Why the state, not Nigeria, has failed
Why the state, not Nigeria, has failed
By Dr Ola Bello
In article published this May in the Foreign Affairs journal provoked heated debates about whether Nigeria is a failed state.
Professor Nic Cheeseman, who is an acquaintance going back a decade ago when I consulted and wrote on EU-Kenya development cooperation, co- authored the article. His collaborator, Fola Aina, is a doctoral fellow at King’s College London. Their article is provocatively titled “Don’t call Nigeria a failed state”.
Having given five public addresses these past 14 months or so since Covid-19 cases were first reported in Nigeria in March 2020, their theme naturally piqued my interest. In each of those speaking engagements, I had found myself offering an unusual disclaimer – that I have spent much of my two decades plus career in African Security, Development and Governance dispelling the notion that Nigeria is a failed state. Find the full PDF here.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of our journal Nigeria Governance Insight
Nigeria Governance Insight
Nigeria Governance Insight (NGI) is the flagship governance journal of GGA-Nigeria, with the tagline: “Leading change from the community level up”. It is a clearinghouse for innovative ideas emanating from expert articles contributed by our public- and private sector associates. It offers comprehensive analyses and recommendations to address challenges in diverse thematic policy areas. The underlying intent is to offer a compelling evidence base to drive deeper governance reform across the board. Specific realistic timelines and sequencing also form part of NGI’s expert contributions. Each edition features articles written by the most experienced practitioners and analysts on different themes, with contributions predominantly from Nigeria, complemented by occasional input from other African experts.
Click here to find a copy of Nigeria Governance Insight, the journal of Good Governance Africa-Nigeria.
Turning crisis into a governance reform opportunity
The Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) is compounding Nigeria’s governance weaknesses. It has led to an exacerbation of systemic challenges, including depleted state capacity, endemic corruption and inefficiencies. Successive governments like the incumbent Buhari administration have recorded little or negligible progress in addressing several risks to Nigeria’s longer term sustainability. Whilst everyday social service delivery and state functions have been long deficient, the onset of the Covid-19 crisis further exposed many of the country’s vulnerabilities. Unsurprisingly, the immediate efforts to address public health and economic difficulty brought by this crisis have been flailing and adjudged insufficient by the majority of Nigeria’s citizens. To read more, click HERE
Why so many important constitutional amendments fail
The 1999 elections ended 16 years of military dictatorship and ushered in what has thus far been Nigeria’s longest period of sustained civilian rule. The 1999 Constitution was a document crafted by the military, and was in turn based on the 1979 Constitution, which had ended Nigeria’s first period of military dictatorship. In 1994, Gen. Sani Abacha convened the Constitutional Conference Commission under the chairmanship of Justice AG KaribiWhyte. A draft Constitution was submitted to Abacha in 1995, but he did not attend to it. A public hearing was started after Abacha’s death and a seemingly wide-ranging group was allowed to debate it in Benin, Enugu, Ibadan, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt and Sokoto. This group comprised representatives of the judiciary, labour unions, the security services and the press, as well as doctors, engineers, university lecturers, farmers, bankers, market women and students.
The committee submitted its report to Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar on 30 December 1998, after which the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) debated it. The AFRC accepted some of the recommendations and rejected others, and the Ministry of Justice published an amended draft Constitution. After further amendments, the AFRC on 5 May 1999 promulgated the draft Constitution by Decree No. 24 of 1999 as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. From the start, the 1999 Constitution was plagued by concerns over its legitimacy. It opens with the words “We the people” – a phrase that has been characterised as an untruth, especially by socio-cultural groups that were left out of the debates in 1998. It has also been pointed out that it was adopted by decree rather than referendum.
