Nigeria, as many other African countries, experienced decades of European colonization, which affected its social, political, and economic structures tremendously. As a result of prolonged colonial rule, vast infrastructural changes, introduction of Christianity, rapid and massive development of export agriculture, and educational progress were achieved in the country. However, all these innovations and changes were mostly directed towards sustaining the colonizer influence of the British Empire and to reinforce the power of colonizers over Nigerians. Thus, after the declaration of its independence, Nigeria found itself in the weak, under-developed state both in terms of social infrastructure and economy. An additional weakness was revealed in terms of weak leadership and governance throughout the state, aggravated by exacerbating religious and tribal tensions. This qualitative study was based on the assumption that the core challenge of the present-day Nigeria on the path to effective economic and social growth is poor leadership. The study investigated the opinions of Nigerians, representatives of official bodies, and available scholarly publications to discern the impact of colonial legacy on the current leadership problems. The findings of this study suggest that colonialism indeed produced vast, often heterogeneous, effects on the country’s social trends, economy, and local governance. The interview and survey findings uncovered the troubling disconnection between authorities and the population, showed in which ways Nigerians assess their exposure to after-effects of colonial rule, and provided valuable insights into the avenues for positive change in leadership practices and approaches.
Figure 1: The map representing European Scramble and colonization of Africa during the 1400s 10
Figure 2: The administrative map of Nigeria……………………………………………………… 12
Figure 3: Major problems associated with the current situation in Nigeria……………….. 16
The history of Africa began with the emergence of Homo sapiens in East Africa, and continues into the present as a patchwork of diverse and politically developing nation states (Chancellor, 1987). The African countries as part of the world had histories of cross-cultural interactions, even before the days of slavery. History revealed that Africa had been on the lamp light through the centuries; and the continent, having more than 10,000 different states and autonomous groups, diverse people with distinct languages and customs, culture and life. And, before colonization by the European colonial masters, Africa was regarded as the epitome of world’s civilization and prominence (Shillington, 2004). According to Bennett (2007), the African nations founded empires and states and extended the boundaries of the possible. Bennett (2007) added that Africans also marched in the front ranks of emerging human procession and made some critical discoveries and contributions that lead to the modern world. Civilization itself started in the great valleys of Africa and Asia, in the Fertile Crescent in the Near East, and along the narrow ribbon of the Nile in Africa. However, by the late 19th and early 20th centuries, European kingdoms began to pay great attention to Africa, and with a lot of scientists, missionaries and explorers that flooded Africa; the European colonization of Africa developed rapidly resulting in the Scramble for Africa (Craig, Graham, Kagan, Ozment, & Turner, 2007).
Smyth (2009) added that the early to mid-seventeenth century, saw Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, as well as the Netherlands (see Figure 1), all competing for colonies and trade around the world. In this relation, Michalopoulos and Papaioannou (2011) stated,
Europeans partitioned Africa into spheres of influence, protectorates, colonies, and free-trade-areas. The borders designed in European capitals at a time when Europeans had barely settled in Africa and had little knowledge of the geography and ethnic composition of the areas whose borders were designing. These borders endured after the African independence in the 1960’s leading to the partitioning of numerous ethnic groups across the newly created African states (p. 1).
Bennett (2007) affirmed that the European dominance seemed to have retarded Africa to a poor continent; and perhaps, have also played a role in helping to destroy the powers, the elegance, the glories, and the strength of Africa; economically, politically, culturally, as well as ethnically; hence, “the continent once regarded as the mother of civilization and power, is now referred to as a dark continent, and its nations, a third world.” (Bennett, 2007, p. 5; Heldring and Robinson, 2013).
Figure 1: The map representing European Scramble and Colonization of Africa during the 1400s. Retrieved from: http://www.saburchill.com/history/chapters/empires/0053.html
The history of Nigeria (see Figure 2), dates back to the prehistoric era, early 11,000 BC, before the colonial period (Shaw & Jameson, 2002). It was believed that “numerous ancient African civilizations settled in the region that is today called Nigeria” (Shaw & Jameson, 2002, p. 314). Early civilizations that settled in Nigeria included the Nri Kingdom, the Hausa States, and the Songhai Empire (Shaw & Daniells, 1984). Nigeria was captured by the British forces through Lagos, one of its current states, in 1851. It was formally annexed ten years later, in 1861, while in 1901, it became a British protectorate. This colonization lasted until 1960, when Nigeria gained independence from its colonial master, Britain (workmall.com, 2011). After 56 years of independence from colonial rule, one would have expected the country of Nigeria to be on the lamplight as a first world. Rather than that, the country seems to be crawling, and wallowing in problems resulting from corruption and greed. One wonders then what the problems are; and what stops Nigeria from becoming a developed and economically successful state instead of a third-world country. Wraith and Simpkins (1983) affirmed that theories abound for the different possible causes of the flagrant graft that exists in Nigeria.
According to Adelaja (2016), Nigeria seems not to have been able to extricate itself from the unpleasant foundations of colonialism since her independence in 1960. Wraith and Simpkins (1983) argued that some of the problems that seem to bedevil Nigeria include but are not limited to greed and ostentatious lifestyles. These can be attributed as the potential root cause of corruption. Also, political corruption, ethnic or tribal sentiments are assumed to be among major causes Nigeria is still suffering a huge setback in many facets of its economy (Wraith & Simpkins, 1983). Adelaja (2016) contended that corruption is regarded as the most entrenched and endemic of Nigeria’s current challenges; one problem that has eaten extremely deep into the fabrics of Nigeria, resulting in devastating and reverberating situations all over the country. Additionally, lack of good leadership has been pointed out as one of the challenges Nigeria is facing. Oyinlola (2011) admitted that Nigerian ruling class is part of the reasons corruption has continued to grow unabated. More so, the Nigerian ruling elite lack the kind of philosophical and ideological vision and orientation that is committed to developing a dream society. They have no dream beyond the satisfaction of desires. In other words, insincerity, weak government institutions, lack of transparency in the public service, ineffective political processes and a lopsided justice system, and nepotism, ethnic as well as religious biases have been believed to account for the continued reasons Nigeria is still underdeveloped (Adelaja, 2016).
Figure 2: The Administrative map of Nigeria. Retrieved from: http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/africa/ng.htm
The arrival of European colonizers, which resulted in African colonial experience began in the late 1400s and reached its peak in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and through the European trading activities the colonial masters took the advantage and powers to dominate many parts of the continent; especially the west part of Africa, and Nigeria in particular (Middleton, 2002). Although the Europeans knew little about the continent of Africa, its people, customs, traditions and interior as a whole, they were highly curious about the continent (Shillington, 2004); while the “Scramble for Africa” had begun, leading to a colossal colonization of the continent that left lasting impressions and far reaching effects on indigenous people of Africa (Craig et al., 2007, p. 609). Isichei (1997) added that most European societies were believed to have traded with African societies within coastal areas and few hinterlands. The French, for instance in West Africa, had managed to control trade in Senegal while the British controlled small coastal colony at Lagos, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone for commerce. And, between the 1870s and 1900, Africa had faced European imperialist aggression, diplomatic pressures, military invasions, and eventual conquest and colonization (Iweriebor, 2011).
