Urhobo Historical Society




Reflections on Nigeria’s Social and Political Development:

Nigeria’s Unfinished Agenda at 51

 

By Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Ph.D.

emmojameruaye@yahoo.com

 

 

Introduction


Anniversaries are usually times for celebration, sober reflection on the past and planning for the future. Now that we have just finished the celebratory phase of Nigeria’s 51st anniversary, it is time to take stock of our achievements and failures during the past 51 years, and the challenges we still face, and then determine what we need to do in the years ahead in order to realize the dreams of our founding fathers.

 

At independence in 1960, Nigeria’s founding fathers had lofty dreams, some of which were encapsulated in the country’s first national anthem (1960-1978), “Nigeria We Hail Thee”, which was composed by a British lady, Lilian Jean Williams. Parts of the lyrics of the national anthem read: “Though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand,…That truth and justice reign, …To hand on to our children, a banner without stain,….O God of all creation, help us to build a nation where no man is oppressed, And so with peace and plenty…Nigeria may be blessed”. These phrases from the national anthem capture the dreams of the founding fathers, which included: a) unity in diversity; b) truth, justice and equity for all; and c) a peaceful and prosperous country where subsequent generations (children) will live better than previous generations (parents). In a sense, these dreams which have not yet been realized constitute Nigeria’s unfinished agenda at 51 years after independence.

 

The purpose of this paper is to examine some the key challenges Nigeria still faces (“the unfinished agenda”) and suggest how to address them in order to realize the dreams of the country’s founding fathers and the promise of the Nigerian enterprise. To be sure, the challenges are very many, but I will focus on power sharing, federalism, elections, governance, corruption, peace & security, poverty, and development planning.

 

1.  Power sharing

 

Power sharing at the federal level among the major ethnic groups and regions of the country has been a thorny issue since independence. For example, the 1994-5 National Constitutional Conference inaugurated by Gen. Sani Abacha on June 27, 1994 stated that “the issue of equitable power sharing has been very contentious in Nigeria, especially since independence…the problem of power sharing had been responsible for much of the tensions, emotions, conflicts, stresses and strains…no other single issue received a greater attention than the issue of rotational presidency"1. Although the 1960 and 1963 constitutions were silent on the mechanism for power sharing, the founding fathers recognized the need for power sharing to ensure that no group is marginalized or oppressed. Thus, under the First Republic (1960-1966), the President was from the Eastern region while the Prime Minister was from the Northern region. The Federal Cabinet had representatives from all the regions and sections of the country. For instance, the Minister of the powerful Ministry of Finance was Chief Samuel Okotie-Eboh who was from a minority ethnic group in the Niger Delta (Itsekiri). However, the subsequent military regimes after the 15th January 1966 coup paid lip service to power sharing. Table 1 below show shows the leaders (Heads of State/Government) of Nigeria since independence.

 

Table 1: Nigeria’s Heads of State since Independence

 

President/Head of State

Geographic Zone

Period in Power

Duration in Power

1.Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa  (Prime Minister)

North East

1 Oct., 1960 –  15 Jan., 1966

5 years + 3.5months

2. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe

(Governor-General, then President*)

South East

1 Oct.1, 1960 –  30 Sept., 1963

 

1 Oct., 1963 – 14 Jan., 1966

3 years

 

2 years + 3.5 months

3. Gen. Aguyi Ironsi

South East

15 Jan., 1966 – 28 July, 1966

6.5 months

4. Gen. Yakubu Gowon

North Central

29 July, 1966 – 28 July, 1975

9 years

5. Gen. Murtala Mohammed

North West

29 July,1975 – 13 Feb., 1976

6.5 months

6. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo

South West

13 Feb 1976 – 1 Oct. 1979

3 years + 6.5 months

7. Alhaji Shehu Shagari

North West

1 Oct. 1979 – 31 Dec. 1983

4 years + 3 months

8. Gen. Mohammadu Buhari

North West

31 Dec 1983 – 27 Aug. 1985

1 year + 8 months

9. Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda

North Central

27 Aug. 1985 – 26 Aug. 1993

8 years

10. Chief Ernest Shonekan

South West

26 Aug. 1993 – 17 Nov. 1993

3 months

11. Gen. Sani Abacha

North West

17 Nov. 1993 – 8 June 1998

4 years + 7 months

12. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar

North Central

9 June 1998 – 29 May 1999

1 year

13. Olusegun Obasanjo

South West

29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007

8 years

14. Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua

North West

29 May 2007 – 6 May 2010

2 years + 11 months

15. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan

South South

7 May 2010 – date

1 year + 4 months

* During the First Republic (1 October 1960 – 15 January. 1966), Nigeria practiced parliamentary democracy with Dr. N. Azikiwe as the ceremonial Head of State while Alhaji T. Balewa was the Prime Minister and Head of Government (Chief Executive)

 

Table 2 below shows the current six geographical zones by the distribution of the leaders and their duration in office. The table shows that of the 15 Heads of State or Government, the North has produced nine who ruled for 66% of the time (about 37 years) while the South produced six Heads of State who ruled for 34% of the time (about 19 years). There is clearly an imbalance in the distribution of the Heads of State. The imbalance was most pronounced during the period of military rule. The country was under the military rule for 29 years (57%) and civilian democratic rule for 22 years (43%). Out of f the 15 Heads of State/Government (HOS/G), eight were military officers while seven were civilians (of which six were democratically elected). The North-West zone has produced the highest number of HOS/G (5) but North-Central zone has had the longest duration in power (18 years). A comparative analysis of the distribution of political power during the military era and civilian era (see tables 3 and 4 below) clearly shows that power sharing was more even under civilian democracy than under the military era. In fact, power was concentrated in one section of the country (North) under the military which gave the impression of “born to rule” or northern hegemony.

 

Table 2: Distribution of Heads of State and Duration in Power by Geographical Zones

 

Zone

No. of Heads of State

% of No. of Heads of State

Total Duration in Power

% of Duration

North-West

5

33%

14 year

25%

North -East

1

7%

5 years + 3.5months

9%

North -Central

3

20%

18 years

32%

South -West

3*

20%

11 year + 9.5 months

21%

South -East

2

13%

5 year 10 months

10%

South -South

1

7%

1 year + 4 months

2%

Total

15

100%

56 years + 3 months**

100%

Subtotal North

9

60%

37 years + 3.5 months

66%

Subtotal South

6

40%

18 years + 11.5 months

34%

* President Obasanjo is counted two times as two separate individuals. He ruled as a Military Head of State (1976-1979) and as an elected civilian President (1999 – 2007).

 ** There is double counting for the period 1st October 1960 to 15th Jan1966 (5 years and 3 months) when there was a ceremonial President/Head of State (Dr. Azikiwe) and a Prime Minister/ Head of Government (Alhaji Tafawa Balewa) who actually had more powers.

 

Table 3: Distribution of Heads of State and Duration in Power by Geographical Zones during the Military Era

 

Zone

No. of Heads of State

% of No. of Heads of State

Total Duration in Power

% of Duration

North-West

3

38%

6 year+ 9.5 months

24%

North -East

0

0%

 

 

North -Central

3

38%

18 years

62%

South -West

1

12%

3 year + 6.5 months

12%

South -East

1

12%

6.5 months

2%

South -South

0

0%

 

 

Total

8

100%

28 years + 10.5 months

100%

Subtotal North

6

75%

24 years + 9.5 months

86%

Subtotal South

2

25%

4 years + 1 month

14%

 

If the military era is excluded, we find a fairer distribution between the North and South. During the civilian era, the South-West has ruled for the longest period of time (30%), followed by the North-West zone (26%) while the North-East and South-East are tied at 19%.

