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Comparing Factors That Lead to Underdevelopment: Ghana and Nigeria Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 9th, 2021


Governments should implement powerful strategies and projects to improve the lives and experiences of all citizens. Unfortunately, many leaders in different countries continue to support inappropriate processes and models that disorient economic development. This problem affects many African, South American, and Asian countries, thereby making it impossible for the affected citizens to achieve their potential. The selected choices for this comparative discussion include Nigeria and Ghana since they have similar causes or factors that affect disorient growth.

Common Factors

Democracy is a political notion or model that many African countries embraced after gaining independence from their colonizers. Unfortunately, those who took up leadership responsibilities failed to implement superior measures to promote good governance systems. Effective management can ensure that more people have access to health support, employment opportunities, proper infrastructure, and government services (Bamidele, Olaniyan, & Ayodele, 2016). The factors described below explain why Ghana and Nigeria remain less developed despite the presence and availability of numerous resources.

Governmental Corruption

Corruption has remained a major predicament in both Nigeria and Ghana, thereby undermining the true promises or objectives of democracy. This problem continues to take different shapes in Ghana despite the government’s efforts to implement superior measures to address it. For instance, Frahm (2018) believes that corruption in this country makes it impossible for both foreign and local investors to do business successfully.

This is true since they have to bribe different government officials in order to win contracts. Public servants working in different organizations ask for bribes before providing services to the citizens (Bamidele et al., 2016). A report released in 2017 revealed that the health sector was facing this challenge since many professionals in the field were unaccountable for their actions (Frahm, 2018). This predicament has continued to affect government tendering processes.

Similarly, Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in West Africa. Many leaders and politicians in this country use government revenues for their own benefits while ignoring the needs of their followers. Governmental corruption is a perennial problem that is recorded in all sectors, including the judiciary, executive, and the legislature. After the country discovered natural gas and oil, the problem exacerbated since many people began to pursue their personal objectives instead of supporting the idea of economic development.

A report released in 2012 revealed that this country had lost around 400 billion USD to cartels and corrupt individuals from 1960 to 2017 (Frahm, 2018). According to Bamidele et al. (2017), customs, ostentatious living conditions, greed, and people’s negative attitudes are some of the leading causes of corruption in Nigeria.

Unfair Judicial Systems

The judiciary is an important body of governance in many democratic societies. This branch ensures that all leaders and citizens follow the constitution and act in accordance with the existing laws. When a country’s judicial system is compromised, chances are high that more citizens will commit heinous crimes, steal public funds, and engage in malpractices that will eventually affect economic development. Those in power will find ways to corrupt and receive judgments that support their expectations. In Ghana and Nigeria, the existing judicial systems are usually unable to follow the law in an attempt to provide justice for all. In Nigeria, the judiciary has not been supportive in the war against impunity (Okeke, 2015).

Most of the court judgments tend to be lenient, thereby encouraging more people to steal public resources that would have been utilized for supporting economic growth and sustainability. In Ghana, politicians and rich businesspeople manipulate judicial cases and subsequent rulings in order to achieve their potential. Without proper measures and policies to transform these countries’ judicial systems, very little economic development achievements will be recorded in the future.

Ethnic and Tribal Disparities

Nigeria remains one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa since it has over 250 ethnic groups. Tribal inequality has become common whereby leaders and politicians pursue the interests of their people. This malpractice explains why the major groups have continued to benefit from the available public resources, such as the Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Ijaw, and Igbo. Government agencies and giant corporations hire employees from these major tribes from the Northern parts of the country (Poncian & Mgaya, 2015). The latest shifts in leadership have led to new problems whereby presidents tend to favor individuals from their respective tribes. These issues have made it impossible for the government to subdivide natural resources and opportunities to all citizens.

The same situation is evident in Ghana whereby political leaders employ people from their regions or tribes. With around 100 ethnic groups, people from these major tribes find it easier to get jobs and opportunities: Ga, Akan, Ewe, and Moshi-Dagbani. This means that those from the other groups will be unable to access government services. Infrastructure, development projects, and resources are shared depending on those occupying specific offices (Crawford & Botchwey, 2017). Due to such malpractices, many regions and towns remain underdeveloped and incapable of meeting the unique needs of the targeted citizens.

