In order to arrive at a desired and acceptable footing on how the Nigerian system can be re-engineered for sustainable development, one must try to identify issues which are critical and peculiar to the Nigerian system, the level of developmental turnout over the years and how it has shaped the level of progress recorded in recent times, bearing in mind also, how it has helped to navigate the course for a sustained development that can place Nigeria alongside her contemporaries in the areas of human capacity development, infrastructures, technology, politics, religion and economy. It is also paramount to ask and also try to answer the question: Who/What Are The Engineers? However, re-engineering in this context would mean the action of working artfully to bring about a desired positive effect in Nigeria and beyond.

According to The World Bank Poverty Report, 90 million poor people are living in Nigeria – the highest in the world. It is further projected that the number may hit over 95 million by the end of 2022 due to the rising inflation of 17.71% and fiscal policy deficiency. Without a doubt, in recent times, the Nigerian system has been widely acknowledged as inefficient and for the most part broken. There are facts to show from the dependence on oil for export trade, lack of international market presence, recent attacks by terrorist groups, bandits, corrupt practices among government officials, looting, embezzlement and much more. Hence, the ultimate need to re-engineer and re-design the system in such a way that would foster not just her development, but sustainable development. It is worth reiterating that presently, the system has been low on diversification of products for export; has suffered a constrained economic potential due to inadequate infrastructure, tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, lack of confidence in currency valuation, obstacles to investment and limited foreign exchange capacity; unitary, in the sense that it is a single product based in the exportation of oil; exploitative of the people in terms of religious differences and the application of the tenets in these religions, despite the wide level of diversity in culture, language, beliefs, resources, size and number.
With regards to the developmental turnout over the years, it is important to pay attention to what has varied in the development efforts and outcomes from before independence in 1960 till after independence, and how the development paradigms and influences peculiar to these times have shifted both internally and externally. Some of the challenges salient to the political and economic policy landmarks and anti-development syndromes of the 1960 independent Nigeria to date have been poor leadership, widespread corruption, political cultism and god-fathers’ influence, security challenges – both internally and externally influenced, widespread corruption and dominant external influence on policy formulation and execution.

With the aforementioned in mind, it is easy to detect that although the country has been independent for the past sixty-two years, it has failed to galvanize the resources in the interest of the citizens, due to the selfish interests of her leaders and is far from reaching the desired level of development that can be categorically seen as sustainable. There is an easily detectable perverse in the juxtaposition or agreement between the available resources in the country and the level of development it has attained over the years. It is therefore easy to surmise that the Nigerian development system has been exploitative of its dependence on oil and unsustainable, and needs thorough re-engineering. This insatiable need to re-engineer structures within borderlines has formed part of the concerns of the major international, national and local bodies like the United Nations (UN), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and some of the Ministries in Nigeria, including private firms, non-governmental corporations and social groups. 

In a bid to re-engineer the Nigerian system for sustainable development, the first element of the Nigerian system that must be addressed is the law. A crooked legal system is a problem without a name, however, the legal system is informed by the laws and therefore, to solve this problem, the laws and the legal system must be properly and adequately addressed. Some of the elements of the laws which must be addressed bothers on the following:

•        complete independence of the judicial system;

•        a must embrace of accountability between the executive and the legislature;

•        the absolute and true independence of the electoral body; and,

•        the reformation of the police and the entire security system.

The total independence of the judicial system of Nigeria has been questionable over the years due to the interference in the operational relationships between the executive and the judiciary, especially in the areas of the judicial function of giving justice to the people, interpreting, guiding and applying the law. There have, however, been several gains and innovations recorded, particularly in the areas of the establishment of the National Judicial Council created by the 1999 constitution, charging of judicial funds to the consolidated revenue fund, the hierarchical organization of the courts, the judicial code and the criteria for the appointment of judicial officers, but in reality, there is still a wide gap in terms of the functional perspective of the autonomy or independence of the judiciary. This wide gap is created by the constitution where extra powers are given to the executive and political elites, thereby causing interference in the activities of the judiciary. There is therefore the need for true independence of the judiciary through which there is the guarantee of a justice delivery system that will match up with the standard of justice delivered in the 21st century across the globe. The regularity, openness and acceptability of elections signal whether basic constitutional, behavioural and attitudinal foundations are sustainable, especially for a country like Nigeria.

