1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Presently, the crisis of development is the most serious problem
facing Nigeria and Africa as a whole. This is because the country has
remained largely underdeveloped despite the presence of huge mineral
and human resources. Several decades after the end of colonialism, most
parts of Africa with Nigeria inclusive is still fighting with problems
such as high poverty rate, lack of basic infrastructural facilities in
all sectors of the economy, unemployment, high mortality rate,
political instability and insecurity of lives and property. For example,
Nigeria the most populous African country, according to the United
Nations human development report (2005), out of 177 countries, ranked
158 in human development index,165 in life expectancy at birth,121 in
combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment and 155 in GDP
per capital. Recently, Suberu (2007) also had said of Nigeria that “it
earned around US$500 billion in oil revenues since the 1970s, yet
remains mired in poverty, unemployment, a bourgeoning domestic debt,
infrastructural squalor, abysmal health and educational services, and
attendant social frustration and unrest’’.
Against the background of Nigeria’s development
crisis, emanated the debate on how to solve the crisis of development
in Nigeria. The political elites constitute the majority of the
stakeholders that can facilitate state development leading to resolution
of any crisis of development. According to Wikipedia (2015), the
political elite is a small group of people who control a
disproportionate amount of wealth or political power. In general,
political elite means the more powerful group of people. It can be
otherwise described as a selected part of a group that is superior to
the rest in terms of ability or qualities or has more privilege than the
Political elite are the most influential and
prestigious stratum in a society. The elite are those persons who are
recognized as outstanding leaders in a given field. Thus, there are
political, religious, scientific, business, and artistic elite. Ekeh
(1983) has defined elite as small minorities who play an exceptionally
influential part in the affairs of society in specific fields. He
further described political elite as decision-makers whose power is not
subject to control by any other body in the society. Nnoli
(1981)maintains that political elite are those who have an influence
over the fate of the society because of their superiority. The members
of an political elite group have important influence in shaping the
values and attitudes held by their segment of society. Falola (2005)
has described them as those who make decisions having major
consequences, who are able to realize their will even if others resist,
and who have the most of what there is to have-money, power and
prestige. However, the term does not apply to any one person but
refers to a plurality, a collectivity of persons, however small it may
be. This identifiable collectivity has certain attributes and skills
which give it not only a certain superiority but also power of
decision-making and influencing others.
The term political elite may also be defined as a
group of high stratum decision-makers in political culture or concrete
political structure which monopolizes political power, influences
major political policies and occupies all important posts of political
command. The main duty of political elite to the public as a whole is
to reconstruct society by attempting to mobilise and tap available
resources and political energies. Their attack on economic
backwardness, in order to achieve material advancement, is through
change in institutions and attitudes. The political party or
governmental apparatus serves for them as the central instrument for
modernization. However, the elite class in Nigeria seems to assumed
dimension that is unusual of realistic functions in development
context. Analysis of contemporary situations in Nigeria reveals that
the country political elite class has no consistent and significant
linkage to its national exploit. The formation and conduct of
Nigerian’s political elite group have not been translated into a source
of national development, despite the fact well observed by American
political scientists John Purcell(1974) that powerful initiatives from
within the political elite groups is critically important for national
development (Ojo, 2006). However, the researcher seeks to identify the
relationship between the political elites and the development crises in
Southern Ijaw whose political elite are directly
under study in this research work is a Local Government Area of Bayelsa
State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the town of Oporoma (or
Osokoma) in the north of the area at4°48′17″N 6°04′44″E. The area has a
coastline of approximately 60 km on the Bight of Benin. It is the
second largest Local Government in Nigeria (Landscape) after Toro Local
Government of Bauchi State. The people and their language are known as
Izon. It has Institutions like The Niger Delta University(NDU) and the
states airport in Amassoma and Federal Polytechnic Ekowe in Ekowe, it
is the home of Kolu United FC of Koluama II. the first democratic
governor chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (DSP) and the former deputy
surveyor general/director for urban development in Bayelsa state
capital Mr C.B Ingibina is also from the Southern Ijaw LGA. It has an
area of 2,682 km² and a population of 319,413 at the 2006 census
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Almond (1960) has used the term ‘power elite’ for the political
elite who monopolies power and rule the country. Blanda (2001) has
called them ‘governing elite’, Marx, referred to them as ‘ruling class’,
Riesman as ‘veto group’, and Floyd Hunter as ‘top leaders’. The
Nigeria political elite class had little disposition to contemplate the
positive use of elite advantage as strategic instrument for
engineering national development. Nigeria has realized very little of
her potentials because of in effective mobilization of these potentials
by the political elites.
Today the people (masses) have limited access to
education, lack of good drinking water and adequate medical care.
Millions of Nigerians are said to be suffering from various deadly
diseases. There is a prevalence of poor income and unemployment, street
trading by children, hazardous reproductive behaviours. However, the
researcher will analyze the development related crises in Nigeria
considering the role of political elites (Ake, 1995).
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to examine the relationship
between the political elites and development crisis in Nigeria while
the following are the specific objectives:
- To examine the relationship between the political elites and development crisis in Nigeria.
- To identify the developmental challenges and crisis in Nigeria.
- To examine the role of Nigeria political elites in the national development process
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the relationship between the political elites and development crisis in Nigeria?
- What are the developmental challenges and crisis in Nigeria?
- What are the roles of Nigeria political elites in the national development process?
HO: There is no significant relationship between the political elites and development crisis in Nigeria
HA: There is significant relationship between the political elites and development crisis in Nigeria
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are considered to be the significances of this study:
- This research will be a useful guide for political elite in
Nigeria in identifying their roles and actively participating in the
process of national development using their political power as the
development facilitation tool.
- This study will educate the general public on how political
influences of some small group of people in the society can be used in
resolving the developmental challenges faced in the society.
- This research will be a contribution to the body of
literature in the area of political elite and development crisis in
Nigeria, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future
research in the subject area.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study on political elites and development crises in Nigeria
will cover the relationship between the political elites and process of
development in Nigeria. It will also examine the role of political
bigwigs in facilitation of developmental projects in Nigeria.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to
impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant
materials, literature or information and in the process of data
collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will
simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This
consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Political elite- political elite are a small group of people who
control a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power. In
general, political elite means the more powerful group of people
within the political structure.
Development- the act or process of growing or causing something to grow or become larger or more advanced.
Infrastructure- the basic physical and organizational structures
and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the
operation of a society or enterprise.
Ake C (1995) Democracy and Development in Africa, Spectrum Books Limited; Ibadan.
Almond G, James C (1960). (eds.) The Politics Of Developing Area, Princeton University Press, Princeton
Blanda,W. (2001) The Struggle for development in Africa.Sanata Press. Lagos
Ekeh P (1983). Colonialism and Social Structure. Inaugural Lecture, University of Ibadan.
Falola T (2005). (ed), The Dark Webs: Perspectives on Colonialism in Africa. Carolina Academic Press.
Nnoli O (1981). “Development/ Underdevelopment: Is Nigeria
Developing?” in Okwudiba Nnoli (ed) Path to Nigerian Development. CODERSIA, Senegal.
Ojo, E.O (2006) Challenges of Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria. Ibadan: John Archives African Experiences” Ibadan J. Soc. Sci. (2)1
Suberu R (2007). ‘’Nigeria’s Muddled Elections ‘’ J. Democracy 18(4).
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(Human Development Report) New York.