The struggles for independence in many parts of the African continent followed after the Second World War took place, which resulted in the 1960s been declared as “Year of Africa” (Shillington, 2004, p. 2). Like other nations of Africa that got liberated from their European colonizers, Nigeria gained independence from its colonial master, the British, in October 1960. After 56 years of freedom from colonial imperialism, Nigeria, a country richly endowed with natural resources and high quality human capital, is yet to find its rightful place among the comity of nations. Adelaja (2016) affirmed that the Nigeria ought to have climbed the ladder of world excellence, instead, the country seems to be crawling backwards; its economy going down the drain with a greater percentage of its people living in abject poverty. According to Ogbeidi (2012), one of the major reasons attributed to the socio-economic stagnation in Nigeria, is the phenomenon of corruption and lack of good governance resulting from various failed leadership. Ogbeidi (2012) maintained that for Nigeria to experience sustainable socio-economic development, responsible and credible leaders must emerge to implant the act of good and selfless governance in the country.
Bates (2008a) argued that lack of responsible and credible leaders and good and selfless governance may be regarded as a state failure which tends to generate a perplexing phenomenon on the continent of Africa as a whole and Nigeria, in particular; and may even trickle down to our world of the 21st century. This perplexing phenomenon somehow seems to create a devastating effect, crippling the functioning of state institutions; economic development, and political stability (Bates, 2008a); hence, this unseemingly situation tends to place a heavy demand for change on democratic governance on the continent of Africa, and the nation Nigeria, in particular (Bates, 2008b). Like many African countries, Nigeria has also faced numerous challenges since its independence from the British, as the country experiments with democracy and military dictatorship (Goldfaden, 2011). Adelaja (2016) stated,
One of the major challenges the country is presently grappling with is political instability. More so, for many years until 1999, the country’s political climate kept undulating between military and civilian regimes. Moreover, Nigeria’s challenges are numerous and “cannot be adequately discussed in a single chapter of a book.” In other words, the organization of free and fair elections becomes critical, and a testing ground on the ability of the leadership to effectively run the country while honoring the will of the people (p. 52).
Furthermore, since its independence from the British colonial rule, October 1st, 1960, Nigeria had experienced many tumultuous periods such as economic down time, political instability, military dictatorial era, various failed leadership, and a civil war (Mpangala, 2002; Mwajiru, 2001).
Nigeria has been bedeviled by myriads of socio-economic and political challenges that seem to defy solutions. According to Adelaja (2016), the scope and severity of these problems have led many, especially members of the international community, to wonder how Nigeria, the giant of Africa came to be in this quagmire. Among others, most of the problems Nigeria is currently facing include but are not limited to insecurity, ethno-religious and inter-tribal conflicts, poverty and unemployment, political instability, economic and financial crimes, corruption, failed leadership and poor governance (Adelaja, 2016). The coming of the European explorers who opened a direct trade with the modern-day Nigeria, within the coasts of Lagos and Calabar, indeed can be said to be the root foundation of the wrapped value system and disregard for human life that have become the defining and deforming dent on our national life (Adelaja, 2016). Hence, the periods of turmoil, and the political upheavals Nigeria had experienced since independence, given the presence of politically assertive ethnic groups, hinges on the stability and survival of the present democratic politics, which depends on how the leader controls the potential ethnic disputes that would result in leader effectiveness as well as follower participation (Oyinlola, 2011).
According to Ademoyega (2014), the instability in Nigeria’s political system began right after independence. The researcher stated,
When Nigeria got her independence, it seemed as if the political arrangements had been fairly and equitably settled, but, actually, a time-bomb had been buried deep into the foundation of the political edifice. Hence, the fact that the country began to encounter several of its now perennial challenges right after independence confirms the view of many who believed that the foundations of the country were actually faulty from the start.
Ademoyega (2014) added that the British neither made efforts to unite the different groups of people in the country nor established strategic plans on how the political system should work after independence. Adelaja (2016) reiterated that as a result of faulty political foundation the country faced, it was not surprise that the first two tragedies to hit the political landscape of the country were a military coup in 1966, and a civil war in 1967. And, the root causes of both were corruption and ethnicity-fueled agitations. Hence, corruption has been the bane of Nigeria’s underdevelopment (Ogbeidi, 2012).
Ejimabo (2013) noted that since independence in 1960, civil war, military
coup d’état, and consequent military governments have created a Nigerian political environment that is not always seen as stable. Among the challenges facing Nigeria today are the lack of management of public trust, government instability, and the maintenance of decayed public amenities and infrastructures all over the nation. These circumstances have constantly destabilized and jeopardized Nigeria’s democracy and governance in its political states (Eti, Ogaji, & Probert, 2006). Hargreaves (2002) pointed out that inefficiency in governance, political instability and lack of proper accountability (see Figure 3), on the part of the political leaders in the country, are among the major problems that have severely impeded the ability of successive governments to implement economic policies in Nigeria. More so, a constant and utter lack of rule of law on the part of the leaders, government officials, and the governed (see Figure 3), have further deteriorated the Nigerian economy. A research report equally revealed that the clamor for change in leadership, pivots most on the leaders and policy makers’ lack of effective leadership skills for the positions they hold coupled with years of plutocratic repressive dictatorship and military rule, which have resulted in large-scale neglect and deterioration of public services (Daudi, 1986; Hargreaves, 2002).
Figure 3. Major problems that are associated with the current situation in Nigeria.
Corruption. The issue of the upsurge of corruption is endemic and troubling. Pervasive corruption appears to permeate many levels of the Nigerian society (Eti, Ogaji, & Probert, 2006); and as such, the Transparency International has consistently rated the levels of corruption in Nigeria among the highest in the world, and has placed Nigeria as 136th out of 175 countries ranked in the 2014 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) (Adelaja, 2016, pp. 57-58). The kernel of corruption in Nigeria therefore rests in the fact that political leadership and corruption are constantly interwoven. Against this backdrop is the corrupt tendencies of the political leadership class since 1960 which has its implication for socioeconomic development (Ejimabo, 2013). According to Adelaja (2016), corruption is more than any other factor, and is regarded as the “most entrenched and endemic of Nigeria’s current challenges” (p. 57). Oyinlola further affirmed that since the period of colonialism, corruption has become an institutionalized contagion in every segment of the Nigerian society.
Given the long-standing tradition of colonial rule in various parts of Africa including Nigeria, as well as the evident negative impact it had on the formerly colonized African states’ economic and political health, the researcher aims to explore the consequences of colonialism on Nigerian political, social, and economic structures. The purpose of this study is therefore to present a detailed informed case study analysis of the impacts that the state of Nigeria continues to experience in the post-colonial period, and in which ways these impacts hinder its development and predetermine the current stagnation of numerous governmental structures and institutions.