This led to demands for the convening of a Sovereign National Conference where the very basis of the relationship between the constituent ethnicities in Nigeria could be debated and agreed upon, before a constitution was debated. Successive governments have failed to heed these calls. Rather, the preferred method has been to amend the Constitution through the National Assembly. This has had mixed results. During the second term of President Olusegun Obasanjo, among the proposed amendments to the Constitution was one to grant the president a third term in office. As all amendments were packaged in a single Bill, the defeat of the third term proposal meant the defeat of all the other proposed amendments. To read more, click HERE
Unlocking liquidity crucial to fuelling development
There are growing concerns about Nigeria’s fiscal situation. Key sources of concern are the country’s dwindling revenues, soaring deficits, growing debts levels and escalating debt burden. These led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to urge the government “to lower the ratio of interest payments to revenue and make room for priority expenditure” during its March 2019 Article IV Consultation with Nigeria. Some local and foreign media organisations and commentators have also raised questions about Nigeria’s solvency. Nigeria urgently needs to address three main types of illiquidity, if the country is to fully come to grip with its persistently low financing thresholds. The three types of illiquidity challenge – fiscal, financial and foreign exchange – are each analysed in turn in the following sections. To read more, click HERE
Public procurement in Nigeria is stuck in a quaqmire
During his screening by the Nigerian Senate on 29 July 2019, Babatunde Fashola, the previous Minister of Power, Works and Housing and current Minister of Works and Housing, blamed Nigeria’s Public Procurement Act for impeding the speed of the country’s development. In January 2018, he had announced that the Power, Works and Housing Ministry had not executed any projects in 2017 as a result of the late passage of the budget and bottlenecks caused by Nigeria’s procurement laws and regulations. Nigeria has a long history of public procurement challenges. A World Bank Country Assessment survey conducted in 2000 suggested that 60 naira (N) out of every 100 naira spent by government was being lost to procurement fraud.
This survey formed the basis of the Public Procurement Act 2007. In 2017, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) claimed to have saved the country N825 billion since the introduction of the Act. The savings were calculated as the difference between the contract prices originally submitted to the Bureau for approval and the eventual contract prices following a downward review by the Bureau. Yet impressive as this sounds, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission still announced in 2016 that 60% of corruption cases in Nigeria were procurement related. As Nigeria’s ratings on the Corruption Perception Index remain unimpressive, it is clear that all is not well with the country’s public procurement regime. A cursory reflection on why the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing did not execute any new capital projects in 2017 may help to put the issues in perspective. To read more, click HERE
Reforms and Infrastructure in Nigeria
Nigeria’s need for fundamental and sustained economic reform is magnified by deeply worrisome key economic indices. The country’s population is approaching 210 million, while real gross domestic product (GDP) growth, which was 6.2% per year at its 2014 peak, now stands at 2.3%, which in turn is below the population growth rate of 2.6%. The national debt stood at $73.2 billion on 30 June 2018, or 19% of GDP, driven significantly by an increase in external debt from $4.6 billion in 2015 to $22.8 billion in 2018. This has been magnified by the approximately 60% devaluation of the Naira during the same period. Taken alone, these numbers would not be so bad if they reflected sustainable national investments in physical (land, air, sea transport, electricity and natural gas) infrastructure or an exponential increase in Nigeria’s non-oil exports. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. This paper contends that in the past 45 years two major factors have arisen to challenge Nigeria’s socio-economic growth.
One is the total dominance by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) of the key levers of the national economy – commanding the commanding heights, as it were. The other is Nigeria’s cultural devaluation, signified by its descent from an ethos of national excellence to a constant squabble driven by the lowest parochial denominators of tribe, tongue and religion. As The Economist recently noted, “acquired social codes also influence individual choices, and thus broader economic activity”. While it is not the focus of this paper, this latter factor, its negative effect on the political economy and how to remedy it is surely a necessary discussion that Nigeria can no longer avoid. Nevertheless, the negative effects of both factors on the country have continued to play a major role in the deficit in its infrastructure growth. Considering that practically the entirety of Nigeria’s vital infrastructure stock is tightly held by the FGN, the country’s most urgent economic policy imperative surely is to loosen the federal public sector’s hold on the commanding heights of the economy.