 

Table 4: Distribution of Heads of State and Duration in Power by Geographical Zones during the Civilian (Democratic) Military Era

 

Zone

No. of Heads of State

% of No. of Heads of State

Total Duration in Power

% of Duration

North West

2

29%

7 years + 2 months

26%

North  East

1

14%

5 years + 3.5months

19%

North Central

0

0

 

 

South West

2

19%

8 years + 3 months

30%

South East

1

14%

5 year 3.5 months

19%

South South

1

14%

1 year + 4 months

5%

Total

7

100%

 27 years + 4 months**

100%

Subtotal North

3

43%

12 years + 5.5 months

46%

Subtotal South

4

57%

14 years + 10.5 months

54%

** There is double counting for the period 1st October 1960 to 15th Jan1966 (5 years and 3 months)

 

It is clear from the above tables that democratic elections (civilian government) tend to facilitate power sharing/rotation better than military rule. If the spirit of rotation is to be followed in the next elections, the North-East should produce the next President, followed by the South-East, then North-Central, then South-South, North-East and South-West, in that order. Allowing power sharing to occur spontaneously or by luck may not ensure uniform power sharing or rotation. It is therefore important to enshrine power rotation (rotation of the HOS among the zones) in the Nigerian constitution in such a way that when it is the time of a zone/region to produce the HOS, all the political parties must present candidates that are from the zone/region to which the presidency is zoned under that election cycle.2.


As indicated above, the zoning of the presidency for the next election can start with NE, then SE, NC, SS, NW and SW. Once the presidency has been allocated to one zone in an election cycle, the other top five positions in the federal government should also zoned to the other five zones. These positions are the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representative, the Chief Justice of the Federation, and the Secretary to the Federal Government.  

 

2. Federalism

 

As used in this paper, federalism is defined as a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority (Federal Government) and constituent political units (like regional, state or provincial governments). It is based on democratic rules and institutions and power to govern is shared between national and regional/state/provincial governments, creating what is often called a federation. The division of power between federal and regional/state governments is usually outlined in the constitution and the right to self-government of the component regions/states/ is usually constitutionally entrenched. Component states often also possess their own constitutions which they may amend as they see fit, although in the event of conflict the federal constitution usually takes precedence. In almost all federations the central government enjoys the powers of foreign policy and national defense. Paradoxically, federations are a union of states and they are also states themselves, i.e., have aspects of statehood. There are different variants of federation.

 

 

Nigeria’s founding fathers adopted “true” federalism as reflected in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions. However, beginning with the military coup in 1966, Nigeria has witnessed significant erosion in the concept of federalism as evidenced in the concentration or centralization of fiscal power at the federal level with the federal government (FG) appropriating over 50% of the total revenues paid into the federation account while all the 36 state governments (SG) and all 774 local governments (LG) combined receive less than 50%.3 The recent establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund by the FG in spite of opposition by the state governors is another recent negation of the tenets of true federalism. Given Nigeria’s vastness and diversity, any tendency towards unitarism is an evil wind.

 

Efforts should therefore be made to return the country to true federalism. A return to regionalization in the spirit of the First Republic is a step in this direction. However, given the multiplicity of ethnic nationalities, our brand of federalism should be based on combination of territory and ethnicity/nationality rather than simply ethnicity.. In other words, the federating units should be “territories” that have one homogenous ethnic group or a group of ethnic groups with the proviso that large ethnic groups can be divided into two “territories”. In this regard, the  current six “geographic zones” ”(North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-West, South-East and South-South) should be transformed into the federating “territories” and be constituted into regional governments while the existing states within each geographical zone should be reconstituted into Districts while the existing local government area (LGAs) could remain intact or be reconstituted into Divisions.  However, each regional (zonal) government shall have powers to create additional Districts (states) or merge some of the existing states into a new District. By the same token, the district governments shall have powers to create additional divisions or LGAs or merge some existing LGAs. In other words, we will have four tiers of government: Federal, Regional, District and Divisional. Alternatively, we can have three tiers of government (Federal, Regional and Divisional) by eliminate the districts and merging some of the existing LGAs to form divisions. As much as possible, the divisions should be homogenous in terms of ethnicity.

 

In order the curb the cost of governance, both the Federal and Regional Assemblies (Congresses) should be unicameral and should have a maximum of 36 members. The district and divisional assemblies should have a have a maximum of 10 members. Some of the functions in the current FG exclusive legislative list in the 1999 constitution (such as police, prisons and railways) should be devolved to the regional governments. The regional governments should solely be responsible for tertiary education while the district governments will be responsible for secondary, and the divisional governments for primary/basic education. The role of the Federal Government in education should be restricted to setting and enforcing standards, educational, research, awarding of grants and assessments.

 

The fiscal relationship among the tiers of government must also change. For instance, only the federal and regional governments should participate in the sharing of the federation account revenue (FAR), with the federal government receiving at most 40% of the FAR and the six regional governments receiving at least 60%. The components of the FAR should also be restructured. For instance, at least 50% of sales or value added tax revenue, company profit tax and revenue from any natural resource (rents and royalties)  generated in the territory of a region must accrue to the regional government where such taxes or revenues are generated.  Each regional government should also have similar revenue sharing formula between it and its constituent district (or divisional) governments, while each district government should also have a similar revenue sharing formula between it and its constituent divisional or local governments. A derivation-based formula should be used in the horizontal revenue sharing among the regions, districts and divisional governments. The functions and sources of revenue of all the tiers of government shall be clearly spelt out in the constitution.

 

3. Elections

 

Over the past 51 years, elections in Nigeria have been very problematic. Most elections have been anything but free and fair. They have been characterized by massive of rigging and fraud which have resulted in protests, conflicts and long-drawn court litigations. In fact, after most elections, the courts are usually inundated with electoral petitions and cases, some of which take over three years to decide. The military-conducted elections (1979, 1993 and 1999) have generally been better that the civilian-conducted elections (1963, 1983, 2003, 2007 and 2011). The June 12, 2003 election that was based on a two-part system and the so-called option A4 (open ballot and queuing) system was perhaps the best in the annals of Nigeria’s political history. In its report on the 2007 election, which was aptly titled “Criminal Politics – Violence, Godfathers and Corruption in Nigeria”, the Human Rights Watch remarked that “the conduct of many public officials and government institutions is so pervasively marked by violence and corruption as to more resemble criminal activity than democratic governance… Many of Nigeria’s ostensibly elected leaders obtained their positions by demonstrating an ability to use corruption and political violence to prevail in sham elections. In violent and brazenly rigged polls, government officials have denied millions of Nigerians any real voice in selecting their political leaders. In place of democratic competition, struggles for political office have often been waged violently in the streets by gangs of thugs recruited by politicians to help them seize control of power…Many seasoned observers stated that the 2007 polls were among the worst they had ever witnessed anywhere in the world”. The same can be said of many other elections in Nigeria. Even though the 2011 polls were adjudged to be better than those of 2003 and 2007, they also left much to be desired, especially at the governorship level.

 

The foundation of democracy is free and fair elections; therefore we cannot continue to have or tolerate fraudulent elections. In the years ahead, every effort must be made to ensure free and fair elections in order to ensure sustainable democracy in the country. Some of the specific principles and actions for free and fair elections are contained in the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 154th Session in Paris on 26 March, 1994. The Nigerian government must adopt and follow these principles. Perhaps, Nigeria needs to reconsider the option A4 system used in 1993 with some modifications.4



4. Governance

 

Governance is defined here as “the process by which governments are elected, monitored and replaced; the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them” (Kaufmann, et al, 1990)5. Nigeria’s founding father also envisaged a country that will be well-governed, a necessary condition for the “peace and plenty”. Over much of the past 51 years, the country has been characterized by bad governance as evidenced by grand corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, political instability, lack of law and order, weak public institutions, poor public policies, weak leadership, and poor quality and inadequate provision of public services.

