Nigeria history politicle and economic development
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA: ANY ROLE FOR
Udo Nwokocha, Ph.D
Abia State University, Uturu
Millie N. Horsfall, Ph.D
University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt
Being a paper presented at the 7th Annual Conference of Nigerian Librarian Association, Abia
State Chapter, 6th – 8th November 2019.
The paper presents an overview of the concept of political and economic development across
the globe before zeroing in on Nigeria. It conducts the study guided by six objectives including
highlighting the indices of political development, identifying the features of economic
development, discussing the state of Nigerian libraries and establishing the place of Nigerian
libraries in political and economic development. The paper was able to establish that Nigerian
libraries are well placed to contribute meaningfully and effectively in political and economic
development of Nigeria. However, they are hindered by several challenges including
insufficient visibility and funding. It concludes by recommending that librarians and
professional bodies should step up advocacy in support of Nigerian libraries for them remain
major factors in the promotion of political and economic development in Nigeria.
Keywords: Political Development, Economic Development, Role Nigeria,
Politics and economy are the critical wheel on which all democratic nations of the world
revolve. In this sense, politics represents the administration of the country by the political
leaders while the economy stands for trading, manufacturing, import and export of goods and
services that go on in the country. These two factors are the engine that move other enablers of
development. Other activities that go on in a nation are geared towards assisting of facilitating
the speedy development of the country either in the political or economic sphere. According to
Nwosu (2015), development is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that pervades all facets of
human life including growth and changes in social, political, economic, technological and
structural dimensions of the society. Sauda (1992) asserts that development process in modern
societies is mainly concerned with improvement in the quality of life of citizens thereby
ensuring that they live a better life. It also addresses the fundamental issues of inequality,
deprivation, injustice, poverty and equal participation in political processes in each country.
‘Political Development’ as a term can be traced to 1950’s when many American political
scientists attempted to study the political dynamics of emerging countries of Asia, Africa and
Latin America. The term is still in the process of evolution as there is hardly any unanimity
among the scholars on the constituent of political development. However, Thomas (2011)
views political development as an increase in political unity and political participation. It
further connotes increased differentiation and specialization of national structures and
increased secularization of political life and culture.
Seidman (2019) defines economic development as the process of transforming low-income
national economies into modern industrial economies. It is often seen as a technique of
alleviating poverty in distressed economies. The term has often been used as a synonym for
economic growth, however it is generally used to refer to a change in the economy of the
country involving quality of life of citizens. It can also be used to refer to the adoption of new
technologies, transition from agro-based to industralized economy.
Education has been acclaimed as the greatest enabler of political and economic development
in any country. Development of any type is usually powered by education which brings about
knowledge to perform different developmental strides. On the other hand, acquisition of
knowledge is achieved through reading of books and other information materials which are
normally stored in the library. The implication is that the library appears to be a constant
decimal in the equation pertaining to knowledge, information, education and ultimately societal
development. Libraries have remained in the forefront of fostering stable and functional
education which is fundamental to the development of any society.
According to Abata-Ebire, Adebowale & Ojokuku (2018), libraries play a critical role in
achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is not surprising given the fact that
libraries all over the world are the centre of research and a place of information empowerment
and people have continued to retain faith in the capacity of the library in the promotion and
realization of the goals of political and economic development of the country. Umar (2018)
argues that libraries have always played crucial roles in the prosecution of different campaigns
aimed at exposing Nigerian citizens to the tenets and structures of development via information
dissemination and orientation. These Nigerian based campaigns include: Green Revolution,
War Against Indiscipline (WAI), Good People, Great Nation and recently Change Begins
with Me. These initiatives by government are intended to awaken in the citizens the spirit of
consciousness towards patriotism and ultimately development of the nation. This is probably
why Krolak (2006) argues that libraries and indeed librarians should become facilitators of
information with emphasis on service and proffering solutions to challenges confronting
Many scholars have, and rightly so, linked the level of development in Nigeria to the literacy
or illiteracy level. According to Osundare (2009) a country’s level of development is a function
of its level of mental and cultural evolution as well as the state of its educational advancement
which is critical to the attainment of high literacy level. This probably led Nwokocha & Ogwo
(2015) to posit that development depicts improvement in people’s lifestyle through improved,
qualitative and functional education; incomes, skills development and gainful employment.
