Tue. Jun 28th, 2022
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By Chigozirim Okoro


The potential of development is not limited by the world’s resource or by man’s ingenuity to eliminate poverty rather the central concern of development is conscious efforts to construct actions and harness resource to initiate increase in quality and quality y of values. This paper therefore examines some of the Nigerian development strategies designed to bring about an improvement in the socio-economic life of the people, the challenges of the strategies and the misconception of the concept of development. The paper concludes with issues on the following as way forward that if: the equitable distribution of income, increase in employment opportunities, improved social services and an efficient allocation of available resources to eliminate waste with proper planning and enquiries as blue-prints for development as has been previously advocated will work then the populace and the implementer should be properly checked. This work examines and x-rays the challenges that militated against the actualization of the various development plans that were initiated or launched by the Federal Government at one time or the other. Its specific objectives were to examine their challenges as well as to find out why all the development plans failed in Nigeria.

Keyword: National Development, National Development plan, corruption, plan distortion


The pride of any government is the attainment of higher value level of development in such a way that its citizens would derive natural attachment to governance. However, for a nation to be in a phase of development there must be some pre-requisites, which include socio-political and economic stability. The gap between the developed and the developing countries is not static or narrow but is continually widening. A large majority of the world’s population in developing world lives in a state of poverty. The problem of urban population, rural stagnation, unemployment and growing inequalities continue to face less developed countries, which Nigeria belongs. Hopes of accelerated development are difficult to realize. This gloomy situation is of great concern to stake holders and the concerned citizenry. Nigeria has not been able to engender meaningful development in spite of her huge resources endowment. This has greatly affected her quest to improved quality of life of her citizens. Poverty, unemployment and starvation still pervade the nook and cranny of the country. Development is essential and critical to growth and sustenance of any country. In this study, we examine the trend of national development in Nigeria, and provides a workable method of approach to national development.

The Nigerian government has aspired to achieve development through the use of various types of plans, namely short term (Annual Budget), medium and long term plans (Oyeadeniyi, 2014). Most development strategies ever adopted for use in Nigeria have been the same, with slight differences in their objectives, they are just mere nomenclature explaining the problem of development have persisted. We are often pursued with myriad of question as why Nigeria had remain on a point, nations that came into international scene few years back had been able to sought themselves out by overcoming the challenge of underdevelopment, and in spite of the huge endowment in Nigeria (natural and human) the country situation remain unabated, there were nations colonized and has been able to get there footings, and also nations that jettison both the modernization and the dependency argument what then is to be done, what is the way forward? The paradigm for development that favors development in the western world has had a dereliction on the developing nations with a specific attention on Nigeria; the top-down development paradigm will be compared with the down-up development paradigm.

The top-down development strategies in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular have generally not succeeded in raising the living standards among the rural poor. It is argued that appropriate development strategies have stemmed from methodologies that fail to appreciate the whole picture in rural communities and in particular ignore local people’s perception, need and understanding (Olawepo, 2004).

The various development plans aimed at actualizing the following at stipulated time framed reduction in unemployment, diversification of the economy, a great and dynamic economy, to develop as rapidly as possible opportunities in education, health and employment, to improve the distribution of income to maintain price stability and the value of the Nigerian Naira, development of technology etc., all these have not been realized and Nigerians are placed in deplorable condition, perpetual bondage and abysmal poverty. The researchers are specifically interested to find out why our development plans including other economic development programmes failed to actualize their aims and objectives. Despite the numerous development plans, poverty and unemployment are still very high, our roads are in bad shape, power supply is epileptic, technologically we are backward etc.

This paper is therefore poised to discuss the challenge of development and to give options for development. A critical appraisal of the various development strategies in Nigeria is what this work set as its objective. The methodology for this work shall depend on collated secondary data.When the word development comes to mind, you think of growth, change for the better, advancement, significant progress and such. The Problems of Nigeria Development Plan and Possible Solutions. This article is useful for policy makers, public office holders and researchers. These require a set of actions, intended steps, usually related of course to bring about the said development.


