjo did what was expected – his appointments of Chukwuma Soludo as CBN Governor, Ngozi Okonj-Iwueala, Oby Ezekwesili, Nasir el-rufai – made Nigeria the largest economy in Africa).

A relative autonomy of the state, to detach itself from the class struggle. The state has always enmeshment itself in the class struggle by taking sides with the haves against the have-nots. The abodes of the haves are adequately planned and maintained (Maitama, Asokoro, Ikoyi, Lekki, Banana Island) while the abodes of the have-nots (Kubwa, Karu, Mararaba, Ajegunle, Mushin) are deliberately ignored.

Restructuring the economy to emphasize manufacturing rather than production of primary commodities. To develop a forward linkage economy – (production of foreign goods locally) instead of backward linkage economy (not relying on the domestic resources for production). Producing for internal demand, rather than external demand.

Any state that has achieved rapid economic growth has embraced the above model.

To be concluded.

Marshall writes from Abuja and can be contacted via sms only on 08032641104 or email @: [email protected]

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