A working relationship between the executive and the judiciary will pave the way for accountability between the two arms of government, as they are both integral to how the funds of the nation are being shared and used. Strong accountability, when it works, benefits everyone. When the government is accountable, people know how the government is doing, and how to gain redress when things go wrong. There is a need for the judiciary and the executive arms of government to work together to ensure that the circulation of funds within the nation is just, reasonable, fair and citizen-friendly, through the proper practice of checks and balances.

Another aspect of the Nigerian structure that needs to be reviewed is the country’s electoral body. The true independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will have positive impacts on elections, as well as on the administration and democratization process. However, the commission has come under scrutiny for lacking both institutional and administrative autonomy. This assertion is seen in the fact that its composition and funding, aside from development partners that give financial aid to them, are made by the presidency. There is also a gross lack of professionalism and security of tenure for its officials, this is seen in the inability to properly manage the continuous voters’ registration exercise as a lot of people queue up for days without getting registered which has called for an extension of the exercise. There is a need to reform the electoral processes in ways that will fundamentally address the autonomy and capability of the electoral commission and other related electoral agencies, including the political parties, to effectively discharge their responsibilities. There is a need to reform the police force and the entire security system. This would involve a transformation of police departments, their role and their relationship to communities.

The transformations would require a change in culture, accountability, training, policies and practices, and strong and transparent leadership.  Without inculcating these practices into the security system, nothing will change. The challenge with the security system of the country had led to the “EndSars” protests in 2020, leading to an unaccounted killing of young Nigerians across the country. In the case of accountability, police departments should not investigate themselves. Justice should not depend on prosecutors who rely on local law enforcement for evidence in the cases they bring. The system of accountability should depend on the communities under the protection and service of the police. Improved data collection and reporting practices are necessary to expose the interactions between the police and other security agencies and how they have enforced the law which will also be a tool for accountability in the system.         

  Another tool in the Nigerian system that must be re-engineered and reviewed is the education system. Nigeria ranks 152 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The re-engineering of the educational system must cover the country’s general education policy and the laws governing it. In education, as with other fields of human endeavour, all official actions of an organization must have a backing or a basis for its operations. A policy defines and sets the areas for decisions to be made but does not make the decision as it only works as a guide to help facilitate the decision-making. 

Educational policies provide the direction for educational activities. In Nigeria, some factors militating against the implementation of educational policies, despite the efforts made to develop education in the country, since her independence in 1960. Unfortunately, these policies have not produced the desired effect as the state of the country’s education is still deplorable, one of which can be seen in the protracted issues with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) and other related bodies. It keeps getting worse as resourceful Nigerians keep on sending their children to Europe, America and even other African nations like Ghana, and South Africa, which have a lesser number of universities as compared to the over sixty universities in Nigeria. This is caused by the fact that Nigerian universities have continued to suffer from inadequate teaching staff, lack of adequate workshops, inadequate laboratories and libraries and other research facilities, insufficient funds, and non-availability of guidance and counsel services.  Nigerian students and parents are increasingly seeking education abroad. This exodus has made Nigeria to be rated as one of the most student-sending markets in the world a Central Bank of Nigeria revealed that Nigerians spend $39.66 billion on foreign education and healthcare-related issues. 

Education is an instrument for excellence and a tool for liberation from poverty and ignorance. Without a doubt, it is the investment in people that pays untold dividends to society and in the absence of this investment or the inadequacy of it, as is the case with Nigeria, society suffers great loss. Indeed, the importance of education cannot be overemphasized. This must have necessitated the recognition of the importance that the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provided  in Section 18 that:Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.However, the effective implementation of the programmes set out by the National Policy on Education has failed to see the light and the hope it proposed as it has rather been relegated to backstage. Education in Nigeria has continued to suffer setbacks by constant strike actions by lecturers, poor learning facilities and owing of workers’ salaries.

