Why do policies fail in Nigeria?
Journal of Education and Social Policy
Centre for Promoting Ideas
School of Education / Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research
Although initiating public policy is sometimes a difficult task, the overriding challenge is the institutional willpower to see through policy decisions. As a major factor behind successful public policy determinations in the Western world, institutional willpower is absolutely necessary if the developing world is to gain an equal degree of functionality and relevance in the implementation of public policy decisions. Educational policy is a crucial example. Since the colonial dispensation, the characteristic zeal with which Nigerians yearn for education has accounted for various policy initiatives by the Government, which regards education as an instrument par excellence for effective national development (NPE, 2008). Despite this heavy focus placed on education, the troublesome implementation of policy decisions remains one of the most contentious issues dominating the education sector. The implementation of the ‘Universal Primary Education’ policy, introduced in 1976, was engulfed by chaos during its execution, which invariably left many school-age children behind (Omoyale, 1998; Denga, 2000; Bolaji, 2004, 2014). The subsequent arrival in 1999 of the democratic dispensation witnessed the launch of a new scheme that came to be known as ‘Universal Basic Education’ (UBE). It is over a decade now since this new program was implemented, yet there has been little demonstrated achievement (Bolaji, 2014). Drawing on insight from recent investigations into the effectiveness of the Universal Basic Education Policy implementation, this paper seeks to offer answers to the question of why policy regularly fails in Africa, with particular reference to Nigeria.