As seen from the evidence provided above, Nigeria currently faces multiple problems, many of which have been caused by decades of oppression imposed by European colonizers. The list of the current issues is long and includes weak government institutions, pervasive corruption, the lack of effective political leadership and transparency, the lopsided justice system, poverty and unemployment, as well as ethnic, religious, and tribal conflicts that tear the country apart (Adelaja, 2016). Nigeria seems to lack the ideological vision and a shared goal that could unite its citizens and motivate them to commit to ongoing changes. The society remains divided, and there are no competent and uncorrupted leaders who could take the reins and initiate long-awaited political, economic, and social reforms.
Colonialism is one of the factors that can be blamed for the current state of affairs in Nigeria. Duke (2010) argued that it affected all areas and social strata of the country. More specifically, colonial administrative, economic, socio-political, and educational policies did not take into consideration local people’s needs and ignored their history and established practices. The strong and centralized control of all spheres imposed by the British rule failed to take into account the very structure of the Nigerian society, which has always been extremely diverse (Duke, 2010). Racial, cultural, and religious differences of indigenous peoples were not acknowledged, which prevented the society from forming and maintaining the harmonious relationships between all population groups. As a result, years of oppression killed all the vibrancy and scope of ideas and ideologies that could potentially become the basis of a strong and prosperous country.
Colonialism imposed its own rules and practices that have rooted so deeply in the Nigerian society that it is difficult to see its original image. Socio-economic and political institutions and structures formed by the British colonizers suppressed all preconditions for the development of an independent and economically successful state (Oladipo, 2015). Nigerians have been taught that all they can do is to serve and be controlled. Generations of citizens grew and died feeling that there is nothing they can do to change the situation. Probably many of them did not even think that the status-quo should be changed in the first place. Irresponsible and corrupted leaders contributed to the atmosphere of decay and powerlessness that is still vividly seen in the country (Ogbeidi, 2012).
This situation looks even more depressive given the enormous potential for economic and political growth that Nigeria possesses. To begin with, one needs to highlight that this country has the largest oil resources in Africa and is currently the leading oil producer on the continent (Suberu, Ajala, Akande, & Olure-Bank, 2015). Unfortunately, the government fails to allocate huge oil revenues to the most important social and economic sectors, so Nigerian citizens cannot take advantage of the country’s wealth. If distributed efficiently, this money could make a huge difference to the local people, which is exemplified by such countries as the United Arab Emirates or Norway. Moreover, excessive dependence on oil threatens the economy and prevents other sectors from developing, which contributes to economic stagnation (Akinlo, 2012).
Furthermore, Nigeria has a massive agricultural sector, which, with the effective leadership and management, could become the key industry stimulating economic growth and sustainable development for years to come (Olajide, Akinlabi, & Tijani, 2012). Nigeria possesses abundant natural resources, and its rich soil can provide the country with enough products to fill the national and international markets. Investments in agricultural sector could help diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil. This, in turn, will help eliminate poverty by providing more job opportunities for local people (Oyakhilomen & Zibah, 2014). Unfortunately, agriculture’s contribution to the economy has been limited so far because of high underperformance and the lack of effective leadership (Olajide et al., 2012).
The very structure of the Nigerian society, as well as instilled management and governance principles dictated by the colonizers limited local people’s ability to use their potential and rich natural resources. Certainly, it would be wrong to blame colonizers in all challenges the country faced after its independence. However, they definitely contributed to the political instability and economic stagnation by failing to develop local resources and potential (Ademoyega, 2014). After severely exploiting the country, the British left it without the sound political foundation and ideological vision of its future and place in the international community.
This study might help explore the roots of the current problems faced by the Nigerian society by exploring in detail its colonial past. A meticulous and comprehensive examination of the impact of colonialism on Nigeria’s political leadership, economic development, and the society in general can help uncover the true impact of colonial legacy and show ways of reducing it. A clear understanding of existing challenges and their sources is the first step to developing effective ways of their elimination. It is expected that by acknowledging and removing the colonial legacy, the country may boost economic development. Nigeria can achieve this by rethinking its past and building on its own potential and resources instead of relying on the Western model of leadership and management. Its government needs to take into consideration Nigeria’s diversity, its societal and economic conditions, and its culture to create its own vision of political leadership and good governance.
Based on the formulated research purpose, the following set of research questions guiding this study has been formulated:
- What is the impact of colonialism on the state of Nigeria?
- How does colonial legacy affect the political leadership and crisis in Nigeria?
- What are the effects of colonial rule on economic development in Nigeria?
- What are the social implications of colonialism on Nigeria’s leadership?
- How can Nigeria overcome the colonial legacy and build a strong political leadership, democracy, and good governance?
Uncovering the complex political, economic, and cultural processes and phenomena requires a deep and detailed analysis of data. Therefore, the researcher chooses to use the qualitative research methodology to be able to identify and investigate the multifaceted nature of colonialism and its impact on colonized nations, such as Nigeria. Qualitative methodology is a broad research approach used in a variety of scientific and academic fields to study issues that cannot be reduced to numbers, or that might be inadequately interpreted by any attempt to do so. The main strength of the qualitative methodology is that it offers a rich and holistic description of the topic under study and adequately reflects its complexity and associations with related phenomena and problems (Graubner, 2007).
Moreover, qualitative methodology leaves much room for the researcher to study the problem from different angles as new aspects may arise during the research that have not been anticipated in advance. These characteristics of the qualitative methodology are consistent with the formulated research purpose of understanding the impact of colonization on Nigeria’s current political, economic, and social development. The selected method helps answer numerous “why” and “how” questions that could not be addressed by using numbers and statistics (Stokes, 2011).
Case study is one of the most widely used qualitative methodological approaches in management. According to Yin (2012), case study is “an empirical inquiry about a contemporary phenomenon (e.g., a “case”), set within its real-world context – especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident” (p. 4). Case study helps to uncover a broad range of complex relationships between phenomena and issues and allows to explore a great variety of topics that would be difficult or practically impossible to investigate using quantitative research methods (Yin, 2012). As noted by Hesse-Biber and Leavy (2011), case study allows for the nuanced understanding of the subject, which is essential when social justice issues and complex political and historical topics are explored.
In the present study, the so-called case is Nigeria, which is explored in the context of its relationship with colonial legacy. According to Yin (2012), case study method is most applicable when “either a descriptive question – “What is happening or has happened?” – or an explanatory question – “How or why something happens?” are formulated (p. 5). The present study contains both types of questions, which is why case study was selected as the most appropriate method for getting insight into the problem. Case study approach will help generate rich and detailed information about the impact of colonialism on present-day Nigeria and offer much space to investigate multiple political, economic, and social issues that cannot be evaluated with quantitative methods.
