Gabriel Gyang Dung
Bridget Mlumun Akaakohol
Department of Economics,
College of Education, Katsina-Ala,
This article takes an analytical look at the theory of the concept of “sustainable development” with special reference to its underlying pillars or domains and the principles that should guide strides towards economic growth and development among nations in order to attain results that could be considered as balanced, just and equitable for generations both in the short and long run. The general global imperatives which make the application of sustainable development principles to growth and development efforts urgent were also highlighted. Against this background, the authors then critically examined the twin concepts of economic growth and development and followed this up with highlights of growth and development challenges of the Nigerian economy. The study posits that the mode of current resource extraction and usage in the economy would appear to overemphasize the needs of the present and that corruption and self-seeking and/or inept leadership separately and jointly constitute the bane of Nigeria’s growth and development efforts. On the basis of these, a number of conclusions were drawn, followed by recommendations for redress.
A cursory look at the title of this work would give the impression that the authors have engaged in tautology. When any nation pursues growth and development, whether the terms are qualified or not, sustainability is implicitly assumed, as no nation with the right vision would want anything less. The title is far from being tautological. “Sustainable development” may be rightly described as a concept in development literature the emergence of which was relatively recent. The concept was popularized by the report of the Brundland World Commission on Environment and Development set up by the United Nations in 1987. Its underlying principle is equity and justice in resource extraction and usage between the present and future generations such that the satisfaction of the needs of one generation does not deprive subsequent generations the ability to meet their own needs from the one resource stock which is the environment. Sustainable development thus emphasizes a mode of resource usage with the overriding objective of meeting society’s needs while, at the same time, ensuring that the environment remains sufficiently regenerative. It is lamentable to observe that in the current rat race for growth and development, many nations would appear to have, deliberately or inadvertently, tended to be overarchly concerned with the needs of the present. Could Nigeria be one among such nations?
Nigeria has, since her independence, floated and executed several national development plans and has also introduced and operated quite a number of rural development programmes, but remains one of the poorest nations of the world by global rating. Gladly, the growth rate of her economy has been acclaimed to be among the highest in Africa and even the world at large, but quite sadly, it seems the level of development has not been commensurate with the rosy growth statistics. The World Bank has rated Nigeria among the five poorest countries of the world (Olawunmi, 2014). Judging from observable trends in the mode of usage of available resources in the country, it is reasonable to wonder if the economy would not have been healthier if the principles of equity and justice were adopted in favour of all relevant sectors. How far has this paradox of growth without commensurate development been affected by a lack of observance of the principles of sustainable development? If so, what are the gaps, and how may they be bridged? This is the mission in this study.
The work has been reported in five distinct parts: The first part is the introduction; the second is a review of literature on the concept of “sustainable development” and the global challenges that make the application of its principles urgent; the third is a brief review of the concepts of economic growth and economic development and an analysis of the major challenges facing Nigeria in her quest to grow and develop economically. In the fourth and fifth parts we draw conclusions and, in the light of those conclusions, make a number of recommendations respectively.
The Concept Of “Sustainable Development”
Meaning and Evolution
The term “sustainable development” rose to significance in development literature after it was used by the United Nations’ Brundland World Commission on Environment in its 1987 report titled “Our Common Future”. In the report, the commission defined the concept as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The adjective “sustainable” which describes something “which can be kept going or maintained”, is derived from the Latin word “sustinere” which means “to hold up”. Since the late 1980s, sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet earth, but this has now resulted in the most widely quoted definition of the term as part of the concept of sustainable development coined by Brundland Commission (United Nations, 1987).
The concept has been borrowed from ecology where it was first given force. At that realm, sustainability refers to how biological systems endure and remain diverse and productive as reflected in long-lived healthy wet lands and forests. More recently, the concept has been given greater ecological resilience which is deemed crucial to social well-being generally. Thus, sustainability is now being understood as a potential for long-term endurance of social well-being, resilience and adaptation across the four domains of ecology, economics, politics and culture.
In sustainable development theory, the environment is viewed as the asset which must be spent with moderation because, as the definition of the concept implies, should the present generation spend the wealth without a thought for the future, then society will eventually run out of the resources it would need to keep afloat. However, if part of the wealth is reserved or invested for the future, the proceeds can be used by future generations to sustain themselves. In this way, it may even be possible to develop new resources that may substitute the environment. It is in the light of the foregoing reasoning that Adams (2006) aptly notes to the effect that sustainable development translates to a pattern of resource use that aims at meeting human needs and, at the same time, preserving the environment such that these needs can be met not only in the present but in the future also. Sustainable development thus implies prospects for better quality of life both now and for generations yet unborn – an idea which Endress et al, (2005), refer to as “intra and intergenerational equity”. The idea goes beyond resource use to concerns on justice and equity in terms of recognition for all segments of society in the process of decision-making (Schlosberg, 1999), and for efficient policies which are compatible with increasing human welfare (Ayong Le Kama, 2001; Endress et al, 2005).