This is particularly true of key infrastructure assets, which will enable private sector investment in target sectors by the fastest means possible. This urgency is driven by three harsh realities. First, the FGN has inadequate revenue streams – achieving barely 50% ($31.3 billion) of expected revenues of approximately $60 billion during the past three fiscal years. Second, there is the massive debt profile summarised earlier, which is now probably higher than $80 billion. Third, the debt service-to-revenue profile went from 32.7% in 2015 to 69% in 2018. According to the Budget Office of the Federation, this looks set to grow to 82% by 2022. To read more, click HERE
Ethnically diverse police forces recruited by each geopolitical zone is needed
Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015, there has been a marked deterioration in Nigeria’s security situation. Amid the deterioration, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) is widely adjudged as under-resourced and ill-equipped for effective policing. Although Buhari inherited the Boko Haram (BH) conflict in the northeast and the unrest in the Niger Delta region, his tenure has also seen other sources of insecurity grow in profile. These include the spike in inter-communal conflicts, herder-farmer clashes, kidnappings for ransom, Shia confrontations with the police/army, and other threats. Demands from Nigerians for broad-based policing reform have thus become more strident.
This analysis posits that attention should be given to reshaping Nigeria’s policing architecture. A successful devolution of federal policing responsibilities to regions will impact broadly to alleviate insecurity drivers. This paper therefore advances a groundbreaking proposal based on regional policing, as opposed to state-controlled police forces. Besides bolstering the weak federal police, regional forces will help address the political controversies that have dogged past attempts to devolve policing powers. The recommendations advanced here, if well implemented, will ensure depoliticisation, in-built inclusiveness and greater democratic control over new regional police formations to be controlled collectively by the governors in each of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. To read more, click HERE
Creating a Broad-Based Mortgage System
In April 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari refused assent to the National Housing Fund (Establishment) Act of 2018 (“the new NHF Act”). The private sector decried what it described as yet another attempt to cripple the free market with a socialist intervention. While the proposed legislation is indeed inadequate, the reaction to it also leaves much to be desired. The Act fails to recognise that government interventions are critical in developing a housing (supply) system that meets demand while encouraging economic development.
Useful discussions and efficient housing policy solutions depend on a conceptual separation of two distinct elements in the debate. The first element involves government interventions to assist the private financial and housing markets to deliver homes. The second element encompasses another set of interventions to ease the housing conditions low-income Nigerians face. The lack of distinction between these two objectives and the tools required to meet them has made interventions in housing, including the NHF Act, wasteful and ineffective. To read more, click HERE
Reforming Nigeria’s textiles and garments industry
A major focus of policymakers in Nigeria is the quest for inclusive growth. From this perspective, stimulating growth in labour-intensive sectors with the capacity for mass job creation is a key policy objective. The textile and garment industry as whole, based on similar structures in other countries, has such a potential for mass employment. For instance , Bangladesh has established itself as a major textile and garment hub. A survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics showed that the industry directly employed about 4 million people in 2016 and accounted for 40% of manufacturing employment, and 8% of all employment. However, the industry in Nigeria has been plagued by a protectionist policy, encouraging it to depend solely on local demand. Policies have also promoted vertical integration, forcing sub-sectors to rely on other, less competitive sub-sectors.
This domestic focus has limited both their global competitiveness and their ability to participate in international markets. At the same time, the domestic industry has not been spared international competition. The continued drop in global trade costs, as well as the fact that garments are non-perishable and can easily be smuggled across borders, has exposed the industry to competition from major foreign players. The policy focus on domestic demand has led to the slow decline of Nigeria’s textile and garment industry. Focus should instead shift towards removing the forced reliance of sub-sectors on other local sub-sectors and redirecting the industry towards exports and greater participation in global value chains. To read more, click HERE
Data and foresight key to development
The Nigerian government urgently needs to invest in strategic foresight and integrated long-term planning to set the country on a path of growth and prosperity. By 2040 and based on current trends, more than 360 million people are expected to live in Nigeria of which over 140 million are likely to live in extreme poverty or on less than USD 1.90 a day. Reversing this trend requires good policies rooted in evidence and sound planning. During President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech on Democracy Day in June 2019, and again when he addressed the United National General Assembly in New York in September later that year, Buhari promised that his government would lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next ten years. He did not explain how this promise would be fulfilled. Astute use of data and forecast can help frame action to translate such ambition into realistic policy plans.