They further argue that an educated and well-informed labour force is a source of productivity
for national development.
As far as human memory can stretch, libraries have always been associated with development
and transformation leading Nwokocha (2018) to argue that societies are as developed to the
extent of their libraries. The impact of libraries on societal development can be further gauged
by the fact that whenever libraries are transformed, it usually follows that societies are equally
developed. Udensi & Akor (2013) are of the view that the most important information required
in societal development is the one that will help the individual to settle uncertainties or
problems and enable rational decision-making. According to them, this implies that even
legislators would require accurate, unrestricted and prompt access to libraries to facilitate the
efficient performance of their duties. Abdulraham, Ape & Egbe (2019) submit that libraries
across the world, play important roles in enhancing societal development which is often
achieved through promotion of reading habit and information literacy while Nwokocha (2017)
summarizes that “scholars and world leaders are largely agreed in the affirmation that books,
information and libraries are interwoven and are known to work together to promote education
and societal development”.
It appears that many scholars consider the library as a catalyst towards education of citizens of
nations and by extension the development of the society. The question that begs for an answer
is to what extent Nigerian libraries fit into this exemplary role?
1. To highlight indices of political development
2. To identify the features of economic development
3. To discuss the state of Nigerian libraries
4. To establish the place of Nigerian libraries in the political and economic development
5. To highlight challenges confronting libraries in Nigeria
6. To proffer solutions to challenges identified
Political and economic development has attracted discussions among scholars and
development experts indicating the centrality of the subject matter to both citizens and
governments. In the view of Obasi (2005), development is a social process through which
citizens of a country can harness, mobilize and utilize all available resources, human and
material, for the purposes of transforming their environment. This also includes ensuring the
dissemination of credible and adequate information to citizens in the format they would
Political development according to Pooja (2019) is a more elusive concept when compared
with economic development. It presents more controversial scenarios whenever attempts are
made to measure it in empirical and operational terms. This is the case because political
development has to do with human beings and their political activities. He further explains
political development in ten spheres and capacities including: political prerequisite of
economic development; the politics typical of industrial and advanced societies; political
modernisation under which advanced nations are regarded as pace-setters; and the operations
of a nation-state. Others are administrative and legal development; mass mobilisation and
participation involving new standards of loyalty and demagoguery; the building of
democracy; stability and orderly change; mobilisation and power. According to Lal, Gaumer
& Manlica (1999) political development has to do with the way a nation is governed
including the activities of citizens and institutions as well as how they articulate their interest
and exercise their rights and obligations.
Prittchet, Woolcock and Andrews (2013) assert that economic development is associated with
improvements in a variety of areas or indicators (such as literacy rates, life expectancy, and
poverty rates), that may be causes of economic development rather than consequences of
specific economic development programs. They opine that health and education improvements
have been closely related to economic growth and argue that the challenge of economic
development is closely tied to the challenge of security and national unity.
According to Hiber (2019), economic development is a process that aims at achieving
economic well-being and enhanced economic life for citizens of a country, state or local
community. Economic development is often used as intervention process enhancing the
economic life of citizens. Prittchet, Woolcock and Andrews (2013) assert that economic
development is associated with improvements in a variety of areas or indicators (such as
literacy rates, life expectancy, and poverty rates), that may be causes of economic development
rather than consequences of specific economic development programs. They opine that health
and education improvements have been closely related to economic growth and argue that the
challenge of economic development is closely tied to the challenge of security and national
According to Glass (2000) there is a current trend where most businesses go to the library
with the primary aim of accessing business information and services, and where they are
unable to go physically, they usually place a telephone call to the library.
A telephone reference service requires access to a very extensive set of reference materials.
An equally critical part of such a system is highly trained librarians to interpret business
requests for information, to gather the information quickly, and to communicate the
information to the businesses and economic development professionals. Supporting such an
operation is undoubtedly beyond the capabilities of small or even medium-sized
INDICES OF POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT
Political development is synonymous with mass participation of citizens in political activities
of a nation which ultimately leads to national unity. More so, political participation which is
one of the political indicators refers to the act of voluntary involvement of persons in political
activities of their country. It enhances a sense of belonging and a better management of the
political system. American Library Association (1995) asserts that democracy have a symbiotic
relationship making it almost impossible to have one without the other. While democracy vests
power on the people, libraries provide the wheel on which democracy revolves by providing
access to information to enable citizens make decisions necessary for governance.