At the economic realm, sustainable development means not consuming resources faster than they can be replenished or restocked; it means effectively meeting desirable economic, social and environmental goals of the economy; it influences decision-making processes within economic units and can thus lead to the formation of principles that define business values. Agreeing, Fuller, (2005), states that the principles of sustainable development encapsulate the concern for the welfare needs of future generations, the concern for the preservation and protection of the ecosystem, the concern for the involvement of individuals in making decisions that affect them and the concern for the recognition of the less privileged class.
The origin of the need for sustainability in resource use actually dates back in history. In 400 BC, Aristotle made reference to a similar Greek concept in talking about household economics. Though the application of his concept differed in scope from the all-embracing modern variation of it, its ideal of “households being self-sustaining at least to a certain extent” could be considered germane to the later derivation of the modern concept. In 1972, fifteen years before the Brundland report, the Club of Rome had used the term “sustainable” in its modern sense in its epoch-making report titled “The Limits of Growth”, written by a team of scientists led by Meadows et al. it described the desirable world as “a state of global equilibrium” – a world system that was sustainable without sudden and uncontrolled collapse; a world system capable of satisfying the basic material requirements of all its people. Sustainable development is thus a process which is concerned with the improvement of all aspects of human life-affecting substances; it is concerned with resolving the conflict between the various competing goals of society and involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity, popularly known as the “triple bottom line”. As Hasna, (2007), puts it, the process is continually evolving and its vector is technology. Ayong Le Kama, (2001), and Endress et al (2005), on their part, identify the ultimate goal of the process as the attainment of “the golden-rule steady state”.
Domains of Sustainable Development Theory
These domains had earlier been identified as economic, ecology, politics and culture.
- Economic: This domain is seen as the practices and meanings associated with the production, use and management of resources where the concept of ‘resources’ is used in its broadest sense. The domain requires reconciliation across three ancillary domains – economic demands, environmental resilience and social equity.
- Ecology: The domain refers to the relation of plants and living creatures to each other and to their environment. The sustainability of human settlements is part of the relationship between humans and their natural, social and built environments. It also broadens the focus of sustainable development to include the concern for human health. Fundamental human needs such as good quality air, water, food and shelter constitute the ecological foundations for sustainable development. Addressing public-health risk through investments in ecosystem service can be a powerful and transformative force for sustainable development which, in this sense, extends to all species.
- Politics: The domain is concerned with practices and meanings associated with basic issues of social power as they pertain to the organization, authorization, legitimation and regulation of social life held in common. In line with this view, political change is important for responding to economic, ecological and cultural changes. It also means that the politics of economic change can be addressed. This domain yields the greater proportion of viable socio-economic and cultural leadership of societies and thus has overriding direct and indirect influences on the other counterpart domains. If these domains are arranged in order of priority against the background of contemporary experience in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world, the political domain would have pre-eminence. Viewed in this way, it may be stated that the leadership factor is easily the main pillar of the sustainable development theory.
- Culture: This domain has been referenced by one Vito Di Bari, an executive director at UNESCO, who was inspired by the 1987 United Nations’ Brundland report, to write his Manifesto of Art and Architectural movement titled “Neo-Futurism”. In the light of the latter’s work, the cultural domain is defined by adherents of the sustainability approach as practices, discourses and material expressions which express continuities and discontinuities of social meaning over time.
Global Challenges of Sustainable Development
As desirable as the concept of sustainable development may be, the adoption of its principles in the quest for growth ad development among nations is not without challenges. This may explain why since the last decade or so, nations and different organizations in the world have tried to measure and monitor their proximity to what they consider as sustainability. This has given impetus to the flag-off of different policies and programmes through world summits, conferences, workshops and media advertisements. Other endeavours aimed at the same goals include rehabilitation of the natural environment through preservation of species, afforestation, filling up of ponds and craters created by man’s economic activities, building dams, dykes and improving waterways to check erosion, flooding and environmental degradation. There have also been various agricultural programmes floated to improve agricultural practices and productivity. Issues on reducing overdependence on particular resources, ensuring equitable resource allocation and distribution among various sectors and groups, investment in research, and the training and retraining of human capital have continued to attract attention at various levels. Achieving intended objectives of these endeavours have posed challenges at different levels in time and space, but by and large, sustainability of growth and development continues to be a major problem the world over.
The desirability for sustainable development may sometimes be used to set limits on the efforts of the less developed world to grow and develop. While, for instance, the present more developed world had polluted the natural environment significantly at the time they were developing, the same countries, apparently having attained the height, are now advising their less developed counterparts to reduce pollution which, if done without the application of appropriate technology, could impede growth. On the other hand the former countries have resisted consideration of the case put forward by the latter for restitution which could make a difference. This conflict of demand on the two sides lends credence to the view in certain quarters that the adoption of the principles of sustainable development to growth and development efforts would mean a reversion to pre-modern lifestyles which would be tantamount to an anti-climax.
One factor which must always be taken account of when considering economic growth and development is the rate at which population is growing. In 2009, the United Nations projected that world population would hit 7 billion by early 2012, up from 6.9 billion in May 2009, and to exceed 9 billion people by 2050. The greater proportion of the increase was expected to be witnessed in the less developed world whose population was estimated to rise from 5.6 billion in 2009 to 7.9 billion in 2050. The increase was expected to be distributed within the population aged 15-59 years (1.2 billion) and 60 years and above (1.1 billion). The number of children under the age of 15 years in this world group, according to these projections, was expected to decrease. In contrast, the population of the more developed world was expected to increase only slightly from 1.23 billion to 1.28 billion within the same period, and this would have decreased to 1.15 billion but for a projected net migration from the former to the latter world which was expected, on the average, to stand at 2.4 million annually between 2009 and 2050. Earlier in 2004, long term estimates of global population had projected a peak about 2070 of 9 to 10 billion people, followed by a decrease to 8.4 billion by 2100. This population trend in the face of mounting global unemployment problems and fixed resource stock, has serious implications for healthy economic growth and development among nations, especially the less developed ones such as Nigeria.
It is the combination of high population increase in the less developed world and the prevailing unbridled consumption tendencies among the people that is worrisome, thus making the application of sustainable development principles urgent. It is quite alarming that globally, humans are living beyond the carrying capacity of planet earth – a trend which cannot be sustained. The sustainability goal is to raise the global standard of living without increasing resource use beyond global sustainable level – not exceeding “one planet” consumption level (Needham, 2011).
Following closely in the heels of the foregoing issue is corruption and corrupt leadership which, jointly, are the albatross on the necks of the less developed nations in their bids to grow and develop. The perverse nature of this phenomenon tends to make the concept of sustainable development a problem in itself to those whom society would normally look up to to lead the way. The net effect, apart from inequity in resource allocation and distribution among various sectors and groups, is that the passion and insatiable thirst for illegal acquisition of public wealth make most of the affected countries to over-stretch the exploitation of the resources in their natural environment, leaving adverse effects on the ecosystem, especially on plant life, animal species and arable land, to the neglect of due concern for the needs of the future. Human impacts on planet earth are demonstrated in a general way through detrimental changes in the global biogeochemical cycles of chemicals that are critical to life, especially water, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. The threat posed by the green house gases produced largely by forest clearing and the burning of fossil fuels is globally real. Cohen and Winn, (2007), identify four types of market failure as possible explanation:
- As the benefit of natural and social capital depletion can usually be privatized, the costs are often externalized (i.e. borne not by the party responsible, but by society in general);
- Natural capital is often undervalued by society since there is only limited awareness of the real cost of the depletion of the capital;
- Information symmetry, often the link between cause and effect, is often obscured, making it difficult for the actors to make informed choices; and,
- Contrary to economic theory, many firms are not perfect optimizers; they hold that firms often do not optimize resource allocation because they are caught up in a “business as usual” mentality.
Economic Growth, Economic Development, and Challenges of Nigeria’s Experience
This is a household term in economic literature which refers to increase in the market value of goods and services produced within an economy over time. It is conventionally measured as the increase in the people’s real share of the gross domestic product (GDP). Economists are usually more interested in what they refer to as “intensive growth” or the growth of the ratio of GDP to population (GDP per capita). The true picture of growth emerges when it is calculated in real terms, i.e. inflation-adjusted terms to eliminate the distorting effect of inflation on the prices of goods and services. Maddison, (1970), states that increases in income levels is generally called growth in rich countries and in poor ones, it is called economic development – a misnomer which is nonetheless a reminder of the often quoted situation of “growth without development”. Growth is thus necessary, but not sufficient for sustainable development to take place.