When using case method for research, it is important to bear in mind that it has some limitations. The most important weaknesses include external validity, reliability, and generalizability (Gagnon, 2010). This research method is often criticized for its limited representativeness and the lack of rigor in collecting, interpreting, and presenting information. In other words, case study is subject to bias and can be significantly affected by the researcher’s attitudes and beliefs (Merriam, 2009). Additionally, the results provided in case studies usually cannot be generalized because of the limited, unique scope of research (Gagnon, 2010). In order to address these issues, case study should be based on scientific standards, with substantial rigor applied when carrying out each step of the process.
The scope of this research covers the following data sources about Nigeria’s political and economic health and possible impacts of previous colonial rule on it:
- The Nigerian Civil Service Commission
- The National Electoral Commission
- The diverse ethnic population of Nigeria.
The primary sources of data in this study comprised interviews with officials representing the Nigerian Civil Service Commission and the national Electoral Commission, as well as surveys with Nigerian citizens in the streets. Secondary data included published research, journal articles, census statistics, official and unofficial records of organizations and government agencies concerned, books, public opinion polls, and other data available for official, publicly available sources.
Hence, a limitation of this study is that much of the data used in it is of secondary nature. While the benefit of secondary research is its cost-effectiveness and speed of completion, it also entails some weaknesses that have to be kept in mind, such as, for instance, absence of secondary data completely suitable for a specific research question, which requires the researcher to interpret data creatively at times, causing the danger of interpretation bias (Housden, 2007). Second, the secondary dataset often appears not comparable directly and incomplete to answer the research question exhaustively. However, this limitation was addressed by involving a number of source types to triangulate data, collect a comprehensive dataset, and perform exhaustive analysis. Finally, it is necessary to keep in mind the limitation of data’s unavailability; in the present case study, one should note that absence of primary data collection left the opinions of ordinary people and government officials out of the scope of the study, since they were not approached with surveys or interviews about perceived impact of colonial rule on their country’s development.
Colonial Economic Policy – economic policy developed by the British colonizers in Nigeria, which pursued “economic interests and ambitions of Britain” (Adeyeri & Adejuwon, 2012, p. 8). The policy focused on cheap raw materials production and agriculture, which ensured the steady flow of products to Europe. European merchants, in turn, used Nigeria as the profitable external market for their goods, thus solving the problem of under-consumption (Adeyeri & Adejuwon, 2012). The British economic policy resulted in increased economic dependence, poor industrial development, and the emergence of the commercial elite that continues to exploit the country’s resources without benefiting the local population.
Colonialism – this term is defined as “a relationship between two collectives in which all important decisions concerning the life of the “colonized” are made by a culturally different/alien minority of “colonizers” unwilling to adapt to local customs” (Leonard, 2005, p. 355). In essence, colonialism is the control of other people’s land by a more powerful, imperialistic state (Kim, 2013).
Corruption – scholars cannot reach unanimity as to the definition of this complex concept. In its broadest meaning, corruption can be referred to as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” (Currie-Alder, Kanbur, Malone, & Medhora, 2014, p. 240). In practice, this term may relate to a great variety of different illicit or illegal activities, such as, for example, bribery or fraud. Scholars also distinguish several types of this illegal activity including petty corruption, political corruption, and grand corruption (Rose-Ackerman & Søreide, 2011). In this paper, the broad definition of corruption is used that includes all types of illegal activities on the political and economic levels.
Good Governance – is “the responsible use of political authority to manage a nation’s affairs” (Reif, 2004, p. 63). Khan (2015) noted that this term refers to an effective and consistent manner in which the country’s social and economic resources are managed. According to the definition, good governance requires “a professionally competent, honest, and merit-based civil service, sound fiscal management and public financial accountability, effective state institutions, … and a just and predictable legal framework” (Reif, 2004, p. 63). In a country enjoying good governance, governmental officials can be held accountable for their decisions, whereas citizens can participate in governance by engaging in political and civil society activities and processes.
Neo-colonialism – the pervasive impact of colonialism on the country after its formal independence, which evolves from open, aggressive domination into a subtler political, economic, cultural, and social control (Ghosh, 2013). Neocolonial domination uses hidden exploitation methods, which have evolved from slavery and occupation to domination in trade, capital markets, and economic institutions (Stanton, Ramsamy, & Seybolt, 2012). A neocolonial country usually remains an underdeveloped state that lacks the political and economic capacity to overthrow imperialistic power.
Nepotism – according to James (2007), this term refers to the practice of “establishing patronage based on familial relationships (ascriptive) rather than on merit” (p. 294). Corrupted politicians often engage in nepotism when they use their power and influence to get unfair advantages for their families.
Political leadership – is a complex concept that refers not only to the government of an organized state but also to the political class in general that has the capacity and leadership abilities to manage and direct the affairs of a country effectively (Ogbeidi, 2012). From the broader point of view, any person who comes forward to give direction and lead other people may be considered a political leader.
Political mismanagement – is the failure of the government to use political leadership effectively. In other words, political mismanagement refers to the inability to handle the current political, economic, and social issues, as well as the lack of comprehensive policy planning that results in stagnation, conflicts, and economic instability (Chukwu & Chidume, 2014).
Post-colonialism – although this term is erroneously defined as the time after colonialism, in fact, it relates to the discipline concerned with analyzing, explaining, and rethinking the cultural legacy of colonialism (Kaiwar, 2014). Elements of post-colonialism as an intellectual direction can be currently found in a variety of spheres – from politics to history, cultural studies, and literature. From the broader perspective, post-colonialism investigates the present cultural, social, economic, and political interactions between the European colonizers and the colonized nations, which formed during the colonization period.
Scramble for Africa – in European imperial history, this terms refers to the invasion, occupation, and control of African territories by European countries in a period from 1881 to 1914 (Carmody, 2013). The conquest of Africa began with King Leopold II of Belgium claiming his rights on Congo property and then evolved into the large-scale invasion conducted by the most powerful European empires.
This study seeks to uncover the impact of colonization on Nigeria, especially its political, economic, and social spheres. This information is expected to throw light on the steps that should be taken to build a strong political leadership, democracy, and good governance. The organization of this dissertation is as follows. Chapter 1 introduces the background of the problem and problem statement, as well as provides the design components and research questions that will guide this study. Chapter 2 focuses on the review of the relevant literature dedicated to the colonial past and independence of Nigeria. More specifically, in this chapter, the researcher intends to analyze how the colonial legacy affected the currents state of affairs in this country and how political, economic, and social issues could be addressed by rethinking and overcoming the impact of colonialism. Specific attention is paid to political leadership, which is believed to be the key to building a strong and democratic state.
Furthermore, Chapter 3 describes the methodology and procedures used for data collection and analysis. Ethical concerns, validity, reliability, generalizability and limitations are also discussed in this chapter. Chapter 4 offers an analysis of collected the data and presents the results. Finally, Chapter 5 contains a summary and discussion of the findings and explains why these findings are important and how they can be used in practice to address the problem of political, economic, and social instability in Nigeria. In this chapter, recommendations for future research and remaining gaps in knowledge are also provided.
Africa has a unique and rich history. This part of the world is traditionally believed to be the mother of all modern civilizations and a place where the first Homo sapiens emerged (Chancellor, 1987). Thousands of years ago, powerful states situated in Africa were regarded as the most advanced and economically successful empires whose influence extended to the neighboring regions. However, when Europeans discovered the immense potential of Africa and rich resources, this glorious history was left in the past. The so-called Scramble for Africa wiped away all achievements and subjected local people to years of oppression and injustice (Craig et al., 2007). Europeans who came to the continent divided it into parts that did not take into account local people’s needs and ethnicity. They retarded the development of nations and imposed alien rules and policies that had nothing to do with the indigenous culture and history.
Nigeria was one of many countries that suffered from the colonial rule. The British colonialists who came to this land were not concerned with developing the country. All they needed were limitless human and natural resources, so they exploited them thoughtlessly and violently. As a result, when Nigeria gained independence in 1960, there seemed to be nothing left on which the nation could rebuild its state (Adelaja, 2016). Nigeria is still struggling to extricate itself from the hostile foundations of colonialism, unable to combat poverty, corruption, and poor political leadership. Inability of the government to address issues such as ethnic conflicts, unemployment, the lack of a shared vison, crime, etc. prevent Nigeria from taking advantage of its abundant resources and immense potential. The researcher assumes that one of the main causes of the current instability in Nigeria is its colonial past that continues to pull it back. Therefore, rethinking and overcoming this legacy is critical for gaining a deeper understanding of changes that need to be made in the political, economic, and social spheres.
This chapter is dedicated to reviewing the existing theoretical and scholarly literature to determine features of strong yet fair political leadership along with challenges faced by the current Nigerian leadership in driving the nation to the economic, social, and political prosperity due to the past colonization. Thus, the chapter starts with reviewing the most relevant leadership theories and frameworks alongside with the concept of leadership as such. Next, it focuses on the academic literature addressing the colonial past and independence of Africa to discover the impact of the past colonial rule on the current state of political, social, and economic affairs in the state. In terms of Nigeria, the chapter intends to indicate the key areas for address and reform to overcome the consequences of colonialism through building strong and democratic political leadership.
An abundance of scholarship regarding the current political, social, and economic crisis in Nigeria dwells on the urgency of building a legitimate, accountable, and transparent leadership to streamline development of the national identity, culture, religion, craft, education, economy, and technology to shape good governance in the country (Adejumobi, 2000; Ocheni & Nwankwo, 2012). In this respect, it is essential to identify and analyze the most relevant theoretical underpinnings and concepts regarding political leadership and economic development of weak economies.
Leadership is a multidimensional and complex concept, which may be defined in different ways in accordance with the meaning attributed to it. However, the existing diversity of leadership definitions share four common components constituting the nature of leadership as a phenomenon (Rost, 1993). First, leadership is a process that implies the individual’s influence on a group of persons in the pursuit of a common goal. From this perspective leadership does not concern a particular trait or leader’s characteristic. It is a transactional event occurred between the leader and the followers. Defining leadership as a process, scholars underline the reciprocal relationship between the leader and the followers rather than a linear event (Northouse, 2010).
Second, leadership entails influence, whereby the leader affects minds and actions of the followers. Influence is an integral part of leadership, the absence of which destroys the possibility of leadership. Third, leadership takes place in groups that create the context of the conveyed leadership (Bass & Stogdill, 1990). A common purpose underlines the individual’s influence of others reflected by leadership. The group of individuals affected by leadership may concern a small task group, a community, or an organizational team. While leadership serves to drive others to the accomplishment of common goals, the group of others are a crucial element to allow leadership to occur. Fourth, leadership considers common goals with leaders applying their inspiration and energies to drive individuals in their commitment to a collaborative achievement (Northouse, 2010). In this respect, the leader is accountable for setting an ethical overtone to facilitate and promote cooperation of individuals in the pursuit of common goals.
When it comes to leader behavior, scholars distinguish two major paradigms, where one is accountable for getting the job done, while the other concerns the leader’s interpersonal behavior. These two different components are defined in different ways, such as task and relationship behavior patterns, initiating structure and consideration, leader’s authority and followers’ freedom, and concerns for production and people (La Monica, 1983). In line with the two core paradigms of leader’s behavior, several leadership styles are theorized. The existing pool of leadership theories may be categorized by four major themes into trait theories, behavioral theories, contingency theories, and theories of power and influence (Kekale, 2005).
Trait theories of leadership stand on the premise that leadership is an innate trait or characteristic that fortunes ones to become leaders, while others – to follow them. Typically, such instinctive qualities include integrity, assertiveness, likability, decision-making, and empathy, although none of them guarantees an individual’s success as a leader. Behavioral theories of leadership focus on actions and behavior patterns exhibited by leaders (Borkowski, 2015). In this vein, three types of leaders are determined, such as autocratic leaders, democratic leaders, and laissez-faire leaders. While autocratic leaders make decisions independently, democratic leaders provide message to the team waiting for the review and approval before making decisions (Kekale, 2005). Laissez-faire leaders keep to a passive position allowing their teams to collaborate and make decisions themselves. Contingency theories of leadership address the issue of leadership orientation – either towards people or task – in terms of contributing to the achievement of common goals. Finally, power and influence theories focus on means and ways used by leaders in exercising the granted authority to get things done (Borkowski, 2015). Regardless of the style adopted by the leader, the ultimate purpose of leadership is to influence others in order to achieve a common purpose.
Political leadership is inherent to political systems as a complete form of human organization, where the state serves as a guarantor of the basic human rights and freedoms. In democratic state building, political leadership reflects, promotes, and protects beliefs and values of individuals as well as the shared vision of citizens (Langlais, 2014). The democratic perception of political leadership is consistent with the theory of leader-follower exchange that stands on the premise of a reciprocal relationship between the leader and followers (Pennock, 2015). From this standpoint, political leaders tend to reach agreement with their followers through listening and responding to individual suggestions and ideas in their performance of leading citizens while staying in power position.
The sought agreement with followers requires political leaders to illustrate their authenticity, proving their embodiment of values and inclinations of people who elected them (Gardner et al., 2011). Authentic leadership implies cooperation and reciprocal relationship between the leader and followers based on trust, tolerance, and legitimacy. Oriented to the nation’s welfare and driven by citizens’ values and wishes, political leaders are likely to reflect ethical and moral dimensions of the nation (Langlais, 2014). Obviously, leaders have different relationships with different followers, as it is impossible to simultaneously satisfy demands and suggestions of all citizens. In this vein, the excellence of political leadership concerns the ability to reach consensus with individuals who do not agree with the chosen and mandated political direction (Schyns & Day, 2010).