 

A survey of governance indicators of Nigeria over the past 51 years paints a very disappointing picture. Table 5 below shows the World’s Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) index and the Country Performance Rating index6 for Nigeria and four other purposely selected African countries - Ghana, Uganda, Senegal and Tanzania. The table clearly shows that the other four countries are better governed than Nigeria. Nigeria’s CPR scores have consistently lower than those of the other four countries in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Most telling is Nigeria’s very low CPIA score (2.9) for cluster D indicator (public sector management and institutions).

 

Table 5: Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) and Country Performance Ranking (CPR) of Nigeria and Selected Africa Countries

 

Countries

2010

CPIA

Cluster A, B and C

2010  CPIA Cluster D

2010

CPR

2009

CPR

2006

CPR

Nigeria

3.6

2.9

3.12

3.17

2.99

Ghana

3.9

3.7

3.66

3.71

3.88

Senegal

3.7

3.5

3.52

3.49

3.61

Tanzania

3.9

3.3

3.46

3.61

3.82

Uganda

4.0

3.2

3.41

3.49

3.54

Source: World Bank. IDA Performance Rating 2010.

(NB: These indices are measures of good governance. The higher the values of these indicators the better governed a country)

 

There is no doubt that Nigeria has adequate human resources (manpower) for improved governance. What the country lacks are the systems and tools for good governance. For instance, to promote transparency and accountability, the National and State Assemblies should conduct regular public and televised hearings on issues of national and state interest including allegations of abuse of office. Also, court proceedings of electoral tribunals should be televised live. In addition, the FG should establish an independent and non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) at both the federal and state levels. The purpose of the GAO will be to support the National and State Assemblies in their oversight responsibilities (by acting as a watchdog) and help to improve performance and ensure accountability and transparency of all tiers of government for the benefit of the Nigerian people.  The GAO will provide the national and state assemblies with timely, factual, non-partisan, non-ideological, fair, and balanced information. The GAO will audit the operations government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to determine whether funds are being spent efficiently and effectively; investigate allegations of illegal and improper activities; report on how well government programs and policies are meeting their objectives; perform policy analyses and outline options for consideration; score projects in terms of expected results; and advise MDAs on ways to make government more efficient, effective, ethical, equitable and responsive.

The FG should also establish a Citizens’ Report Card system7 at all levels of government. The monitoring and evaluation unit in the Ministry of National Planning or the GAO can be charged with the responsibility of conducting CRC surveys on a regular basis and independent organizations can also be contracted to conduct such surveys to corroborate the findings of the MNO or GAO.8


A related issue is the astronomical cost of governance in Nigeria, which is defined here as the recurrent or running cost of the federal, state and local government. This cost has increased astronomically in both absolute and relative terms, particularly in recent years. The result of this increase is the crowding out (or significant reduction) in capital expenditures which has been manifested in poor social infrastructure and poor delivery of public services.  Tables 6 and 7 below show the recurrent, capital and total expenditures of the three tiers of government so selected years between 1991 and 2008 in both absolute and relative terms.

 

Table 6:   Recurrent, Capital and Total Expenditures of Federal, State and Local Governments in Nigeria ( N’ million)

 

Items

1961

1971

1981

1991**

2001

2008

FG Recurrent Expenditures

96.6

823.6

4,846.7

38,243.5

579,300.0

2,117,362.0

FG Capital Expenditures

67.0

173.6

6,567.0

28,340.9

438,695.5

1,123,458.0

Total Expenditures*

163.9

997.2

11,413.7

66,584.4

1,018,025.8

3,240,820.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SG Recurrent Expenditures

112.5

621.1

4,811.0

15,872.3

204,709.5

1,351,482.0

SG Capital Expenditures

61.5

732.4

6,379.9

11,151.4

235,241.7

1,488,906.0

Total Expenditures*

174.0

1,353.4

10,990.9

27,023.7

596,956.4

2,899,537.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LG Recurrent Expenditures

NA

NA

NA

13,968.5

122,712.7

1,140,100.0

LG Capital Expenditures

NA

NA

NA

5,508.8

48,661.8

247,800.0

Total Expenditures*

 

 

 

19,475.3

171,374.5

1,387,900.0

* RE and CE may not add up to TE for years where there were extra-budgetary expenditures

** The data for LG are for 1993. LG data for 1991 were NA

 

 

 

 

 

Table 7: Recurrent and Capital Expenditures of Federal, State and Local Governments in Nigeria (Percentage Distribution)

 

Items

1961

1971

1981

1991**

2001

2008

FG Recurrent Expenditures

59%

83%

42%

57%

57%

65%

FG Capital Expenditures

41%

17%

58%

43%

43%

35%

Total Expenditures*

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SG Recurrent Expenditures

65%

46%

42%

59%

49%

47%

SG Capital Expenditures

35%

54%

58%

41%

39%

51%

Total Expenditures*

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%*

100%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LG Recurrent Expenditures

NA

NA

NA

72%

72%

82%

LG Capital Expenditures

NA

NA

NA

28%

28%

18%

Total Expenditures*

NA

NA

NA

100%

100%

100%

               Source: Computed from the above table.

               *Extra-budgetary expenditure was huge in this year and accounts for the difference.

 

Table 6 shows the astronomical growth in the expenditures of all tiers of government in line with the growth in government revenues due largely to increases in oil revenue resulting from increased oil prices and, to a lesser extent, oil production. With the exception of a few years (1981 only in the table 6), FG recurrent expenditure has always exceeded 55% of total expenditure. In recent years, it has increased further, reaching 65% in 2008. On the other hand, FG capital expenditure (necessary for capital formation and infrastructural development) has consistently been lower than 45% and has shown a further declining trend, reaching 35% in 2008. Surprisingly, the percentage of all the state governments combined capital expenditure in their total expenditure has generally been higher than that of the FG, which supports the case for increasing the revenue allocated to the states in order to enhance overall capital formation.9 On the other hand, the local governments(LGs) spend a very large percentage of their revenues (about 75% on average) on recurrent expenditure which confirms the fact that after paying their staff salaries,  most LG are left with very little for capital expenditure. This is due mainly to their low revenue base, the high level of corruption, and the “ghost workers” syndrome at that level.

 

In the 2011 FG Appropriation Bill, capital expenditure accounted for N1,854 billion (or 40%) of the planned total expenditure of N4,608.7 billion while recurrent expenditure accounted for N2,077 billion  (45%), statutory transfers for N187billion (4%) and debt service for N497 billion (11%). The recurrent expenditure of National Assembly accounted for N138 billion which was more than the recurrent expenditure for Health (N112.7 billion) and the capital expenditure for education (N97 billion). It is also important to note that that apart from the relative low and declining share of capital expenditure, there are strong indications that the capital votes are not optimally allocated or fully spent. There are many reported cases where the governments issue virements to move capital votes to recurrent votes10.

 

Nigeria cannot continue on this path of rapidly increasing cost of governance.11 Therefore, there is need to introduce a constitutional amendment to curtail recurrent expenditure. For instance, all tiers of government should be required to maintain a balanced budget (i.e. revenue = expenditure) or a limit on budget deficit to a maximum of, say, 4% of the total revenue or 2% of GDP, and total debt to a maximum of, say, 5% of  the GDP. In addition, recurrent expenditure (plus recurrent transfers and debt service) must not exceed 45% of total expenditure by any tier of government.  Such constitutional restrictions, coupled with strict monitoring by the proposed GAO, will ensure that adequate funds are allocated for capital expenditures to accelerate capital formation and economic growth 

 

5. Corruption

 

Corruption is defined here as “the abuse of public position for private, individual or group to whom one owes allegiance” and “it occurs when a public official accepts, solicits, or extorts payment, or when private agents offer a payment to circumvent the law for competitive or personal advantage"12. There are generally four intertwined forms of corruption: bribery and grease payments; petty and grand corruption; bureaucratic corruption; and political corruption. Bribery is the payments sought by public officials – or offered by private agents – in return for favours such as government contract. Grease payment is money paid to public officials to do work that they are already being paid to do, such as issuing a license. Petty corruption is the collision of a public official with a member of the public to subvert the system over relatively small transactions. It therefore mostly involves lower level public officials. Grand corruption is the subversion of the system by senior government officials, ministers and heads of state. Bureaucratic corruption is the abuse of discretion by public officials to bend or circumvent rules and regulations in exchange for certain benefits. Political corruption is the trading of influence and authority by political leaders and may extend to granting favours, irregularities in campaign financing and electoral fraud.

