Appraisal of the philosophical,political and ideological concept of privatization: a reflection on the nigeria experience

AuthorMichael C. Ogwezzy - Shittu A. Bello
PositionLL.B, (Ibadan) B.L, LL.M, (Nigeria) ML.D, (DELSU) MASIO/LL.M, (ZH/Switzerland), (Ph.D in View), Lecturer I, Lead City University, Nigeria - LL.B, (ABU) B.L, LL.M (Ife), Ph.D (Ilorin) Senior Lecturer, Lead City University, Nigeria
AGORA International Journal of Juridical Sciences, www.juridicalj
ISSN 1843-570X, E-ISSN 2067-7677
No. 4 (2013), pp. 116-133
M. C. Ogwezzy, S. A. Bello
Michael C. Ogwezzy
LL.B, (Ibadan) B.L, LL.M, (Nigeria) ML.D, (DELSU) MASIO/LL.M, (ZH/Switzerland)
(Ph.D in View), Lecturer I,
Lead City University, Nigeria
*Correspondence: Lead City University, Off Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Toll Gate Area,
Ibadan, Oyo State-Nigeria,
Shittu A. Bello
LL.B, (ABU) B.L, LL.M (Ife), Ph.D (Ilorin) Senior Lecturer,
Lead City University, Nigeria
*Correspondence: Lead City University, Off Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Toll Gate Area,
Ibadan, Oyo State-Nigeria,
The concept of privatization is not a new phenomenon but the practice continues to
elicit novel ideas that attract comments from academics and other practitioners around the
globe. It is an idea that have transcended over the decades to ensure that public enterprises are
better managed by private individuals and organizations in order to achieve efficiency in their
productivity. Our primary goal in this article to examine the philosophical, political and
ideological basis of the concept of privatization and how this idea has found its relevance in
Nigerian Political landscape via a reflecting on the Nigerian experience. This paper will start
by examining the universal ideas behind concept of privatization, the meaning and origin of
privatization, its influence on Nigeria and references will be drawn from other countries
around the world that have made some giant strides in the field of privatisation of their State
owned enterprises. There will be an overview of the methods of privatization, the nature and
pattern of privatization in Nigeria and why the government opted for privatization of public
utilities. This paper will end with the authors’ conclusion on how Nigeria can benefit from
privatisation policy.
Keywords: privatization, Nigeria, politics, private sector
Privatisation is a concept that has found its relevance in different fields of human
endeavour namely Political Science, Economics, Government, Sociology, Law among others.
It is a concept of many ideology
the ideas about privatization dates from Ancient Greece, when
governments contracted out almost everything to the private sector. In the Roman Republic
private individuals and companies performed the majority of services including tax collection
See generally: Bulent Seven, “Legal Aspects of Privati sation: A Comparative Study of European:
Implementations”, 2001, available online at 74a.htm,
accessed 12 June, 2013.
M. C. Ogwezzy, S. A. Bello
(tax farming), army supplies (military contractors), religious sacrifices and construction.
However, the Roman Empire also created state-owned enterprises, for example, much of the
grain was eventually produced on estates owned by the Emperor. Some scholars suggest that the
cost of bureaucracy was one of the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire.
Perhaps one of
the first ideological movements towards privatization came during China's golden age of the
Han Dynasty. Taoism came into prominence for the first time at a state level, and it advocated
the laissez-faire principle of Wu we, which literally means “do nothing”.
It could easily be recalled that for most part of the twentieth century, there were two
opposing ideologies on how society should be governed and developed: capitalism versus
socialism. Capitalist ideology typified by neo-liberalism insists that a self-regulated system of
market will bring about a spontaneous process of development. On the other hand, the Socialists
and many other variants such as the interventionists argue that unregulated capitalism will
always bring about poverty, unemployment and human misery and there is the need to intervene
to regulate the market. At the end of the 20
century with the end of the cold war, there is an
ascendancy of capitalism and neo-liberalism
and this phenomenon has been a necessary
concomitant to the principle of privatisation, which involves the transfer of control in terms of
ownership and management from the government to private investors. This phenomenon has
gained worldwide support and frenzy. Following the privatisation of British Telecom in 1984
under the Telecommunications Act, and the host of the other privatisations that took place in
Britain thereafter, several nations particularly those in Africa, have come to embrace the
principle as a way of eliminating low performance and inefficiency in the public enterprises
. Though it was argued that Privatisation as a tool for economic management came to the
front burner when Chile became the first country to turn public assets/businesses to private
operators in the early 1970s. Since then, over 140 countries (both developed and developing)
have embraced privatisation as a route to economic growth and prosperity.
2. Definitions of the term ‘Privatisation'
The term “privatization” can have different meanings depending on the starting point
and approach in the definition. The starting point will vary depending upon the scope, range or
structure of privatization. Since each country has different social, political and economic
differences and circumstances, the definition and even the understanding of the concept of
privatization may vary.
However, in a wider sense, privatisation can be defined as policies
designed to improve the operating efficiency of public-sector enterprises through increased
exposure to competitive market forces. Privatization, in nutshell, is a term of art which may
best be described as that component of the government's strategy to restructure the economy by
relinquishing fully or partially its ownership of some corporations, parastatals and public owned
companies through sale of its equity shares or ownership of these organisation to private
David Parker and David S. Saal, International Handbook on P rivatization, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2003.
“History o f Privatization”, available online at”, accessed 20 June,
Otive Igbuzor, Privatisation I n Nigeria: Critical issues of concern to civil society, A Paper Presented At A
Power Mapping Roundtable Discussion On The Privatisation P rogramme In Nigeria Organised By Socio-
Economic Rights Initiative (Seri) held at Niger Links Hotel Abuja on 3rd September, 2003.
N. L. Dimgba, “Privatisatio n in Nigeria: Guidelines for the Foreign Investor”, at p. 2, available online at, N%20NIGERIA.pdf, accessed 25June, 2013.
See Co mments by Professo r Anya O. Anya, Chief Executive, The Nigerian Economic Summit at the
Netherlands Congress Center (NCC), at the Hague as part of the Independence Day Celebration by The Nigerian
Embassy at The Hague, available online at 24 October, 2013.
Jonathan Bradley, “Privatisation in Central and Eastern Europe: Models and Ideologies”, Privatisation: Social
Science Themes and Perspectives, Edited By: Derek B raddon and Deborah Foster, Centre for Social and
Economic Research, Faculty of Economics and Social Science, University of West England, England & USA:
Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1996.

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