Contrary to Buhari’s claim, the International Futures system (IFs), a global integrated modelling platform housed and developed at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver (see Box 1), shows that the number of extremely poor Nigerians is set to rise by about 26 million over the coming decade. Projecting on where Nigeria is currently headed, more than 30 million more Nigerians are likely to suffer from extreme poverty by 2040. That is roughly equivalent to Ghana’s current population. In short, Nigeria is not on track to meet Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is to ‘eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere’ by 2030. Nigeria’s government in setting ambitious targets needs to work with realistic data and models, explaining how it intends to reach set milestones. In other words, targets should be the result of comprehensive planning processes that factor in the best available data and different options for policy interventions. To read more, click HERE
Towards a truly representative and accountable democracy in Nigeria
This analysis explores whether Nigeria is, in the true meaning of the phrase, a “representative and accountable democracy”. The discussion is divided into four parts. The first sets out the context: when is a democracy truly representative and accountable? The next section addresses the question of whether Nigeria meets the standards of a genuinely representative and accountable democracy. The final part develops a theoretical framework for understanding why a democracy may or may not be truly representative and accountable, and applies the framework to explain the nature of Nigeria’s democracy. The analysis concludes with recommendations. To read more, click HERE
Improving Citizen Participation in Governance
By: Eniayo Ibirogba*
To achieve meaningful progress in development before the next election cycle in 2023, there is a need to increase participation in governance beyond the elections. Citizens’ participation in governance, which entails more than voting and seeking public office, ensures that citizens are carried along in government decision-making processes. As one author put it, “the Nigerian political system, and acts of governance as presently constituted, does not encourage the mass participation of people. It is discretely skewed to be elite driven”. This absence of meaningful citizen participation has been a reason for the lack of confidence in political leaders, thereby leading to mutual suspicion between the government and citizens. For instance, more than 70 million eligible voters were registered before the 2019 elections, but only about 30 million voters took part on election day. With challenges ranging from bad governance to a struggling economy, there are enough incentives for Nigerian citizens to get more involved in the decision-making process. With the conclusion of the 2019 general elections, Nigerians now have a duty to hold newly elected officers accountable and closely monitor their actions. To read more, click HERE
Mainstreaming Good Governance into Nigerian Tax Reform
GGA-Nigeria’s reform manual on Mainstreaming Good Governance into Nigerian Tax Reform offers a fresh and provocative perspective on taxation. It seeks to stimulate dialogue on the most important governance interventions and the sequencing required to actualise Nigeria’s tax reform objectives.
The book reiterates the importance of an effective tax system, especially for an oil-dependent economy like Nigeria. With Nigeria collecting about 6% of its half a trillion-dollar economy in tax – far short of emerging economy peers – the governments needs a targeted effort to capture more of the tax opportunities that abound in the formal and informal sectors of the economy.
Though Nigeria is a relatively strong state, social-service delivery remains dismal owing to inadequate, unstable and poorly managed revenue collection, which largely accounts for its citizens’ negative attitude to tax. To read more, click HERE
The Buhari Administration and Economic Governance: Assessing Progress of Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)
The Nigerian Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) began its long journey to the Nigerian parliament in the early days of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo with the inauguration of the Oil and Gas Reform Committee (OGRC) on 24th April 2000. PIB seeks “to establish the legal and regulatory framework, institutions and regulatory authorities for the Nigerian petroleum industry, to establish guidelines for the operation of the upstream and downstream sectors, and for purposes connected with the same”. The OGRC, consisting of over two dozen local and international experts, was charged with reviewing and streamlining all existing petroleum laws and establishing a regulatory framework for the sector to reflect and serve the interests of consumers, the environment and the operators. The main objectives of the PIB include providing a framework for vesting of petroleum and natural gas assets and resources on behalf of the people of Nigeria, allocating acreage to qualified companies, managing petroleum resources and allocating petroleum resources and their derivatives in Nigeria for the total benefits that will accrue to the sovereign state of Nigeria. It also aims to enhance government participation, ensuring that institutions such as the National Oil Company are guided by principles of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act of 2007; safeguarding the environment and air quality emissions; promoting development of the petroleum producing areas of the Federation; and ensuring that Nigerian content is promoted by utilizing indigenous companies and manpower, and the use of locally produced goods and services.
