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The Colonial Economy:The indigenization of Colonialism and Under-development.

Underdevelopment is a term often used to refer to economic underdevelopment.Countries considered as underdeveloped,usually have symptoms such as limited or complete  lack of access to job opportunities, health care, drinkable water, food, education, housing and state  welfare programmes.Underdeveloped nations are characterized by a wide disparity between their rich and poor populations, and an unhealthy balance of trade.In my opinion two main factors drive underdevelopment:(a)corruption and (b)dependence on primary products.Although corruption hinders development because it leads to mis-allocation of resources,which are then not used to their full socio-economic potential,the focus of this article is the dependence on primary products and how it fosters underdevelopment.

50 years after securing independence from Britain,Nigeria remains an underdeveloped pre-industrial nation. And this,because it’s economy has remained colonial,being based on the colonial model of primary products exports.Colonialism,a relationship between an indigenous (or forcibly imported) majority and a minority of foreign invaders,was founded on a given economic arrangement,whereby produce from the colonized territory,the colony,is exploitatively extracted for exports to the colonizing territory,the metropole.Produce is used to refer to a group of farm products in their natural state.In other words,these natural resources have not undergone any form of value-addition.This includes crude oil.The colony was administered by the colonists,the people from  the metropole,who lived like lords,as befitted conquerors.

Colonial society was thus unequal,consisting of priviledged colonists and poor indigenes providing the labour for the sustainance of the system.After independence,this arrangement did not change,except that the administration of the system was indigenized as educated Nigerians replaced British officials.The colonial education system,which  was designed to produce clerks/bookkeepers rather than productive workers,was now expanded to churn out masses of bookkeeper-graduates.The idea was that educated people would take the place, status and  living standard,of departing colonists.While the Chinese and Indians,with their capacity for deferring gratification,sought to produce productive workers,our school system was engineered to produce black ‘colonists’.While first-generation Chinese and Indian graduates were lucky to own bicycles,Nigerian graduates expected to live like lords.

We failed to see the mathematical limitations of this arrangement.Our resources were finite.The introduction of an army of bookkeeper-graduates into the work-force was not accompanied by relevant value-addition.And we expected resources which had sustained a few hundred colonists,to be sufficient for thousands and then millions of local people being churned out by the universities.It is a cinch that such a system as this will deliver only increasingly diminishing returns.A consequence of this substitution was the fostering of a culture of entitlement.People just want to share the “national cake”.Nobody really wants to work to create a better society.Educated people just want to wave their certificates and secure high-paying jobs.Never mind how those certificates were secured.Just get a bunch of those papers and you are in clover.

The Chinese and Indians have shown that education and training should be about equipping people with skills.With those skills,people can go out there and produce things and create wealth.Only by creating rather than just consuming can any society become wealthy.We should emphasize education that prepares people for a life of creativity,and promotes the work ethic.Our people have to realise that they can create far graeter wealth using their brain and energy,than that under their feet.Any Nation that relies solely on the exports of primary products,without adding value to these products,will remain underdeveloped,a mere trading post.And Nigeria is no different.

“Developing countries  have an unequal trade balance which results from their dependence upon primary products (usually only a handful) for their export receipts. These commodities are often (a) in limited demand in the industrialized countries (for example: tea, coffee, sugar, cocoa, bananas); (b) vulnerable to replacement by synthetic substitutes (jute, cotton, etc); or (c) are experiencing shrinking demand with the evolution of new technologies that require smaller quantities of raw materials (as is the case with many metals). Prices cannot be raised as this simply hastens the use of replacement synthetics or alloys, nor can production be expanded as this rapidly depresses prices. Consequently, the primary commodities upon which most of the developing countries depend are subject to considerable short-term price fluctuation, rendering the foreign exchange receipts of the developing nations unstable and vulnerable. Development thus remains elusive.”

If possible i would have made this post shorter.Sorry.See you in the comments.


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13 responses to “The Colonial Economy:The indigenization of Colonialism and Under-development.

  1. codliveroil January 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Thank you HenryIK2009, Happy New Year.
    You are the only person who I’ve read about who puts forward a movement away from the sole dependence on primary products.

    I don’t know what it is with Nigerians. You name it, from the president down to local state government officials. All they talk about mineral extraction, if you are lucky food production. When you read web pages for the various state governments, that is all they can talk about, no mention is ever made the service sector or manufacturing. This shows how limited their thinking is and the lack of imagination on their part.