Also a very familiar concept in economics, economic development refers to the sustained concerted actions of policy makers and communities which promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area. It refers to quantitative and qualitative changes in the economy as a whole and among the economic participants. Such actions can involve multiple areas including development of human capital, critical infrastructure, regional competitiveness, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, health, human wellness and safety, literacy and such other initiatives. Schumpeter, (1934), distinguishes between the concepts of growth and development in clear terms by defining the former as a gradual come-about by a gradual increase in the rate of savings and population, and the latter as a discontinuous and spontaneous change in the stationary state which forever alters and displaces the equilibrium state previously existing.
Challenges of the Nigeria’s Experience
As pointed out elsewhere in this study, Nigeria has not been left out of the rat race for growth and development among counterpart nations. Since her independence, she has embarked on several development plans and their implementation at various times. She has also embarked on over twenty rural development programmes from the 1970s to date (Myom, 2013). Apart from these domestic endeavours she has also been part of most international efforts to enhance prospects for development across the globe as highlighted at section 2.3 above. Unfortunately, despite these measures, the economy has continued to remain largely in the doldrums – a perplexing situation. Perplexing because at a GDP growth rate of nearly 6.8 per cent per annum, Nigeria is reputed to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Ordinarily therefore, this should be cheering news, but most Nigerians have received the purportment described in official circles as “Nigeria’s economic turnaround” with lots of misgiving. The crux of the concern surrounds the disparate pictures which have continued to emerge between the expenditure of several trillions of naira every year since the turn of this century and the general welfare state of the citizenry. To many, the situation approximates to growth without or, at best, with little development as the country has scored low in most of the indices of the quality of life. A highlight of a few of such indices will suffice to illustrate the perceived perplexity: According to Boyo, (2014). Nigeria is currently rated 120th out of 148 countries in global competitiveness and that the World Bank estimates that over 70 per cent of her citizens live in absolute destitution. Putting it more bluntly, Olawunmi, (2014), discloses that the World Bank rates Nigeria among the five poorest nations of the world. The same source cited immediately above points out that since 2010, unemployment has continued to increase year on year, standing currently at 23 per cent. Youth unemployment rate alone is a staggering 50 per cent! Nigeria has spent nearly N1.5 trillion ($9.0bn) to generate electricity and yet its supply has decreased from 4,000 to about 2,800 megawatts. The average Nigerian gets an average of two hours of electricity supply per day. Most business enterprises in Nigeria are said to spend, on average, 20 per cent of their revenue to generate their own electricity and produce their water supply. Most parts of Nigeria lack potable water, and the state of roads infrastructure across the country, to say the least, is an eyesore. Inflation has been taking its toll on the real value of people’s disposable income. While government official estimate puts the figure at 8 per cent, the national assembly targets it at 9.5 per cent in the current year, but the average consumer feels that its incidence is about 15 percent.
An equality worrisome dimension of the country’s development challenge is the prevailing tendency for aggressive resource use. From every indication, it would appear that the overriding concern is to extract and consume every resource that can be made available in the present, including even borrowing, thus caring little for the welfare interest of future generations. The focus of this aggression is now on the current naira-spinners – petroleum oil and natural gas – which, according to the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwala, jointly contribute over 70 per cent of the country’s GDP. Highlights of the 2014 national budget passed by the National Assembly – a replica of typical budgets in Nigeria since independence – can be used to illustrate the worry under reference: Whereas the Federal Executive submitted N4.642 trillion as total expenditure estimates for the year, the “National Assembly collectively passed a unanimous figure of N4.695 trillion”. (New Telegraph, 28th April, 2014). The difference between the figures is a whopping N53.0 billion. Of the figure passed, N2.455 trillion (52.3%) was allocated to recurrent expenditure, while approximately N1.120 trillion (47.7%) was for capital expenditure. Debt servicing was allocated N712 billion while statutory transfers would gulp N408.687 billion. Notwithstanding the country’s frightening cases of infrastructural deficit, the recurrent allocation – a transient component of the budget – was raised to fuel operations and consumption of a bloated public sector size and outlandish cost of governance in preference to a prevailing critical need to consciously boost the capital expenditure segment of the budget – a potentially more enduring and regenerative investment – which can enhance the prospects for the provision of critical social and economic infrastructure. It is an irony that Nigeria which was relieved of a huge external debt burden just a few years age is spending as much as N712.0 billion on debt servicing, and to wallow in a huge domestic debt which has increased from $35.0 billion to $44.30 billion in the last four years – a debt being serviced at exorbitant interest rates.