After four years of extensive work by the OGRC, the Oil and Gas Implementation Committee (OGIC) was set up on 21st June 2005 by the government “to develop strategies for the implementation of the content of the policy documents earlier developed by the National Committee on Oil and Gas Policy”. The OGIC made wide-ranging recommendations including the restructuring of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), deregulation of the sector, incentivizing private investment in refineries, and harmonization of existing petroleum laws etc. These were all integrated into one document to be presented to the National Assembly. However, a draft law could not be submitted to the National Assembly before the end of the tenure of the Obasanjo administration. In September 2008, the President Umaru 2 Yar’Adua administration finally presented the first draft of the bill to the 6th National Assembly but this soon stalled over disagreements on the sharing of oil profits among international oil companies (IOCs), host communities and the federation. Click HERE to read more
Winning Nigeria’s corruption war requires unconventional steps
By: Dr Oladiran Bello
Nigeria is grappling with both historic and recently self-inflicted difficulties in its anti-corruption war. Stumbling blocks have proliferated to thwart the effectiveness of government’s efforts to revamp institutions, tackle mismanagement and wilful theft from the treasury. The operational challenges span institutional weakness, defective personnel, disregard for due-process and a proclivity to create media spectacle to the neglect of serious anti-graft investigations. There exist legion political failings too, such as the government’s lack of political will, questionable sincerity and the naked politicisation which has created sacred cows whilst damaging President Buhari’s credibility. Analysts will likely look back in a decade from now and adjudge his floundering anti-corruption drive as a case-study in how not to combat graft. Click HERE to read more
Revitalising the Local Government System for Development in Nigeria.
By: Fisayo Alo
Nigeria has six geopolitical zones with a total of 774 local government areas (LGAs). Contrary to what obtains in most federal system, Nigeria’s 774 LGAs are listed in the Nigerian 1999 constitution. This renders the state governments powerless to abolish or create new ones without recourse to the National Assembly. The local government in a majority of contexts exists as the lowest tier of governments that act within powers delegated to it constitutionally or by directives of a higher level of government. It is meant to set the agenda and direction for growth and development in its municipality through the long-term planning and effective use of resources to benefit citizens. The LGAs are constitutionally responsible for deciding the needs of the community and providing services such as primary health care, waste disposal, creation and maintenance of markets, park lands and other recreational sites, etc. Whereas the lines of authority and roles for the three tiers of government are clear, in practice, the local government has over the years been dominated by the state government. This has rendered it ineffective in discharging its constitutional roles. As far back as 1966, following the first military coup, all local government councils were abolished and sole administrators were appointed. This laid the foundation for the perennial interference in the affairs of local government by higher levels of government. The autocratic position of sole administratorship, which was introduced to local governance by the military, did not allow for participation by the people. Consultations and the building of consensus were jettisoned and local autonomy was systematically eroded. Click HERE to read more
Economic diversification through mining requires gender and community rights focus
By: Dr Oladiran Bello
The pressure to diversify Nigeria’s economy presents opportunities. Yet, deeper reform in mining is needed to realise the sector’s enormous potential. If there is an African country that requires sustainable mining to drive manufacturing for its large internal market, that country is Nigeria. Getting mining right also holds out the promise of national self-redemption, with success potentially mitigating the legacy of the ‘oil curse’. A widely respected mining sector which supports Nigeria’s industrialisation ambitions could be within grasp. This though calls for new governance approaches and dynamic stakeholder learning on a scale never before seen in Nigeria. Bold changes can help align Nigeria’s mining with global best practises. These include the fiscal, conflict-management, social inclusiveness, technical linkage and the human and gender rights dimensions of governance in the sector. Even as geological exploration lags, Nigeria’s known reserves – modestly estimated at 47 distinct minerals – could support the creation of 250,000 new jobs. The 7th Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) conference took place recently in Abuja. With its theme of ‘Managing Conflict and Security’ the conference highlighted Nigeria’s sustainability challenge which hampers the sector. Click HERE to read more
