Colonialism has great impact on political and economics of African states. Post independent African states are western model. African states have copied the centralized and authoritarian systems of administration of their colonial masters. All African states have political systems characterized by ethnic exclusions and marginalization. Although mult-party systems have emerged, opposition operates under restriction by the ruling party. Besides, corruption behavior among African leaders is due to experience from our colonial masters. Economic wise, African resources have been extensively exploited by our colonizers therefore rendering Africa economically weak and looser in its interaction with the global economy. Therefore colonial past and present subsequently impacts on the current political and economic realities in African states. The question is would Nigeria be better economically and politically if it was not colonized or not? The fact that British conquered Nigeria and took control over the territory, not positive economic progress and political growth have emerged.
Therefore the country can be better placed if it was left alone. Colonialism and the process of colonization brought adverse effects to economic growth. Before the country was colonized by the British, the inhabitants relied on agricultural production. Helen and Milner (94), states that under the colonial rule Nigeria remained an agricultural country, exporting agricultural raw materials and importing finished goods from the colonial master. This is an evidence that British benefited more than the native civilian of Nigeria despite the fact that raw materials belonged to them In other words if Nigerians could have knowledge about converting raw materials to finished product, their economy could be much better . The industrialization in Nigeria was fully discouraged.
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Modern economic polices where put in place which shaped future Nigerians economic market in terms of marketing, labor supply and investments. The colonial process and formal economic exploitation ended in 1960 and Nigeria was left relatively strong but undiversified in economy. The Nigerians had to poised remedy to the defects and create diversified economy comprising of agricultural, industrial and service sector. After independence, Nigerians governments have taken directions and planning of economic development. Education has continuously been advanced in all levels to enhance requisite skills and labor force for development of infrastructure of roads and communication network. These have been modernized more than how they were before they were inherited from the British colony. Hydroelectric dams have been constructed for production of energy. Secondary industries and automobile assembly plants have been started to provide job opportunities to civilians.
Because of lack of adequate capital from the native residences, these activities are undertaken and financed by the government with the help of international financial institutions from Britain and United States. Foreign oil companies such as shed BP, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Agape, and Texaco, have partnered with the government in the oil sector which is the main economic booster of the Nigerians economy. This also indicates that we still depend on our colonial masters. The established governmental industries and business were inefficient and corrupt. This shows how African leaders inherited wrong governance from our colonial masters. Productivity was low because of mismanagement and corruption in all successive governments in the nation.
The worst problem was brought in by the government when it stress industrial sector above all others. This led to steep completion for scarce resources for industrialization. They used large amounts of capital investments on industrialization brought about by westerns abandoning their well know agricultural production. Importantly, large scare industrialization needed experienced skill which the native residents lacked. This was the great fundamental error done by the leaders left behind by colonizers. Thus, unskilled labor and insufficient finances severely affected the industrial sector.
Also Nigerians neglect on agriculture production coursed food shortage. In the past Nigerians produced adequate food for domestic needs however after independence the government was unable to supply food domestically and therefore started importing food from foreign countries which was not nutritious enough. Among the imports were palm oil from Malaysia of which Nigeria was the largest producer and exporter, and rice from United States. Once the largest African poultry producer, Nigeria lost status because of inefficient corn production and ban on importation of corn. Again it is no longer the largest exporter of peanuts, cocoa and rubber (Guy Peters 262).Several factors added up to problems in agricultural sector. These factors included the following” ” labor shortage due to rural “ urban migration of work force leading the aged and unenergetic forces in the firm, secondly environmental factors like soil erosion , poor soil, drought and lack of knowledge on carrying out agricultural research which could boost know how on increasing productions.
Other constrains that hindered production growth were use of insufficient technology because of low capital invested in this field, low attention paid on educating young people on agriculture as attention was focused on the industrial skills for white color jobs on the urban ,insufficient product promotion and marketing strategies put across, poor transport infrastructure development, lack of refrigeration, under- investment due to lack of credit facilities, trade restrictions , poor pricing strategies and unstable pricing policies. Import restriction hindered availability of agricultural and food processing plant. The topography of the region also barred long – term modern production techniques and investment on plant. Some these challenges was as a result of colonization impact due to Nigerians copying what British used to do without due regard to final replications.
The above problems of import and food shortages where addressed by the military government of olusegan obasanj in late1970s and1980s through embarking on finding funds from word bank , facilitating farmers with fertilizers, allocating subsidies to the agriculture sector , discouraging rural to urban migrations by creating jobs in the rural agricultural plantations, negotiation of better polices of pricing and trade deals. This attempt to find solutions to agricultural crises was not fully settled by that government. Issues to do with machinery and modern techniques was to be emulated from their former colonial master. In due regard to that Nigerians had to mostly depend on the them to improve their future economy. According to Jeffrey Haynes (364) Nigerian debts increased as administrators engaged in external borrowing and subsidizing food and rice imports and gasoline prices. In 1980s, economic realities forced the government to negotiate a loan with the World Bank to reschedule Nigerian external debts.
However, external borrowing created more problems in improving the economy than it alleviated. Much of the money never reached Nigeria and the portion that reached was put in abandoned or nonperforming public sector projects. The external debt escalated to US&30 billion during the regime of Babangida. Similarly, the structural adjustment program prescribed by international monetary fund failed to improve the economy status and brought problems of inflation and unemployment. State spending on healthcare sector and education was reduced to offset the situation. Continuing political instability due to Babangida’s annulment of the presidential election results in June 1993 and the subsequent authoritarian rule of Sani Abacha (1993 to 1998) made the general economic situation worse. The gross corruption by the Abacha regime and its violations of people’s fundamental rights turned Nigeria into an international pariah for 6 years, and thus discouraged foreign investment in the economy. Many industries and manufacturing companies could not obtain raw materials and closed down. Others operated under severe handicaps, including rampant power outages and refined petroleum scarcity.
Not enough had been done in the years of plenty to diversify the economy or to sustain the development. Military coups (military overthrow of civilian governments) and political instability worsened the situation. There was considerable optimism in May 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo became Nigeria’s civilian president. Many hoped that he would lift Nigeria from the verge of economic bankruptcy. One of Obasanjo’s objectives to that purpose was to secure debt relief from Nigeria’s foreign creditors. However, these creditors insisted that Nigeria’s wealth of untapped resources provided the means for the country to pay off its debts, and refused to cancel its debts of US$30 billion. In spite of some opposition, Obasanjo embarked upon a program of privatizing some parastatals in order to reduce corruption, promote efficiency, and raise productivity.
He introduced an anti-corruption bill which passed through the legislature, and recovered some of the revenues that had been stolen from the country and deposited in Western banks (Green, Laura & Luehrmann, 267). The inflation rate, which was estimated at 12.5 percent at the start of his administration, was estimated at 6.6 percent in 2000. The question still remain whether colonialism affected the native countries economy either positive or negative and whether if the native countries were not colonized would their economy be a bit better or not? The urgent has above gives proofs that the countries could be far much better than now if they were not colonized.
- Green, December, and Laura Luehrmann. Comparative Politics of the “”third World””: Linking Concepts & Cases.
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- Haynes, Jeffrey. Comparative Politics in a Globalizing World. Cambridge u.a.: Polity, 2005.
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- Katznelson, Ira, and Helen V. Milner. Political Science: State of the Discipline. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.
- Peters, B G. Comparative Politics: Theory and Methods. New York, NY: New York Univ. Press, 1998.