 

Although corruption is an issue under governance, it deserves a separate treatment in the case of Nigeria.  Since independence, Nigeria has earned a reputation for corruption on a grand scale. One of the reasons advanced for the military coups in January 1996 was alleged corruption by the elected civilian leaders. Allegation of corruption also featured in virtually all the other military coups. In spite of the promise by the coupists to eradicate corruption, most of them became more corrupt than those they replaced. In fact, it is alleged that the regimes of General Babaginda and General Abacha escalated corruption to an astounding level. Nigeria was ranked the most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International in 1999, the very year President Obasanjo was elected to office. During his first term in office, Obasanjo made some commendable efforts to curb corruption by establishing the ICPC and EFCC. As a result of these efforts, Nigeria’s ranking improved slightly. It was the 6th most corrupt nation in 2004 and moved to the 60th   position in 2007 as shown in table 8 below. However, in his quest to secure a third term of office, President Obasanjo not only mellowed down in his fight against corruption but it appears he became an active participant in corruption towards the end of his second term in office. His predecessor, President Yar’Adua did not help matters. Critics allege that, as a product of corruption, he paid lip service to the fight against corruption even though he was not personally a corrupt leader. All these resulted in a further deterioration in Nigeria’s ranking from 60th position in 2007 to 51st in 2008 and 45th position in 2009.  The situation does not seem to have improved since the current President assumed office in May, 2010.

Table 6: Nigeria’s Corruption Perception Index, 1998-2004

 

Year*

CPI**

Rank***

Position from Bottom****

1998

1.2

81/85

5th

1999

1.6

98/99

2nd

2000

1.2

90/90

1st

2001

1.0

90/91

2nd

2002

1.6

101/102

2nd

2003

1.6

132/133

2nd

2004

1.6

144/146

3rd

2005

1.9

152/168

6th

2006

2.2

142/163

22nd

2007

2.2

147/179

33rd

2008

2.7

121/180

60th

2009

2.5

130/180

51st

2010

2.4

134/178

45th

           Source: Transparency International. www.transparencyinternational.org

Notes: *Year of report. Data refers to the previous year during which the survey was conducted; ** CPI = corruption perception index; its value is between 0 (extreme corruption) and 10 (no corruption at all); *** Countries are ranked by their CPI scores. The numerator is the rank of Nigeria and the denominator is the number of countries surveyed. For instance, 81/85 means that Nigeria was ranked at the 81st position out of 85 countries surveyed in 1997 (i.e. the year before 1998). In other words, Nigeria was ranked the 5th most country in 1997; **** A lower position indicates worsening corruption while a higher position indicates improvement (reduced corruption) relative to other countries.

 

Nigeria cannot afford to continue on the path of unbridled corruption because corruption erodes the capacity of governments at all levels to provide public services at the quality and quantity needed to improve the living standard of the people. Corruption has made public office the fast track to wealth in Nigeria, and has intensified the struggle for elected offices, making elections a do-or-die affair and creating conflicts and instability. This has scared many professionals from contesting elections and has increasingly allowed charlatans to dominate the political arena. In fact, Nigeria has become a case where money corrupts, and corrupts absolutely. There are rumors that corruption has so permeated the judiciary and legislature such that the needed “checks and balances” in a democracy no longer exist. Even the media has become a victim of corruption and there are rumors of politicians bribing newspaper editors not to publish unfriendly reports about them in their newspapers. In fact, corruption may ultimately kill democracy in Nigeria. Therefore, the federal government must wage a renewed war on corruption at all levels of governance (federal, state and local).

As a first step, the constitutional immunity granted to the President and Governors from prosecution must be abrogated.13The reported cases of massive looting of states treasuries by the sitting governors and hide-and-seek game between the EFCC and ex-Governors justify the need to hold sitting governors accountable and not wait until they leave office. For instance, under the caption “Former Governors vs. EFCC”, the Nigerian Tribune of October 14, 2011 stated that “The PDP former governors who are still facing trial include; Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State (N1.2 billion), Joshua Dariye of Plateau State (N700 million), Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State (N36 billion), Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State (N5 billion), James Onanefe Ibori of Delta State (N9.2 billion), Reverend Jolly Nyame of Taraba State (N1.3 billion), Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State (N5.3 billion), Michael Botman of Plateau State (N1.5 billion), Boni Haruna of Adamawa State (N254 million) and Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja of Oyo State (N6 billion). Others are Adamu Abdullahi of Nasarawa State (N15 billion), Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State (N15 billion) and recently Alao-Akala of Oyo State (N11.5 billion), Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State (N58 billion) and Aliyu Akwe Doma of Nasarawa State (N18 billion). A very lingering drama has been playing out between the commission and the former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili, who secured a perpetual injunction against his planned arrest and prosecution for alleged mind-boggling corrupt practices while in office between 1999 and 2007”.

Secondly, the EFCC and ICPC should be merged into one body that is independent of the Executive and Legislature, and should be well-resources to carry out its responsibilities. Thirdly, the media and the generally public should be sensitized to take full advantage of the Freedom of Information law recently enacted and the Whistle Blowing provisions.

 

6. Peace and Security

 

Nigeria’ founding fathers also dreamt of a country where peace and justice reign, and where no man will be oppressed and where our banner will not be stained (by the blood of fellow Nigerians). However, sustainable peace and security have eluded Nigeria for a significant part of the past 51 years. Although the 1967-1970 civil war ended on a “no victor no vanquished” refrain, and reconciliation was achieved within a short period of time, Nigeria has witnessed several episodes of conflicts in several parts of the country since then, especially since the late 1980s. These include ethnic, religious, land, gracing rights and resource-based conflicts. Several militia groups, “area boys”and ethnic vigilante groups have also emerged in several parts of the country including the Egbesu Boys, OPC, Bakassi Boys, Boko Harram, MEND, Almajiris, etc. Over the past five years, kidnapping has become a source of income for armed robbers and criminal gangs. Hundreds of people, including foreigners, have been kidnapped for ransom. Armed robbers are constantly on the prowl in many parts of the country. Political assassinations are not uncommon. In fact, peace in many parts of the country has always been on razor’s edge.

 

The 2009/10 Index of Political Instability shows that of the 165 countries surveyed, Nigeria was at No. 44 position which means that only 43 out of the 165 countries were less stable than Nigeria. In fact, Nigeria was in the category of “high risk/highly unstable” countries. Countries such as Ghana, Benin, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique and Ethiopia were adjudged to be more politically stable than Nigeria. Similarly, Nigeria is ranked at 14th position in the recent 2011 Failed States Index computed for 177 countries. Somalia was at No.1, followed by Chad at No. 2 and Sudan at No. 3. On the other hand, Kenya was ranked at No. 16, Uganda at No. 21, Tanzania at No. 65, Senegal at No. 85 and Ghana No. 114. The higher the position or rank the more unstable and volatile a country is which means that Nigeria was more stable and less volatile than only 13 out of 177 countries while 163 countries are more stable and less volatile than Nigeria. There is a high degree of correlation between both indices14.

 

Although Nigeria is still recovering from the Niger Delta insurgency following the Amnesty Deal, peace in the region is still on razor’s edge because most of the underlying factors for the insurgency (resource control, underdevelopment, youth unemployment) have not been adequately addressed. Meanwhile, the Boko Haram insurgency in the North has created a high sense of insecurity throughout the country.  The huge expenditure on security has not translated into peace and security.

