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POWER DEVOLUTION AND ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION IN NIGERIA: CONTEXTS, CONNECTIONS AND CONTENTIONS

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Abstract

This research examined the nexus between power devolution and economic diversification in Nigeria. It did this by undertaking an intellectual introspection into how the prevailing monocultural economy and monocratic polity were imposed on Nigeria during the epoch of colonial rule and how they were subsequently retained by Nigerian politicians who are largely abdullistic capitalists because the inherited reality served their rapacious intents for primitive accumulation and political domination. The research employed the Marxian theory of Economic Determinism as its framework of analysis and Content Analysis as its methodology. In the end it was able to establish that Nigeria's current monocratic political posture has inevitably negated any attempt at diversification because it has made the country excessively centrist, statist and ipso facto totalistic. It further established that as the nation's center became over-empowered the component states and local councils were simultaneously disempowered and so were encouraged to be lazy and beggarly to the end that political patronage rather than economic productivity became the only recognizable access to the national cake which continues to get narrower and increasingly monocultural. The study also discovered that Nigeria of today is far more monocultural than it was in the colonial times. This is so because in the colonial era at least no fewer than four commodity exports were produced, namely cocoa, cotton, rubber, palm oil, groundnut, etc. But today, the only recognizable export commodity is oil at its crude state. It thus recommended among other things that: Government should make conscious and concerted effort at reviewing the country's constitution in a way that transfers land management and resource control to the states and councils while the center maintains defence and external relations; and that, at the state and council levels, Government should encourage diversification by making available credit facilities at minimal interest rates.
POWER DEVOLUTION AND ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION IN
NIGERIA: CONTEXTS, CONNECTIONS AND CONTENTIONS
IZU, IRORO STEPHEN
izustephen2015@gmail.com, 08166136354
Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, FCT,
Abuja, Nigeria
&
ISHAKA, DELE
08060507986
Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, FCT,
Abuja, Nigeria
ABSTRACT
This research examined the nexus between power devolution and economic diversification in
Nigeria. It did this by undertaking an intellectual introspection into how the prevailing
monocultural economy and monocratic polity were imposed on Nigeria during the epoch of
colonial rule and how they were subsequently retained by Nigerian politicians who are largely
abdullistic capitalists because the inherited reality served their rapacious intents for primitive
accumulation and political domination. The research employed the Marxian theory of Economic
Determinism as its framework of analysis and Content Analysis as its methodology. In the end it
was able to establish that Nigeria’s current monocratic political posture has inevitably negated
any attempt at diversification because it has made the country excessively centrist, statist and
ipso facto totalistic. It further established that as the nation’s center became over-empowered the
component states and local councils were simultaneously disempowered and so were
encouraged to be lazy and beggarly to the end that political patronage rather than economic
productivity became the only recognizable access to the national cake which continues to get
narrower and increasingly monocultural. The study also discovered that Nigeria of today is far
more monocultural than it was in the colonial times. This is so because in the colonial era at
least no fewer than four commodity exports were produced, namely cocoa, cotton, rubber, palm
oil, groundnut, etc. But today, the only recognizable export commodity is oil at its crude state. It
thus recommended among other things that: Government should make conscious and concerted
effort at reviewing the country’s constitution in a way that transfers land management and
resource control to the states and councils while the center maintains defence and external
relations; and that, at the state and council levels, Government should encourage diversification
by making available credit facilities at minimal interest rates.
Keywords: Power Devolution, Economic Diversification, Monocracy,
Monocultural Economy, True Federalism, Economic Determinism
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1.0 INTRODUCTION
There is no doubt that the phenomenon of diversification of Nigeria’s economic
mainstay has been a dominant, and ipso facto a contentious matter among
Nigerians, both lay and learned. This is so because it is rigorously contended that
the constant loss of means of livelihoodespecially through retrenchment, forced
closure of businesses borne out of lack of micro credits or unfriendly tax regime,
unfavourable forex benchmarks, inconsistency and sometimes clash in government
fiscal and monetary policies, etc. leading to a spike in the army of the
unemployed, is tied to the narrow resource base inherited as the major economic
heirloom from the ex-colonialists.
