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Crime and Development - The Nigerian Experience

NCJ Number
Canadian Criminology Forum Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: (Fall 1984) Pages: 41-56
B Owomero
Date Published
16 pages
Using the experiences of Nigeria, the author argues that policymakers in developing countries contribute to increased crime rates by neglecting the vast majority of the population and siphoning public funds that ought to be used for development into projects that benefit only themselves and their collaborators.
Nigeria in the post-civil war era (1970-77) experienced not only tremendous socioeconomic growth, but a rapidly increasing crime rate that by 1977 was almost triple the 1967 figures. The end of the civil war in 1969 coincided with increases in oil revenues from areas that had been disrupted by the war. The government encouraged foreign investment and abandoned investment in the agricultural sector which had been the backbone of the economy. The oil boom also encouraged massive food imports, investment in construction and manufacturing, and infrastructure development. The Udoji wage increases in 1975 to urban workers raised urban incomes relative to rural incomes and, coupled with the impact of money supply, built inflationary pressures into the economy. These policies led to a worsening of rural-urban terms of trade and a massive rural-urban migration. The government used the indigenization decree to promote indigenous capitalists and business tycoons who already had financial resources and ties with government officials. Thus, policy decisions created conditions conducive to the growth of crime: a widening gap between rich and poor, between rural and urban sectors, and rapid rural-urban migration with a resulting high rate of unemployment. The wanton display of ill-gotten wealth by those who control the state and their collaborators also nurtures an attitude that redistributing wealth, even illegally, is permissible. Tables and approximately 35 references are supplied.


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