Nigeria’s population is projected to be around 200 million people, implying that the country has a surplus of both skilled and unskilled labor. Because of its population, it is also a rich ground for worldwide trade. Nigeria is also endowed with a plethora of mineral resources. It is Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producer and exporter of oil, as well as the world’s 13th largest.
These endowments should have elevated Nigeria to the forefront of global investment. With its wealth in petroleum and natural resources, as well as its immense agricultural potential, Nigeria should have long been Africa’s unchallenged economic powerhouse.
However, 60 years after independence, Nigeria, like a car straining to climb a steep slope, has yet to realize its full potential. As a result, its vast population has become a source of weakness rather than strength.
Many Nigerians have had to seek their fortunes overseas due to enormous unemployment and overstretching of inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure.
Smaller countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are catching up.
At the same time, large firms from industrialized and wealthy European and South Asian countries find the Nigerian business climate unfavorable.
This is primarily due to deteriorating infrastructure, corruption, and instability. Over the years, many European firms have closed or transferred their Nigerian manufacturing units. They blame a lack of steady electrical supply and rampant corruption for impeding their seamless operations.
For good cause, all eyes were on the world’s most populous Black Country at the time of independence. Nigerians excelled in intellectual and scholastic pursuits, business, international diplomacy, military and political leadership, and so forth. Only Ghana rivaled Nigeria in continental leadership just before independence.
When Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah was toppled in a coup, the spotlight was transferred to Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello, Nigerian political leaders who were also brilliant thinkers.
Nigeria led and offered substantial support to UN peacekeeping deployments in Congo and other nations. It spearheaded the anti-apartheid struggle in Southern African countries such as South Africa, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). It also backed liberation movements in Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, and Western Sahara.
Nigeria’s influence in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was so significant in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s that it soared to the top of the organization for decades. The country’s economic clout made it more politically significant in Africa, and by the mid-1980s, its opinion was constantly sought on intra-state dispute resolution.
The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States viewed the country as their lifeline, and they still do to some extent.
The reasons why Nigeria may no longer be the giant of Africa are as follows:
• A succession of failed administrations
• Moral bankruptcy in government institutions
• High level of insecurity
• Religious and ethnic prejudice
• Military blunders prior to 1993
1. A Succession of Failed Administrations
A lack of commitment by leaders and the people to the Nigerian goal, a united, stable, developed, and successful country, as well as overloading the polity with hardline ethnic or proto-nationalists in a country of over 250 groups will ultimately destroy the country.
2. Moral Bankruptcy in Government Institutions
The Nigerian government institutions comprises of individuals who do not have any form of morals nor self conscience to move the country towards the right position. This has led to many forms of financial embezzlement, economic decay, and poverty among the masses.
3. High level of Insecurity
There’s the issue of insecurity, which has been a stumbling block for the previous decade. Insecurity is defined as a lack of internal stability or safety, as well as a condition of vulnerability to internal dangers and threats. Insecurity stems from a weakened and compromised national security architecture, which has been one of the major impediments to Nigeria realizing its full development potential.
To put it another way, while various other variables have conspired over the decades to keep Nigeria afloat, the country’s horrible security situation in the last ten years has eroded the state’s fabric.
According to our findings, the frequency of insurgent attacks has resulted in collateral harm to Nigeria’s peace, stability, development, and sovereignty. We also observed that the current government has been indecisive in dealing with insecurity.
The overworked and undertrained military is losing its ability to combat Boko Haram, control borders, and maintain the country’s once-enviable image. The police protect little or nothing, are corrupt and inept, and have become a significant drain on the state.
Ordinary folks rely on legal self-help or illicit means to survive both at home and abroad. Nobody gives a damn and the image crisis is worsening.
4. Religious and Ethnic Prejudice
Due to Nigeria’s diverse religious and cultural heritage, there are over 250 ethnic groups and three different types of religion (Christianity, Islam, and Traditionalism) in the country and as such, cases of tribalism and religion tend to rear its ugly head whenever it comes to awarding contracts or political appointments.
This has led to the placing of the wrong persons in political positions and abusing power in the process to the detriment of the masses.
5. Military Blunders prior to 1993
The military regime was also another horrible experience in the lives of Nigerians. Decisions were made that plunged Nigeria into a mess including the Biafran civil war whose agitation is still brewing as of this present day.
The likes of Major General Sani Abacha come to mind as his loots are still being recovered from the Diaspora till this very day.