As pointed out by Langlais (2014), the culture shapes the country’s understanding and interpretation of the concept of political leadership. Furthermore, different political systems may embody distinct perspectives of political leadership delivered through either individuals or political parties. In the democratic world, political leaders are accountable for defending, guaranteeing, and sanctifying the common vision of values, social norms, and goals of people residing in a country to drive it to economic, social, and political development and stability. According to theory, political leaders are citizens selected by others to represent values and beliefs of the population and promote the shared vision of the direction the country should take (Pennock, 2015). Though political leaders are to act as representatives of citizenship, modern leaders conduct in the opposite manner taking effort to generate a mass movement of individuals around them and inspire the public to follow them and their vision (Frohlich & Oppenheimer, 2015). Indeed, when formulating his theory of followership, Kellerman (2008) distinguished five types of followers, such as diehards, activists, participants, bystanders, and isolates. Different behavior types of followers affect political leadership practiced in a state, thus, shaping its political, social, and economic affairs. In other words, passive electorate creates a favorable ground for independent political leadership aimed at attaining its interests rather than collective ones.
Though being a new area of research, authentic leadership currently occupies a prominent place on the scholarly agenda. The core premise of authentic leadership concerns the genuine and real nature of leadership reflected in the authenticity of leaders and the executed leadership (Lawrence, 2010). Since the theory of authentic leadership is being in the process of its development, the scholarly community lacks consensus regarding the unified definition of this complex process. The existing scholarship on authentic leadership distinguishes three major perspectives on the phenomenon – intrapersonal, interpersonal, and developmental (Northouse, 2010).
From the intrapersonal perspective, authentic leadership concentrates on the leader and his or her inner world that shapes the practiced leadership. In this respect, authentic leadership implies the leader’s self-concept, self-regulation, and self-knowledge. In other words, the leader’s self-concepts and worldview underpin and govern leader’s actions (Rowe & Guerrero, 2012). Thus, authentic leaders display genuine leadership formed by the personality and conviction without coping the leadership of others. The lived experiences and the meanings attributed to those experiences play a vital role in forming authentic leadership. The intrapersonal perspective acknowledges the impact produced on authentic leadership by followers. In the context of authentic leaders driven by their intrapersonal experiences, followers are expected to perceive their leader in a realistic manner as well as to confirm the legitimacy of that leader and his or her behavior (Rumsey, 2013). To sum up, the intrapersonal view on authentic leadership focuses on the exhibition of genuine leadership led from conviction and based on the leader’s values.
From the developmental perspective, authentic leadership concentrates on the process of leadership development. In this vein, scholars view authentic leadership as something trained and nurtured rather than a fixed personality trait (Cameron & Dutton, 2003). Developed over a lifetime and through various experiences, authentic leadership can be activated by particular life events of high emotional or physical power. Hence, authentic leadership is conceptualized as a leader behavior pattern evolving and accumulating from the leader’s strong ethics and positive psychological qualities. Precisely, self-awareness, balanced processing, internalized morality, and relational transparency are the fundamental qualities laying the ground for authentic leadership lifetime development (Northouse, 2010). By developing each of these four behavior types when experiencing various life events, a person evolves into an authentic leader.
The interpersonal perspective views authentic leadership as an interpersonal process created by the leader and the followers collaboratively. As such, authentic leadership is relational, which implies the interdependence of leaders and followers rather an independent effort taken by leaders (Rowe & Guerrero, 2012). Authenticity emerges through interactions between the leader and followers that produce a reciprocal effect on the both parties. While intrapersonal and developmental forms of authentic leadership focus on displaying strong values and concerns for the needs of others, interpersonal mode expects authentic leaders to obtain an approval and support from followers. The followers’ acceptance of values and goals advocated by the leader are essential for the achievement of the desired outcomes (Wang, 2014). From the interpersonal perspective, leaders introduce ideas and propositions to followers, who provide a response to the message delivered rooted in their values and beliefs. As a result, authentic leaders create change.
Given the evidence cited above, authentic leadership may be viewed from different standpoints, each of which has its value and relevance for describing and understanding the concept (Lawrence, 2010). Besides, scholars utilize two contrasting approaches to researching authentic leadership. The training and developed literature based on real-life examples offers a practical approach to formulating the concept of authentic leadership, while social science studies lay the ground for theoretical assumptions regarding this complex process. The practical approach to authentic leadership grounds on two major practical scenarios of Robert Terry (1993) and Bill George (2003) (Northouse, 2010).
The approach of Robert Terry (1993) is practice- and action-oriented, centered on actions performed by the leader, the leadership team, or a corresponding organization in a particular situation. The core premise of Terry’s approach to authentic leadership claims the responsibility of the leader to take all possible efforts to do what is right. In this vein, authentic leadership is driven by two major questions concerning the experienced or observed matter and the adequate response to it. When developing a solution, authentic leadership should draw a line between authentic and non-authentic actions in a given situation (Rowe & Guerrero, 2012). Without internal awareness and knowledge of what is true, the leader is unable to define appropriate actions considering their consequences.
With the focus on the organizational performance and leadership, Terry designed and introduced the Authentic Action Wheel to highlight the critical domains of authentic leadership. The wheel is six-fold with Meaning, Mission, and Power occupying its top and Structure, Resources, and Existence constituting the bottom (Terry, 1993). The aspect of Meaning concerns values, ethics, and principles that govern authentic leadership in the formulation of goals, desires, and objectives (Mission) and determining the Power required for the Mission’s completion – energy, morale, motivation, and control. The following steps imply development of policies, systems, and procedures (Structure), assignment of people, information, time, capital, and equipment (Resources), and creation of history and identity (Existence). The six-stage model of authentic leadership formation leads to the seventh aspect distinguished by Terry and placed within the center of the wheel – Fulfillment (Northouse, 2010).
Bill George (2003) proposed another view of authentic leadership that consolidated intrapersonal, interpersonal, and developmental dimensions of the concept. According to Georg’s perspective, authentic leadership encompasses five core domains – purpose, values, self-discipline, relationships, and heart. Each of these five dimensions is accountable for a means used by authentic leaders to address problems. Purpose grants passion, values shape behavior, relationships create connectedness, self-discipline ensures consistency, and heart generates compassion. In line with the outlined characteristics, authentic leaders are regarded as passionate about the purpose; keen on values in their decisions and actions; committed to building trustworthy relationships; embodying consistency, determination, focus, and self-discipline; and genuinely compassionate (Rowe & Guerrero, 2012). By pointing out the core characteristics of authentic leadership, George indicates the qualities that require development in the leader to ensure genuine leadership.
Along with practice-oriented approaches to authentic leadership, a theoretical interest in the concept rose in the early 2000s. The 2005 leadership summit at the University of Nebraska ignited a new area of leadership research. Societal upheaval and instability in different parts of the globes within the past decades fostered research in authentic leadership regarded as an appropriate alternative to the practiced leadership heavily criticized for the lack of efficiency and ethics (Northouse, 2010). The conducted research in characteristics and features attributed to authentic leadership allowed distinguishing four major components, such as self-awareness, balanced processing, internalized moral perspective, and relational transparency (Dhiman, 2016).