The scenario of overdependence on one or two available resources and spending the bulk of revenue derived from them on immediate consumption is a glaring contradiction of the sustainable development thesis. By implication, other naturally rich and potentially high revenue-yielding areas of the economy jointly contribute less than 30 per cent of the GDP. This is a reflection of the poor development attention being given to them. Those sectors and sub-sectors need to be given commensurate development attention no matter the current attraction of the petroleum sub-sector for a number of reasons: First, the Nigerian economy is predominantly rural and most of the sectors and sub-sectors in reference are rural-based. They, therefore, have the potential for being the cradle for the much-desired rural development which, apart from generating employment and boosting entrepreneurship, will reduce rural-urban migration. Second, petroleum oil and natural gas are non-renewable resources and in the event of their exhaustion, resources from the other sectors and sub-sectors will be depended upon by future generations for their sustenance. Third, a substantial proportion of the huge fortune currently being derived from the petroleum sub-sector needs to be invested in the other sectors and sub-sectors – agriculture, solid mineral, education, health and research among others – as a deliberate strategy towards ensuring that future generations are not worse-off in terms of welfare standard.
Be these as they may, the bane of Nigeria’s growth and development efforts is corruption. Corruption is a multifaceted concept, but in this study, it refers to the diversion of material wealth intended for the production of desirable public goods and services into private hands, thereby depriving and impoverishing the many by the few. Sorkaa, (2003), aptly describes the practice as the “primitive accumulation of public wealth by the few privileged at the expense of the (larger) vulnerable poor”. It translates to the building of financial empires in the midst of sprawling destitution. Alarape, (2014), quotes Prof. Tam David – West to the effect that every Nigerian knows that corruption is the greatest evil slowing down the growth and development of the country, the greatest malaise that continues to reduce her otherwise colossal image, especially at the international arena. At that level, the name ‘Nigeria’ has been synonymous with corruption since the last two decades or so, and she has been “reputed” at various times to fall between the second and fifth ignoble position as the most corrupt nation in the world. Thus the number of Nigerian owners of fleets of private jets, high-brow estates and international hotels in leading cities of the world as well as swelling bank accounts in international currencies overseas continues to grow, and tens of billions of naira continues to “disappear” from government treasury, while the average Nigerian finds it difficult to put one square meal on his family table each day.
The nursery bed for the festering corruption in Nigeria is the succession of corrupt and/or inept leadership which the country has had most of the time soon after independence, but more especially since the petroleum oil boom era, and which has continued to grow and mature in magnitude from one regime to the other. The facts and implications of this phenomenon hardly need belabouring. The evidence is not hidden to the eye both within and outside the country. Suffice it to state however that the country has never lacked the vision. Development plans, programmes and targets by various regimes have always been clearly drawn and set, but the mission – the drive to execute programme plans and achieve set targets – has almost always remained largely impossible as resources earmarked for projects are quite often diverted to private pockets. Most of such cases are swept under the carpet as the culprits are ‘immune’ to laws and agencies put in place to check such excesses and those who have the responsibility to sanction them are incapable because they are wearing the same shoes and, therefore, lack the willpower and capacity to honestly fight the menace.
The leadership question is identified as the leading element in the political domain of the sustainable development theory because by its nature, it determines in essence what happens in the other domains. In every country, it is the leadership that is looked up to to design, enact and execute policies which will define the socio-economic fortunes or otherwise of the people. It is such policies that determine, to a large extent, how effectively and efficiently the ecosystem is managed. And if the trend which has emerged in Nigeria is anything to go by, then it can be stated that even the affairs of the cultural domain which are ordinarily expected to be insulated from influences of politics have become deeply enmeshed in them to such an extent that only a very slim distinction now exists between political and cultural leadership. It is thus not a wonder that in almost every sphere of life in the country, sustainable progress has remained stalled; almost every voice that could be raised in protest in favour of the masses has been gagged.
The following conclusions may be drawn from the discussion in this study:
- Sustainable development was described as a pattern of resource use which emphasizes moderation, equity and justice, and healthy growth and balanced development of society. The main objective of the sustainability approach is the attainment and maintenance of “good quality of life” from one generation to the other. The way to achieve this goal is to ensure that the environment is managed in a manner that will keep it regenerative from one generation to the other. That, by implication, means that no generation should use more than its fair share of the stock of wealth, but rather seek ways to preserve and replenish the stock.