Development: Development as a concept is a victim of definitional pluralism. It is a difficult word to define. However, attempts have been made by erudite scholars to conceptualize development. Some of these definitions will be explored for the purpose of this study. Gboyega (2003) captures development as an idea that embodies all attempts to improve the conditions of human existence in all ramifications. It implies improvement in material well-being of all citizens, not the most powerful and rich alone, in a sustainable way such that today’s consumption does not imperil the future, it also demands that poverty and inequality of access to the good things of life be removed or drastically reduced.

It seeks to improve personal physical security and livelihoods and expansion of life chances. Naomi (1995) believes that development is usually taken to involve not only economic growth, but also some notion of equitable distribution, provision of health care, education, housing and other essential services all with a view to improving the individual and collective quality of life (Naomi, 1995). Chrisman (1984) views development as a process of societal advancement, where improvement in the well being of people are generated through strong partnerships between all sectors, corporate bodies and other groups in the society. It is reasonable to know that development is not only an economic exercise, but also involves both socio-economic and political issues and pervades all aspects of societal life.

National development: National, according to Longman dictionary of contempo-rary English, refers to a phenomenon that embraces a whole nation. National development therefore can be described as the overall development or a collective socio-economic, political as well as religious advance-ment of a country or nation. This is best achieved through development planning, which can be described as the country’s collection of strategies mapped out by the government.

We have had series of development plans in Nigeria. Nigeria is permanently hunted by the spectre of develop-ment. Its forty-nine years of independence actually are rolling by daily in search of development. The myth of growth and development is so entrenched that the country’s history passes for the history of development strategies and growth models from colonial times up to date. No term has been in constant flux as development. This seems the only country where virtually all notions and models of development have been experimented (Aremu, 2003). Two years after independence, the first National Deve-lopment Plan policy was formulated between 1962 and 1968 with the objectives of development opportunities in health, education and employment and improving access to these opportunities, etc. This plan failed because fifty percent of resources needed to finance the plan was to come from external sources, and only fourteen percent of the external finance was received (Ogwumike, 1995).

Collapse of the first Republic and the commencement of civil war also disrupted the plan. After the civil war in 1970, the second national development plan 1970 to 1974 was launched, the plan priorities were in agriculture, industry, transport, manpower, defence, electricity, communication and water supply and provision of social services (Ogwumike, 1995). The third plan, covering the period of 1975 to 1980 was considered more ambitious than the second plan. Emphasis was placed on rural development and efforts to revamp agricultural sector. The fourth plan 1981 to 1985 recognized the role of social services, health services, etc.

The plan was aimed at bringing about improvement in the living conditions of the people. The specific objectives were: an increase in the real income of the average citizen, more even distri-bution of income among individuals and socio-economic groups, increased dependence on the country’s material and human resources, a reduction in the level of unemployment and underemployment (Ogwumike, 1995). During these periods, Nigeria’s enormous oil wealth was not invested to build a viable industrial base for the country and for launching an agrarian revolution to liquidate mass poverty. For instance, the Green Revolu-tion Programme that replaced Operation Feed the Nation failed to generate enough food for the masses. In the recent past, various strategies for development have also been tried with little or no result; among these were the structural adjustment programme (SAP), Vision 2010, national economic empowerment and development strategy (NEEDS), creation of development centres, etc. currently, seven point agenda of the present administra-tion with vision 2020 without any clear methodological approach towards achieving them. It is obvious that the current results so far are not what development connotes.

Overview of Development Strategies In Nigeria

The following are the various development strategies that has been adopted at one time or the other. These are: community boards of 1954, the farm settlement scheme of 1959, The First National Development Plan Period (1962-68); The Second National Development Plan Period(1974-1980); The Third National Development Plan Period (1975-80); The Fourth National Development Plan Period (1980-85); and the Post Fourth Plan Period (1985 to 1990), the agricultural development project, operation feed the nation, national directorate for employment, green revolution, mass mobilization for self-reliance and economic recovery, river basin development authority, national accelerated food production Programme, the national livestock development Programme, the directorate of food, roads and rural infrastructures, the integrated rural development programs, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, the vision 2010, the vision 2020, the seven point agenda and the likes (Ohagwu, 2010; Ezeah, 2005;  Ndukwe, 2005; Igbokwe and Enwere, 2001, Seniyi, 1998).