This resource or economic base, it is contended, was not only made to be narrow or
monocultural but also disarticulated and dependent, hence must be reversed.
Scholars like Ake (1981, 2001) Onimode (1983), Rodney (1972), Ibeanu (2004)
and Jacob (2012) are among those who have written profusely on the monocultural
and disarticulated character of both the colonial and post-colonial Nigerian state
and economy.
All the above attest to one thing: the urgent and unremitting need, and indeed
clarion call, for the reversal of this trend, hence the imperative of diversification.
The argument put forward in this research presentation is that the political
character of the federal imperative being operationalized in Nigeria in which there
is a rude over-concentration of political, economic, administrative and
developmental powers in a largely behemoth but unproductive center is naturally
and ruthlessly anti-diversification. To this end, it argues that any attempt at
diversification, a phenomenon which has wantonly assumed the status of a
development paradigm, without first embarking on conscious political power
devolution would amount to sheer hypocrisy, a banal travesty of reality or at worst,
ignorantio elenchi.
The paper which employs the Marxian theory of Economic Determinism as its
framework of analysis and Content Analysis as its methodology is broken into six
parts. Part one introduces the study; part two deals with operational definitions and
theoretical framework; part three examines Nigeria’s colonial legacy of
monocultural economic mainstay; part four x-rays Nigeria’s monocratic or
autocratic character; part five situates the connections and contentions of power
devolution and economic diversification, and part six which is the last part
enunciates some prospects in this regard; it also concludes and puts forward come
recommendations for further studies and policy-making.
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2.0 OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Some concepts used in the study that require brief definitive clarification are:
Power: as used here it means “a form of currency that allows its holders to satisfy
important values and attain objectives (Deutsch, 1966)”.
Power Devolution: this means the de-concentration of a central government of
constitutional powers so as to strengthen the component states and local councils
for purposes of economic diversification and development. It also means the
process of political power dispersal so that formerly weak subsidiary governments
in a federal setting become strong to serve their citizenry.
Monocultural Economy: as used here it means two related things. The first is that
it means the production of one export product. The second one is that it means the
production of only raw or primary product which could either be two or more, but
not necessarily one.
Diversification: this means the process of translating a monocultural economy into
a multicultural one by a conscious devolution of political power.
Monocracy: this is a system of governance whereby virtually all powers
political, institutional, administrative, economic, etc are vested in the center
governmental authority.
True Federalism: as used here this represents a form of federal system where the
federating or component units constitutionally control socio-economic resources
domiciled in their individual domains, and pay designated percentage of their
revenue values to the coordinating or central authority for nation-wide defence,
security, disaster management, etc.
Furthermore, this study employs economic determinism as its theory. This theory
has its roots in Karl Marx, and to some extent Frederick Engels, both of whom
believe that the quest to control the economy or substructure is what serves as the
precipitating force which pushes people (the bourgeoisie) to want to capture
political power, expand and retain same at any cost. It is upon the substructure that
every other element in the superstructure is built, and so to control it via a capture
of state power is to control everything. To this end power becomes useless or
unadmirable without matter which in this light serves as economic values like
contracts, commissions, prebends, in a word accumulation, all of which act as
perquisites of political office. It was in this light that both Nicolo Machiavelli and
Hans Morgenthau see power as a means to pre-calculated end; this end according
to the economic determinists is appropriation and allocation of economic values or
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matter. This theory becomes very relevant in this study because as Nnoli (1986)
would contend, in Nigeria “state power…is the basis of all security, all rights and
privileges…and the maintenance of any mode of livelihood”. This position is made
more lucid by Ake (2001) while depicting the import of state power in the colonial
and post-colonial state of Africa. He asserts that “to become wealthy without the
patronage of the state was likely to invite the unpleasant attention of those in
control of state power. Political power was everything; it was not only the access to
wealth but also the means to security and the only guarantor of general well-
being”. Ake further submits that “for anyone outside the hegemonic faction of the
political elite, it was generally futile to harbour any illusions of becoming wealthy
by entrepreneurial activity or even take personal safety for granted. For anyone
who was part of the ruling faction, entrepreneurial activity was unnecessary for one
could appropriate surplus with less risk and less trouble by means of state power”.