Global cities offer lessons to Lagos on dynamic optimisation of transport
By: Dr Oladiran Bello
Commuting between mainland Lagos and the central business districts on the island remains a lot more onerous than it should. Long delays on the Third-Mainland Bridge during peak periods (what Lagosians refer to as the ‘rush hours’) is both time and energyconsuming. This constitutes a major drain on productivity whilst hindering the city’s strategic economic role. Slow mobility ranks alongside power shortage as a key structural constraint to Lagos’s competitiveness. Implementing creative ideas to optimise existing transport infrastructure will help. The Third-Mainland Bridge especially requires urgent planning interventions to unblock what is arguably the most important transportation artery in Nigeria’s commercial capital. This will bring relief to motorists even as city planners work on devising more long-term solutions. As the urban conglomeration that accounts for a full quarter of Nigeria’s economic output – and Africa’s first genuine contender for the status of a megacity – Lagos must think boldly and tweak more at the edges. Otherwise its longer-term sustainability and bid to consolidate as Nigeria’s economic engine will hang precipitously in the balance. A dysfunctional transport system with worsening mobility will have knock-on effects, likely hobbling Nigeria’s potential to drive integration and prosperity. Click HERE to read more
Solving Nigeria’s electricity crisis through alternative energy sources
By: Eniayo Ibirogba
Nigeria is in a dire energy situation with 60- 70% of its population of almost 200 million people living without regular access to electricity. The majority of rural homes are also not connected to the national grid. As the country with the lowest electrification per capita in Africa, Nigeria’s industrial development and economic diversification plans are severely constrained. Experts estimate annual economic loss through power outages at about N126 billion (US$ 984.38 million). Though millions of households and businesses rely on self-generated electricity through power generating sets, this represents a major source of waste, severe health and environmental costs, as well as other inefficiencies. Electricity generation began in Nigeria in 1896 with the installation of a 2MW plant to provide electricity for Lagos. The first electric utility company known as Nigerian Electricity Supply Company was established in 1929. By the year 2000, a Federal government owned monopoly, the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), was in charge of the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Nigeria. Reform efforts include the passing of the Power Sector Reform Act of 2005, which paved the way for the National Electric Power Policy aimed at establishing an efficient electricity market in Nigeria. In time, the policy emphasis shifted to the transfer of the ownership and management of power infrastructure and assets to the private sector. This led to the creation of structures required to create and underpin an electricity market in Nigeria1. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was established to replace NEPA in 2005. PHCN comprises of 18 successor companies, including six generation companies, eleven distribution companies and one transmission company. By November 2013, the privatization of all the generation plants and ten distribution companies was completed. However, the Federal Government presently retains the ownership of the transmission company. Click HERE to read more
Africa must nudge China towards more sustainable energy investments
By: Dr Oladiran Bello
When the just outgone US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson visited Nigeria recently, the August visitor arrived in Abuja with warning to African leaders about the dangers of China’s concessional loans to the continent. It seemed rich coming from the top US envoy in an era defined by Donald Trump’s doctrine of “America First”. Indeed, nearly two-third of Africans polled in a recent Afrobarometer survey take a positive view of China in Africa. This is contrary to Mr Tillerson’s call for Africans to be wary. Yet, his intervention should not be lightly dismissed, considering especially recent developments in the African energy sector. Sino-Africa relations is witnessing the consolidation of trends such as China’s enthusiastic building of dams without regards to their ecological or geopolitical impacts; a pervasive tendency to relegate Africa’s own labour from Chinese funded energy projects and other projects; and forward-looking agenda such as on sustainable energy featuring too scantily on the agenda of the China-Africa partnership. Click HERE to read more
Buhari’s credibility is sinking with obscure petrol subsidy
By: Dr Oladiran Ola Bello