 

Therefore, there is an urgent need to re-examine the approach to peace and security in the country. The devolution of policing to state and local governments and investment in smart technology for the security agencies (such as CCTV, three-digit emergency numbers, security emergency control centers, helicopter patrol of highways, water ways, etc.) Above all, the underlying actors responsible for conflicts and insecurity must be addressed.

 

7. Poverty

 

The founding fathers also dreamt of a land of plenty. This dream was not far-fetched because of the discovery of the “black gold” in the Niger Delta area some four years before independence (in 1956). However, oil did not generate much wealth for Nigeria until after 1967 because oil prices were low and Nigeria’s production was also relatively low. Nonetheless, the founding fathers took advantage of other natural resources (cocoa, rubber, palm produce, groundnuts, cotton, etc) to generate wealth to lay the foundation for poverty reduction. Following the quadrupling of oil prices in the early 1970s, Nigeria became almost awash with petrol dollars. Unfortunately, successive governments have failed to use the country’s oil wealth to reduce poverty. Ironically, the oil wealth resulted in the classic Dutch disease and immiserizing growth15 in Nigeria. 

 

Thus, in spite of the vast oil wealth (and other natural resources) of the Nigeria, poverty has remained a nagging problem since independence. About 63.5% of the people still live below the national poverty line and about 64.4% of the people still live $1.25 a day or less. In fact, the proportion of people who are considered poor has remained virtually the same or increased slightly over the past 51 years and there has not been any significant reduction in the incidence, depth and severity of poverty. Worse still, income inequality in Nigeria is among the highest in the developing world, and the country is still in the rank of “low human development” countries. In the latest (2010) Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Nigeria was ranked 142 out of 170 countries in terms of human development (i.e. average quality of life or standard of living). In other words, 141 other countries were “more developed” than Nigeria, which means that the “average citizen” in 141 other countries enjoyed a better quality of life that the “average” Nigerian.

 

Table 8 below shows some comparative data on the human development index, poverty,  income inequality, and per capita gross national income for Nigeria and some other carefully selected African countries – Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal and Tanzania. The table shows that while Nigeria has the highest per capita income among the six countries, Kenya and Ghana rank better than Nigeria in terms of human development, with Nigeria ranking slightly better than Uganda, Senegal and Tanzania. Apart from Tanzania, Nigeria has the highest poverty headcount (i.e. percentage of people below the poverty line) and the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day. Furthermore, apart from Uganda, Nigeria has the highest income inequality as measured by the Gini Index. Nigeria has the highest concentration of wealth or income as measured by the ratio of the income of the richest 10% of the population to the poorest 10% (R/P 10%) which stood at 17.80 in 2008 and which means that the income of the “average rich man” in Nigeria was about 18 times the income of the average poor man. This means that if the average poor man made an income of N100,000 a year, the average rich man in Nigeria made N1,780,000 while the average rich man in Ghana made N1,410,00 and the average rich man in Tanzania made N920,000. The high income inequality in Nigeria is reflected in the fact that Nigeria’s HDIA (human development index adjusted for income inequality) is the lowest amongst the six countries. Thus, paradoxically, Nigeria had the highest per capita income but also had the lowest HDIA in this group of six countries.

    

Table 9: Human Development Index and Poverty Indicators in Nigeria and Selected African Countries

 

Countries

2005 HDI

2010 HDI

2010 HDI Rank

2010 HDIA

2010 Population below PPP $1.25/    day (%)

2008 Poverty Headcount

2008 Gini Index

2008 R/P 10%

GNI per Capita  US$

Kenya

0.443

0.470

128

0.320

19.00

60.40

42.50

13.60

1,628

Ghana

0.443

0.467

130

0.349

30.00

30.10

40.80

14.10

1,587

Nigeria

0.402

0.423

142

0.246

64.40

63.50

43.70

17.80

2,156

Uganda

0.380

0.422

143

0.286

51.50

NA

45.70

16.60

1,224

Senegal

0.388

0.411

144

0.262

33.50

66.00

41.30

12.30

1,876

Tanzania

0.370

0.398

148

0.285

88.50

65.00

34.60

9.20

1,344

Note: HDI = Human Development Index; HDIA = HDI Adjusted for Income Inequality ; Poverty Headcount = % of people living below poverty line; R/P 10% = Ratio of the average income of the richest 10% is to the poorest 10% (e.g. 15 means average income of the richest 10% is 15 times more than the average income of the poorest 10%, so if the average income of the richest 10% is N15m a year, the average income of the poorest 10% will be N1m a year); Gini Index or coefficient = Measure of national income inequality. It is a number between 0 and 1, where 0 corresponds with perfect equality (where everyone has the same income) and 1 corresponds with perfect inequality (where one person has all the income, and everyone else has zero income); GNI/per capita = Gross national income per capita.

 

What the above data indicates is that Nigeria’s poverty reduction strategies and programs (such as the Better Life for Rural Women, People’s Bank, Community Banks, FEAP, NAPEP, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) and Vision 2020 have largely been ineffective in reducing the incidence, depth and severity of poverty as well as in reducing income inequality. There is therefore the need to fine-tune existing and previous poverty reduction strategies and program, ensure proper funding as well monitoring and periodic evaluation of results. I have made some concrete recommendations on reducing poverty in Nigeria in my book, The Political Economy of Oil and other Topical Issues in Nigeria where I also looked at the relationship between governance and poverty in Nigeria16.

 

8: Development planning

 

Planning is an economic mechanism for resource allocation and decision-making in contrast with the market mechanism. Thus, development planning refers to planning of economic activity outside the mechanisms of the market, in an attempt to achieve specific economic or social outcomes. Development planning may take the form of directive (“command-type”) planning or indicative planning.17 In mixed developing economies, development planning typically involves a combination of indicative planning and directive planning, that is, a combination of elements of market mechanisms and direct control by government in the allocation of resources and achievement of outcomes. In the 1950s through the 1980s, many developing countries (mixed economies) practiced comprehensive development planning that combined directive and indicative planning, with a bias towards the former but with increasing elements of indicative planning. I refer to this as the “classical” development planning (non-socialist) in this paper. Since the mid 1980s, some developing countries have moved away from the classical development planning to “strategic” development planning which is more indicative and relies more on market mechanisms with increasing role of the private sector.

 

Nigeria’s founding fathers also believed in a systematic and planned approach to socio-economic development They understand that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and that without a plan, the state loses its ability to control the economy and achieve its goals.  Hence, two years after independence, they came up with a comprehensive six-year development plan (1962 – 1968). In addition to the national development, each region also had its own 1962-1968 development. Although the intervention of the military in 1966 affected the implementation of the plans, the military also imbibed the concept of comprehensive development planning, and immediately after the civil war, General Gowon launched the Second National Development (1970 – 1974). He also launched the Third National Development (1975 – 1980) just before he was overthrown in July 1975. Although the Gen. Mohammed and Gen. Obasanjo made some changes to the plan, they implemented it before Obasanjo handed over power to Alhaji Shehu Shagari on October 1, 1979. President Shagari implemented the last year of the plan, and launched the Fourth National Development Plan (1981-1985) but he was overthrown on December 31, 1983 before the end of the Fourth Plan. Gen. Buhari continued with the implementation of the plan, albeit with some modifications, before he was overthrown on August 27, 1985 by Gen. Babangida (IBB) who christened himself a (military) president.