The relevance of economic determinism’s applicability on this study therefore
stems from the fact that it is the quest to use state power as an instrument of
domination, appropriation and primitive accumulation that has driven Nigeria’s
political elite to systematically and invidiously enthrone and entrench a culture of
monocracy or over-concentration of powers in the center which inevitably has
negated and made mockery of the call, and even vigorous campaign, for the
diversification and development of Nigeria’s economic lifeline. This is because to
domicile all powers in one center like the Treasury Single Account (TSA) gives the
crooked politicians the licence to plunder all in one fell swoop.
3.0 NIGERIA’S COLOIAL AND POST-COLONIAL LEGACIES OF
MONOCULTURAL ECONOMY
One of the major realities of British colonialism in Nigeria was that it led to the
creation and fostering of a mono-cultural, one-sided and subordinated economy in
Nigeria while at the same time building an all-round material life in Britain. It
suffices to state that a mono-cultural economy is an economy whose major material
output sellable as export commodity occupies a categorical and often dependent
position in the production process or chain; this could be primary, secondary or
tertiary position.
So, when it is said that British colonialism created, in Nigeria, a mono-cultural
economy, this thought could be understood from two intellectual positions. The
first is that the colonialists made the country to produce just one product, that is a
mono product. The other intellectual orientation is that they made Nigeria to
produce just raw materials – that is only primary product – which could be two or
more products and not just one. It does not necessarily entail that it made Nigeria
to produce just one commodity or item, but that it made Nigeria to produce
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commodities or goods which had one categorical nature in the production process.
And this categorical nature was that which pertained to the production of raw
materials or production of unrefined, unfinished goods or commodities.
The import of the above argument is that British colonialists are not to be
reprimanded for making Nigerians to produce just one item because, in all reality,
Nigerians produced more than one items among which were cocoa, cotton, coffee,
groundnut, palm oil, etc, all of which were exportable and actually exported; but,
that they engineered the engagement of Nigerians in the production of the above
commodities only at a crude or primary level without creating the much needed
inclination for industrialization or manufacturing. It is in this form that the mono-
cultural economy created by British colonialism in Nigeria is to be understood and
analyzed.
Having made the above clarification it is now left for us to consider the core
reasons why this status of a mono-cultural economy was created and foisted on
Nigeria especially in relation to the overall material development of Britain, and of
course the consummate consequences of this act.
To begin, it should be reiterated that the core reason why the economy of Nigeria
was modulated in the above fashion, that is, the reason why it was modeled to take
a largely mono-cultural dimension, was borne out of the major causes of British
capitalist expansionism towards Nigeria in particular, and Africa, at large. For what
is worth, it is important to state that the Europeans generally made progress
towards non-industrialized and non-mechanized lands in order to be able to fulfill
one of four interests.
The interests were mainly material or economic. The British imperialists migrated
to the shores of Nigeria primarily to sell their wasting or spoiling wares or over-
produced and under-consumed commodities to Nigerians. This was necessitated by
the fact that the introduction of mechanization in the production process had led to
a massive increase in the yield of their exercise resulting in an unprecedented
influx of finished products into the then increasingly narrowing home markets of
the British. It should be acknowledged that the pervasive mechanization also
increased the commodification of production in its entirety. The pervasive
mechanization and commodification consequently meant that the outputs of
production engagement were generally boosted in the whole of Europe, a situation
which also established the fact that the totality of European markets had become
saturated with their own goods hence profit margins systematically narrowed as
spoilage set in. This situation directly contradicted the essence and drive of the
5
(industrial) capitalists which revolve around capitalization of surplus value, hence
needed to be combated.
It was this state of industrial and commercial affairs of Europe that drove their
inevitable search for markets in the so-called virgin lands or non-European, well-
populated and non-industrialized territories which today constitute the third world.
