POLITICAL leadership AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Nigeria and India's economies were dominated by primary output, particularly agriculture, at the time of their independence. However, within a few decades, India transformed and surpassed Nigeria, emerging as one of the world's fastest expanding economies, whereas Nigeria's economy lagged significantly.
This study compared the role of leadership on the economic development histories of these two countries from their independence until 2013. The comparative indices were political leadership qualities, economic policies, the Human Development Index (HDI), and economic development indicators/rankings of these two Common Wealth member countries.
Political leadership remained important among these comparison indices that were deemed critical in explaining the development gap between the two historical peers. This study used descriptive and comparative historical methodologies, with data obtained from secondary sources and examined subjectively and quantitatively.
Poor governance, mismanagement of resources, corruption, and poor implementation of economic development strategies and plans have all been connected to political leadership in Nigeria, as opposed to India.
As a result, the study concluded that ineffective political leadership was to blame for Nigeria's slow economic progress, whereas successful political leadership was responsible for India's rapid economic development.
Given this insight, the report urged, among other things, that Nigeria learn from India's experience; and that progress in Nigeria will remain a mirage unless strong political leadership is established.
1.1 Background of the Study.
Many people believe that Nigeria's and most developing countries' uneven economic development, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, is the result of leadership failure. Developing countries are undergoing a widening divide in terms of development, with some recording spectacular improvements in the standard of living of their peoples; expansion in urban housing, public health,
modern transport, industrialization, and overall growth of their national economies, while others have unfortunately not achieved much since independence, despite having similar and even more favourable circumstances,
compared to those countries which have For obvious reasons, Nigeria has emerged as a focus point and case study in several scholarly studies. At independence, Nigeria was seen as Africa's behemoth, with lofty expectations of driving the economy and reaching the heights that European and Asian countries have today.
Following its independence in 1960, Nigeria, like several other newly independent countries, set out to consolidate its political freedom while also addressing the issues of economic development and nation building. Despite its vast natural and human resources, Nigeria continues to struggle with economic development decades after independence.
As a result, the world community and professionals (analysts) in international affairs have expressed worry about Nigeria's economic underdevelopment and the challenges that are causing it.
Are these issues created by the nation's multi-ethnic composition, and if so, what about countries such as India, Malaysia, and Singapore? Are these issues due to the enormous population size? So, what about China and India?
If the problems were caused by a lengthy period of colonialism, what about other countries such as China, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Ghana, Singapore, and many more that were exposed to the same type of rule?
Interestingly, at the time (1960), India was on par with Nigeria in terms of development and economic potential. Both countries were usually referred to as third-world nations or economically developing countries (LDCs). Although India gained independence in 1947, thirteen (13) years before Nigeria, the same cannot be said for its socioeconomic and industrial progress.
Some countries, collectively known as the Newly Industrialised Countries (NICs) of South and South East Asia, have achieved socioeconomic development to the point where some have literally been transformed from “Third World to First World” in one generation, in the words of Lee Kuan Yew (Lee, 2000).
Japan was the first Asian country to modernise, followed by Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea following World War II. Recently, China and India have followed suit, breaking down the obstacles of low growth and economic underdevelopment. Each is centred on quality and competent leadership dedicated to national development (Ajakaiye, 2007).
Historically, African despots and their intellectual allies used to resist calls for good governance by claiming that their countries were not particularly democratic but had achieved rapid development. There is no doubt that the administrations in South Korea and Thailand were not democratic, with military “strong men” serving as the majority of the authorities.
Evidence of authoritarianism in Singapore and Malaysia cannot be ignored. With the exception of Thailand, the majority of these countries have had the same political party or leader in power for decades.
China remains socially communist, with the state controlling many aspects of its inhabitants' life. Only India appears to be making it with strong democratic credentials. They have previously encouraged people to believe that African development requires strong men (dictators).
However, if strong-man dictators and despots were the key to the growth of Asian success stories, Africa should have been a sanctuary by now, given that it has more than its fair share of both tyrants and civilian despots.
Meanwhile, Nigeria, with its abundant natural riches, had greater growth opportunities than India at the time of independence. Paradoxically, India, with fewer natural resources, is now one of Asia's tigers. Today, countries with large populations such as China and India are the fastest growing economies, while Nigeria continues to struggle with underdevelopment;
Malaysia and South Korea are developed economies, whereas Ghana, Uganda, and Zimbabwe are either recent graduates of highly indebted poor countries or on the verge of economic disaster (Ajakaiye, 2007).
