Research Outputs

Welcome to our research repository that presents our research, publications, occasional papers and reports.

Retooling Nigeria’s youth service corps to drive national transformation

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.

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Nigeria should amend its constitution to guarantee voting rights

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.

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Solving Nigeria’s electricity crisis through alternative energy sources

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.  With this, 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 the 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. 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.

Following the return to civilian rule in 1999, the policy emphasis shifted to the transfer of 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 Nigeria. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was established to replace NEPA in 2005. PHCN comprised of 18 successor companies, including six generation companies, eleven distribution companies and one transmission company. By November 2013, the privatisation of all the generation plants and ten distribution companies (Yola DisCo is currently managed by the government due to the insurgency) was completed. However, the Federal Government presently retains the ownership of the transmission company. Click here to download.

Global cities offer lessons to Lagos on dynamic optimisation of transport

Lagos traffic. Photo: Olasunkanmi Ariyo

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 energy consuming. This constitutes a major drain on productivity while hindering the city’s strategic economic role. Slow mobility ranks alongside power shortages 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 itself 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 download

Economic diversification through mining requires gender and community rights focus

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 download


Winning Nigeria’s corruption war requires unconventional steps

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 download

Revitalising the Local Government System for Development in Nigeria

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. Click here to download

Nigeria requires coherent economic governance to leverage trade potential

Dr. Ola Bello, Executive Director, Good Governance Africa (GGA) Nigeria

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 download

Africa must nudge China towards more sustainable energy investments

Dr. Ola Bello, Executive Director, Good Governance Africa (GGA) Nigeria

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 download


Nigeria should enlist external help to rebuild anti-graft institutions

Ola Bello, Executive Director, Good Governance Africa (GGA) Nigeria.

Policy Recommendations

Nigeria should prioritise efforts to:

1.)   Recruit a respected international official to help de-personalise anti-corruption work, build investigative capacities and inspire new ideas for professional and competent prosecution of corruption cases.

2.)   Revamp and strengthen institutions responsible for policing transparency and good governance, including the National Assembly and the Nigerian Public Complaints Commission (The Nigerian Ombudsman).

3.)   Restructure and streamline governance to promote institutionalised transparency, waste reduction and freeing up of resources for human development and inclusive governance.


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 download

Experts call for data integration, fairness and accountability to propel Nigeria’s tax reform

In its effort to draw attention to governance improvements that can accelerate Nigeria’s tax reform, Good Governance Africa (GGA) commissioned a study to consider the nexus between taxation and themes such as political economy, accountability, transparency, responsiveness and public engagement. The study dedicated attention to this cluster of governance-related challenges in the Nigerian tax system. It culminated in the publishing of a book titled “Mainstreaming Good Governance into Nigerian Tax Reform” in 2017
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Mbizana Municipality Local Governance Report

10 October 2017
In this, Oliver Reginald Tambo’s centenary year, Good Governance Africa thought it fitting to pay tribute to this icon by pursuing his clarion call for “peace and prosperity for all South Africans”. We thought it most appropriate to commence our engagement in Tambo’s own birthplace of Nkantolo, a village in the local municipality of Mbizana, some 30km from the town of Bizana, Eastern Cape. We had substantial grounds for justifying this position, which are described in greater detail in this report.

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Mainstreaming Good Governance into Nigerian Tax Reform

The fundamental purpose of taxation is to generate revenue effectively, efficiently and fairly to finance public services. Nigeria’s governance challenges find expression in its weak tax administrative structures, regulations and enforcement procedures. This book, Mainstreaming Good Governance into Nigerian Tax Reform, shines the light on the key governance blockages in the Nigerian tax system and isolates them for in-depth analysis. It gives careful consideration to the interconnection between taxation on the one hand, and the challenges of accountability, transparency, responsiveness and political economy on the other. It examines the strategic steps to improve tax administration in Lagos State and Nigeria as part of the inter-related goals of good governance, revenue mobilization and funding sustainable development.
Tax reform has been ongoing in Nigeria since 2004 (and in Lagos State since 1999), but the changing orientation of Nigeria’s economy away from hydrocarbon rents increasingly underlines the urgency of the tax reform efforts. The study looks at the nexus between good governance and increasing tax revenue. It partly traces the country’s persistently low tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio (far below the sub-Saharan Africa average) to failure to zero in on the low-hanging governance reforms required to reboot the tax system and enhance its legitimacy amongst the public.
Presently, tax administrators in Nigeria are under intense pressure to grow tax revenues as governments at the federal, state and the local levels grapple with increasing social obligations coupled with dwindling oil revenues. Naturally, this process is easier if taxpayers willingly and voluntarily comply with their obligations under Nigeria’s tax laws. How to address the key stumbling blocks – particularly through interventions and changes of a governance nature – is the primary focus of this book. It outlines specific governance strategies that can help build on the pockets of progress so far achieved in tax reform, away from the technical preoccupation of existing studies. The book breaks new grounds in the tax debate by offering an iterative framework and actionable solutions to guide interested stakeholders in and outside government. This is needed as Nigeria embarks on the crucial tax reform steps that will be required to put its progressively diversified economy on a more sustainable footing.
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Perceptions of National Government Survey

The national government survey shows that nearly 79% of South African citizens in our research sample believe that the government is incompetent and corrupt, while more than 70% believe that the government has failed to generate employment.
South African citizens are seriously concerned about the quality of governance in their country, with some 60% agreeing that “people are giving up hope that the government will listen to them”. The most positive feedback was on pensions and social grants, the latter of which gained a 61.2% positive rating.

Government Performance Index

The Government Performance Index (GPI) is based on extensive information-gathering and statistical analysis, offering South Africa’s first complete overview of the performance of South Africa’s 234 local and metropolitan municipalities.
The GPI is based on 15 indicators across three categories: quality of administration, level of economic opportunity and the extent of service delivery. The data for the indicators was derived from various sources, Stats SA, National Treasury, Auditor General and the Extended Public Works Programme; and all indicators were equally weighted.

Download summaries and translations in all 11 official languages on
the National Survey and Government Performance Index:


Download a copy of Issue 36, with a special focus on the national survey and the Government Performance Index.

Project on Land, Land Tenure and Restitution in South Africa – in comparative African perspective

Communal Indigenous ownership’ – some comments on recent court cases

Professor William Beinart, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Questions of land tenure are of great importance in South Africa at present and land issues as a whole have come to the fore, not only because land reform is perceived to be slow and relatively unsuccessful but because President Zuma has reopened the land restitution process.


Report:KG Education in Ghana

Good Governance Africa’s West Africa Centre commissioned a study in 2015 into Kindergarten Education, see the report “Ameliorating Strategies for KG Education in Ghana”. The report will provide a foundation for a colloquium in August 2016.