Also of paramount consideration is the fact that the pervasive mechanization of the
production lines specifically meant that the employment or use of manual labour or
labourers became naturally obsolete. This was essentially because, for instance, a
job that was done by 100 manual labourers prior to European industrialization
could now be done by one or two man-controlled tractors or other machines
thereby rendering the remaining 98 manual labourers unemployed. The redundancy
or retrenchment of these labourers meant that an army of unemployed was created,
an army that squarely acted as a clog in the wheels of the peace and pleasures of
the other one or two labourers employed and paid huge amount of money. From
the army of the unemployed, criminals, assassins, prostitutes, drug addicts and
drug peddlers and more, became the manifest folks in major European cities and
urban centers. In other words, the mechanization of production did not only mean
the retrenchment of many labourers, but this retrenchment also meant that nuisance
situations had been systematically created, situations which only acted as great
displeasures to the emergent European industrial bourgeoisie. Therefore, the army
of the unemployed Europeans needed to be taken to other places where they could
be engaged in other activities, especially expatriate activities – these activities were
to be found in those already discovered virgin lands. This was because as much as
possible these nuisance elements needed to be sent to places that were considerably
removed from the pleasure-range of the industry and factory owners.
Meanwhile, in the face of European industrialization, agricultural and other
agrarian activities were abandoned or relegated. This was because men and women
then wanted white-collar and blue-collar jobs which were to be found only in the
industries and factories. These jobs went with some forms of pays and respect
which could no longer, by the said abandonment and relegation, be derived from
the farms and plantations, or the forests and rural communities.
Agricultural activities became defaced and discarded. But, of critical consideration
is the fact that the abandonment of agriculture also meant the emergence of the
problem of lack of raw materials. It should therefore be noted that even though the
initial motivating force that propelled the Europeans to expand beyond their
borders was the quest to sell their wares, this initial motive naturally changed after
the sale of their first sets of already produced wares, because the issue of raw
6
materials to continue production in their industries and factories systematically
outstripped that of the marketisation of produced goods.
The point here is that it was the quest to secure raw materials for the continuation
of industrial and factory production that led to the creation of a mono-cultural
economy in Nigeria by Britain, the frontline industrial capitalist country as at then.
So, Nigerians were compelled to produce raw materials or engage in primary
production chiefly to serve and service the interests of Britain and by so doing
helping to advance the frontiers of her industrialization. In this case, Nigeria was
made to become the farms and plantations of Britain producing all the raw
produces or materials she needed: Nigerians were only allowed to be planters and
farmers of commanded crop items, and no less. The clear implication of this
situation in which Nigeria became the farm and plantation of Britain was that
Nigeria became the rural areas of Britain which had gradually taken upon herself
the form of an urban, metropolitan or city center.
Moreover, by the instrumentality of the marketing boards which were created by
the British, Nigerians were carefully held in a situation that could best be described
as double squeeze, a situation which explains that the British colonial imperialists
dictated what crops Nigerians were to produce and how much they (the Europeans)
were to pay for these produced items. This was a complete state of the
subordination of one people to another amounting to the dehumanization,
exploitation and frustration of the totality of Nigerian farmers and planters.
The saddest conclusion that could be made here is that the compulsive gravitation
of Nigerians into mono-cultural, raw material, production also meant that
Nigerians were not allowed to industrialize. That is, there was a conscious
ossification of all attempts at industrialization mainly because this would have
meant that the aim of the advent of British colonial imperialism would have been
defeated. This deliberate non-industrialization of Nigeria carefully created a
situation of disarticulation which defined the non-complementarily or de-linkage of
various sectors within the Nigerian political economy (Ake, 1981:43).
This disarticulation was pervasive in that it manifested in virtually all sectors of the
Nigerian economy. It was this disarticulation that deepened the unwholesome
dependence of the Nigerian economy to that of Britain, a situation which
culminated in the underdevelopment of Nigeria, or what is better called a
dependent development of the country. A dependent development or a situation of
dependence, in the reasoning of Santos (1970) implies “a conditioning situation in
which the economies of one group of countries are conditioned by the development
and expansion of others.” It was this dependent relationship arising from the
7
material phenomenon of disarticulation that created the paradoxical state of the
development of underdevelopment.