The laws governing education in Nigeria include the portion of the law in a state or nation that deals directly with the acts of administering educational bodies such as public and private primary and secondary education, and tertiary and non-tertiary educational institutions. The relevant issues in the laws governing education include, but are not limited to, sources of funding, requirements of teaching and non-teaching staff, criteria for the employment of teaching and non-teaching staff, hiring and firing of teaching and non-teaching staff, training and retraining of staff, roles and duties of staff, including students, meetings, quorums and disciplines. There have been continued educational laws and policies since 1914, during the incursion of colonial masters till date, unfortunately, there is a recurrent deficiency in the implementation and curriculum changes caused by the failure to train and retrain school administrators on education laws through refresher courses such as conferences, seminars, workshops and symposia. This has led to the demand for curriculum development to be passed into law for effective implementation, especially in the area of national policy on education. Nigeria’s educational system has continued to suffer curriculum manipulation and change by government policies, teachers and rising global demands, even to the detriment of the teachers and students without following any properly laid down procedure as expected under the law. Laws guiding education must be expanded to ensure that there is a wider covering of varieties of issues such as accountability for all activities of schools just like any business outfit, as accountability and responsibility are crucial to modern-day education. Schools must be required to meet up certain basic regulations which are in form of education. All schools must comply with appropriate education laws and government policies, and as such, all laws must be maintained and not broken to avoid sanctions. 

Teachers must be fully involved in the discipline of students and a modern-day teacher needs to know what constitutes the discipline of a student and what does not constitute the discipline of a student.  In the private sector, there is a need to know the employment law which is informed by a written contract to be sure that there exists no breach of the terms of the employment contract by the employer and the employees.            There must be an increase in the funding of the educational sector both in the government and private sectors. More resources must be put in place to curb the underfunding that education has suffered in Nigeria for decades, and a workable plan must be put in place by the government towards funding education. The proposition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1991 which states that 26% of a nation’s total budget must be allocated to education can be revisited and truly implemented as Nigeria spends less than 10% of her budgetary allocation on education. 

There is also the need to intensify management and improve the monitoring of funds allocated to the education system of the country. Away from formal education, vocational and technical centres must be established, staffed and properly equipped across the country with independent inspectorate committees put in place and deployed regularly to effectively manage, check and ensure the adequate maintenance and proper functioning of the vocational centres around the country. Schools must be equipped with a properly trained staff that can compete with the rising global economic demands. Education must be affordable and qualitative in both private and public schools since education is supposed to help in fighting poverty, ignorance and diseases. Schools must be equipped with modern-day facilities and there must be a regular review of the curricula to adopt new topics that will enhance innovations and creativity, especially at the level of primary education since this is the most delicate level of development, and the teachers handling them must be efficiently trained and equipped with the alertness to observe, the tact to conduct and enhance their performances and the tolerance needed to handle them with a learning process that ensures that there is a critical assessment of the learning processes and reactions to show desirable shreds of evidence of knowledge assimilation and installation. Adequate and well-equipped modern learning aids like laboratories, computers and libraries must be integrated into the educational system from primary to tertiary levels as these innovations speed up the process of assimilating knowledge, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and stakeholders in the educational sector must deliberate and brainstorm to find solutions on ways to not only generate ideas but also see to their implementation and management to curb the falling standard of education in the country. The welfare package for teachers must be improved and salaries must be paid as due and when due with good learning environments provided for both students and teachers. The National Educational Policy must be reviewed, restructured and re-engineered to raise the standard of education in Nigeria, bearing in mind the criteria above.       

  In trying to answer the question: who/what are the engineers? as it concerns the restructuring of the Nigerian system for sustainable development, one has to consider the roles of those in the political class; the stakeholders; private individuals; the media; the academia; the pressure groups; the political parties; and the common people. Nigeria remains Africa’s most populous country with over 200 million people. Despite a large number of citizens and the country’s large economy, Nigeria is still struggling to achieve quality economic development and a sustainable structural transformation. It has continued to suffer from deep economic distress and internal cohesion with deep-rooted corrupt practices and internal cohesion among the members of the political class and members of the public. Increasingly, these political veterans have gone beyond corruption to being part of speculations of those giving out funds in support of acts of terrorism which has weakened the capacity of Nigeria to stand as a nation-leading to an increasing global questioning of the legitimacy of Nigeria to be rated among other independent African countries. If Nigeria is to be re-engineered to achieve sustainable development, the political processes and progress of the nation must be checked. Corrupt political leadership does not only affect the administration of the country, but also the economic progress, decline of state capacity and the elite class, decline of national security and a sense of nationhood, loss of global influence and the unattainability of strategic development for the country.  