Self-awareness concerns the leader’s personal insight, which enables him or her to realize personal strengths and weaknesses and the effects of one’s personality on others. Individual’s self-awareness and trust in personal feelings enables one to reflect the core values, motives, identity, and emotions in a strong authorship of right decisions and actions. Internalized moral perspective implies individual’s self-regulation of behavior and actions in compliance with internal moral values and standards (Lawrence, 2010). Another regulatory process is balanced processing, which is accountable for an objective analysis and other people’s idea to make an informed decision. Finally, relational transparency refers to individual’s openness and honesty in the self-presentation conveyed through reflecting one’s feelings, inclinations, and motives. These essential qualities of authentic leaders are a product of positive psychological capacities and moral reasoning developed by leaders over a lifetime and triggered by critical life events (Northouse, 2010). Therefore, as one may see, the theoretical foundations of authentic leadership comprise three different perspective of the concept – intrapersonal, development, and interpersonal.
European colonization of Africa was a consequence of the industrial revolution that resulted in the propelled production that required access to raw materials and foodstuffs for the stable market development (Ayegboyin, 2011). The so-called industrial capitalism emerged in Europe in the early 20th century caused an unprecedented demand for global resources. The wealth of African resources presented interest for European nations and underpinned European conquest of the African territories to take control over African economies and states (Ocheni & Nwankwo, 2012). The colonization of Africa produced a substantial impact on political, economic, and social developments of African societies. The contemporary underdevelopment of African territories is the most typically recalled impact of colonialism (Jerven, 2010).
That colonial policy had two dramatic outcomes for the economies of African communities. First, the ultimate focus on the production of raw materials made export the only source of income generation. However, that export did not contribute to the region’s economic development as European countries paid low price for African raw materials, although selling products manufactured of those materials at high price (Hrituleac & Nielsen, 2011). Thus, colonialism enforced impoverishment of most African countries and their economies. Second, the production concentration on processing raw materials for export created a shortage in goods and products required by the local populations, which resulted in the escalation in prices on food. The abandonment of producing food items deprived Africa of the ability to feed its growing and teeming population (Austin, 2010).
Colonialism also produced a far-reaching effect on African education. Since control over and access to African resources of raw materials were the primary goal of European colonialization, the colonizers sought to educate and train clerks, artisans, interpreters, inspectors, and other labor force to perform that exploitation of resources (Ocheni & Nwankwo, 2012). In this vein, colonial education did not establish any technological base to stimulate industrial development of the region. Instead, the rendered educational services were literary, non-aligned with indigenous culture, which impaired any opportunity of meaningful development of African societies in the rapidly industrializing world (Nyamnjoh, 2012). Therefore, colonial education was unable to streamline development of African nations. Furthermore, it destroyed the discourse of indigenous education rooted in a solid technological base, which enabled Africans to exploit their resources at the rate and manner consistent with their environment. Indeed, carving, sculpture, blacksmithing, mining, and other technological works were common among Africans before colonization (Frankema, 2012).
Political powers and economic wealth generated by African petty bourgeoisie during the period of colonialism allowed it to attain political leadership in Africa after the gained political independence. As outlined by Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin (2013), the attained political leadership did not grant economic and social independence to African nations as direct colonialism gave way to the hidden dominance of the western world through neo-colonialism. In the changed discourse, African petty bourgeoisie remained the means of European countries in playing their decisive role in economic and cultural domains of African societies (Fadakinte, 2014). Maintaining their relationship with comprador bourgeois, African petty bourgeois ran the economy and political leadership of Africa performing the will of former colonizers.
Leadership is often treated as problematic in Nigeria since its independence gained in the 1970s, but the issue is contextualization of the concept and its application for different purposes. As stated by Obiyan and Amuwo (2013), leadership for social and state change is under-developed in this country, which poses certain developmental and reform constraints. These constraints are felt both at the local and nationwide level, predetermined by numerous cleavages, group tensions, suspicions, communal disorders, a civil war, and frequent regime changes. While any regime change has been justified by the need for better leadership, no feasible changes occurred, again causing stagnation of leadership development.
Political leadership in Nigeria underwent fundamental changes in 1979-2000, the period when eight different political powers replaced one another in political office and as a result left the country with a highly dysfunctional political state. In 1979-1983, Nigeria was under the presidential form of rule, and in 1983-1985, that shifted to the Buhari-Idiagbon military regime (Nkwocha, 2012). As a result of the 1985 palace coup, General Ibrahim Babangida took the political power and introduced many positive changes during his 1985-1993 rule, such as a transition program with local elections, gubernatorial state legislative elections, federal legislative elections, and the culmination – Presidential elections in 1993. However, Babangida’s efforts were destroyed by nullifying the results of presidential elections, ushering the start of political stagnation and disorder in Nigeria, establishment of the interim National Government in 1993, and the start of a brutal military epoch in Nigerian political rule (Ojo, 2001).
After five years of undemocratic IBG rule and its head’s death in 1998, a slow transition to civilian political rule started in 1999 with the assignment of General Olusegun Obasanjo as Nigeria’s second civilian president (Nkwocha, 2012). Thus, as one can see, these two decades were the period of political instability, quick shift of regimes, and ineffective leadership in Nigeria, ultimately resulting in the stagnation of the political system as such, alienation of citizens from the country’s government, and low system effect on political participation. In other words, Nigerians lost their sense of belonging and self-identification with the national political system, which was further aggravated by the hostile political environment and systemic corruption in the Nigerian political circles.
Leadership development is an actively researched field within leadership theory and practice for the past three decades. As Day, Fleenor, Atwater, Sturm, and McKee (2013) indicated, development of effective leaders and formation of appropriate leadership behavior is a prominent concern in business organizations and political entities. Leader development is mostly seen in the intrapersonal domain, focusing on the individual leader qualities, while leadership development on a broader scale is perceived as an interpersonal process emphasizing the leadership capacity.
Decades of leadership research have shown how costly it is for countries to have bad leaders; thus, the importance of leadership development and training has grown. Advances of leadership literature have shown who leaders are, what traits they possess, and what they do to be effective. Based on that evidence, it has become easier to develop leadership enhancement practices for the sake of helping leaders meet their organizational roles and duties, and to accomplish their strategic goals as part of an organization or a state’s government (Rothstein & Burke, 2010).
Leadership development as a concept also acquires profound significance in the political realm, since countries in a transition (like, for instance, the post-colonial Nigeria) often lack continuous, strong leadership for their revival and self-actualization as independent states. Effective leaders should have an appropriate, strong, visionary personality, and should be enthusiastic about their goals; they should be tolerant and ambitious, but at the same time keep the broad goals of their state in mind ahead of their personal interest (Babooa, 2013). Absence of proper leadership contributes to economic stagnation, political chaos, and social weakness, which in no way lead states to empowerment and independent development. Thus, it is crucial to pay more attention to leadership development with a focus on current leaders and formulation of programs and guidelines for leadership succession and preparation for the sake of achieving sustainable state development outcomes (Murphy & Riggio, 2003).
