By Ehiedu E.G. Iweriebor
In over 50 years of independence, Nigeria has not been able to break-away from the neo-colonial or exocentric strategy of development sold to it by the departing British colonial government and elaborated and sanctified by the Word Bank in its strategy document for the maintenance of Nigeria as a permanent neo-colony, The Economic Reconstruction of Nigeria (1955). The recurrent economic down-turn stemming from fall in the price of commodities, and non-productive economy, is a well-established recurrent affliction of neocolonial economies like Nigeria’s. This simply confirms the success of Nigeria’s entrapment and incapacitation by the received straight jacket dogmas of underdevelopment, which all Nigerian governments since independence have upheld and applied to economic matters in varying forms and guises.
I conceptualize its basic principles as the Disabling Dogmas of Nigerian Development and outline its basic expressions that are based on some of the following implicit and explicit assumptions, claims and assertions that:
1. Nigeria cannot develop itself by its own vision, strategy, resources and capacity.
2. Nigeria cannot conceive endogenous visions and strategies of autonomous development
3. Nigeria needs “international” (Western) financial institutions especially the multilateral imperialist agencies – World Bank and IMF – to conceive its vision and design its development strategy and its financial management system
4. Nigeria should base its societal development vision and objectives on externally fabricated visions such as Vision 20:2020 and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)/Sustainable development Goals (SDGs)
5. Nigeria requires and must depend on Foreign Direct Investments and investors to “develop”
6. Nigeria needs development “partners”
7. Nigeria needs international (Western) “donors”
8. Nigeria needs Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) derived economic dogmas – the so-called “Liberal or Washington Consensus” – to “reform”; not develop its economy
9. Nigeria should rely for its development exclusively on the largely commercial, non-productive and non-developmentally orientated private sector and the nebulous “market forces”
10. Nigeria does not need an endogenous technological capacity for its self-propelled development
11. The Nigerian state should not invest in and promote the development of the endogenous catalytic foundation technology industries (Heavy Industries)
12. Nigeria should depend eternally on the myth and disempowering dogma of “technology transfer”
13. Nigeria should permanently live on imported technology products
14. Nigeria does not need mass industrialization for mass production
15. Nigeria should rely on agriculture and mining for its development and should remain permanently a producer and exporter of non-value added agricultural and mineral raw materials
16. Nigeria should grow economically by the non-developmental strategy of Buying Development Projects
17. Nigeria should not develop by the globally proven strategy of self-equipment for Doing Development
18. The Nigerian public sector should be disempowered and demonized by its libelious labelling as “corrupt”, incapable, incompetent and untrustworthy.
This is a summary of the disabling dogmas proposed by foreign agencies, governments and assorted development “experts” on the eve of independence and since then, and that have ruled Nigeria and Africa for over 50 years now. Their adoption and application by Nigerian and African political and business leaders, bureaucrats, technocrats and intelligentsia have produced predictable results as follows:
a. A Nigeria which at over 50 years does not have its own self-designed endogenous vision and strategy of self-actuated development
b. A Nigeria which at over 50 years still operates as in colonial times as a producer and exporter of mineral and agricultural raw materials
c. A Nigeria that is practically import-dependent for all its consumer, intermediate and capital goods
d. A Nigeria that is not engaged in value-added mass industrial production
e. A Nigeria that does not have the endogenous technological capacity for its self-reproduction
f. A Nigeria that has compromised its sovereignty and is now virtually a colonial subject of multilateral imperialist financial agencies which dictate its primary societal economic and social policies, programmes and projects
g. A Nigerian state that is disabled and permanently hobbled by external dogmas of disablement and that is incapable of autonomous self-direction
h. A Nigerian state that disempowers and handicaps its own highly trained public service, institutions and professionals with the cession of policy conception, plans and programme development to preferably foreign “consultants and experts” as dictated by its new colonial masters
i. A Nigerian state whose activities in virtually all spheres are run largely by externally promoted new doctrine and system of “consultantocracy”
j. A Nigerian state that is incapable of autonomous self-assessment and relies on its various “international” masters for assessment and approval.
All these dogmas and disempowering consequences embody the essence of the non-developmental approach which I conceptualize and describe as the exocentric strategy of development. This is the strategy by which a dominated society cedes responsibility for its own development to purportedly superior external forces that are projected as omniscient, benign and interested in the dominated society’s “development” under the disempowering dogma of the fetish of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In this framework, development is not the outcome of national self-effort but a condition procured by the choices and actions of external actors. (This is a summary of my perspective on Exocentricity and the Impossibility of Development).
It should be stressed that the success of the exocentric strategy is partly the result of the ideological underdevelopment of Nigeria’s successor leadership; the omniscient pose of the colonial masters and their successors, the multilateral imperialist financial agencies; their largely successful programming of the dominated Nigerian elite into subservience and surrender; and the convergence of the business and financial interests of the Nigerian leaders and comprador groups and the powerful external economic actors – foreign business enterprises and their national and multilateral promoters and supporters.
Liberated Development or Strategy of Endocentricty and the Inevitability of Development
However, the exocentric strategy represents only one approach to societal development. It has been practiced for over half a century in Nigeria and Africa and has shown itself as an organically defective dogma and failed practical strategy that is inherently incapable of promoting societal empowerment and self-development.
It should be emphatically stated that in spite of the efforts of the multilateral financial agencies to promote and impose the implicit singularity of the exocentric strategy as the only “legitimate” and externally approved development strategy; that other paradigms and strategies of successful societal self-propulsion and transformation exist in the global development experience. I conceptualize and describe this approach as the doctrine and practice of Liberated Development or strategy of endocentricty and the inevitability of development. The primary distinctiveness of the doctrine and strategy of liberated development is that it locates the ideological vision, psychological will, and technological capacity for societal development in the society itself. Thus the desire, expectations, choices, directions and motive-forces of development derive primarily from and are directed from within the society itself. Thus the essence of liberated development and the endocentric strategy is a society’s conscious and deliberate self-equipment with the ideological resources and technological capacity for self-actuated development.
The application and outcome of the Liberated development paradigm are exemplified by the experiences and success stories of such diverse countries as Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Egypt, Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey and others. They all conceived their development visions, strategies and investments as part of their national liberation from poverty, underdevelopment and external domination to national mass production, prosperity, power and freedom.
In the African context, I describe it as the paradigm of African Liberated Development. The doctrine of African liberated development and its practical strategy of endocentricity can be adopted, adapted, developed and applied to Nigeria in a time-bound 12-15 year programme of self-actuated development. This will be self-consciously directed toward the creation of a truly new Nigerian social order that is an ideologically autonomous, technologically advanced, industrially developed, socially prosperous and equitable, psychologically confident, culturally assertive, militarily powerful and politically stable society.
Ehiedu E.G. Iweriebor
(Ph.D, Columbia) is a Professor, Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino
Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, USA.