Public Policy Failures in Nigeria

Public Policy Failures in Nigeria

National House of Assembly, Nigeria.

Author: Victoria Amarachi Okoronkwo |

Nigeria is a nation that is said to be “flowing with milk and honey” because it is rich in natural resources yet suffers greatly from the “resource curse.” The “resource curse” refers to the predicament of many African nations that are rich in natural resources yet unable to ensure the well-being of their populations. The failure of governmental policy in Nigeria will be examined in this article. It will examine how ineffective policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation led to policy failure in Nigeria and ascertain the best framework for averting policy failure in Nigeria. 

Economies throughout the world discover practical, sustainable, and expedient solutions to their problems. One of the most important tools for achieving these results of solution-seeking is policy. Policies define the strength, commitment, and drive to resolve a problem. It informs the public about the level of understanding the government has about the problems, their sources, their effects, and their solutions. 

Why Policies Fail Nigeria

The reason for this deplorable state is not farfetched as policies that are supposed to facilitate efficient management and utilization of resources for required development have failed abysmally as a result of the following reasons.

Undeveloped legal system: the legal framework for most policies across several sectors of Nigerian society is backward and lacks reform. For instance, crude oil is one of Nigeria’s major sources of revenue however research shows that though crude oil was discovered in the year 1856 in Bayelsa State, the law governing such an important sector was enacted 13 years after and reformed after 52 years yet with a lot of gray areas. In other words, the legal system in Nigeria is littered with dead letters as laws and a total disregard for proper legal reforms to cater to present realities.

There is also the problem of denying the people’s ability to influence policies and make inputs. As a result, there was no ownership by the individuals who were supposed to be stakeholders in the policy-making process, which led to policy failure. A participatory approach that takes into consideration conflicting interests would help avoid policy disasters.

Furthermore, nepotism and favoritism contribute to the failure of policies in Nigeria. Although initiating public policy is sometimes a difficult task, the overriding challenge is the institutional willpower to see through policy decisions. Institutional willpower is a major factor behind successful policies as they are to be implemented by institutions and institutions are constituted of human resources. In saner climes, appointments are based on competitive competencies while in Nigeria they are based on poverty alleviation, nepotism, and favouritism resulting in ineffectiveness and inefficiency across all levels.

In addition, Corruption and lack of social cohesion are other major reasons for the failure of policies in Nigeria. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the Economy of Nigeria which in turn hinder policies from achieving the purposes for which they have been created. There exists a strong interdependence between politics and the economy. Politics defines the economy, while politics is a product of the economy. Policies in Nigeria are not free from undue political interference. The political class has taken over the soul of policies in Nigeria, especially during implementation. Excellent and well-formulated policies fail in Nigeria when they are influenced by those in positions of power to suit certain individuals or groups. Corruption by the leaders is never punished and they are not held accountable for their acts because of a lack of social cohesion among the citizens. In other words, the citizens are unable to speak with one voice against the corrupt acts of leaders because they are too divided across tribal, religious, and ethnic lines to seek and enforce their rights.

Implementing Policies In Nigeria

An analysis would not be complete without recommendations to tackle these problems. It is important to note that a problem cannot be solved with the same mindset that created it thus there has to be a reorientation and paradigm shift for a change in the status quo. The following recommendations will seek to ensure that policies are successful therefore driving development that improves quality of life for citizens. 

It is essential to consider local sociopolitical circumstances while fusing locally developed solutions with lessons learned from effective policy systems to create policies that are both effective and sustainable in Nigeria. Furthermore, this article makes the case that ideas and the media should play a major role in ensuring that windows of opportunity are opened during the bargaining process, which has to be deliberate and participative. A developmental plan outlining how policymakers will be chosen based on meritocracy and how the government’s policy-making subsystem will be shielded from politicians who might try to manipulate the policy cycle for their own goals is necessary to preserve the flow of ideas into the policy stream.

In conclusion, scholars, and stakeholders in Nigeria’s policy cycle should endeavor to take a global view of policymaking while drawing lessons across different socio-political systems. To this end, people who can assess the advantages and disadvantages of alternative courses while making a decision should be recruited to pilot the policy cycle. In addition, top-down and bottom-up approaches should be used logically to facilitate the act of policy-making while research should be made a recurrent activity in the policy system to mitigate policy failure.

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