Nigeria, of developing countries, Todaro (1989) realised

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 (2000) 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.