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”[1]. 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.

Nigeria Governance Insight

Nigeria Governance Insight (NGI) is the flagship governance journal of GGA-Nigeria.

“Leading change from the community level up.”

It is a clearing house 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.

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 Ola 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 Ola 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 Ola 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. Ola 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. Ola 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 Ola 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

Participants at the GGA-Nigeria tax workshop (Photo credit: GGA Nigeria)

“Leading change from the community level up.”