We Nigerians have a serious problem: too much longer-throat. There is a pervasive desire to adopt Western norms and culture, often at the expense of our own organic growth.
The idea that the West is culturally advanced stems from an unsurprisingly Western body of thought. Modernization theory asserts that developing societies such as Nigeria should develop like the West: through liberal and often capitalist economic strategy. This theory, although appearing harmless, is ignorant and presumptive. It has an underlying assumption that the West is Best and the rest of the world should therefore aim to follow it. This is, of course, untrue.
Although Western countries have undeniably achieved impressive economic development, copying Western culture or economic norms is not the best option for Nigeria. The Western liberal economic model promotes a free market and globalisation. Attempts to follow this model have failed woefully in a large number of non-Western countries.
Take, for example, the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programmes. The entire education sector in Malawi collapsed after it westernised its economy to meet conditionalities set by the IMF. Malawi’s education sector now relies entirely on loans.
Another failure is occurring right here in Nigeria. The Niger-Delta region has been ravaged by globalisation. Since foreign oil companies became involved in the region, the Niger Delta has faced extreme economic deprivation and environmental degradation. In fact, the entire country is currently suffering the consequences of the Niger-Delta crisis, as regional conflict, vandalised pipelines, and intermittent fuel scarcity indicate. And yet the Western model continues to claim that globalisation is beneficial to all.
So what does this all mean? Western policies have succeeded in the West and failed miserably outside of it. We cannot simply look to Western economic culture and norms if we seek economic development.
My people, let us give ourselves the gift of cultural independence this holiday season. Like the economic giants India and China did with the Mumbai and Beijing Consensus, let us forge our own model of development that is tailor-made to suit conditions here in Nigeria. We must formulate our own model and abandon the outdated mentality that the West is inevitably the Best. Compliments of the season.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom.