Wali leaves no stone unturned in this thoroughly researched analysis of the successes, failures and struggles of the Nigerian government in Sokoto State between 1976 and 1991.
In his exhaustively researched new study, Wali analyzes the social, cultural and economic obstacles Nigeria faces in its quest to modernize and improve the standard of living. The author seeks to explain why, in spite of the country’s relative wealth of human and natural resources, the great majority of Nigerians still struggle with crushing poverty. For a great many of the country’s citizens, there is very limited access to basics such as health care, education, clean water and safe housing. Wali shows how political instability, corruption and prejudice, among other factors, conspire to prevent policy implementation of what, on paper, can seem to be perfect solutions. While the author’s research is beyond reproach, his prose is often dense and impenetrable. The book is full of dry, circular sentences such as “without a goal, implementation will have no focus ... and there will be nothing to implement. In other words, there is no implementation without policy, but there may be policies waiting for implementation.” The various tables and charts, however, are much more instructive. As a former politician and ambassador, the author must have plenty of personal experience and anecdotes to draw from, but instead readers get numbing, policy-wonk descriptions of how the elaborate bureaucracy works—or more often, doesn’t work. As a result, no one he writes about feels like a real person. Even though Wali was on the ground to experience most of these issues, this volume reads like the work of an outsider peering in at the inner workings of the Nigerian state. A more personable tone, real-world examples and a less rigid structural format would have improved readability and greatly clarified the author’s message.
An extremely valuable resource for political science students and those studying African economies and governments, but the author will have difficulty finding an audience beyond academia.