This isn’t so much a list of actual suggestions as it is a long-winded series of hints for how Nigeria/African countries/developing countries could be modded from someone who works in development economics.
If we’re talking Nigeria specifically, some of the biggest political issues come from rifts between the Muslim North and the Christian/mixed South. This entails sharia law in much of the North and, unfortunately, the rise of Islamic fundamentalist group such as Boko Haram. Perhaps this could be broadened to a “religious federalism” policy and a “religious fundamentalism” situation. Beyond religion, there is a strong sense of tribalism in Nigeria- you’re as much Nigerian as you are Yoruba or Igbo or Hausa. This has led to separatism and civil war in Nigeria’s particular case.
In many ways, on the surface, Nigeria’s economy is booming. It’s still an oil exporter, a good part of its industry was recently revitalized, it’s film and music industry influences all of Africa and beyond, it’s agricultural exports are robust. It’s being predicted as an economic growth leader in the coming years. But there’s a disconnect between that picture and the reality. While I’ve never been to Nigeria specifically, I’ve noticed that there is a facility among all developing countries for policy not to affect people at all.
This is partly the fault of current or past policy. Certain tribes, classes, whatever- might hold a grudge against something that happened in the past. From genocide, tribal warfare, police brutality and systemic discrimination to bureaucracy, inefficiency and corruption. These tribes may refuse to cooperate with government, or may revolt if provoked. On the economic side, persistent bureaucracy (like, 60 years persistent) has made some, if not most, people basically turn their back on doing business above board in any way. A key problem with black markets is that they’re impossible (or at least very very very difficult) to measure, but I would not be surprised if the black market were about 1/4 to 1/2 the size of its actual economic activity.
Policy might fall short for other reasons: chiefly because people in some parts of the country might lead a traditional way of life they’re very happy with, and feel no reason to change.
It might- and often is- because of IMF/World Bank policymakers’ aid, conditional on forced free-market reforms, drag resources into the economic centers and away from smaller cities (often every city but the economic center) and rural areas. This, coupled with the fact that these countries generally lack raw wealth, have poor tax policies, no enforcement of those tax policies and no means by which to redistribute what little wealth there is. There’s often no desire for governments to redistribute the wealth either. Or there is, but it slowly disappears as it changes hands on its way down. A poverty trap might be an interesting situation- a persistent vicious cycle of self-reinforcing poverty caused by a combination of the things mentioned above.