Nigeria continues to grapple with both endemic and self-inflicted challenges in its anti-corruption efforts. As government purportedly prioritises reforms to tackle theft and the wilful mismanagement of resources, stumbling blocks have proliferated. They range from operational ones such as institutional weaknesses, defective personnel, disregard for due-process and a proclivity to create media spectacle to the detriment of serious anti-graft investigations. Then there are the political failings evident in the government’s lack of political will, sincerity, balance and the naked politicisation which has created sacred cows to the detriment of President Buhari’s very credibility. Indeed, analysts are likely to look back in a decade from now and adjudge his floundering anti-corruption drive as a case-study in how not to fight graft. Click HERE to read more
Nigeria should amend its constitution to guarantee voting rights
By: Eniayo Ibirogba*
The conduct of regular elections and the guarantee of the fundamental rights of citizens lie at the fulcrum of democracy. One of the major problems with Nigeria’s democracy is the absence of a cast-iron protection of the right to vote. The right to vote, though an inextricable part of democracy, is not enshrined in chapter IV of the Nigerian 1999 constitution, alongside the other fundamental rights. In practical terms, this makes the legal enforcement of citizens’ voting right cumbersome. From the beginning of Nigeria’s 4th republic in 1999, different election cycles have witnessed serious obstacles in the way of the citizens’ right to choose at the polls. A functioning democratic system of governance must provide an avenue for the larger part of society to take part in choosing political leaders. Arguably, one of the most important role of government is to establish a transparent, well-functioning and participatory electoral system that ensures the universal involvement of citizens of voting age in the electoral process. Click HERE to read more
Retooling Nigeria’s youth service corps to drive national transformation
By: ‘Fisayo Alo*
Nigeria is among the one hundred and six or so countries with no enforced conscription into its military. However, it has a mandatory civilian service for its fresh graduates who are less than 30 years of age as at the time of graduation and have not served or are actively serving in any state run security organisation. Several countries have the variants of the mandatory national service, with the objectives depending on the national context and needs. Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana are prominent African countries with established national youth service schemes. Several other western nations also have the compulsory civilian service. Typically, the mandatory civilian schemes focus on improving internal security, nation-building and disaster response as in the case of Kenya. Newly qualified graduates in Ghana and Nigeria are given the opportunity to have practical exposure on the job, both in the public and private sectors, as part of their civic responsibility to the state. This provides host organisations the opportunity to satisfy their manpower needs. Likewise, it affords communities that would otherwise have difficulty in accessing mainstream development initiatives a chance to access improved social services through youth service to the community. Click HERE to read more
Nigeria requires coherent economic governance to leverage trade potential
By: Dr Oladiran Bello
Africa’s agreement on a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is aimed at delivering the largest regional trade liberalisation arrangement since the WTO. About 44 African leaders initialed the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda this past week with Nigeria surprisingly pulling out at the last minute. Given the abrupt withdrawal, debates have raged about the coherence of Nigeria’s economic governance. We engaged actively in the CFTA negotiations from its inception in 2015. So why has the country – standing to win much from the agreement – failed enthusiastically to sign up? One answer lies in our lack of a national economic vision anchored in sound analysis that involves government, citizens and corporates alike. Crafted appropriately, the CFTA’s utility is incontrovertible, especially for the larger economies such as Nigeria. It will pool the strength of all 55 African countries with their 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of over $2tn. It promises expanded intra-African trade, boost to regional value chains and a qualitative African structural economic transformation. Less than one-fifth of Africa’s trade takes place among countries on the continent. Comparable figures for Europe and Asia currently stand at 67% and 58% respectively. Nigeria’s foremost business figure, Aliko Dangote, averred recently the need for the Nigerian private sector to lead in formulating a national industrial plan that will transcend elected administrations. On the CFTA and our economic diplomacy, a similarly activist and disciplined approach by the private sector will go a long way towards orienting government’s external economic actions. Click HERE to read more