 

Although work started on the preparation of the Fifth National Development Plan under IBB, he soon abandoned the concept of “classical” development planning and in July 1986, when he a launched Nigeria’s three-year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which was inspired and supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The SAP was not a development plan in the classical meaning of the term; the focus of the SAP was on the use of monetary, fiscal and foreign exchange policies (market mechanisms) to correct the “imbalances” in the economy through “programming”. In other words, the SAP was more or less an indicative plan that relied heavily of market forces/mechanisms. Many economists believe that the SAP marked the beginning of “near planlessness” in Nigeria. Even though the SAP was expected to correct the disequilibrium and distortions in the economy, it failed to do so woefully. Not surprising because of the high degree of market failure in Nigeria.  Around 1988, the then Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning decided to begin work on a long-range (15-year) Perspective Plan result which will be implemented through three-year Rolling Plans. Although the Perspective Plan was never officially launched, the IBB regime began implementing three-year Rolling Plans that were more or less extensions of the SAP and which did not meet the test of a development plan in the classical sense. By the time IBB “stepped aside” from power in August 1993, the concept of medium-term planning had almost been abandoned with the military government relying more on annual budget as its plan.

 

The situation continued under Gen. Abacha until be launched the Vision 2010 Committee in November 1996 to fashion out a long-term “strategic” plan for Nigeria which was referred to as  a blueprint that would transform the country by year 2010”. The 248-member Committee was headed by the ex-Chairman/Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan. Even though the Committee submitted its report to Gen. Abacha in September 2007, the report was not adopted and the proposed strategies were hardly implemented until Gen. Abacha died in office on June 8, 1998. However, his successor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, endorsed the “Vision 2010” Strategic Plan (1999 - 2010) but he focused was more on political transition to a civilian democracy, so he hardly implemented the strategies of Vision 2010 before handing over power to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999.

 

As soon as he assumed office, President Obasanjo jettisoned and killed the Vision 2010 Plan.18 He initially relied on annual budgets as his plan while trying to fashion his own strategic plan. In 2003, President Obasanjo launched his own National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) (2003-2007) and all the state and local governments were also required to prepare and launch their own State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEED) and Local Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (LEEDS), respectively. Again, the NEEDS/SEEDS/LEEDS were mere strategic (or aspirational) plans that focused more on market mechanisms with little information on planned infrastructural projects, costs and implementation schedules.19 In fact, the “how” to achieve most of the targets and aspirations were not adequately articulated. Little wonder that most of the critical targets of NEEDS were never achieved. For instance, under the NEEDS, electricity generation (available) capacity in Nigeria was projected to increase from 4,000 MW in 2004 to 10,000 MW in 2007, but by the time Obasanjo left office in 2007, the available capacity was about 4,500 MW and has remained at virtually this level since then, even of September 2011! Also under NEEDS, the FG planned to rehabilitate or construct a total of 15,000 kilometers of roads, and generate seven million new jobs, between 2004 and 2007. We were not told what was achieved, but it is very doubtful if FG achieved 30% of these targets.

 

The NEEDS/SEEDS/LEEDS plans died with the end of Obasanjo’s administration on May 29, 2007. His successor, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adau decided to adopt his own approach to development planning. After relying on annual budgets as his plan, President Yar’Adua reverted to the “visioning” approach and launched his own Vision 2020 Committee towards the end of 2008. It took the Committee about nine months to produce the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan which was approved by the Federal Executive Council on October 14, 2009. However, shortly after that, President Yar’Adua became gravely ill and eventually died in office on May 6, 2010 without launching the plan. His successor, President Jonathan launched the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan on June 14, 2010 shortly after he was sworn into office.  Like the NEEDS and the previous Vision 2010 plan, the Vision 2020 Plan (2009 – 2020) is full of lofty aspirations that are not adequately supported by concrete projects that are properly costed. According to the framers of the Vision 2020 plan, the vision is that By 2020, Nigeria will have a large, strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy that effectively harnesses the talents and energies of its people and responsibly exploits its natural endowments to guarantee a high standard of living and quality of life to its citizens”. Among its various targets, the plan estimates that Nigeria “will need to generate electricity in the range of about 35,000MW by 2020. The target is to grow installed power generation capacity from 6,000MW in 2009 to 20,000MW by 2015 and 35,000MW by 2020.” To achieve this it states that “In the medium-term, existing IPPs will be encouraged to increase capacity and ongoing NIPP projects will be speeded up to achieve the target of 20,000MW by 2015. Incentives will also be granted to new entrants, especially for renewable power generation, in order to achieve additional generation capacity. Between 2011 and 2020, it is estimated that IPPs will generate an incremental 2000MW on an annual basis. In the long-term, additional large hydro plants, coal-fired plants, IPPs and renewable power generating plants (hydro, solar and biomass) will be installed to further increase power generation capacity to 35,000MW. The Vision relies heavily on the private sector to take the lead in power generation. The transmission capacity in the sector will be improved to provide transmission losses while strengthening grid security”. That is it!

 

The Vision 2020 Plan will be implemented through three medium term development plans. The first medium-term National Implementation Plan (NIP 2010-13) was launched in August, 2010. Two subsequent medium term plans (NIP 2014-2017 and 2018-2020) will be launched latter. In justifying the Vision 2020 Plan, the Minister of National Planning, Dr. S. Usman stated that the plan is “Not Soviet-style central/command planning; Not “Commanding heights” type  used earlier in Nigeria; and A sound blend of government and market systems strategic/ indicative planning."20 He went further to demonstrate the success of “strategic planning experience” by showing that the GDP per capita and poverty rate of “China, India vs. Soviet Union” and Asian Tigers: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and claiming that the “results are obvious”, meaning that strategic planning approach is superior to classical development planning approach. However, the fact is that Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991 and Russia became its legal successor on the international stage. Despite the weakness of the Soviet-style planning, there is no doubt that it proposed Soviet Union into an industrial power and a military super power within a period of less than 40 years. The major drawback was that it laid too much emphasis of capital goods and tended to neglect consumer goods. Russia has continued with the concept of central planning (with “doses” of market mechanisms) and has recorded impressive economic growth and transformation since 1991. The same is true of China and India. In fact, India has continued with the tradition of five-year development plans which it started in 1951 with the launching of its First Five Year Plan (1951- 56). It is currently implementing its 11th Five-Year Plan (2007 – 2012). An examination of the India’s current 11th Five-Year Plans21 show that it is comprehensive and similar to classical development plans, and far detailed than Nigeria’s Vision 2020 plan and its first four-year National Implementation Plan (2010-2013). Thanks to consistent development planning in India, that country has been able to avert the doomsday Malthusian specter painted in Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Drama (1968) and the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth (1972). Today, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the prospects of “the end of poverty” in India are now very bright.22 


To further complicate the picture of development planning under the current administration in Nigeria, the Budget Office in the Federal Ministry of Finance has also prepared a
Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy (MTEF) for 2012-2015 which was recently submitted to the National Assembly. It is not clear how the MTEP relates to the Vision 2020 Plan and NIP (2010-2013) but what is clear is that the most of the projects in the 2010 budget were not executed23. There are also indications that new projects not contained in either the Vision 2020 plan or the NIP or the 2010 Budget are being implemented. A good example is the establishment of nine new fed eral universities on one fell swoop towards the end of 2010 and the allocation of N1.5 billion in February 2011 for the take-off of each of the universities in September 2011. Going by the experiences with Vision 2010 and NEEDS, it is very likely that the Vision 2020 Plan may be abandoned the next President if and when President Jonathan leaves office in 2015.

The above description of Nigeria’s development planning experience clearly shows a high degree of unpredictability and fluidity in socio-economic policy and planning since 1986. In fact, successive governments have not been serious in implementing the various “strategic plans”. The result is that the Nigerian economy has largely been on autopilot since 1986. The inadequate power supply, inadequate portable water supply, inadequate social services, poor state of infrastructure, and growing poverty in the midst of plenty (oil wealth) are some of the consequences of the “near planlessness” of the economy in spite of the so-called strategic plans. This is reflected in the current President’s slogan of “promising less and delivering more”. If planning is taken seriously, the strategic plans should reflect the “promises” of the administration and “delivery” should be the extent to which the plan is implemented. In fact, in a proper planning environment, “promising less” is ridiculous! The absence or knowledge of the contents of the development or strategic plans at all levels of government means that voters are unable to hold political leaders accountable for their “promises”. Thus, in my humble opinion, Nigeria needs to return to the concept of development planning in the classical sense, albeit with more “dose” of market mechanism. In other words, Nigeria needs to move “a little to the right” from the pre 1986 development planning approach, and “a little to the left” from its current strategic (or visioning) planning approach.

