Nigeria, the largest and most populous black nation in the world, had her independence in 1960. She became a nation-state in 1914 by fiat of the British colonial masters by way of amalgamation of disparate geographical entities viz: The Northern Protectorate, The Southern Protectorate and the Lagos colony.
She is a country of well over 260 ethnic nations, existing as one indivisible entity for more than 60 years and counting. At independence in October 1st 1960, she automatically became the jewel and pride of Africa as a result of her teeming human and mineral resources.
A promising nation that established the First Television station in Africa. She had the trappings of greatness and in no time acquired the name – THE GIANT OF AFRICA.
60 years down the line, the giant of Africa became the “sleeping giant”, an embarrassment and a laughing stock amongst the committee of nations.
In 2019, this richly blessed and endowed nation became the POVERTY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD with over 102million Nigerians living in abject poverty. An un-imaginable contraption knowing that Nigeria is the 7th largest producer of crude oil in the world, she definitely has no business with poverty. Added to that is the tag of “ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD”. This is unacceptable and a national disgrace.
This paper, seeks to bring to the fore the underpinning factor behind the sorry state of this greatly endowed but pauperized state called NIGERIA, –and that key factor is NEO-LIBERALISM. I will be presenting this argument in a 3-part series. This will be the first series as others will come up in the subsequent publications hereafter.
The neo-liberalism was introduced in 4 ways as outlined here:

(A) Historically, the Nigerian state adopted two main development strategies vis:
1) The public sector led, state regulated, import substitution and Industrialization strategy of 1946
2) The private sector led, market forces driven, export oriented development strategy of 1986

The first strategy was introduced by the Colonial powers who supported the domination of 6 European firms, who grouped themselves into an Oligopolistic organization – known as the ASSOCIATION OF WEST AFRICAN MERCHANTS. They are:
1) United Africa Company – UAC
2) John Holt
3) Peterson Zerchonics –PZ and Co.
Note: all the above are British
4) Compagnie Francaise del’Afrique Occidental –CFAO
5) Societe Commerciale del’Oust Africaine – SCOA
6) Union Training Company –UTC
Note: all are french.

These firms controlled 70% of Nigerias imports and exports. In the financial sector,two firms monopolize the financial market,they are:
1) The British Bank of West Africa (BBWA) – 1ST Bank
2) Barclays Bank – Union Bank
(B) THE MARKETING BOARDS -The British administration in Nigeria established a marketing Board and used the Board to extract surplus from Nigerian farmers. With this surplus, the administration launched “LOAN and GRANTS scheme for growing the private sector.
This singular act has continued till today as monies are taken from the public sector to the private sector.
This policy was to increase the participation of Nigeria’s business men in the national economy and to increase capital accumulation by the Nigeria Entrepreneurs and the retention of that capital within the domestic economy.
NOTE: The primary aim of this policy was to create an indigenous capitalist class in Nigeria,
(D)THE INTRODUCTION OF SAP in 1987 by the government of IBB, helped to deepen the reliance on the private sector and market forces – while drawing funds from the public sector, bearing in mind that the SAP policy was a recommendation of the World Bank.
In order to cushion the social cost of the SAP, IBB regime and subsequent government had to introduce many state funded programs called pro-poor programs. Such programs are consistent with the recommendations of the World Bank that SAP should be accompanied by PAMSCAD – Programs of Action for the Mitigation of the Social \Cost of Adjustment. E.g
1) DFRRI – Directorate of Food and Rural Road Infrastructure.
2) Better Life Programme for Rural Women
3) Family support Programme
4) FEAP – Family Economic Advancement Programme .
5) SOW – School on Wheel Programme
NOTE: Despite billions of public funds spent on the pro-poor programmes, the level of poverty continues to rise. In 1980, according to world Bank figures, the level of poverty in Nigeria was 28.1%. By 1985, on the eve of the introduction of SAP in 1986, the poverty level has risen to 46.3%. By 1992, six years of SAP, the Poverty level reduced to 42.7%.
By 1996, it rose again to 96.1%. By the time Obasanjo came to power in 1999, poverty level stood at 70%. And today in 2021, Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world.
With regards to SAP, It was never actually Implemented as huge spending’s continued: – Private investment was raised from public funds with hope that the private led sector will develop the economy. Unfortunately, the private enterprise appropriates the funds and Invested abroad by buying properties and opening Swiss accounts.
NOTE: The world Bank foreknew that SAP will fail, knowing that the private sector will miss appropriate allocated funds to be starched abroad in their favor.

Moving further, the OBJ presidency deepened the neo-liberalism in Nigeria. OBJ on coming to power in 1999, introduced a set of new pro-poor programs, namely:
1) PAP –Poverty Alleviation Program
2) NAPEP – National Poverty Eradication Program
3) Special Program for Food Supply (SPFS)
4) Poverty Reduction Strategy Program (PRSP)
Note: These program was recommended by the World Bank and FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization)
In 2003, with the purpose of consolidating his performance in his first term, President Obasanjo introduced a medium development strategy expected to last from 2003-2007. This program was known as NEEDS – National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy. This was expected to be complimented at the State level by SEEDS, and at the local level by LEEDS.
The NEEDS document was based on 4 strategies, but this article will focus on the TWO most impacting and important to this discourse: –
1) To restructure public institutions, right size them to be more efficient and transparent and to reduce public expenditure.
2) Growing the private sector – The document asserts that the age of leaving the commanding heights of the economy in the hands of Government is gone. That there is a need to introduce a market forces driven, private sector led economic development strategy. This strategy introduced the following:
-DEREGULATION –removing the subsidy on petrol.
In summary, the NEEDS strategy was anchored on MARKET FORCES DRIVEN and PRIVATE SECTOR LED DEVELOPMENT.

In conclusion, to this introductory paper, The NEEDS strategy was a colossal failure simply for not recognizing the following fundamentals-:
a) The private sector is dominated and controlled by the MNC’s (Multi-National Corporations).
B) The private sector heavily depends on the Public sector.
C) The core tenets of development is not Economical but Political.
D) Development should start from the communities and move upwards and not from top to bottom.
…..continues on the next edition


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