The Hindrances To Effective Policy Formulation and Implementation In Nigeria, How It Retards Our Development And How It Can Be Solved

The Hindrances To Effective Policy Implementation In Nigeria, How It Retards Our Development And How It Can Be Solved

George Honadle, a famous author wrote that, "Implementation is the nemesis of designers,  it conjures up images of plans gone awry and of social carpenters and masons who fail to build to specifications and thereby distort the beautiful blue prints for progress which were handed to them...(1979)."

There is no gainsaying the fact that many developed and developing countries emerged as a result of the effective implementation of their policies. Nigeria is often considered a developing nation, yet she ranks low among other developing nations like China, Argentina and Brazil to mention a few. I am a Nigerian, and I am not trying to defy the government's ability to devise good policies. In fact, Nigeria is as blessed with brilliant minds as it is with natural resources. However, the problem of implementation stands out to frustrate these lofty policies, and obviously denies Nigeria its rightful place among the developed countries. 

For the sake of clarity, a public policy is a government action plan or proposed action directed at achieving certain desired goals or objectives (Ikelegbe, 2006). Public policies are usually made by the legislative arm of the government in both the federal, state or local government tiers and implemented by the public bureaucracy or designated private institutions. Anyone would agree that this is a organised system of achieving policy goals. Nevertheless, there exists a huge gap between these goals and their achievements in Nigeria as a result of ineffective implementation. For this reason, there is a high and urgent need to realize and tackle the hindrances to the effective implementation of these policies.

Basically, corruption is a setback for any policy implementation process in Nigeria. Corrupt political leadership, under which the public bureaucracy thrives, has a negative effect on the the content and quality of policies at the formulation stage as leaders tend to make policies for their selfish and egoistic gains. Some of these policies are overambitious in nature (e.g the provision of free education or health care services for all citizens in some states in Nigeria), and there are usually inadequate financial, human and technical resources for the public bureaucracy to implement them. This might be as a result of the inadequacies in the government budget or the misappropriation of funds by government officials through the cost escalation of projects and so on. Without doubt, there will be a deterioration in the quality of the services, and because these policies lack well defined objectives and programmes for their effective implementation, and are not stated on existing data, they are usually abandoned halfway.

On the issue of inadequate human resources, a principle known as quota system is applied in Nigeria and it goes a long way in determining the success of policy implementation. Quota system involves putting people in job positions where they do not have sufficient or basic skill and competencies. It is in this context that (Nnamdi, 2001) notes that development policies has, in contemporary times,assumed complex and sophisticated dimension that require highly skilled and experienced bureaucrats for their effective implementation. Therefore, where ability exists, policies would be formulated with a reliable assurance of effective implementation.

Also, as a result of quota system, bureaucrats may be forced to dance to the whims of political figures whose aim is to influence the implementation process probably because they consider the policy unfavourable, that is,  affecting their personal and ethnic interests and aspirations. In some cases and for the same reasons, bureaucrats may implement policies with no zeal, thereby rendering it ineffective.

 It is a common experience in Nigeria that new political leaders are mostly concerned with making their own impression on public projects. They have a innate selfish desire to associate policies nominally with their political leadership.  As a result, certain policies which are already being effected are shelved.  For example, the 'Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) ' which was former president, Olusegun Obasanjo's idea was abrogated in Sheu Shagari's regime for 'Green Revolution.' President Muhammad Buhari in his previous regime also abrogated Green Revolution for the 'Go back to land policy' and the 'Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI).' As a matter of fact, all these policies are aimed at improving food production. Why then were they abrogated?

These hindrances, without doubt, deter the development of Nigeria. They are the fundamental reasons why there have not been tremendous social and economic changes in the country despite the given number of policies that have been formulated to bring about these changes. In essence, there has been a wide gap between the development goals of a policy at the formulation stage and the realization of such goals on implementation. To close this ever-widening gap, the government should take steps to curb the influence of these hindrances on implementation. 

Government should ensure the evolvement of purposeful, visionary and responsible political and bureaucratic leadership at the heads of the various government tiers and public bureaucracies respectively. This could be achieved by upholding the principles and functions of democracy, and having zero tolerance for corruption. The rule of law should be upheld regardless of the title, gender and position of the offender. This would not only go a long way in the formulation of selfless and appropriate policies to address national problems, but also allow for the effective implementation of these policies by the public bureaucracy. 

Furthermore, Nigerian government should abolish the quota system and employ people based on their skills and competencies instead of primordial relationships; they should put in place adequate machinery to address the inadequacies of previous policy implementation strategies; and give bureaucrats incentives as this would help build their morale, commitment and zeal to implementing policies. This would also reduce the tendency to misappropriate funds, especially when the incentive is monetary. It is on this note that Charles Kenedy, a British Liberal Democrat politician said: "Valuing public servants would boost morale among those on the front line of implementing government policy."

Nigerian government should work towards the dichotomization of administration and politics in order to create room for public bureaucracy to operate and implement policies based on the laid down principle without the fear of infiltration by political leaders. This would allow for the effective and proper implementation of policies by the public bureaucracy. 

Lastly, the national and state assemblies should enact laws to ensure the continuity of existing policies in order to discourage the abrogation of such policies by new political leaders. However, there should be a condition for the abrogation of such policies if their implementation is considered, for developmental reasons, unnecessary or impossible.

Without doubt, the speed at which development can be realised is based on the government's ability to formulate good policies and effectively implement them. Therefore, in a country like Nigeria where the need for enhancing development is high and urgent, the government needs to take quick steps to curb the hindrances to the effective implementation of public policies. 

Honadle, George 1979. “Implementation Analysis: The Case for an Early Dose of Realism in Development Administration” in, International Development Administration: Implementation Analysis for Development, George Honadle and Rud Klauss (eds.), New York: Praeger.
Ikelegbe, A. (2006) Public Policy Analysis: Concepts, Issues and Cases. Lagos: Imprint Services.
Kennedy, Charles. Brainy Quotes. n.p, n.d. Web. 24 July 2017. <>
Nnamdi, H. (2001) Comparative Public Administration. Benin City: Trust Publications.


Thank you for reading. Please leave your comments.

Previous Post Next Post

نموذج الاتصال