It is a truism that economic development efforts normally have as their objective a rise in living standards: better health and longer life, more nutritious and more abundant food, better-built houses, more and better schools and the opportunity to participate in the cultural and spiritual life of the community. It would be unusual indeed if the Nigerians did not want these things; their leaders have made it abundantly clear that they do want them. But so far they have given too little thought to how they can acquire them or how soon. Many factors affect the speed at which the Nigerian economy can be expected to develop. In this chapter we call attention to those which we consider most significant. In succeeding chapters we suggest the fields of development activity into which we think the Nigerian people and their government may most wisely direct their energies.
Although everyone agrees that it is desirable to improve living standards, it is not so universally realized that the growing output of goods and services, the immediate aim of an economic development program, can be accomplished only by the efforts of the people. The enthusiasm and vision of government may act as a spur, the advice of experts may serve as a guide, but by themselves leadership and advice are not productive. No progress can be made unless the people themselves are willing to assume the main burden of the development effort. The mission found this not fully appreciated in Nigeria. Nigerians in all walks of life tend to look too much to the government, more specifically to the British colonial officials, for the fulfillment of their aspirations. The heavy reliance on government is frequently coupled with a strong distrust of its actions and motives. To some extent this is explicable as the response of a people still