In this light, the materiality of Nigeria’s political economy was configured to be
exocentric or outward-serving and it became relevant only to the extent that it
produced the raw materials needed to feed and furnish British factories and
industries. This narrow production of raw materials did not agitate the necessary
impulses which could have brought about the urbanization and material
development of Nigeria. To this end, even when urban signs were observed in
certain areas, it was as a result of the fact that it had become compelling for them
to be developed so as to create a relatively more conducive, Europe-like
environments in some selected areas to be inhabited by imperial or colonial
supervisors who were in charge of monitoring the activities of Nigerian peasant
farmers. The Nigerian farmers had naturally become peasantized because they had
been converted or translated from processing necessary products to processing
surplus products which were to be sold as cash crops only to the British imperial
bourgeoisie.
It should be noted that the peasantization of the Nigerian farmers and planters was
borne out of the monetization of the colonial Nigerian economy. The monetization
of the colonial Nigerian economy meant the massive engagement or use of British
pounds and sterling, the value of which was dictated externally to appropriately
suffice the rapacious profiteering craves of British materialistic czars.
The bottom-line of the foregoing explanation is the fact that the materiality of
Nigerian political economy was made to take a dependent, disarticulated and a
heavily underdeveloped posture by virtue of the foisting of a monocultural label on
it by the British colonialists. Today, even though this monocultural label has taken
a new outlook yet its motive force remains unaltered. In this regard, even though
Nigerian mono-cultural stature has largely shifted from the production of
agricultural raw materials not because the country has outgrown agricultural
production or has done very well that she has become agriculturally buoyant to
the production of raw materials in the crude oil sector. It could even be argued that
the crude oil production Nigeria does today whether at the primary level or
otherwise, is done mainly with the support and pioneering efforts of external
manufacturing and industrial elements.
So, the mono-cultural economic development that was superimposed on Nigeria by
Britain which has also created a dependent development has continued to subsist
till date. This position is taken because the crude oil which accounts for more than
90% of the nation’s annual total revenue is largely produced from extraction to
8
refinement by foreigners and foreign corporations, with fragments handled by
not-totally local companies. Even when Nigerians and Nigerian companies are
involved, they mainly end at the level of extraction and contract out the other
stages which would culminate in usable refined petroleum products. This final and
main stage – that cost very high to do - is mostly done abroad making Nigerians to
still reside on the plane of mono-cultural or primary production.
4.0 NIGERIA’S HISTROY WITH MONOCRATIC OR AUTOCRATIC
GOVERNANCE
It is relevant to note at this juncture that the colonization of Nigeria by Britain
brought about the elevation of alien political autocracy and its entrenchment in the
territory of Nigeria. This meant that Nigerians were politically subordinated to the
overlordship of white rulers who acted as foot soldiers of the monarchy of
England. This alien political autocracy was elevated and entrenched by reason of
how political, administrative and constitutional powers were generated, distributed
and operationalised.
To be sure, it should be noted that from the time when the colonial state in Nigeria
was formally established as a single, concerted political entitybeen an amalgam
of the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of
Northern Nigeria in 1914 under the political and administrative pleasures of
Lord Fredrick Lugard who himself was the chief representative of the monarchy of
England then, the politico-administrative head of the country who was also called
the Governor-General, and at some other points as Governor, was vested with what
was called the veto power. The veto power of the Governor-General who was a
non-Nigerian, defined a form of political power that was immensely totalistic as it
was unchallengeable, uncontestable and unquestionable especially by Nigerians.
The Governor-General was to this end, possessed with the licence to kill and to
make alive; he had the totalitarian discretion to hire and fire without been
responsible or responsive to the Nigerian people or at any rate to any statutory
establishment. He was only responsible to the Queen of England and responsive to
the mercantile interests of British traders, manufacturers and financiers for whose
sake the colonial state was originally contrived.
