Understanding Nigeria’s Political Economy and Culture of Underdevelopment

J. G. Nkem Onyekpe


This paper examines the political economy of Nigeria with special focus on the structural and ideological foundation of its underdevelopment. The economy is a dependent capitalist entity; hence the level of its growth and expansion is externally determined and conditioned. This, in itself, is a defining factor of underdevelopment. Then, much of the revenue accruing from productive activities is appropriated and freely repatriated by foreign capital and technology which dominate the economy. This is a critical factor as the free repatriation of capital deprives the domestic economy of investment funds. The state has continued to depend on loans from the states and institutions of the global north for its critical needs, an option that has itself consolidated the dependent status of the state. The critical problem of the state and economy could have been mitigated if the state had been managed by patriotic and public-spirited political elite. The stark reality has been that the ruling political elite are self-serving; hence they appropriate much of the fiscal revenue of the state as emoluments and other rewards for public office-holders. Besides, the ruling elite and the dominant indigenous bourgeoisie in control of the state use it as an apparatus to divert and plunder fiscal revenue by corrupt means. Over the postcolonial period corruption has become so entrenched that it is today a way of public life. The end results have been the continuing underdevelopment of the productive forces and the abysmal inability of the state to address the basic economic and social needs problems of the people. The paper is rounded off with a call for political and radical political action by national patriotic, progressive, and revolutionary forces as it is not in the interest of the corrupt and thieving comprador elite to relinquish their stranglehold on the state and economy.


Political economy; Nigeria; Dependent economy; Agriculture; Ruling elite; Corruption; Poverty

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/12548


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