The First National Development Plan (1962-1968)

The plan made no clear statement on rural infrastructural development, as agriculture was still an important exchange earner; the plan’s objectives were to encourage the assemblage of agricultural produce for export purpose.

The Second National Development Plan (1970-1974)

The Second plan was launched shortly after the end of the civil war. The plan attempted to rehabilitate economic activities in the war-affected areas. The plan spelt out five principal national objectives meant to achieve a united, just, strong and self-reliant nation. But just as in the first plan; government did not make any clear statement on rural infrastructural development. However, it was stated in the plan that government was committed to village regrouping. This was perhaps to reduce the cost of providing economic and social infrastructure such as health, electricity, water and educational facilities for the rural areas.

 The Third National Development Plan (1975-1980)

Serious concern for rural development at the national level was first highlight in the third national radical package towards rural infrastructural development plan. The objectives of the plan are similar to those of the second national development plan. The plan emphasized the need to reduce regional disparities in order to foster national unity through the adoption of integrated rural development. The plan provided for rural electrification scheme, the establishment of River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs). The construction of small dams and boreholes for rural water supply and the clearing of feeder roads for the evacuation of agricultural produce and the supply of electricity to rural areas from large irrigation Dams. At the State Level, some governments, like Oyo State, showed their intention to transform the rural areas through the provision of basic infrastructural facilities.

The Fourth National Development Plan (1981-85) The Fourth National Development Plan exhibits several distinguishing features. First, it was formulated by a civilian government under a new constitution based on the presidential system of government. Second, it was the first plan in which the local government tier was allowed to participate fully in its own right. The plan emphasized among other things the need for balanced development of the different sectors of the economy and of the various geographic areas of the country. It emphasized the importance of rural infrastructural development as a vehicle for enhancing the quality of rural life.

The Post Fourth Plan Period (1985 to 1990): The post fourth plan period witnessed the establishment of the Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) in 1985 for the purpose of providing rural infrastructure in the country side. The laws establishing the Directorate was promulgated under Decree number four of 1987. The core of the Directorate’s Programme is the promotion of productive activities. Besides, the directorate recognized the provision of rural infrastructure such as feeder roads, water, electricity and housing as essential for the enhancement of the quality of life in the rural areas.

The Programme of the directorate includes: – The organization and mobilization of the local people to enhance or facilitate closer interaction between the government and the people. In addition the local communities were asked to form unions or associations for the purpose of providing common facilities for themselves; – The provision of rural infrastructures such as rural feeder roads, rural water and sanitation, rural housing and electrification; – The promotion of productive activities such as food and agriculture, rural industrialization and technology; – The promotion of other extracurricular activities such as socio-cultural and recreational programs, intra and inter community cohesion activities.

The plan for the implementation of DFRRI programs was organized into two phases, the target was to provide water for 250 communities in each of the states of the federation, to construct 90,000km of feeder roads, and to promote rural housing, health and agriculture. To facilitate industrial growth, and improve the attractiveness of the rural environment, the Directorate planned to commence its rural electrification Programme in the second phase starting in June 1987. In pursuit of its objectives, DFRRI also planned to co-operate with organization (Edwin, 1972; Ikotun, 2010 😉 In Nigeria several attempts were made to effect both rural and national development from independence apart from the various rolling plan, they includes the agricultural development project (ADP), green revolution, operation feed the nation, and others. The various aforementioned strategies for development have all been the same, it is just a change of a nomenclature, their objectives and medium for achieving the various goals have not been different from one another.

The Agricultural Development Project (ADP)This initiative was on the advice of the World Bank in 1970, the pilot project were stated in Funtua, Gombe, and in Gasua, the Programme was also expanded to other states such as Plateau State (the Lafia Agricultural Development Project now in Nasarawa State),Kogi, Benue, Kwara and Oyo State. The objective is to improve the living conditions of the low income earners resident in rural areas, this implies the supply of farm inputs like fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, and high yielding variety seeds, credit facilities in cash and kind, land clearing services, the development of feeder roads and extension services. This brought about significant growth recorded in the agricultural sector in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s but the main challenge was the withdrawal of fund by world Bank (Ogundele, 2008Ohagwu, 2010).

