The Political Economy of Infrastructural Development in Nigeria
AbstractThe adequate provision of public utilities has become a critical determinant in the ‘failed state’ question. In pre-colonial Nigeria, the indigenous communities in response to the principle of ‘environmental determinism’ initiated projects to facilitate their participation in variegated socio-economic activities such as farming, fishing, trading, hunting and smiting, amongst others. With the advent of colonialism and the entrenchment of a colonial economy, the idea of infrastructural development was predicated on the exploitation of the natural resources of the ‘subject people’. It is this factor that succinctly provides the raison d’etre for railways coursing from the coastlands to the hinterlands to the coal, cocoa, groundnut and palm produce terminals. At political independence, there were great expectations for a revolutionary approach that would have transformed the physiognomy of the rural and urban centres but this dream remained unrealized. It is not a matter of policy formulation but that of implementation. Bearing in mind that the availability of public utilities and basic amenities form the pivot on which more than 80% of the socio-economic life of a people revolve, this paper critically subjects the relevant agencies, such as the Public Works Department (PWD) of the colonial era, the Director of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRR), the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the various ministries of Works and Transport at the Federal, State and Local Government levels, to the crucibles of scrutiny. An x-ray of these organs abysmally reveals a culture of ineptitude and non-performance traceable to endemic corruption and mismanagement of public funds. It is this observation that justifies the adoption of the political economy approach which posits that the politics of functional infrastructure is a public concern for private benefit. To break this jinx, all the stakeholders in the public utilities industry, must adopt an approach that takes accountability, value re-orientation and moral discipline cum due process into consideration in the award and execution of contracts.
Keywords: political economy, public utilities, corruption, accountability, due process
LWATI: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 9(1), 217-226, 2012
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