Institutional Development as a Paradigm For African Development: A Hermeneutical Study of Olusegun Oladipo


Faculty: Arts
Department: Department Of Philosophy


Igwubor, A;
Odimegwu, I;


This work sets out to interrogate the challenge of African development. Africa is endowed with colossal potentials in natural resources, human capital, and cultural heritage, among others. It has been, and is still, significant in retailing solutions to the problems of the Western world – for during the trans-Atlantic slave trade Africa served as the supplier of human capital for the West; in the colonial period, Africa provided the raw materials for the industrialization of the West; while in the post-colonial era, Africa is still the target for marketing of goods and imposition of imperial policies by the Western world. Ordinarily, one would think that before being so resourceful to the West, Africa would have at least benefitted from her vast potentials and made a giant stride at development. On the contrary, a cursory glance at Africa reveals a land with conspicuous indicators of underdevelopment that are probably the most alarming in the world today, for example, failed or fragile states, high rate of poverty, lack of infrastructures, collapsing economy, etc. These are clear indications that we have not yet found the right way to solve or resolve the challenge of African development. Given the above indices, the challenge of African development implies an urgent pursuit of rapid socio-economic progress. The purpose of this study therefore, is to proffer a solution to the crisis of African development. In its interest to ferret this out, this study examines Olusegun Oladipo’s argument that the problem of African development is one of failure of or weak social structures defined as institutions. Thus, Oladipo proposes social reconstruction as a well-thought out plan of social change and recommends national dialogue since it would create a forum for the people to agree on the common good and the set of values and institutions, which can facilitate its pursuit. The study adopts the hermeneutic method which refers to theories and methods of interpretation of all texts and systems of meaning. The novelty of this study is that, unlike Oladipo himself who advocates social reconstruction of the institutions and other works that have interrogated Oladipo’s proposal, it goes further to derive institutional development from Oladipo’s theory of development and also propose it as a paradigm for African development. This study also seeks to identify, in clear terms, the steps or procedures for institutional development so as to present a more comprehensive paradigm for African development. Thus, the study concludes that the post- colonial states were drafted on the social institutions which were introduced by colonialism and which were weapons of exploitation and so these institutions are weak because they are alien ways and reasons for social action which are irrelevant to the African needs and realities. The study submits therefore that institutional development involves strengthening these weak institutions.