Over the years, various Nigerian governments have always emphasized plans to build a strong, united, and self-reliant nation. A self-reliant nation does not refer to isolation but reduced dependence on other nations especially in regards to economy. If Nigeria wants to achieve self-reliance as a nation, the government as well as citizens must go through the hard work of looking within so as to put natural resources and wealth of the nation to maximum use. This article covers the problems of self-reliance in Nigeria.
Problems of Self Reliance in Nigeria
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In spite of the efforts by the most Nigerian government through the formulation of policies, economic self-reliance has continued to elude the country. The global economic recession, which started as a global financial crisis particularly revealed how underdeveloped and vulnerable the Nigerian economy is.
Crude oil exports account for 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and 80% of her revenue. In addition to this, more than 50% of industrial raw materials used for manufacturing and other consumer goods are imported into the country. What this means is that the Nigerian economy is left at the mercy of the global economy. The Nigerian economy dances to the tune of the global economy which is why the global recession affected Nigeria deeply. Global economic recession has affected every facet of the Nigerian economy such as government revenues, foreign reserves, industries and the banking sector.
Inconsistencies in Policies, programmes and efforts of government in achieving economic self-reliance
Nigerian governments, over the years, have come up with well-articulated policies and programmes in order to achieve economic self-reliance. These policies include:
Operation Feed the Nation and the Green Revolution programmes
The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)
The National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS)
The Eight-Point United Nations Millennium Development Goals
Inconsistency in policy formulation and implementation
In order to achieve economic self-reliance, government needs to be consistent in the formulation and implementation of its policies. The lack of continuity of policies is a major problem in achieving economic self-reliance. A nation that does not pull through on the implementation of policies it has formulated will not achieve self-reliance. Over the years, the country has made it a culture to formulate policies and not see it through. This is the reason for the existence of many policies but fewer results in Nigeria.
The genuine efforts of government to achieve self-reliance for the Nigerian economy have often been thwarted by corrupt practices engaged in by public officials and political officeholders. Initiatives of the government such as social and economic programmes have often been frustrated through sharp practices of both government officials and the citizenry.
Frequent change of policies
In Nigeria, each government comes with its own economic policies and then disposes of existing policies. The frequent change in policies does not help with the successful implementation of economic programmes, so oftentimes, Nigerians do not get to see the results of these policies. Before the implementation of a policy, a new policy is already introduced, thus putting an end to existing processes. This is how many healthy programmes with great prospects initiated in the time past have been thwarted by successive governments.
Lack of entrepreneurship development
In order to achieve self-reliance and development, a country needs to empower the private sector and small businesses in particular. Creating policies and a business environment that supports the growth of small businesses is essential for the economic growth of a nation. Ways in which government contributes to an unconducive environment for small businesses are through multiple taxations. The multiplicity of taxes is an action of the government whereby the income, profit, or wealth of an individual or corporate body is taxed multiple times. in the present time, multiple taxations on businesses have negative consequences in the long run. The act of multiple taxation makes the business environment in Nigeria unconducive and unwelcoming for investors because it increases the cost of doing business, which in turn negatively affects the economy. The Nigerian government is supposed to support the growth of small businesses and encourage citizens and young graduates to start their own businesses. This can be achieved through monetary investments and policy formulation to support the growth of businesses in the country.
Political will and commitment of government
The government needs to be ready to invest both in monetary terms and effort-wise in order to achieve economic self-reliance for the nation.
Dependence on foreign resources as regards to science and technology
Nigeria is not self-reliant in the sector of science and technology. Before independence, science and technology activities were conducted mainly by foreigners. For example, science subjects were taught solely by expatriates. Professionals in the fields of Engineering and Medicine were also predominantly foreigners. More so, equipment used were usually imported. Now, although we have more local talents educating in the science and technology sector, there is still a dearth in the manufacturing of science and technological equipment in the nation.
From the 1970’s, even when Nigeria had an oil boom, science-related equipment needed for teaching and research were imported at high cost, and little or no thought was given to local production of these necessary items.
However, in the 1980s, there was a drop in oil prices which adversely affected the nation’s foreign exchange earnings. The effect of this sharp revenue decline was the fall in supply of scientific equipment. This affected technology advancement and scientific research as less money was being allocated to research. Scientists had to begin improvising with scientific equipment considering the difficulties of purchasing simple scientific equipment. Most technology, educational and research institutions throughout the country also started to decline in quality services as they had less equipment with which to teach and equip students.
The government need to put policies in place to encourage the local manufacturing of science and technology equipment. In order to build a self-reliant nation as regards science and technology, Nigeria must be able to build its own equipment using locally available materials.
Instruments that should be considered when formulating policies for self-reliance in science and technology include:
Establishment of Science Resource Centres in each state of the federation where researchers can design equipment that could be used to carry out for specific scientific activities.
Establishment of Science Equipment factories where equipment designed by researchers will be manufactured
Training for local talents on how to build and manufacture equipment.