Nigeria, behind most foreign aid given by donor

Nigeria,
as a developing country, is faced with different socioeconomic challenges such
as high level of unemployment, low level of income and high poverty level to
mention a few. For this reasons, foreign aid has been proposed as a veritable
alternative for balancing the insufficient domestic resources and solving the
issue of development. However, it has been observed that several misconceptions
surround the reasons and motives behind foreign aid. The flow of foreign aid
into a country is influenced by certain factors, goals and objectives. These
goals and objectives need to be fully understood and carefully scrutinized
before a country should accept aid. Although it is believed that the central
idea of giving aid is to promote economic development and welfare of developing
countries, Todaro (1989) realised that there is no historical evidence that
over time, donors render assistance or aid to recipient countries without
expecting some form of benefit (political, economic, military) in return. It is
therefore advisable for developing countries to be well informed of the reasons
and motives behind foreign aid before accepting it. By so doing, the country
will be able to determine the present and future aid flows which is a very
significant aspect of foreign aid. Moreover, the objectives of foreign aid, to
a great extent, also influence the nature of foreign aid given to a state which
helps in determining the effectiveness and impact of foreign aid. It is the
donors who give aid to the recipient and for this reason, the objectives of
foreign aid are from the donors’ perspective. For better understanding, these
objectives have been classified into three major categories;

         
i.           
Political Objective:

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This is assumed to be the primary objective behind
most foreign aid given by donor states. This is justified by Chenery H. B. who
observed, “… this complex of mechanisms has been shaped more by desires and
political requirements of the donor countries than by the needs and performance
of the recipients”. This means that donor countries have political reasons
attached to the aids they give. Foreign aid is a tool for statecraft; it can be
used to influence regimes and promote friendly relations. Foreign aid is, most
times, given to those recipient nations who have close political ties with the
donors. Donors use the promise of aid or its withdrawal to influence policy
decisions in recipient countries (Wall, 2002). Hjertholm and White write that,
“the development objectives of aid programs have been distorted by the use of
aid for donor commercial and political advantage” Furthermore, foreign aid is
given as a means to instil the political ideologies of donor states to
developing nations as well as for diplomatic purposes.

       
ii.           
Economic objectives:

Foreign aid
objectives shifted from merely being for political purposes to economic goals
when the Cold War ended. This change in attitude of the former European masters
to their former colonies took place in the 19th Century. The British
Commonwealth of nations and the French community are the best examples of this
change (Mikesell, 1968). Economic objectives also serve to strengthen national
objectives of the states involved. 
International trade, therefore, is very much involved. (Radalet, 2006:7)
states that foreign aid is meant to meet at least one of four broad economic
and development objectives, which are;

a.       To
stimulate economic growth through building infrastructure, supporting
productive sectors such as agriculture, or bringing new ideas and technology;

b.      To
strengthen education, health, environment or political systems;

c.       To
support subsistence consumption of food and other commodities, especially
during relief operations or humanitarian crises; or

d.      To
help stabilize an economy following economic shocks

However, the generally accepted economic objectives of
foreign aid are poverty reduction, increasing savings, investment and rate of
growth of Gross National Product (GNP) in developing countries.   This all sums up to the rich nations helping
the ones often classified as “Third World states” to develop economically
through the use of foreign aid. However, the less conspicuous but predominant
objective of giving foreign aid by the donor countries is to earn more by
selling more in return for aid given. This is the economic and commercial objective
of aid giving in the true sense. In the book, the ‘Economics of Aid’, Heasley
observed that “capital flows in the form of loans at rates of interest which
exceed the rate of return on investment in the lending country clearly benefit
the lender commercially, but capital flows of this kind do not constitute aid
in the real sense” 

 

      iii.           
Humanitarian objectives:

Aid is not truly
aid if it is not based on moral as well as humane grounds too. There are
approximately seven (7) billion people in the world and it is quite unfair and
unfortunate that only one third of these people enjoy a decent standard of
living while the remaining two third wallow in abject poverty. The world is now
regarded as a global village where each person has automatically assumed the responsibility
of being their brother’s keeper. One of the major achievements of civilisation
is the widening interest and concerns among states whereby the richer nations
have taken a sort of big brother role to their poorer counterparts and now
regard a certain level of poverty in a country as intolerable. Former colonial
masters, most especially, feel a sense of moral obligation to uplift their
former colonies from poverty, diseases, hunger and ignorance. Aid is sometimes
concerned with the plight and sufferings of humanity. Apart from being a moral
duty to help fellow human beings to develop their faculties, it is also in the
interest of the international community (that is, everyone) that human
resources are fully developed, so that instead of being a drain to the world’s
resources, they may contribute to their growth (Byres T. J.). Aid flows can
therefore be said to be dominated by humanitarian objectives in most cases of
relief. This objective depicts aid giving in line with the long enlightened
interest of donor countries as ideal. This is the least selfish objective of
the three. This is the objective behind many INGOs and United Nations and some
states.