“Nigeria: The Story of One-sided Development”

Ajayi Tolulope
5 min readDec 26, 2019

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“As a remedy to life in society, I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.” Albert Camus

The first day I walked into TBS (Tafawa Balewa Square), I was dumbfounded by its rich architectural design and wondered how something as magnificent as the square was built and remains unmaintained and deserted for so long, then I understood improper management is actually a Nigerian thing. The whole of Lagos island (CMS), should’ve been a beehive of tourist activities and a revenue-generating cow, for both the federal government and the state respectively, but it’s just been abandoned since the colonial government left, such relics should have been properly maintained and used as some form of education for the next generation who need to understand the rich colonial history of the country. This kind of lackadaisical attitude remains obvious in Nigeria, in all areas that involve national development from the public sector to the private sector, either infrastructure, resources or even the environment. There’s the thing about development, that we’ve collectively misunderstood, and it is that, development has to happen simultaneously for it to be obvious, you can’t develop one segment of the society and ignore the other areas, the underdevelopment of one area, would eventually affect the other developed areas, you can be very sure about that. One would assume that even the private sector wouldn’t make such mistakes since the management and stakeholders of these organizations are supposed to be well informed and capable, but reverse is the case, they’re constantly in-between trying to chase an imaginary greed, and also an imaginary development that they fail to get a foresight on the current situation. For example, the “island-craze” in which everyone is developing current and existing wetlands just to build some magnificent floating structure, which has an expiry date when the flood comes. Now there’s been a paradigm shift in development, and the most developed part of Lagos as at now remains “the island” while other parts of the state remain ignored and underdeveloped, that’s even fair compared to the other parts of Nigeria, that suffer a much worse fate, currently. The only developed areas of Nigeria remain Lagos and Abuja, Port-Harcourt followed closely because of the presence of large oil corporations, now tell me why other parts of Nigeria can’t also get such development? Abuja is the capital of Nigeria, Lagos was the former capital of Nigeria and remains the unofficial commercial capital of Nigeria, and the cash cow so by right these two states are believed to be developed to a certain height, ahead of the others, since development may be argued to be non-functional in Nigeria, right? But if we have to be frank with each other development ought to be exponential to an extent. Every sector and area should feel the effects simultaneously. The population of Lagos is rapidly increasing, why is that so? It’s simply because other parts of the country believe that something magnificent is happening in Lagos and they want to be a part of it since their own localities can’t feel the development. Abuja used to be much safer in terms of crime, but recently the crime rates have tripled and it remains ever increasing because of the population explosion going on in the state, as a result of the under-developed states surrounding it. This dysfunction cuts deep into the very fabric of our society. We are fond of developing one side and leaving the other sides and then because of our planning initiative is so low, we end up depleting the resources in one area and then we jump to another. The same thing occurs with our natural resources and even human resources, we’ve over-exploited crude oil to the extent that it’s becoming obsolete now it can’t fund our expensive budgets, but imagine if we had exploited other areas at the same time, we exploited oil would we be stuck now with deficits? In education this one-sided development comes in several forms and its even the fault of individuals, there was a time when the academic rush was in Medicine, Law, Engineering and Accounting, other areas were ignored, now these areas are not so relevant because the supply has exceeded the demand, then we shifted to Physical and life sciences when that also failed, now we’ve moved into IT AND Tech, every kid wants to be a programmer because the economic returns are juicy, till the supply exceeds the demand and we all rush back to another sector, we need to start thinking progressively instead of retrogressively. We intentionally destroyed other forms of education and even the last form of tertiary education is going into oblivion, polytechnic degrees are basically useless because we failed to develop our polytechnics and understand the roles of polytechnics in academics and society at large. Now, kids no longer see the importance of education or acquiring tertiary education because “entrepreneurship” is the next cool thing, we won’t stop until we overexploit it. I actually think “over-exploitation” is a Nigerian thing. The basic question I ask is what happens when every one of us, run to this area? Then we begin to galivant. Now, this is how development ought to work, a society comprises of several moving parts, each one of those parts has to work, on a sequential basis, rather than random. Randomness causes confusion and that’s what we’re currently facing in Nigeria, Lagos shouldn’t have the only effective port that exists in Nigeria, other coastal areas should be developed to accommodate ships which would also ease the transfer of goods and services across the country, also industries or industrial growth should cut-across several parts of the country, currently, only two states in Nigeria, have the highest amounts of industries which are Lagos and Ogun, due to proximity to ports and raw materials. Housing and commercial hubs should be spread across various zones and areas, the island-mainland dichotomy should be destroyed in Lagos because it's just another form of classism that exists in Nigeria, growth should occur in both areas simultaneously, other states in Nigeria should also have their state governments focused on their developments either resources based or infrastructure-based, especially the land-locked areas of Nigeria. Individuals should possess a growth mindset, one which enables them to think distinctively instead of competitively, monopolies should be curbed as much as possible, it only hinders growth and progress, as much as Nigerians love to romanticize the idea of “Capitalism” they need to also understand that in small doses, capitalism is much more effective, in high doses, its greed. There should be a balance between socialism and capitalism that’s the only way we can be successful. Infrastructure remains important to the socio-economic development of any society, so it shouldn’t just be limited to a certain area or region but rather, should encompass the general country. And lastly, we need to come to terms with the fact that technology is just a tool, and would only bear results when used effectively with the right infrastructure. Now after reading this, can you tell me how the “ENTROPY” of Nigeria can be calculated?

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Ajayi Tolulope

Scientist at day, writer at Night.