In view of the four-year tenure of the governments (Federal, state and local), it is proposed that each tier of government should prepare and implement four-year development plans with annual budgets (especially the capital expenditure components) as instruments for implementing the plans. This will ensure relative stability in policy and focused execution of capital projects over a four-year horizon. As soon as a new government is elected and sworn into office, it must prepare and submit its four-year development plan to the National or State Assemblies within four months (by end September), and the plan must be approved within six months (by end of November). The plan, which should be based on the electoral platform or ”promises” made by the president during the campaign, should then run from the January of the year following the election to December of the year that the government’s tenure ends. For example, the current administration’s Four-Year development plan should run from January, 2012 to December, 2015 since President was elected or sworn into power in 2011. This means that during the first seven months of a new government, it should implement the remaining part of the development plan prepared by its successor. The National Planning Commission (and the state counterparts) should coordinate the preparation of the plan, monitor and evaluate its implementation, and present semi-annual performance reports to the government, the assemblies and the public.


Concluding Remarks

 

In discussing the key challenges above, I have made suggestions on how to deal with each challenge at the end of each section. In my view, to chart the way forward for Nigeria, we need to consider two important lessons from the past 51 years. The first lesson is that military coups are not the solution to Nigeria’s key political and economic challenges as identified above. Although most of the military coups were staged ostensibly to address some of these problems, the military regimes have tended to exacerbated some of the problems.  Therefore, military coups should be discouraged through legal and constitutional means such as prosecution of participants in a military coup by subsequent elected governments and debarment of any person who participates in any military coup, or hold a top position in a military regime, from holding any top position in the public service future. Even in cases where the military regime suspends the constitution and comes up with a new constitution, the elected government should be able to use the previous constitution against coup plotters.

 

The second lesson is that Nigeria cannot continue business as usual. There is an urgent need to restructure the country in a fundamental way to reflect the dreams of the founding fathers. Ad hoc constitutional amendments by appointed committees or the legislature are usually not far-reaching. For a proper political restructuring of the country, a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) is a necessary condition. Therefore, the current administration needs to revisit the clarion call for a SNC. Due to partisan politics, the national assembly cannot come up with consensual solutions. Asking the National Assembly to handle the issue of restructuring the polity will distract the members from the current responsibilities and the process may be bogged down. Furthermore, experience has shown that a government-controlled national conference cannot come up with far-reaching solutions. In most cases, the government usually does not implement some or most of the recommendations of such committees. For instance, Gen. Abacha did not implement the recommendations of the 1994/5 National Constitutional Conference he appointed, and President Obasanjo also refused to implement most of the recommendation of the 1995 National Political Conference including the recommendation to increase the percentage derivation from 13% to 17%.  The beauty of a SNC is that the members are generally non-political and independent, and they represent either ethnic nationalities or territories or other interest groups. For the SNC, I would suggest a maximum of 60 members who should meet over a period of 3 months to consider the various issues and come up with a consensus on them. The recommendations of the SNC should either be approved by the National Assembly or through a national referendum, and should then form the basis of either a new constitution or amendment to the existing constitution and restructuring of the polity. The 60 members of the SNC should include one representative from each of the 20 largest ethnic nationalities, one member from each of the 36 states, and two members representing Moslems and two other members representing Christians. All members of the SNC must be elected by the constituencies they represent. In addition, a group of 10 professionals should be appointed by appropriate professional associations (such as the Nigerian Bar Association, Nigerian Economic Society and the Nigerian Political Association) who will provide technical support to the SNC such as background information and data on key issues, collation  and summary of memorandum received from the public and other suggestions from the literature.  For instance, some of the recommendation made in this paper can form part of the agenda for discussion at the SNC. Decisions will be arrived at through consensus. The Presidency or Legislature will not interfere in the work of the SNC and will not influence or alter any of its decisions.

 

In spite of the daunting challenges Nigeria is still facing, I still have a dream that someday, perhaps very soon, we shall overcome these challenges. I have a dream that very soon, Nigeria, the sleeping African Giant; will free itself from the shackles that have held it captive since the past 51 years. I have dream that very soon Nigeria will join the club of India, China and other fast developing and fast transforming countries, thanks to the indomitable and yes-we-can spirit and efforts of Nigerians who care. May God Almighty make these dreams to come true.   

 

October 19, 2011

 


Endnotes






1 See Federalism and Political Restructuring in Nigeria, edited by Amuwo, K, et al.Spectrum Books, 1998, p. 124.

2 The 1994-5 National Constitutional Conference concluded that “Realising that the election of the Nation’s Number One Citizen has been a major source of our political crises and upheaval…the conference, in its wisdom, and by consensus, agreed that the presidency shall rotate between the North and the South”. This was subsequently enshrined in section 229(1-5) of the draft constitution that the committee submitted to General Abacha on June 1995 which read “The office of President shall rotate between the North and the South. The office of Governor shall rotate among the three senatorial districts in that state”.   However, in his Independence Day Broadcast on October 1, 1995, Gen Abacha announced changes in the notion of rotation as proposed by the NCC by indicating that the country would be divided into six regional groupings (i.e., North-East, North-West, Middle-Belt, South-West, South-East and Southern Minority) and not just North and South, for the purpose of rotating the presidency. He also stated that the principle of rotation will also apply to the Vice President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime-Minister, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. In addition, he stated that “the power sharing arrangement shall be entrenched in the constitution and shall be at the federal level and applicable for an experimental period of 30 years” (ibid. pp.125-127). However, Gen. Abacha later abandoned the draft constitution and pursued a different agenda of remaining in power indefinitely until he died in office in May 1998. Note that the concept of “six zones” for the “purpose of rotatory presidency” which Gen. Abacha announced on October 1, 1995, was first advocated by Prof. Onigu Otite in July 1995 who suggested North-West, North-East, North-Central(Middle Belt0, South-West, South-East and Deltaic South zones (ibid. p. 21)

3 Under the current revenue sharing formula, the Federal Government gets 52.7% of the federation account revenue (less first line charges such as derivation fund) while all 36 state governments combined receive 26.7% and all 774 LG combined receive 26.6%. Only 13% of the revenue goes to the derivation fund which is shared among the oil producing states.  Over 85% of the funds paid to the FA come from oil. This is contrary to the 1963 constitution under which 50% of the revenues from a natural resource were paid to the derivation fund for sharing among the regions where such resources are located.

4 The option A4 system violates the right to vote in secret as contained in the IPU declaration. Perhaps, this is one of the principles we may be willing to sacrifice.

5 Other definitions of governance include “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development” (World bank, 1992) or “the manner in which public officials and institutions acquire and exercise the authority to shape public policy and provide public goods and services (World bank, 2004)

6 The CPIA rates countries against a set of 16 criteria grouped in four clusters: (a) economic management; (b) structural policies; (c) policies for social inclusion and equity; and (d) public sector management and institutions. For each of the 16 criteria, countries are rated on a scale of 1 (low or highly unsatisfactory) to 6 (high or highly satisfactory). The averaged ratings depend on actual policies and performance, rather than on promises or intentions. The CPIA ratings are focused on policies and institutions rather than outcomes. They are also based on actual not planned policies and represent a snapshot of country policies and institutions at a particular point in time. The Country Performance Rating (CPR) is a weighted average of the four CPIA clusters with 24% weight allocated clusters A, B and C combined, 68% weight assigned to cluster D, and 8% weight assigned to the country’s portfolio rating.

