Exploring institutional capacity of the State to facilitate economic development in Nigeria : lessons from Malaysia.
This research appraises the connexion between the institutional state and economic performance (growth and development) while focusing on the countries of Malaysia and Nigeria. The largely explorative study takes cue from the perennial debate on state-society nexus vis-à-vis economic performance which has two broad narratives. The neoliberal view construes the relationship to be counterproductive and pitches the failure on the tendencies of the state to get-in-the-way of market efficiency. Consequently, its proponents advocate that the state should have at best, minimal role in the economic organisations of societies. The other position is represented by statism which believes in the omniscience of the state in matters of organising the socio-economic life of the society. In light of developmental state studies highlighting deficiencies in these diametrically opposed positions, an alternative explanations that find rich empirical backing from the experiences of economic growth and development in East Asia was explored. While validating that state inefficiency can hamper growth processes, these studies point out that market efficiency also often neglects the import of equity that is relevant to development. Against this backdrop, this research comparatively examines the developmental experiences of Malaysia and Nigeria with a focus on the importance of institutional state as a factor of economic growth and development. The desktop study used both thematic and simple descriptive statistical analyses, and draws from the analytical tools of developmental state theory. Observation suggests that there is a relative difference between Malaysia and Nigeria’s developmental trajectories – the latter is reported as having underperformed historically. This can be explained in part, by the differences in the state institutional qualities (structural and ideological) of the two countries. Some of these qualities include developmental ideological-orientations, good governance, bureaucratic efficiency, state-society partnership and lesser cases of corruption. Consequently, the study argues that when states take on ideological and structural development-orientation, they are better equipped to play pivotal roles in development process. This role is neither minimalistic nor overcrowding but is a mixture of strategies aimed at generating and redirecting economic wealth to achieve inclusive national development. The submission is important for developing countries confronted by historical developmental challenges. And to this effect, the study offers useful recommendation while focusing on the Nigerian state.