The Political Economy of Income Distribution in Nigeria

The Political Economy of Income Distribution in Nigeria

The Political Economy of Income Distribution in Nigeria

The Political Economy of Income Distribution in Nigeria

Excerpt

This chapter provides an economic survey of development in Nigeria with particular reference to equity issues. Development here does not denote the changes in economic life that occur more or less rapidly in all societies and proceed with or without benefit of centralized direction. It means the undertaking by governments directly or indirectly to create material welfare either for the national population as a whole or for sections of the populace. It means implementing the series of plans that have been underway in Nigeria since 1946. But the scale and content of these plans, the ambitions they express and strategies they embody, are affected by preceding economic changes and, more specifically, by expectations of the resources publicly available in the immediate future. Hence the intentions of the plans have to be understood in relation to changing economic circumstances--in particular, to increases in export volumes, changes in the terms of trade and alterations in the structure of taxation.

Ideas about equity in the distribution of material welfare are conspicuous in the more recent of the Nigerian development plans but not in the earlier plans. Equity conflicts have nevertheless arisen in the implementation of all the plans or more generally in the public economic policies, taxes and expenditures that were, or were supposed to be, organized within the framework of the plans. These conflicts also are discussed. The use of the term "equity" does not imply an assumption that absolute standards of fairness can be established in the distribution of welfare, income or wealth. Conceptions of economic justice are various and highly subjective. "Equity" is often used (or misused) in the literature to mean a reduction in the disparities of income among households, occupational groups or geographical areas, and is usually alleviated by an increase in the incomes of the poor. Occasionally this usage has been followed.

The chapter is organized in three historical periods which are divided by political events: the last years of colonialism from 1946, the early years of independence under civilian government, and the period of military rule from 1966.

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