Nigeria must bring up a new breed of leaders who are abreast with modern trends of leadership and have the zeal to bring Nigeria to the centre stage in global affairs. One of the pathways to resolving the failed developmental state of Nigeria is by effecting a change in the character of those in the political class, and the quality of its political processes and institutions, before considering constitutional, political and economic reforms.       

    Stakeholders have a role to play in the nation’s re-engineering for sustainable development. This set of people will include members of the higher social class of society whose influence can affect the decision processes and policies of the nation, the religious leaders, big business owners, scholars and leaders of social groups, political parties and leaders in local communities. They need to focus more on engaging their resources on human development through educational sponsorship, grants, orientation and reorientation exercises for rural dwellers.

These stakeholders must have the drive to develop the country’s economy by fostering a spirit of peaceful co-existence and crisis-free society, instead of engaging in acts that signal the sponsoring of acts of terrorism, hence creating disparities among the youths of the nation. They must recognize the diversity of the people and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the federation beginning from their immediate environment. They must see to the positive empowerment of the youths through vocational and non-vocational education, bearing in mind the dynamics of the century and the need to stay at par with other nations of the world. They must see to it that leaders truly possess leadership qualities by ensuring that the processes that produce the leaders of the nation and the structure from which these leaders are bred are credible, reliable, corrupt-free and has the interest of the people at heart. Women must be involved and allowed equal rights of participation and a levelled ground to be part of the decision-making of the nation within the states and the local communities.  Apart from these, the code of conduct and other legislations spelt out on how public officers should conduct themselves in running the affairs of the nation must be maintained. Success in the attainment of sustainable development must be emphatic on leadership at all levels and spheres of life. It should be averse to the evils of corruption, greed, and selfishness of interest and must be against the mismanagement of public funds and other resources.       

    The media must, at all times, stay on track with the part it plays in capacity building for individuals and institutions and must make sure to promote only the right institutions which will in turn keep the people informed on political and government matters to enable them to make rational decisions. Information sent out by the media must be devoid of bias and must at all times mirror society as it is. Political parties must make sure that the electoral processes are duly followed and that the candidates presented by political parties are properly checked for records of previous corrupt practices at all times. Delegates of political parties, during elections, must vote for credible candidates and desist from the practice of taking money and surrendering their votes to the highest-paying aspirants during elections. Members of academia must use their vast knowledge and experiences to teach the people the need to think beyond politics and genuinely have considerations for self-leadership, first, before thinking of leading others. They must, themselves, be the emblem of what they teach and must stand out as models and mentors to the youths – living by example and teaching by example.   

        The recruitment system for political offices should tally with global best practices. How the people in power rule should be a general concern by the detached population as regards the entailment of the rule of law. Education, both vocational and non-vocational, must not continue to be relegated to theoretical absurdities. There must be a common will by the government and the people to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our schools. People in power and places of authority must start to show concern for the good of others and the sustainability of the structures already established. The knots of external influence must be untied. Nigeria must show true elements of independence from foreign influence. Ultimately, there is a need for deliberate self-education on the outlook of wise action by the youths, against the naïve focus on political illusions with emphasis on reformed economic philosophy and the need for transformational leadership against the backlash of what is obtainable in society now.       

    In conclusion, there is hope for the sustainable development of Nigeria through re-engineering of her current structure, but one must be mindful of the fact that life is a process, and that every process takes time, hence, re-engineering Nigeria for sustainable development is a process that, for the most part, would require time. All the agents of the re-engineering process must work together to ensure that there is true leadership, policies review and accountability, as the path to resolving Nigeria’s crisis and the unsustainability of its development lie mostly in the character of the nation’s political systems and institutions, ideologies and interests of leaders, and the thinking faculty of an average Nigerian. 

Market Intelligence for International Student Recruitment from International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF) Monitor. Retrieved on June 20, 2022. 

Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Inflation Report, May 2022.
Nigeria Development Update (NDU) June 2022: The Continuing Urgency of Business Unusual on Retrieved on June 21, 2022.

Nigerian Tribune, March 28, 2022. Nigeria Spends $28.65bn on Foreign Education – CBN. China Nwokoji.
The Change We Need: 5 Issues that Should Be Part of Efforts to Reform Policing in Local Communities. Advancement Project. Retrieved on June 22, 2022. 

The Nigerian Constitution, 1999. Section 18.The United Nations Charter Article 94.World Bank Poverty Report 2022.

Writer: © Omodot Jackson

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