This situation made the Nigerian political elite to be marginalized to the extent that
even when Nigerians were constitutionally permitted to vote and be voted for from
1922 during the reign or Governorship of Sir Hugh Clifford and thereby
making Nigerians to form an active voice in the legislative council, they were still
rendered politically impotent because the Governor-General who had the said all-
9
consuming or overriding power was not answerable to the legislative council. He
ruled mainly by proclamations: these were political or legal instruments equivalent
to military decrees and fiats.
But, the Governor-General needed to be unchallengeable in his political power
possession because of the form the colonial state in Nigeria was conceived to take.
It was conceived to take an awesome form clad with totalistic powers for the
economic and socio-cultural expropriation it was established to carry out.
It was necessarily conceived to be totalistic because it was expected to make – and
at other times, unmake and implement laws which were to favour one class
against another, that is, these laws and legal instruments were construed and
constructed to favourably serve and secure the interests of the British commercial
and industrial bourgeoisie over and against the Nigerian peasants and proletariat.
In this case the colonial state was a state that was conceived as:
a specific modality of class domination, one in which class
domination is mediated by commodity exchange so that the
system of institutional mechanisms of domination is
differentiated and dissociated from the ruling class and even
the society …appears as an objective force standing
alongside society (Ake, 1985:105).
This position readily implies that the colonial state in Nigeria was conceived and
erected to serve as “the totality of the materiality of political class domination” in
society (Ibeanu, 2004:7-8). In essence, it was ordained from the very onset to have
the overriding powers to issue out instructions for the expropriation of lands, the
legislation of taxes, the commodification of production, the construction of roads,
railways, bridges, ports and dams; the facilitation, collection and distribution of
produces, and the introduction, consolidation and regulation of chains of marketing
boards for the purpose of benefiting the British colonial imperialists to the
detriment of Nigerians.
It is in the above light that the overriding powers of the Governor-General squarely
conformed to the royal configuration of the colonial state in Nigeria: they were in a
necessary politico-economic symmetry. This was the driving force behind the
reigns of Sir Lord Lugard, Sir Hugh Clifford, Sir Arthur Richard, Sir John
MacPherson, Oliver Littleton, and other not-too-popular Governors-General.
In the same vein, the above explanation also implies that the personality of the
Governor-General could not have been democratic because the state structure he
10
had been summoned by imperial necessity to superintend over was non-
democratic. The state structure was such that does not consider necessary, or places
any value on the need to consult with Nigerians on issues that had to do with their
exploitation and dehumanization, or at any rate, their peasantization and
despoliation.
Since the colonial state structure was not configured to consult with the Nigerian
people, it was therefore irrelevant for the Governor-General to dialogue, at any
time, with the colonized subjects. So, political negotiation, bargaining and
diplomacy were not significant virtues of the colonial heads of state. Even when
some forms of consultation were done like the ones that preceded the 1951
McPherson’s constitution, they were mostly cosmetic as they were not fundamental
enough to pave the way for the emancipation of the Nigerian people.
It is on this count that the colonial state became wayward and worthless. But, the
waywardness and worthlessness of the colonial state was so seen only by Nigerians
and not by the British colonial imperialists or the commercial and industrial
bourgeoisie of Britain; to them, the state was seen as only living up to its
necessitating establishment requirements and expectations. In this light,
Since the colonial state was called upon by the peculiar
circumstances of the colonial situation to carry out
so many functions – indeed to do everything – it was all-
powerful. It needed to be all powerful not only to carry
out its mission but also to survive along with the colonial
order in the face of the resentment and the hostility of the
colonized (Ake, 2001:2).
The waywardness and worthlessness, or what Ake called the absolutism and
arbitrariness, of the colonial state easily made colonialism to become “a negation
of freedom from the viewpoint of the colonized” (Rodney, 1972:244). This
freedom that was negated by the waywardness and worthlessness of British
colonialism in Nigeria was freedom to possess political power to control economic
matter and other commanding heights of material life; freedom to have a history, a
culture and a community devoid of the tenets and precepts of the culture of
political autocracy.