Misuse of Natural Resources

Many citizens in Nigeria and Ghana encounter numerous problems despite the existence of diverse natural resources. This kind of suffering is attributable to various factors, including poor resource management, inappropriate policies, corruption, and the absence of strategy (Amankwah, Bonsu, & White, 2017). Nigeria has numerous natural resources that have the potential to support and promote economic development. These include natural gas, tin, iron core, limestone, zinc, fishing areas, and petroleum (Toukuu & Kuusaana, 2015). Due to such gaps, many leaders from specific tribes loot such resources and market them in foreign regions. Nigeria and Ghana have been seeking assistance from European and other rich countries to manage their resources effectively.

Unfortunately, those in power end up formulating means or ways of enriching themselves without considering the needs of the citizens they serve. Such individuals misuse or mismanage most of the available resources, thereby making it hard for the countries to record positive economic growth (Poncian & Mgaya, 2015). Nigeria has failed to implement superior technologies and measures to support its fishing and mining industries. Ghana has also failed to identify appropriate measures to utilize these key resources in a sustainable manner and meet all people’s needs: gold, rubber, cocoa, timber, bauxite, and hydropower.

Internal Conflicts

Nigeria is one of the African countries troubled by the problem of internal conflicts. Being a populous nation, many citizens live below the poverty line (Dowd & Drury, 2017). The problem of Boko Haram has disrupted operations and economic development activities in different states. Lives are lost due to such struggles while many people become refugees or immigrants. Additionally, over a million people are internally displaced in Nigeria due to tribal and terrorist-related conflicts (Dowd & Drury, 2017). These challenges have affected the government’s ability to allocate resources and promote economic development.

In Ghana, land and chieftaincy conflicts have become common in the recent past. Such disagreements have made it impossible for neighboring communities to engage in economic development initiatives (Suleiman, 2017). A good example is the Dagbon conflict that exists between the royal gates of this community. Most of the recorded clashes have resulted in wars, loss of property and lives, and increased government expenses.

Lessons and Insights

The problem of underdevelopment in many countries is attributable to most of the above issues. The cases of Ghana and Nigeria present powerful ideas that governments can consider to promote economic development and empower their citizens. The completed discussion supports the effectiveness of private investment since it results in improved economic performance. Open political competition will maximize transparency and ensure that leaders promote the effective use of natural resources.

The challenges experienced in the above countries explain why good governance, sound financial systems, and fair judicial systems are needed to drive economic development (Suleiman, 2017). Finally, there is a need for leaders to consider the role of enforceable environmental regulations to ensure that all people utilize resources efficiently, thereby promoting sustainable growth.


The above discussion has outlined various factors or issues that explain why Ghana and Nigeria are underdeveloped despite the presence of numerous natural resources and economic opportunities. The challenges of corruption, increased cases of conflicts, poor resource management initiatives, ethnic disparities, and improper judicial systems have affected economic prosperity. It would, therefore, be appropriate for government leaders to address such issues if these countries are to achieve their potential and transform the lives of their respective citizens.


Amankwah, A. S., Bonsu, G. A., & White, P. (2017). Media exposé of judicial corruption in Ghana: Ethical and theological perspectives. Legon Journal of the Humanities, 28(1), 1-9. Web.

Bamidele, O., Olaniyan, A. O., & Ayodele, B. (2016). Culture, corruption, and anticorruption struggles in Nigeria. Journal of Developing Societies, 32(2), 103-129. Web.

Crawford, G., & Botchwey, G. (2017). Conflict, collusion and corruption in small-scale gold mining: Chinese miners and the state in Ghana. Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 55(4), 444-470. Web.

Dowd, C., & Drury, A. (2017). Marginalization, insurgency and civilian insecurity: Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Peacebuilding, 5(2), 136-152. Web.

Frahm, O. (2018). Corruption in sub-Saharan Africa’s established and simulated democracies: The cases of Ghana, Nigeria and South Sudan. Crime, Law and Social Change, 70(2), 257-274. Web.

Okeke, C. N. (2015). The use of international law in the domestic courts of Ghana and Nigeria. Arizona Journal of International & Corporate Law, 32(2), 371-430.

Poncian, J., & Mgaya, E. S. (2015). Africa’s leadership challenges in the 21st century: What can leaders learn from Africa’s pre-colonial leadership and governance? International Journal of Social Science Studies, 3(3), 106-115. Web.

Suleiman, M. D. (2017). Global insecurity and local conflicts in Ghana. Peace Review, 29(3), 315-324. Web.

Toukuu, F. X., & Kuusaana, E. D. (2015). Escaping the oil curse in Ghana: Lessons from Nigeria. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 6(11), 28-39.

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