7 The Citizens Report Card (CRC) system enables citizens to express their “voice” on public service delivery and helps to ensure transparency and accountability. The CRC was initiated by a small group of citizens in Bangalore in 1993. The CRC has been so successful and has been replicated in many other countries. An independent assessment of the impact of the CRCs for the World Bank noted that “the progression in the influence of the report card can be seen to move from limited impact (with dissemination of feedback) to more impact (with dialogue and public pressure for change) to greater (with advice on reform) corresponding to the reactive, proactive and reformist roles of PAC over a period of time” (see Suresh Balakrishnan: “Holding The State to Account: Citizens Voice through Report Cards in Bengalore”, Regional Seminar and Learning Event- Local Governance and Pro-Poor service Delivery. Feb. 2004. ADB Headquarters, Manila, Philippines).

8 For instance, with Funding from the European Union, the Niger Delta Professionals for Development (NIPRODEV) recently published the Niger Delta Citizen Report Card (CRC) on public services, good governance and development from 120 communities in the Niger Delta region.  This is perhaps one of the first of such studies and report for Nigeria. (see NIPRODEV, Niger Delta Citizen Report Card, January, 2011)

9 This case has been weakened by the recent high profile cases of grand corruption by state governors and misapplication of capital votes. However, given the impressive record of regional governments (e.g. Western Region) in the First Republic and also the record of some Military Governors (e.g. Samuel Ogbemudia in Midwest state) and  Buba Marwa in Lagos state) this case can be sustained if the excesses of the governors can be curtailed e.g. by removing the immunity from prosecution while in power.

10 For example, the Vanguard of October 5, 2011 that the House of Representatives was worried by the poor implementation of the 2011 budget and had  summoned the Minister of Finance, the Director of Budget and Minister of National Planning to explain the alleged selective implementation of the budget. A member of the House, Mr Patrick Ikhariale, “observed that capital projects, including those rolled over from the 2010 budget had been jettisoned by the executive arm” and said “the non implementation of the capital component of the 2010 budget by almost 60 per cent had dangerous consequences for a developing economy like Nigeria's”.  The paper also noted this “ development came on the heels of President Goodluck Jonathan's request for the House to approve a virement of N98.446 billion in the 2011 budget of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies MDA. Virement is an exercise that involves moving funds allocated from one subhead to another where they are supposedly more needed."

11 Speaking on the Cost of Governance in Nigeria at the Biennial Conference of the Nigeria Guild of Editors on September 22, 2011, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, painted a very depressing picture growing cost of governance in Nigeria. He said, among other things that “It cost nearly N2.5m on the average annually for the upkeep of each of the FG’s nearly one million public sector workers,…the cost of maintaining works out to N320 million per legislator… these statistics show how expensive governance has become and how little Nigerians get in return…very few countries match the high cost of genera administration in Nigeria…The estimated proportion of general administration to the GDP ..is over 20% …rich countries spend an average of 10% of their budgets and/or GDP on general administration” Then he asked the rhetorical questions “Has the government’s N4.485trillion budget made life any better or even provide any security for Nigerians? Can we feel the impact of these huge spending? Is the cost of governance justified?"

2 See GOPAC Handbook on Controlling Corruption.

13 For instance, the Vanguard of October 4, 2011 reported that at a recent two-day national conference in Abuja with the theme, "Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the fight against corruption and corporate fraud in governance”, the  chief legal officer in the EFCC, Mr. Ike Okonjo, “expressed concern that core anti-graft agencies in Nigeria, such as the EFCC and ICPC, had not enjoyed the desired neutrality and independence in the performance of their statutory duties”   and that the “anti-corruption agencies must feel completely free to investigate and prosecute any person or persons, irrespective of whose ox was gored”. Okonjo reported stated that: "The rule of law posits that the law is supreme and that anyone found wanting or in breach of the law can be investigated or even prosecuted. And this applies to all persons including the highest office in the land -the office of the President (and the governors)"

14 The Political Instability Index (PII) is computed by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It shows the level of threat posed to governments by social protests and the scores are derived by combining measures of economic distress and underlying vulnerability to unrest. On the other hand, the Failed States Index (FSI) is computed by the Fund for Peace, a non-profit organization. The FSI ranks countries using 12 social, economic, and political indicators of pressure on the state, along with over 100 sub-indicators. These include such issues as uneven development, state legitimacy, group grievance, and human rights. Each indicator is rated on a scale of 1-10, based on the analysis of millions of publicly available documents, other quantitative data, and assessments by analysts. A high score indicates high pressure on the state, and therefore a higher risk of instability.

15 In economics, the Dutch disease (or resource curse or paradox of plenty) is a situation where the exploitation of a natural resource (such as  hydrocarbon) leads to a decline in other economic activities such as agriculture and  manufacturing . In other words, it a paradoxical situation where a country with an abundance of natural resources, especially non-renewable resources like minerals and hydrocarbons, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. This happens for many different reasons, including a decline in the competitiveness of other economic sectors (caused by appreciation of the real exchange rate as resource revenues enter an economy), volatility of revenues from the natural resource sector due to exposure to global commodity market swings, government mismanagement of resources, or weak, ineffectual, unstable or corrupt institutions. On the other hand, immiserizing growth is a situation where economic growth results in a country being worse off than before the growth or results in greater misery (poverty).

16 See Chapter 13 (Managing the Dutch Disease in Nigeria), Chapter 14 (Carrying Oil Wealth to the Poor in the Niger Delta Region) and Chapter 17 (Governance and Poverty Reduction in Nigeria), in Ojameruaye, E (2006): The Political Economy of Oil and other Topical Issues in Nigeria. (Xlibris Publishing Co.)

17 In the former socialist countries, planning was directive and the economies were centrally planned, which means that allocation of resources was determined by the government through a comprehensive plan. For instance, from 1928 to 1991 the entire course of the Soviet economy (and other socialist countries) was guided by a series of Five-Year Plans. On the other hand, the governments of most market economies practice indicative planning which means that they rely heavily on market mechanisms and active role of the private sector to achieve expected outcome. The level of centralization of decision-making in a mixed developing economy varies from country to country and over time. Development planning is a continuum; at the extreme left is the Soviet-style (command type) central planning while on the extreme right is the extreme market-based “planning” (actually no planning) where the economy depends almost entirely on spontaneity of market forces or mechanisms for the allocation of resources including capital formation. “Classical” development planning in most developing countries prior to the 1980s is somewhere between the extreme left and the center of the continuum while strategic planning is somewhere between the extreme right and the center.

18 It is alleged that Obasanjo killed the Vision 2010 Plan because it was linked to Gen. Abacha who jailed and almost killed him. In other words, Obasanjo was not prepared to have anything to do with Abacha even if the plan was good. (see Interview by Dr. S. Usman, published in daily Thrust of July 16, 2009)

19 According to the framers of NEEDS, it is “Nigeria’s plan for prosperity… it is people’s plan, it focuses on four key strategies: reorienting values, reducing poverty, creating wealth, and generating employment”, and the vision of NEEDS is “one in which Nigeria fulfills its potential to become Africa’s largest economy and a major player in the global economy”.  Needless to say that this vision and goals were no where close to realization by the time Obasanjo left office in 2007 and four years later in 2011 we are still far away from realizing them.

20 Vision 20: 2020: First Implementation Plan, 2010 -2013. Presented at the Validation Workshop on the First Four-Year Implementation Plan for NV 20:2020 Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos By Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, Minister of National Planning, 5 August, 2010.

21 Visit  http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/planrel/fiveyr/welcome.html for India’s Five-Year Plans. The 11th Plan comes in three volumes, unlike Nigeria’s Vision 2020 and Four-Year NIP which are single volume documents.

22 See chapter 9 of Jeffrey Sach’s book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities  for Our Time. (Penguin Books, 2005).

23 See endnote 10 above.