The basic knowledge to be drawn from the foregoing is that the colonial state, and
of course the colonial situation in Nigeria as devised by the over-lordship of the
Elizabethan powers based in Britain was oppressive having no signs of
utilitarianism nor the clemency of democracy.
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However, the most fundamental consideration that should be noted about the
colonial state in Nigeria is the fact that it was easily inherited and sustained after
the formal attainment of political independence in Nigeria. But what is urgent to
state here is the fact that the inheritance and sustenance of such dimension of over-
powered and over-charged Central Government, and in essence the position of the
head of state, logically meant that the political activities which should naturally
lead to the capture of the Central Government by a political party or electoral cabal
or better still the position of the head of state by a politician, in post-colonial
Nigeria, became increasingly ferocious and daring. This was compounded by the
long-years of military invasion into the terrestrial vestry of power.
5.0 ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION BEFORE POWER DEVOLUTION:
PLACING THE CART AHEAD OF THE HORSE
There is no doubt that Nigeria as a socio-economic formation that is currently in
recession urgently needs to diversify its economic base so as to meet the minimum
requirements to develop. This is because the inherited and consolidated
monocultural economic mainstay tacitly hinders comprehensive development that
will in turn broaden the country’s opportunity as well as revenue base thereby
facilitating the creation of a multicultural economy which naturally results in
massive job creation, enhanced standard of living, reduced cost of survival,
infrastructural re-activation and mitigation, if not total elimination, of vices of
terrorism, militancy, kidnapping, prostitution, trafficking, armed robbery and
corruption, all of which are compounded by the axiom that ‘an idle mind is the
devil’s workshop’.
The argument here however is that as important as the paradigm of diversification
is, embarking on it without first correcting the anomalous political posture of the
Nigerian federal imperative will amount to placing the cart before the horse. This
political posture which inevitably negates any attempt at diversification is the
monocratic character of the country’s federalism. This reality of monocracy makes
the federal system of the country excessively centrist, statist and ipso facto
totalistic (Ostrom, 1990; Wunsch & Olowu, 1990; Olowu, 1995; Ake, 2001).
This is because, as contended by Ostrom, monocracy does not only negate true
federalism but also negates true democracy and polycentricism, and invokes a
“political order in which all powers emanate from and gravitate to one central
point”. He adds that this “political order which derives from the Hobbesian
conception of the state is highly centralised”. Olowu, in a bid to push further this
discourse, posits that “for a variety of reasons, most of …independent African
countries adopted a monocratic political order…either through the adoption of a
12
one-party state or military coup d etat”. In the case of Nigeria, the major post-
colonial factor which has entrenched this culture of monocracy or Unitarian
federalism is military imposition of its command, centrist and absolutist emblems
on the nation’s political economy. And since this devious imposition suited
Nigerian politicians who are largely abdullistic capitalists with uncontrollable
rapacity according to Okowa (1996, 2005), they easily retained this model through
making ‘appropriate’ legislations which helped in completing the process of
centralization of powers.
As the center was empowered the component states and local councils were
disempowered and so were encouraged to be lazy and beggarly to the end that
diversification was obstructed as all states and councils began to look upward to
the center for economic fortification. Political patronage rather than economic
productivity became the only recognizable access to the national cake which
continues to get narrower and increasingly monocultural. In short, it is the
considered view of this researcher that Nigeria of today is far more monocultural
than it was in the colonial times. This is so because in the colonial era at least no
fewer than four commodity exports were produced, namely cocoa, cotton, rubber,
palm oil, groundnut, etc. But today, the only recognizable export commodity is oil
at its crude state. The country survives on oil rents and royalties which are often
looted by the custodians of power, a situation which automatically makes power at
the center the only means to wealth, and wealth in turn means more power.