The issue of political leadership in Nigeria is indeed acute, which is evident from over 30 years of military rule and low level of the country’s political development as such. Non-democratic regimes that ruled the state until 2000 slowed down the process of democratic development and eroded the quality of political leadership (Irukwu, 2014). Thus, the state is now in the transition to democracy and sustainable independent functioning, which cannot be attained without strong political leaders. However, within decades of leaders’ assassinations, lawless coups overthrowing certain regimes overnight, and numerous cases of power manifestations without responsibility, Nigeria has shown itself as a weak country in terms of leadership, and the change of attitude to selecting and appointing leaders is also an imperative for the new democratic start of this state (Okuma, 2009).
Ojo (2001) indicated that Nigeria is in an urgent need of visionary leadership that would develop an optimistic domestic agenda reducing the country’s dependence on oil and diversifying the economy to achieve greater public well-being. Mou (2016) also agreed that the major barrier to establishment of a democratic Nigerian society is the low quality of leadership, which can be changed only with introduction of a new political culture and social order. Moreover, self-critical political leaders able to balance domestic needs with a wise and stable foreign policy may also contribute to state’s development and maturity.
With a strong segmentation inside the country, there is also a strong need in the universal political leadership, tolerant to different opinions and speaking one language with all regions and all parties. After many decades of rigid social stratification and rule of a handful of elite, modern political leadership in Nigeria may reform the state only if it reflects the diversity of the Nigerian nation in its administration (Ojo, 2001). In such a way, strong political leadership is seen as a path towards good governance, a pathway to peace, unity, nation’s progress in numerous domains, and overall smooth development (Nkwocha, 2012).
Nigeria came under the colonial rule of Britain in the late 19th century and gained independence from the British crown in 1960. At present, the post-colonial Nigeria is a democratic nation with 50% of Islamic population, 40% Christians, and 10% African Traditional practice community living peacefully side by side. In the cultural domain, Nigeria now represents a multi-tribal state with conflicting and competing interests of tribes in political circles and other aspects of state functioning. With over 300 tribes residing in the territory of contemporary Nigeria, the population is very distinct in ethnic self-identification, level of economic well-being, and in religious terms (Ejimabo, 2013).
The most pronounced impacts of British colonial rule on Nigeria have been associated with colonial infrastructure, agricultural growth, and export. Falola (2003) presented an in-depth analysis of these influences and deemed them to be a transformation without development. In terms of infrastructure, the British colonizers worked on the creation of institutions facilitating exploitation of Nigerian crops and mineral resources. To achieve those commercial aims, they installed an infrastructure including an efficient transport system and a new monetary policy facilitating the market exchange. However, the infrastructural investments of the British were not intended to simplify the internal communication and transportation among Nigerian regions, which left the internal movement of goods and people backward and impaired (Falola, 2003).
Cocoa, palm oil, and peanuts were the primary agricultural products of British interest in Nigeria, and the focus was made on their cultivation in the colonial years. In terms of agriculture, it witnessed an unprecedented growth during the colonial period and helped many Nigerian farmers develop and establish their own farms, thus earning a decent living. However, it is also vital to note that farmer salaries were considerably lower than the British earnings, which made the agricultural exploitation predatory (Falola, 2003). Moreover, as Gordon (2003) showed, the economic boost that British colonization gave to Nigeria in terms of agricultural development caused unwanted divisions among the Nigerian population. Most Nigerians suffered economic hardship and exploitation under the unfair, hard working conditions and low pay of British employers. Thus, a closer look at the agricultural production in Nigeria shows that farmers were induced to cultivate export crops because of their need to pay heavy colonial taxes.
Another notable consequence of British colonization in Nigeria was the social trend of migration. With rural workers witnessing new employment opportunities in larger cities of Lagos and Calabar, many males of working age migrated there, contributing to massive urbanization in Nigeria. Thus, as a result of evaluating the overall colonial impact of Britain on Nigeria in economic terms, one can see that Africans indeed managed to remain in control over their land and preserved their system of agricultural production based on smallholder, peasant production, but Europeans retained the indigenous land tenure and production practices under their tough control (Gordon, 2003).
A shift from indigenous Nigerian to European practices in agricultural, political, and economic terms inevitably caused broad social changes among the Nigerian people, which also remain an integral part of the Nigerian colonial legacy. As cities grew and expanded, traditional age and gender roles transformed in line with European values. Moreover, a fundamentally new social class emerged in the country, represented by European-educated, literate, English-speaking Nigerian Christians. This class was typical only for southern Nigeria; it was instrumental in advocating the colonial rule but at the same time claiming a greater role for Nigerians in state governance (Falola & Heaton, 2008). These and other transformations in Nigeria under colonial rule are discussed in more detail below.
When analyzing the impact of colonization on Nigeria development, Akpan (2012) outlined two contrasting perspectives. On the one hand, colonization transformed Nigeria from an agricultural society into a state with strong petroleum oil production, which streamlined the nation’s urbanization. On the other hand, that economic policy resulted in the mass migration of Nigerians from rural areas to towns, which caused a great misbalance between rural and urban populations. Until today, Nigeria has not succeeded in developing its rural areas abandoned during the colonial period (Adeyeri & Adejuwon, 2012).
Another cornerstone regarding the colonial legacy concerns education. Ayegboyin (2011) highlighted the exposure to European languages brought by the colonization, which linked Nigeria to Europe and the rest of the world. Fadakinte (2014) asserted the institutionalization and structuration of the educational field by colonizers. Using education as means of preparing competent workforce, British colonizers sent educational missions to Nigeria to develop and promote accounting skills in indigenous producers, which was relevant for building the contact between them and company chefs. Simultaneously, by educating Nigerians, European comprador bourgeoisie produced an ideological force to establish the local elites supporting the colonial rule. Comprised of wealthy and well-educated Nigerians, petty bourgeoisie became an ideological instrument of colonizers in exploiting resources of Nigeria (Abdurrahman, 2012).
Indeed, the British rulers used education as an ideological apparatus to divide Nigerians into classes of native authority, the proletariat, and the peasantry. The colonial rule segregated the initially segmented population of Nigeria residing in distinct rural areas into wealthy owners of production and property and the rest, which created tremendous social inequality (Fadakinte, 2014). The class segregation of Nigerian population laid the ground for further misuse of political power, which led to severe opposition between political leadership and the masses. In this vein, the post-colonial civil war resulting in the military coup d’état and subsequent establishment of military governments, which have continuingly undermined the state’s democracy and the rule of law, are regarded as consequences of the British colonialism (Ejimabo, 2013).
Hence, speaking about social implications of British rule, one may agree that colonialism modified old customs and brought about new cultures into Nigeria. In terms of indigenous culture, it changed fundamentally, with chiefs and kings losing their power and authority, as well as their power to shape the Nigerian culture. Political British domination came hand in hand with cultural dominance and all objectionable cultural aspects were simply abolished by Europeans considering themselves superior, more civilized, and more developed (Falola, 2001).