Operation Feed the Nation Operation feed the Nation was introduced just as the time the National Accelerated Food Projection Programme (NAFPP) was introduced by the Federal Military Government in 1976, with the objective of creating awareness about the importance of agriculture in National development. The Programme was designed to involve all the segments who were engaged during the long vacation, it was for a cross breading of ideas from school and traditional knowledge. The Programme faced out at the expiration of the regime that introduced it. The problem with the Programme was that its birth was spontaneous without specific and measurable objectives (Alanana, 2005, Ndukwe, 2005Ohagwu, 2010).

In the recent past the following were the development Programme in the wake of the return to democratic government, National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), the seven-point agenda. The President of Botswana Mr. Festus Mogae, during his presentation had a wise thought for our policy makers, according to him, “Nigeria could grow its economy through focused, honest leadership, with well-defined and coordinated national priorities” (Peterside, 2003).


The efficacy of any development plan is the faithful implementation of such plan, which its success lies with the implementers, most of the past development plans failed as a result of implementation problem and lack of committed leadership. Based on this fact, new development policies and strategies were raised as alternative strategies for development, such as Seven Points Agenda in the Yaradu’a’s administrations, Vision 2020, the Goodluck Jonathan transformation agenda, the adoptions of the millennium development goal. The Nigeria Vision 20: 2020 was a perspective plan; an economic business plan intended to make Nigeria one of the top 20 economies by 2020, with a growth target of not less than $900 billion in GDP and a per capita of not less than $4,000 per annum. The three Pillars of the NV 20:2020 are I) guaranteeing the well-being and productivity of the people, ii) optimizing the key sources of economic growth and iii) fostering sustainable social and economic development.

These efforts include the Poverty Strategy Reduction Papers (PSRPs), the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS I & II), Nigeria’s Strategy for attaining the Millennium Development Goals, and the Seven Point Agenda. (National planning Commission http://wikipedia encyclopedia). These policies and vision appear to be all embracing but they are not sacrosanct in their totality. But if faithfully implemented, the nation at least will move towards path of development. Nigeria still wallows in abject poverty, high level of unemployment and starvation in spite of her huge resources endowment. This has greatly affected her quest to improved quality of life of her citizen and in other to successfully enhance meaningful development, effective strategies must be evolved with personnel that will religiously and faithfully implement it (Lawal and Oluwatoyin, 2011).

Adopting spick and span the capitalists’ models of development has been responsible for the methodological flaws noticeable in African developmental process as against the peasant models. The bureaucratic models postulated by modernization proponent of the likes of WW Rostow states that for Africa to develop it has to pass through the stages laid down in his work and that African has not developed as a result of the fatalistic nature of African society, meaning that until Africa jettison his culture development and security which are regarded as gains of democratizations will elude Africa. Suffice it to say that this work will be corroborating previous work done challenging the authenticity and genuineness of the assertions of the modernization school of thought as regards development.

Mbakogu (2004) assert that an African development should begin with an identification of Africans condition as well as solutions for correcting these conditions, which should be formulated by Africans for Africans, and that as long as Africans remain armchair recipients of western cultures, without learning to do things targeted at their awakening, the development challenge will persistently remain an illusion. Jackson (2009) advocating the enlightenment yearning for universal principles of development is stark.

Development task will be unsuccessful if it does not have root in a people’s culture. Culture is the basic assessment of whether a society is either developing slowly or rapidly (Mbakogu,2004). Government of nations had been encouraged to work at enhancing social and economic development by increasing cultural heritage and tourism potential of country’s with the aim of reducing poverty, and to increase employment. Seniyi (1998) opined that the various developmental strategies failed because of lack or insufficiency of knowledge and equipment to carryout activities that agriculture as an enterprise demands. But more to this is the commitment to the implementation of the raised developmental strategies, because most of the strategies ever adopted had been the same the major differences are just the change in the name given each strategy. Some of the previous development plans failed because; there was little or no consultation of the general public. Planning is supposed to involve even the peasants in the villages.

