Beyond the fetishism of Gross Domestic Product: (Mis)governance and the challenges of poverty reduction in Nigeria

  • Samuel O. Oloruntoba


Over the last 10 years, Nigeria experienced an average of seven per cent per annum rate of economic growth measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). The country has been identified as one of the fastest growing countries in the world by various international development agencies. The recent rebasing of the economy actually turned Nigeria into the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of over US$500 billion. Despite this comparatively high rate of growth, poverty and inequality remain very high, as the growth has not translated into job creation. While the national rate of unemployment is about 27.4 per cent, youth unemployment is well over 60 per cent. At the root of this disconnect between growth and development are governance challenges in the form of corruption, state capture by corrupt elites and misdirected policies. This article examines the link between governance and the failure of economic growth to translate into inclusive development in Nigeria. It argues that the structure of governance hinders the translation of economic growth to achieving tangible results for poverty reduction in the country. The structure of governance can be broadly defined as over-centralisation of authority under a supposedly federal arrangement; prebendalism, centred on a petro-dollar economy; and patrimonialism, as evidenced by the politics of sharing national resources among the ruling elites and their cronies.