This stark contrast is particularly noteworthy given that several African countries, such as Mauritius and South Africa, are on the NIC horizon, with the latter fast resolving its apartheid background in terms of mending racial divides. These countries are implementing policies and taking initiatives similar to those of Asian NICs.
India and other newly industrialised countries in South and Southeast Asia have made enormous strides in socioeconomic development and transformation, far outpacing Nigeria and the majority of Sub-Saharan African countries, some of which compared favourably to Asian countries fifty years ago.
However, the deciding factor in this circumstance is strong leadership in providing direction, defining agendas, and implementing change, which distinguishes these countries from the majority of Sub-Saharan African nations. The prospects for such quality leadership to aid Africa's economic development are already emerging in countries such as South Africa and Mauritius, which are already NICs in all intents and purposes, while Botswana,
Ghana, Mozambique, Seychelles, and Rwanda, for example, have improved their leadership and are seeing progress in economic growth and development. Ajakaiye (2007) examines the condition of rapid development in China, India, Malaysia, and South Korea after 1990.
It is significant that all these countries were characterised by low income, low growth, poverty, illiteracy, and their economies were dominated by agriculture and primary production like Sub-Saharan African countries a few decades ago, but today it is clear that these economies are fast growing, with high and rising per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP),
even though China and India still trail behind the others in terms of per capita. They are aggressively adopting technology and driving innovation. Their total Human Development Index levels reflect the progress of Asian NICs relative to Sub-Saharan Africa.
There is a very wide gap between Nigeria and India today, judging from the indices for measuring national development; Purchasing Power Parity (PPP); standard of living (cost of living);
inflationary gap; currency exchange rate; level of technological advancement; adoption of technology and innovations, etc. Thus, comparing Nigeria and India is like “Polar-Opposite”.
As a result, the researcher is compelled to investigate Nigeria's political leadership as a developing nation in comparison to India in order to determine where Nigeria falls short and to recommend a functional leadership model for Nigeria capable of rapid economic development if Nigeria is to meet her socioeconomic development and transformation goals by the year 2020.
Leadership is conceived in this research work as the mechanism that produces policies to drive and direct prudent economic management to achieve socioeconomic development and transformation by which individuals and groups work towards the attainment of prolonged social stability or peace,
development of management capacity, long-term vision and agenda, deliberate change in mindset and work ethic, creation of enabling environment for non-state actors, judicious exploita
Since India and many of the former Third World countries that are making enormous leaps in development are not as endowed with natural resources as Nigeria, many analysts have concurred and determined that the actual difficulties are those in charge of Nigeria's affairs. According to Ojah (2005), leadership is the major stumbling block to Nigeria's development.
Despite being Africa's leading country in terms of human and natural resources, Nigeria's failure to produce political leaders with vision has kept the country virtually underdeveloped to this day when compared to her historical peers who are rapidly developing.
Indeed, countries such as India, China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Indonesia, which are now known as rapidly developing nations or economies, achieved their positions by efficiently utilising existing resources to develop and enhance their situations. Leadership is the practice of influencing an organisational group's activities in order to define and achieve goals (Stogdill, 2003).
Mac Ogonor and Steve (2000) define it as the process of inspiring, mobilising resources, and directing people to passionately, diligently, and strategically pursue a goal that the people of a state or nation share by executing tasks.
A leader must have the following characteristics: knowledge, moral discipline, charisma, a greater understanding of reality and vision, and the ability to work as part of a team.
Joseph (1995) stated emphatically in Asuquo (2012) that Nigeria had all of the numerous ingredients required to construct a strong nation: land, water, mineral resources, and people. The only thing standing between Nigeria and grandeur is political leadership.
What Nigeria lacks is the selflessness demonstrated by leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, and many more Indian national leaders, which has contributed to the country's rapid development and industrialization. India, like China, requires special attention because to its size and recent strong growth. Between 1996 and 2008, India's average yearly growth rate exceeded 7% (Goldstein and Pevehouse, 2012).
India's success may mirror China's ascent out of poverty in the coming years. For decades, India's economy was loosely built on socialism and governmental control over large enterprises, with private capitalism in agriculture and consumer products.