It is in this light that the devolution of central power must necessarily precede the
diversification of national economy. This implies the re-federalization of Nigeria
leading to the adequate dispersal of power from the center to the component states
and councils to engender diversification and development of economic and
national life. This dispersal will mean that the states and councils will then be in
position to control and manage their resources lands, minerals, etc and
liabilities thereby making them more responsible and responsive to the yearnings
of their peoples while also acting as check to their leadership. In this light,
diversification becomes a natural offshoot or product of power devolution as more
and more states will strive to out-develop one another so as to attract more and
more development partners at home and abroad. This means devolution of power
will lead to healthy economic competition and increased productivity among the
states and councils – leading to the ultimate advancement of the entire federation.
6.0 PROSPECTS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This study has been able to establish that the present monocratic or over-
centralized political system being practiced in Nigeria is anti-diversification
13
because it high-jacks developmental dispositions and commitments from the
federating states and local governments, and concentrate them in a centre that is
more concerned about collecting rents and royalties rather than broadening the
revenue base of the country. This has worsened the monocultural status of the
nation.
To be sure, and in today’s reality, it is already trite to note that Nigeria is a
monocultural nation with its economy heavily dependent on petroleum revenue
which accounts for about 80% of government revenue and 90% of foreign
exchange earnings. Before the prominence of petroleum industry, Nigerian
economy was dependent on agriculture. The growth of petroleum industry in
Nigeria brought about dramatic change in the nature of Nigerian economy. The
high economic gains of the oil industry made the nation to abandon other sectors of
the economy and depend solely on oil industry. The situation has led to non-
development of other sectors of the economy like exploitation of abundant solid
minerals, agriculture, manufacturing industries and service industries. This has
exposed the nation to economic instability occasioned by the vagaries of
international oil markets, gross unemployment, poverty in the face of plenty, and a
passive political leadership that is lukewarm in articulating and embarking on
viable economic policies (Anyaehie & Areji, 2015).
The presidency of Nigeria has always harped on the need to diversify the nation’s
economy. The current administration led by President Muhammadu Buahri has not
been any different. The president seems to be very determined in this resolve as
there cannot be any official statement or comment on the economy without a
mention of the need to diversify. Of course the amplification of this need has been
given impetus by the fact that the country has since slided into economic recession,
that is a state of zero or weak purchasing power, spikes in inflation,
unemployment, underemployment, poverty, hunger, cost of living and depletion of
general economic fortunes of majority of the citizens in at least two consecutive
quarters. The only escaping route from this quagmire now appears to be a
resurgence of the call to diversify the economy so as to rescue the nation.
It is the position of this researcher that this call, like previous ones, is largely
hypocritical or hypothetical and misplaced. This is so because the same
government that is resolutely calling for economic diversification is forcefully
condemning devolution of powers to the states and local councils, hiding behind
the excuse that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. How can there be sustainable
diversification without first devolving powers through conscious and systematic
restructuring, enthronement of a regime of resource control or fiscal or true
federalism? It is instructive to posit that this form of federalism does not amount to
14
a dismemberment of the country as wrongly speculated but would rather strengthen
it as it would make all the states to sit up and work, looking inwards, developing
what it has - whether coal, crude, bitumen, gold or farming, - and without having to
wait for, or go cap-in-hand to the federal government to share oil wealth derived
from just few states. If the Nigeria’s government continues to harp on
diversification without the corresponding recognition of the need to devolve
political powers first, it would amount to mere rhetoric, hypocrisy and any
diversification attained in this manner would not be sustainable.
Specifically, the following recommendations are put forward for the advancement
of further research in this areas as well as aiding policy makers:
Government should make conscious and concerted effort at reviewing the
country’s constitution in a way that transfers land management and resource
control to the states and councils while the center maintains defence and
external relations.
In the above light Government should repeal all anti-federalism laws like
Land Use Act of 1979, the Petroleum Decrees of 1969 and 1991, the Lands
(Title Vesting etc.) Decree No 52 of 1993 (Osborne Land Decree), the
National Inland Waterways Authority Decree No. 13 of 1997, etc
At the state and council levels Government should encourage
diversification by making available credit facilities at minimal interest rates.
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