Political Leadership and the Paradox of African Economic Underdevelopment 1960 – 2010: A Historical Analysis of Nigeria as a Case Study

Udida A. Undiyaundeye


At her Independence in 1960, Nigeria held out prospects of being one of the fastest economies of the world and attainment of industrial status within a generation. This was because she seemingly had all that was needed to attain the objective: a buoyant agriculture, an assertive entrepreneurial class, a bourgeoning middle class, an adequate financial base and a friendly external financial environment. So bright were her prospects that Malaysia came and got oil palm seedlings from her Institute of Oil Palm Research (NIFOR). Yet over fifty years on, while her contemporaries have joined the league of advanced industrial economies, Nigeria is still trapped in the back waters of the underdeveloped world, much to the embarrassment of her erstwhile contemporaries and chagrin of her citizens. This paper argues that the cause of this tragic experience is leadership failure. Whose multiplier effects are bribery, corruption, treasury looting and the various shades of political instability? The aggregate effects of all these is a prostrate Nigerian state groaning under the weight of its political misfortune.

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