The state subsidises basic items and provides preferential treatment to farmers. Unlike China, India, like Nigeria, has a democratic government, albeit a fractious one, with numerous autonomy movements and ethnic conflicts. The Indian government has historically been corrupt, though this has improved in recent years.
Obviously, South Korea, with only iron and coal resources, developed competitive steel and automobile industries that export globally, creating a trade surplus; Taiwan also used a strong state industrial policy, specialising in the electronics and computer industries, as well as in other light manufacturing;
Hong Kong, controlled by China since 1997, has world-competitive electronic and other light industries, with the greatest strength in banking and trade; Singapore is a trading
Nigerian presidents during the last four decades have been regarded as tyrannical, particularly during the military era. According to Okoye (2012), growth is halted in a country plagued by a lack of leadership and anarchy. Any country whose leaders are corrupt or condone corruption cannot progress.
There have been numerous cases of corruption by Nigerian leaders; this situation has eaten deep as a cankerworm into the fabric of the Nigerian economy and the nation as a whole, rendering Nigeria's political leadership incapable of facilitating any meaningful economic development.
Nigeria makes big promises but rarely delivers. It has the potential to be Africa's powerhouse, but it has failed to efficiently employ its oil wealth or develop an economic structure that promotes opportunity.
Indian political leadership is widely acknowledged to have been a significant boost and source of the country's socioeconomic progress. According to Barnabas and Clifford (2012), vicarious learning, or learning from role models, is a key approach of leadership development.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
In recent years, political and socioeconomic success has been considered as the result of strong leadership. Based on this approach, we believe it is vital to conduct a comparative study of the function of leadership in political and economic growth in emerging countries, with a focus on Nigeria and India, both former British colonies.
impoverished countries are impoverished not simply because of their geography or culture, but also because their leaders do not understand which policies will benefit their populace. Nigeria has all of the plentiful resources needed to develop a successful nation. They consist of land, water, minerals, and human resources.
Nigeria's primary issue now is political leadership. Although Nigeria has a variety of challenges, political leadership remains the most significant impediment to its economic progress.
This study looked at the effects of political leadership on the economy, which are accountable for the significant disparity in economic development levels between Nigeria and India. A comparative investigation of the relationship between political leadership and national economic growth in Nigeria and India will provide the necessary explanation for the disparities in economic development experiences between Nigeria and other emerging countries.
Nigeria and India acquired independence from Britain on October 1, 1960, and August 15, 1947, respectively. They both have similar political and legal institutions, as well as economic and educational systems, and their societies are diverse in terms of ethnicity, language, religion, and population size.
These two countries no longer share common characteristics as they progressed through successive stages of political, social, and economic development. If both countries shared similarities at the time of their independence, why has India evolved quicker than Nigeria?
For example, India is currently the world's fourth fastest growing economy and a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Korea). They are frequently referred to as Newly Industrialised Countries (NICS), although Nigeria remains an impoverished nation, ranking 94th among the world's poorest countries.
Nigeria is still trying to grow socially and economically. If these two countries shared similarities at the time of their independence, the important questions today are “what” and “why” the differences exist.
The answer lies in how these two countries' political leaders have developed strategies and policies capable of economic transformation and development by properly integrating their abundant people and material resources to attain their economic goals and success.
Thus, the purpose of this study is to investigate what Nigeria's political leadership has failed to do in comparison to India in terms of development. It is widely observed that Nigeria's political leadership's failure to address critical issues such as nationality,
religion, ethnicity, intra and inter-ethnic violence, terrorism, corruption, physical insecurity, and social injustice has contributed significantly to the fundamental problem of the survival and sustenance of democracy as a tool of political leadership for achieving economic development.
However, the main point of this study is that a pervasive sense of alienation, marginalisation, exploitation, internal colonisation, corruption, and terrorism have all conspired to undermine Nigeria's political leadership's ability to achieve economic development for the country. These conditions, together with the lengthy era of military control, created a climate that impeded political leadership in Nigeria.
The preceding circumstance suggests the following research questions:
i. What are the root causes of the fundamental factors described above that have impeded the emergence of good political leadership in Nigeria, and how may they be addressed?
ii. Can Nigeria develop effective political leadership in the absence of a durable democracy?
iii. Can Nigeria achieve significant economic development without appropriate political leadership?