Kaplan (2012) outlines indices of political development to include:
How competitive economies are?
How hungry the citizens are?
How free the press is?
How risky investments are?
How corrupt public sectors are?
A critical examination of these indices helps countries and their leaders determine how they
compare with other nations of the world in other to assess their performance and possible areas
for improvement. Political indices are used as a compass by nations to gauge how prone they
are to conflicts and determine the level of current political system.
Generally, Political indicators include measures of political participation, civil liberties, and
human and labour rights. Many indicators used in political development studies have been
economic, social, cultural and psychological in nature. Political development has four
important perspectives which include the following; stability and gradual change of political
development, political participation and mass mobilization of political development, nation
building and sense of national dignity in international affairs. (Wikipedia, 2019)
FEATURES OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Economic development has been linked to an increase in output coupled with improvement in
social and political welfare of people within a country. It is the development of economic
wealth of a country, region or community for the well-being of its inhabitants. Economic
development is also referred to as the efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and
quality of lives for communities by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing
incomes. According to Woodruff (2019) The most common indicators of economic
development are Gross Domestic Product (GPD) per capita, the poverty level, life expectancy,
the proportion of workers in agriculture and changes in the physical quality of life. Similarly,
Saka, Momoh and Mohammed (2019) report that the concept of ‘national development’ can be
viewed as achievement or progress attained by any nation and the key indicators to national
development include; GPD, literacy life expectancy, human development indices.
Economic development usually refers to the adoption of new technologies as well as
transmutation from agriculture-based to industrialised economy, and general improvement in
living standards. Madu, Abba and Joel (2019) agree that the level of the nation’s economic
development determines the living condition and social and economic well-being of the nation
and its populace. However, economic development has been summarized by Seidman, (2005)
as a process of creating and utilizing physical, human, financial, and social assets to generate
improved and broadly shared economic well-being and quality of life for a community or
The important Common Characteristics of Developing Economies according to Agarwal,
Low per capita real income
Low per capita real income is one of the most defining characteristics of developing economies.
They suffer from low per capita real income level, which results in low savings and low
investments. The percentage of people in absolute poverty (the minimum income level) is high
in developing countries.
High population growth rate/size
Another common characteristic of developing countries is that they have either high population
growth rates or large populations. Often, this is because of a lack of family planning options,
lack of sex education and the belief that more children could result in a higher labour force for
the family to earn income.
High rates of unemployment
In rural areas, unemployment is compounded by large seasonal variations. However,
unemployment is a more complex problem requiring policies beyond traditional fixes.
Dependence on primary sector
Almost 75% of the population of low-income countries is rural based. As income levels rise,
the structure of demand changes, which leads to a rise in the manufacturing sector and the
Dependence on exports of primary commodities
Since a significant portion of output originates from the primary sector, a large portion of
exports is also from the primary sector.
THE PLACE OF NIGERIAN LIBRARIES IN POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Provision of Information Materials: The economic, political, educational and socio-cultural
development of the advanced countries are closely linked to availability and utilization of
information for nation building hence, their libraries have been recognized as aiding the process
of national development in all facets of life. Nigerian libraries provide information materials
required in the training of high and middle level manpower necessary for the political,
economic, social and technological advancement of any nation through teaching, research and
community development. Aliyu (2008) affirms that libraries are agents of education, social,
economic and political changes whose doors are open to all who need them.
Provision of Access to Relevant Information: Libraries in Nigeria are central in the pursuit of
political and economic development as they help in promoting access to relevant information
for the development of effective national policy framework which will enhance the political
and economic development in Nigeria. The library’s unique role as a social institution is
saddled with the responsibility of acquiring, organizing, and disseminating information to all
members of the society, naturally position them to ensure that information is provided and that
citizens have access to information that will enable them function reasonably and make useful
contributions to nation building.