Mainstreaming GOOD GOVERNANCE into Nigerian TAX REFORM
This study seeks to shine a light on key governance issues in the Nigerian tax system beyond the technical issues that have so far been emphasised in Nigeria’s tax reform efforts. Those principles are isolated for indepth analysis in the hope of providing a clearer evidence base for addressing them more concertedly as part of the broader tax reform efforts in the country. Naturally the work of tax administrators is easier if taxpayers willingly and voluntarily comply with their obligations under Nigeria’s tax laws. However, governance challenges in Nigeria have over time compromised the integrity and effectiveness of tax administration structures, regulations and enforcement. The tenuous support for taxation – and its poor understanding – within the populace stands in the way of progress. This underlines the urgent need for interventions tailored to improving good governance practices as a way of enhancing tax administration and compliance. We examine the strategic steps to improving tax administration in Lagos State and Nigeria as part of the interrelated goals of revenue mobilisation and good governance, which are both cornerstones of sustainable development. In focusing on the nexus between taxation and good governance, it argues that even though tax reforms have been ongoing in Nigeria since 2004 (Lagos State since 1999), with tax revenues growing from 1,194.80 billion in 2004 to 3,741.80 billion in 2015, Nigeria still has a relatively low tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio. This is considerably below the average in sub-Saharan Africa. This study discusses the key governance challenges in tax administration in Lagos State and Nigeria and recommends strategies for improvement. It adopts a governance prism, which includes a careful consideration of the interconnection between taxation and themes such as accountability, transparency, responsiveness and political economy. In effect, it looks at how taxation engenders good governance, and considers a number of specific good governance-related interventions that can help improve overall tax administration in Nigeria. Click HERE to read more
Improving citizen’s participation in governance
By: Eniayo Ibirogba
To achieve meaningful progress in development before the next election cycle in 2023, there is a need to increase participation in governance beyond the elections. Citizen’s participation in governance which entails more than voting and seeking public office, ensures that citizens are carried along in government decision making processes. As an author puts it, “the Nigerian political system and acts of governance as presently constituted does not encourage the mass participation of people. It is discretely skewed to be elite driven”1. This absence of meaningful citizen’s participation has been a reason for the lack of confidence in political leaders, thereby leading to mutual suspicion between the government and the citizens. For instance, there were over 70 million eligible voters who were registered before the 2019 elections, however, only about 30 million voters took part on the election day. With challenges ranging from bad governance to a struggling economy, there are enough incentives for Nigerian citizens to get more involved in the decision making process. With the conclusion of the 2019 general elections, Nigerians now have a duty to hold newly elected officers accountable and closely monitor their actions. Click HERE to read more
Effective taxation of informal sector through local community partnership
Nigeria’s informal sector consists of several artisans, traders, shop owners and market women and men. Unlike the formal sector where it is easier to track and collect Pay as You Earn (PAYE), Value Added (VAT) and Withholding (WHT) taxes, the informal sector is a big, potential taxable businesses and services pool. However, it has been extremely difficult for successive Nigerian governments at the federal, state and local levels to devise an effective means of tax collection which extends fully to the informal sector. Yet, the incipient shift away from Nigeria’s oil dependency creates significant scope for building a more efficient tax system that will effectively bring informal economic activities into the tax net. Click HERE to read more
Nigeria should enlist foreign help to rebuild anti-corruption institutions
By: Dr Oladiran Bello
Despite commendable successes such as Nigeria’s surge up the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, its citizen are disillusioned with the President Buhari-led government and its unfulfilled promise of change and a stalling anti-corruption war. The country will emerge as the third most populous country in the world by 2050. Experts predict its youth bulge will yield dividends or become a risk. The quality of Nigeria’s governance will determine how well it navigates risks and leverage opportunities. Key to this is a radically new tack on corruption and a reset in leadership. Click HERE to read more