Development Planning In Nigeria – History, Stages, Problems (2023)

The importance of development to the growth and sustenance of any and every nation cannot be overemphasized. The ideal government strives to achieve a favorable and commendable level of development so much so that its citizens appreciate the country they live in as well as the president’s body leading them.


National Development Planning in Nigeria can be divided into three different phases according to the time in which they took place and the manner of development planning involved in each phase. These phases and the time in which they took place are

  1. The Era of Fixed Medium-Term Planning (1962 – 1985)
  2. The Era of Rolling Plan (1990 – 1998)
  3. The New Democratic Dispensation (1999 till date)
  • The Era of Fixed Medium-Term planning (1962 – 1985)

This phase played host to 4 plans that were all a success, namely:

  1. The First National Development Plan (1962 – 1968) which provided for capital expenditure reaching 2.2 billion Naira. Owing to the Nigerian civil war which began during this time, this plan was further implemented from 1969 through to 1970. The NMB (National Manpower Board) of 1962 is a significant scheme for employment promotion recorded at this time. 
  2. The Second National Development Plan (1970 – 1974) which provided a capital expenditure of up to 3 billion Naira and attempted to correct and improve on some of the mistakes of the First National Development Plan.
  3. The Third National Development Plan (1975 – 1980) had a total capital expenditure of about 30 billion Naira (a figure which was later revised and placed at about 43.3 billion Naira). The government at the time, however, was only able to spend about 29.3 billion out of the total expenditure which was projected.
  4. The Fourth National Development Plan (1981 – 1985) projected capital expenditure of about 82 billion and aimed at improving the living conditions of the people.
  • The Era Of Rolling Plan (1990 – 1998)

This phase covered 3 plans, namely:

  1. The First National Rolling Plan which lasted throughout 1990 – 1992. A key feature of this plan was a deliberate attempt to strengthen the programmes being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment.
  2. The Second National Rolling Plan which lasted throughout 1993 – 1995 which attempted to tackle several observable monetary lapses as well as the increase in unemployment amongst other things.
  3. The Third National Rolling Plan which lasted till 1998 and prioritized employment generation.
  • The New Democratic Dispensation (1999 till date)

Following an end to the military rule which the country had experienced, the maiden development plan introduced by the new administration involved the implementation of a four-year medium-term plan document.


The stages involved in the preparation of development plans in Nigeria are as follows:

  1. Information gathering
  2. Issues Paper
  3. Draft Plan
  4. Independent Examination
  5. The Adopted Plan

Despite the various phases of development planning the country has been through, there has not been much progress by way of development to be recorded anywhere. So what then could be the problem?


  • 1. Poor Means of Data Collection: When it comes to the development and formulation of a good and workable development plan, the importance of a well collected and categorized census cannot be overemphasized. In Nigeria, it is not uncommon for the figures gathered during a census round to be manipulated in order to suit some political agenda or the other.
    Aside from this issue, there is also the problem of inadequacy in the areas of manpower and equipment which greatly hampers the effectiveness of the department involved. This is one of the problems facing development planning in Nigeria.
  • 2. The Problem of Internal and External Conflict Between the Various Levels of Government: The popular saying “a house divided cannot stand” comes to mind here. When the different tiers of government, namely, the federal, state, and local governments become involved in conflicts with each other relating to planning objectives and are unable to reach a suitable resolution, the development plan suffers as does the country it is meant for.
  • 3. Election and Appointment of New Officials: After each election, a new set of officials are usually brought in to replace those of the previous government. In many cases, these new officials may be from different political parties from their predecessors, and as a result, projects that were ongoing may be stopped or those that had been planned for may never be implemented. This poses a major problem for the development plan.
  • 4. Corruption: As most Nigerians would attest to, this is the biggest problem of everything and anything that relates to the country. Statistics put Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, a phenomenon that has cost the country in more ways than one. Most of the personnel involved in handling the development plans are self-serving, to say the least. When the funds necessary for these development plans keep winding up missing, the country cannot help but remain static.
  • 5. Poor Availability of Information: Most people find themselves unable to fully assess and understand the development plans being put in place as well as the objectives behind these plans. This is not as a result of apathy as some people would have you believe, but rather, as a result of the unavailability of information as relates to this very pertinent topics. These plans and their aims and objectives are not properly relayed to the public as well as to the private sector and this leads to a lack of sufficient contribution from these two sectors.
  • 6. Planning Institutions are Largely Inadequate: Various committees such as the NPC (National Planning Commission) and the likes, are usually set up for development planning. The stakeholders in these committees are in charge of providing inputs at a sectorial capacity. It is then sad when one realizes that many of these stakeholders lack adequate training with which they can handle development planning adequately. When the information required for the proper formulation of a development plan is lacking in one aspect or the other, the end product can never be satisfactory, and such is the case in Nigeria.
    Nigerians home and abroad seek the development of their motherland and are deeply saddened when it looks as though despite our best efforts, things seem to remain where they are. The country keeps getting left behind by countries that could be described as its peers, and this weighs heavily on the minds of concerned citizens. What are some things that could be done to solve these problems?


  1. Better Control of Resources: The encouragement of human capital development is greatly advised as the optimum use of the available human resources will do the economy some much needed good. Also, the local levels of government should be allowed more control of available resources. This is not to say that they should be allowed free rein without repercussion, no. A suitable system of checks and balances by which they are held fully accountable for errors and suspicious activities should also be put in place. Once this is done, the country will begin to see development in all the states rather than in just a few.
  2. Discipline as Relates To Planning: It was pointed out earlier that the entrance of a new government usually signifies an end to previously approved projects whether or not they have been started. This should not be so. A rule should be put in place making it so that previously approved projects are completed before new ones are started, regardless of the entry of a new set of government officials.
  3. Mass Education As Relates To The Topic Of Development Plans: The masses need to always be made aware of the development plans being considered as well as the objectives which they hope to achieve and means by which feedback as to the effectiveness of the plan is to be received. Everyone needs to be carried along.
  4. Efficient Collection Of Data: A good development plan is heavily reliant on the availability of accurate data. This data goes a long way in determining the economic needs of the masses as well as the national requirements.
  5. Proper Management Of Finances: Financial crimes are heavily prevalent in the country and need to be checked. Money that has been allocated to these development plans should be closely monitored so as to make sure they are not diverted to private endeavors or used to line private pockets.
  6. Patriotism: Unlike the other solutions in this list, this one has to do with every individual who is a citizen of the country, from the leaders in Aso Rock to the average Joe on the street. When people are focused rather than on what their country can do for them and more on what they can do for their country, then the only possible way that country can move is forward.

That’s all about National Development Planning In Nigeria.


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