Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria

By Tom Forrest | Go to book overview

10
Structural Adjustment and National Accumulation

This chapter examines the economic reforms introduced after the Babangida regime came to power. They are the most important economic reforms in Nigeria since independence and the most comprehensive in Africa. The introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme in 1986 marked a shift in economic policy towards a strategy that relied more on market forces and private enterprise to promote national accumulation. Through changes in relative prices and a reduction in state regulation, the SAP sought to restructure capital accumulation and achieve closer integration with world markets and international capital. The impetus for these reforms was external and formed part of a worldwide shift towards private enterprise, market forces, and tight money that was orchestrated by the IMF and the World Bank. During the 1970s, monetarism and the counterrevolution in development economics made steady progress and provided an intellectual base for the policies of these institutions. 1 When President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came to power, the ideological and policy offensive gathered real momentum.

The reforms raise many questions. Some of these cannot be satisfactorily answered until more time has lapsed.

Why did the reforms come so late? How were the reforms introduced and under what political conditions? How far have they been supported and contested through struggles over policy? What are their short- and medium-term economic consequences? What implications do they have for contradictions within Nigeria's relatively weak capitalist order? How far is the economic strategy charted by the reforms compatible with the politics of civil rule?

The growth of state expenditures and the expansion of the public sector in the 1970s might have been expected to occasion a debate between those who favoured a strategy of state-led development and those who favoured a more private enterprise, market-oriented strategy. Yet it was only at the end of the decade that the expansion of the state and its respon-

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