Gains and Impact of the Nigerian National Development Plan

Suffice it to say that strategy formulation is never enough but faithful and religious implementation of the strategy portends the beauty of development, no matter how laudable the strategy might sound they are not sacrosanct in their totality, lack of discipline, dishonesty, lack of interest, the absence of willingness and dedication will nullify irrespective of the preparations and methodical approach. Therefore, this work advocates total commitment on the part of the leadership, discipline and honesty on the part of project implementers in order to chat a new course. The enviable growth and development patterns of several Asian countries are well known. East Asia is the only region in the world that has been able to maintain strong, consistent growth patterns over several decades, led first by Japan and the newly industrializing economies of Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, and the likes (Mimiko, 1998; Adelman, 1995).

Apart from the homogenous nature of these societies, other several factors were responsible for their development. These were: development of agricultural sector, a system of mass education, development of indigenous industries, export-oriented strategy, the Spartan discipline of their leadership, existence of efficient bureaucracy, these therefore suggest taking a clue from these close peasant culture if we intend to develop better and to sustain it. Lesson from a peasant close culture: The Japanese and Chinese experience We must understand the type of development that took place in the Japanese society was highly influenced by the citizens. During the 2nd World War, America bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and this rendered the Japanese society helpless, to this point they were forced to surrender.The story of Japans influence started from here, they closed their economy never connected or transacted business with the outside World and looked inward for their supply and development.

They managed their resources within their own context, developed and modernized their traditional and indigenous ways of doing things and getting work done. This implies that inwards approach to development was used by the Japanese society. They were able to modernize in line with their technology, they never conceived technology breakthrough, innovation and development they weren’t ready or matured for and this really helped the development of the society. Indeed, the development that is people oriented and initiated is long and lasting. The Chinese experience Their experience is similar and alike, they also looked inward for transformation. The society recognized the significance of the citizenry to a sustainable development, after the 2nd World War attention shifted from complete production and accumulation to improvement of the living standard of the people and consumption. On the same platform they maintained their traditional language, developed their crude technology via indigenous knowledge, cherished their culture and taught their citizens the principle of hard work. Today China stands tall among the communiqué of nation, highly developed, technologically advanced and produces over 70% of the electronics used in Nigeria.

Nigeria should learn from the experience of China and Japan, we should understand following the principles of the Western world like we did during the colonial era and we still doing now has not helped and may not profit us. Our leaders should initiate people oriented developmental programs, we should look inward for development, let us modernize our own indigenous ways of doing things. A quick response to address the following issues as poverty, inequality, unemployment, and economic crisis and insecurity problems will nip at the bud the underdevelopment challenges. Therefore, a major concern to governments, multilateral institutions and policy makers in different countries is to identify appropriate strategy for poverty alleviation especially in the rural areas. The paper concludes with issues on the following as way forward that if: the equitable distribution of income, increase in employment opportunities, improved social services and an efficient allocation of available resources to eliminate waste with proper planning and enquiries as blue-prints for development as has been previously advocated will work then the populace and the implementer should be properly checked.


Development planning as a long-term programme designed to effect some permanent structural changes in the economy is connected with the involvement of government in the economy whereby it sets out objectives about the way it wants the economy to develop in the future and then intervenes to try to achieve those objectives. Development planning is necessary because since development is neither accidental nor does it take place naturally and quickly of its own accord, it is expedient to plan it deliberately. This study understudied the challenges that militated against the actualization of the various development plans that were initiated or launched by the Federal Government at one time or the other. Its specific objectives were to examine their challenges as well as to find out why all the development plans failed in Nigeria. This paper has carefully discussed national development in Nigeria. It examined the problems of national develop-ment in Nigeria, and carefully outlined the driving forces of development in some of the Asia countries as models for Nigeria’s development. The paper also suggested some viable strategies needed to engender sustainable development in Nigeria. It is the belief of this chapter that if these options and models are faithfully and judiciously pursued and imbibed, Nigeria will be well positioned in the global economy by the year 2020.


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Teresa Chigozirim Okoro, a development expert is the Programme Manager of CLEEN Foundation

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