    Minerals are non-renewable (ie finite) and environmentally destructive, especially the way mineral extraction is conducted in Nigeria, you only have to look at oil and gas extraction in the Niger Delta, gold extraction in Zamfara state and you will see what I mean. Tin and columbite extraction in Plateau state.

    Even the Johnathan administration is encouraging the development of solid state minerals as if this is the answer. They all are overlooking that the way forward doesn’t like in pinning all one’s hopes on minerals (which are at best moderately abundant). Services and manufacturing coupled with self-sufficiency in food production are the way forward. But this requires detailed planning, commitment and patience which are characteristics that are absent from the halls of power, and the whole political scene in Nigeria

    Unless there is a dramatic, comprehensive re-assessment in how the economy is structured, Nigeria will continue to deteriorate (as the natural resources are depleted and the population continues to grow). This is something the World bank have been advocating over 30 years and to date, our leaders have stubbornly refused to take heed, they may occasionally look to some other resource to replace oil, but since the returns are not as immediate and spectacular interest soon fades.

    You yourself have noted that India and China, I can even add Brazil to this club have diversified economies. They don’t rely on one or two unfinished commodities, their people are patient and know they have to work hard for their rewards, compare that to the graduates of Nigeria, who are of a lower quality and want immediate renumeration. You can see how and where we have fallen behind.

    Food production should be prioritised, and agro-based industries should be taken seriously. Provision and attention has to be made to food storage and distribution. Droughts are not unknown in the north, neither is flooding nationwide. When price shocks occur in the world market, the poor in Nigeria will not be disproportionately affected, if we have a reliable, clean stock pile of food. Rather than wasting scarce funds importing food as is currently the case.

    Technology needs to be embraced, when you see pictures of government ministers, or “prestige projects”. Nearly everything is imported, from the cameras the journalists are using to capture the event. The lamps they are using, even the pen’s they are using are all imported. The only Nigerian manufactured thing in the whole picture is the minister and some journalists. Anything that requires technology is imported, in a nation of approximately 150 million, this is embarrassing to say the least.

    Technology, medicine and manufacturing are fields that are being ignored in Nigeria. This is to our detriment, the only time people recognise the importance of these things is when they need to import them and have to pay astronomical prices for them, some people can establish a business in trading, but that in the long term doesn’t help the nation. As for medicine the trend is now for those who can afford it to seek treatment abroad, as they health care system is is completely unsatisfactory. People are always seeking the quick and easy route, which turns out to be disadvantageous in the long run.

    How is it you are one of very few Nigerians to recognise this?

    • henryik2009 January 15, 2011 at 10:52 am

      Hi codliveroil,
      Thank you for your well-thought response.You are absolutely right about services and manufacturing being the way forward.People do not realize that apart from the money it brings in,mineral extraction offers very little else:unlike manufacturing,it is capital- rather than labour-intensive and there is very little technology transfer.I guess we will have to keep shouting until somebody up there begins to listen.
      The length of the write-up is not a problem.

  2. codliveroil January 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Sorry for the lengthy response. But this is something that has irked me for a long while.

  3. PXStevey January 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Hi, I’m new I would like to welcome all… 🙂

  4. IDAM, MACBEN OTU February 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I’m really glad 2 b associated with the works here…

  5. henryik2009 February 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Idam,
    Thanks for your comment.Glad you are glad.

  6. Ibezim Okehie April 19, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Good article. Something we all “know”, put into words. Well done.

  7. Samuel Ndubuisi R August 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    How can i learn from u pls! Your article is inspiring,more grace!

  8. henryik2009 August 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Samuel,
    Thanks for your comment.Glad you found the article useful.Thanks for the prayer.

  9. danik January 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

    i enjoyed reading your post.it has helped me in my assignment.tanx

  10. tohib zaharan July 2, 2012 at 4:15 am

    This is educationally enlightening and very interesting to me. I’d like frequent updates pls

  11. tohib zaharan July 2, 2012 at 4:17 am

    You cud follow me on twitter @YOLOfella and I ll follow back ASAP. I love public issues and current affairs

  12. Sabina September 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Hello.tanx alot 4 puttin ds article 2geda.it goes a lng way 2 show dt there’ s hope 4 d future no mata hw bad things luk

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