Creation Political Awareness: Libraries in Nigeria can provide equitable access to political
information, provide rural dwellers with information to meet their educational, medical,
political, economic, and social needs through media literacy skills to enhance political and
economic development. The library also creates awareness on the need for participation in
politics for the enhancement of national development. Alex-Nmecha, Horsfall and Igbinovia
(2017) maintain that there is need to foster national integration from the political dimension
through the library as key information institution. Their views were presented in terms of the
library enhancing political consciousness and participation, federalism, democratic
governance, and individual”s response to political campaign messages thereby concluded that
library as a social-based information institution is rightly positioned to function outside the box
to meet the political information needs of the public and equip them to become better citizens
that are politically inclined.
Nigerian libraries can create more awareness for the institutionalization of political education,
as this will foster a healthy democratic development and directly address current Nigeria’s
volatile political landscape. Halvorson, (2013) opines that this occurs especially when
institutions fail to change or adapt when they become unnecessary due to social or economic
changes. Political and economic aspects of Nigerian society can be separated analytically as
such separation help to clarify their character and the nature of their interaction.
Libraries and Economic Development: Libraries as power houses of information are well
positioned to make information available to Nigerian citizens especially on economic affairs.
All types of libraries can carry out this function, however, public, special and national libraries
are known to be in the forefront of this national duty. In the era of economic recession or high
inflation, Nigerian libraries can play the role of furnishing citizens with information bothering
on economic matters. The information may bother on sources of purchases to avoid high prices
of different commodities and services in addition to awareness of contraband items. Economic
information provided by Nigerian libraries such as NISER Library in Ibadan especially on
economic indices go a long way in promoting economic development in Nigeria.
Most libraries in the United States have established relationships with local business
organizations, either by having a representative who is a member of such an organization or by
engaging business gurus and explaining to them the resources available in the library. Libraries
have also gone further to express a willingness to establish strong relationships with local
Chambers of Commerce as a step in improving their services to the business and economic
development communities. Case studies indicated large libraries with business reference
librarians witnessed a high volume of business requests that were handled completely over the
telephone. Many operators of businesses are now asking for improvement in public libraries
services through making the library electronically accessible from their offices. Libraries in
Nigeria can take a cue from this by partnering business outfits such as Nigerian Chambers of
Commerce, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Market Unions etc.
CHALLENGES CONFRONTING NIGERIAN LIBRARIES
Libraries in Nigeria are faced with several challenges in the course of performing their
responsibilities. These challenges are well known as they have been there for long. These
include lack of attention by leaders at all levels especially political leaders who call the shots.
This is closely followed by and of course related to lack of adequate funding which has made
most libraries in Nigeria a shadow of themselves. Epileptic or total absence of power supply is
another barrier to effective library services. The worse of all the challenges is the lack of
adequate professional advocacy by librarians themselves. Any trumpet that is kept without
blowing usually rusts and becomes unusable. This is the case with the library profession where
librarians are shy to advocate for the proper funding and stocking of libraries.
SOLUTIONS TO CHALLENGES CONFRONTING NIGERIAN LIBRARIES
The solution to most of the challenges confronting Nigerian libraries mainly in stepping up the
level of advocacy. All librarians, professional organizations and institutions related to library
and information science including Nigerian Library Association (NLA), Librarians’
Registration Council of Nigeria (LRCN) and National Library of Nigeria, must be encouraged
to reserve a large chunk of their budget for the purposes of advocacy to make libraries more
visible and appreciated in Nigeria. Greater visibility of the library will make its services to be
appreciated by citizens and political leaders thereby leading to better funding and improved
resources and services.
Librarians should begin to take pride in their profession. For librarians to do effective
advocacy, they must first love the profession and be convinced of the centrality of the library
in the enterprise of information storage and dissemination. A good and sustained advocacy will
make more people to appreciate the relevance of the library in national development and
therefore bring about solution to inadequate funding and other problems confronting Nigerian
Political and economic development in Nigeria and in any other part of the world is a mirage
in the absence of functional libraries. Books, information and libraries are the platform for the
achievement of political and economic development. This is further buttressed by the fact that
countries that are developed politically and economically are also those ones that have
functional libraries. Libraries in Nigeria are developing and are contributing to the political and
economic development of the nation. However, a lot still needs to be done for Nigerian libraries
to optimally functional and effective.
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