- An appreciable proportion of the global community seems quite aware of the essence of the sustainability approach to development, but is dragging its feet in adopting the principles owing to the pressure of demands of the contemporary generation.
- Notwithstanding the above reluctance, certain trends in global phenomena such as threats to the natural environment, especially the ecosystem, the tendency among the more developed world to foist a master-servant relationship on their less developed counterpart, the high rate of increase of world population especially among the less developed nations, among others, make the adoption of the sustainability principles urgent.
- On the Nigerian scene, it was seen that the country is striving to grow and develop like other nations, and though the rate of growth of her GDP may look healthy, the level of her development does not compare favourably with the growth statistics. The country is rated among the poorest nations of the world by global standard.
- There is currently overdependence on the petroleum resources sub-sector as the source of revenue and other sectors and sub-sectors are not being given their due attention. The mode of use of resources from the petroleum sub-sector is aggressive as well. These twin consumption tendencies are at variance with the sustainability thesis.
- The bane of the country’s growth and development efforts was identified as corruption, while corrupt and/or inept succession of leadership, especially since the oil-boom era, was seen as the nursery bed for the widespread corruption menace which has impoverished the masses of Nigerians.
We make the following recommendations to redress the negative impacts of human behaviour which have created equity deficits at the domains of sustainable development among nations:
- Sustainable development thesis in itself suggests that the approach to growth and development must be organic – a holistic recognition and concern for all the elements that must function in concert to create a progressive society where justice and equity are the watchwords. Current emphasis on the economic aspect of growth and development as if those are all that matter is in itself inequitable. If any domain of sustainability needs emphasis, it is that of politics. There is need to “grow” and “develop” healthy political institutions and practices through which credible leadership can emerge to lead the society out of the growth and development challenges at the economic, ecological and cultural realms.
- At the economic front, vision and mission in policy design, enactment and execution must be the guiding principles. Desirable goals and objectives must be clearly identified, prioritized and judiciously pursued to achieve them for the good of all. Healthy and sustainable methods must be adopted in the exploitation and consumption of available resources, while equity, justice and inclusion must guide the allocation and distribution of such resources so that the present generation could be adequately catered for, while the welfare of future generations is not jeopardized. Current undue dependence on petroleum resources to the relative neglect of solid minerals and sundry agricultural resources is unsustainable and need to be checked. Flaring of natural gas depletes its stock in the present and the future. The return on the practice is environmental pollution with adverse effects on climate and organic life. Engagement in most agricultural enterprises is now considered dirty owing to the attraction of petro-naira concentration in urban centres. Sustainable balance of attraction in all sectors of the economy is necessary. Government must therefore give due attention to the provision of essential facilities and services that will raise the quality of life in rural areas as well.
- Nigeria must not indiscriminately embrace every method introduced to her in the exploitation of natural resources in the name of modernity. For instance, application of chemicals to kill weeds, or boost output may have its advantages in the short run, but its long run side effects may outweigh the short run gains and, in addition, deprive future generations of knowledge of certain traditional cultural farming skills which often have their own special values to societal well-being.
- As a leading member of Third World nations, Nigeria must use diplomacy to rally round other members to press harder at all appropriate fora for the more developed nations to pay compensation for the devastation of the environment which their industrialization and mining drives caused in their erstwhile colonies. The much-talked-about global warming or climate change and the innumerable yawning craters which litter large expanses of otherwise fertile arable country side in many Third World countries as well as the general pollution of the natural environment have bred inequity especially in the ecosystem. Some of these damages are irreparable, hence the need for reparation and compensation.
- To make judicious use of resources for the common good of all in the present and the future, corruption must be tackled in its ramifications headlong. Structures are on ground for the fight, but they have not made appreciable impact because where the crime seems deepest would appear to largely consist of sacred cows that are above the law by reason of their constitutional immunity, economic power or political clout. There is much window-dressing in the set up and operation of the existing structures and the wider society has continued to lose in unquantifiable ways. Those saddled with the responsibility of fighting corruption must ensure that extant laws on the crime apply equally to all and sundry irrespective of social class.
- Preserving and replenishing the stock of wealth that can be made available from one generation to the next call not only for investing part of the petro-naira which is being hauled in now in interest-yielding ventures, but also in research in critical areas (especially science and technology) through which substitutes for non-renewable resources and improved techniques of managing the environment may be developed.
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