Oyeyinka’s panacea for tackling Nigeria’s development reversal

DDG Weekly Column

Oyeyinka’s panacea for tackling Nigeria’s development reversal

“In the early 1990s, Nigeria’s palm oil production accounted for 43 per cent of the total world production. However today, Nigeria is currently struggling with less than 2 per cent of global output. From a major exporter, Nigeria has become the largest importer of Malaysia’s palm oil in the sub-Saharan Africa Region.”

Professor Banji Oyeyinka, in a paper delivered to the 8th Edition of the Annual Distinguished Lecture Series of the Nigerian Society of Engineers on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

Public discourse in Nigeria is overwhelmingly dominated by politics, a feature which the late Professor Claude Ake once described as the “over-politicisation of social life.” We carry on as if once the political kingdom is manifested among us Nigerians can live happily ever after. This has regrettably led to the shunting aside of many fundamental issues that are consequential for the uplift or alternatively, the decline of the nation. It is refreshing, therefore, that one of our leading political economists has returned our attention to issues which cohere with the development shutdown or, in his words, development reversal of Nigeria.

As the opening quote suggests, on too many fronts, including agriculture, the nation is not merely static but it is undergoing development reversal. Stagnation or arrest is a shade better than reversal, considering that reversal connotes not just a shutdown on critical frontiers of growth and development, but a situation which reverses the progress made in earlier decades. It also indicates that countries which had several things to learn from Nigeria in earlier times had overtaken it on crucial indices of development, human survival and insertion into the technological age.