Urgent real restructuring of Nigeria necessary “so that States and Local Governments can truly serve as the engine of development” – Jerome Afeikhena

For  the benefit of new blog visitors, The Iju Public Affairs Forum Series (IPAF), a lecture presentation that is now in its tenth year, has been presented on this blog from the beginning.  Despite its generally very academic look at various subjects in governance in Nigeria and the society, it has generated impressive numbers, mostly through search engines with search terms – in the past one week, for example – such as:  “Does communal crisis affect education?”  “Ashby Commission on education”, “2010, 2011 and 2012 allocation of budget to education in Nigeria”,  “What are the main problems of university education in Nigeria? et cetera, that  lead blog visitors to “Education Sector in Crisis Evidence Causes and Possible Remedies”, a subject that has attracted 2,977 visitors – twenty-three visitors short of 3,000.  Though prepared  by the Founder/Convener of the Forum, Professor Ladipo Adamolekun and presented as an institutional forum in January 2013 at the Babalola University (JABU), Ipetu-Ijesa rather than at the Public Affairs Library at Iju where the IPAF holds; “Eduction Sector …”  is grouped with the series.

In the latest edition, Dr. Jerome Afeikhena,  the National Coordinator, State Peer Review Mechanism of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat, takes a timely look back at “sub-national governments and the development process in Nigeria”.  The author points to the problems of the country’s economic development and growth, for example, as stemming partly from a system where the lower-tier governing units – states and local governments – in a supposed federal system all have to look to the central government as perhaps the sole driver of development.

Dr. Afeikhena’s summary is below; the full paper can be accessed through the link at the bottom of the summary. 




Dr Afeikhena Jerome appraises the roles of state and local governments in governance and development in Nigeria since the return to civilian rule in 1999. As a backdrop, he reviews the meaning of development and concludes that it is fundamentally about achieving improvement in the quality of life of citizens, including a focus on the elimination of poverty and reduction of income inequality. And he draws attention to indicators for measuring development, notably the Human Development Index (HDI) that is used to compare the level of development of countries, focused on life expectancy, education, and standard of living.

Next, he provides an overview of “states and federalism in Nigeria”, highlighting the three-tier governance structure enshrined in the country’s 1999 Constitution: a central government, 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory and 774 Local Government Authorities (LGAs). He draws attention to skewed allocation of functions in favour of the central government (68 exclusive functions and 24 shared concurrently with state governments) and a revenue allocation formula that assigns close to 53% to the central government with the remaining 47% shared between state and local governments (27% and 20% respectively). He concludes that these arrangements are not consistent with the widely-acclaimed principle of subsidiarity – that government services should be devolved to the lowest level of government capable of providing the services effectively. He also points out that local governments constitute the weakest tier of government in Nigeria’s federal system: weak political and administrative leaders combined with state governments’ encroachment on their functions and financial resources.

Regarding the development performance of sub-national governments, Jerome uses several indicators to assess state governments but avoids ranking the overall results “since every state has its unique characteristics”. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), fiscal indicators (including budgets, internally generated revenue, Federation Account allocations) and macroeconomic and social indicators (including unemployment, poverty, HDI, inequality measure, gender, education) are the main indicators used by the author. The highlights include the following:

• Unsurprisingly, Lagos State and Rivers State have the highest GDP and Lagos State’s GDP is superior to that of about 110 countries in the world. At the other end, Yobe State has the smallest GDP.
• Lagos State, Rivers State and Delta State are the top performers in respect of internally generated revenue (IGR) with Lagos State’s IGR accounting for about 42% of total revenues generated by the 36 states. The author links the inability of many states to grow their IGR to the difficulty they experience in paying the salaries of public officials.
• The huge differences in the rate of unemployment in the states are striking: about 40 percent in three states (Zamfara, Bauchi and Niger) and FCT while three states (Osun, Lagos and Kwara) record single-digit unemployment rate.
• According to multidimensional poverty Index (MPI) scores (covering education, health and living standards), half of the 36 states have more than 50% of their population in multidimensional poverty; two states (Yobe and Zamfara) have over 90% MPI poor; and three states (Lagos, Osun and Anambra) have less than 12% MPI poor.
• The HDI scores (covering life expectancy, education and income) are high in only FCT; six states (Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Bayelsa, Delta and Ondo) fall within the medium category and the other states are ranked low.

The author also discusses the politics of development and suggests that states need to take “a politically smart approach to development”. He provides two examples: (i) the States Peer Review Mechanism (SPRM) and (ii) the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS). In 2011, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) conceived the SPRM as an instrument to assist state governments accelerate the pace of development through periodic reviews of progress in the implementation of development policies, plans and programmes. This objective is to be achieved through the sharing of experiences among states and reinforcement of commendable and innovative practices unveiled in the process. To date, only Anambra and Ekiti States have completed the SPRM process. The two states were peer reviewed by the NGF in March 2013. Commendable practices as well as some areas of concern were identified in respect of both states. Each state put in place a Programme of Action to address the underlying deficiencies identified and Anambra State is already implementing some of the actions in its Programme.

According to the author, the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) was introduced in 2007 as a joint effort by the federal and state governments to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is funded in part from the savings made from the Debt Relief Gains of about US$1 billion per annum that was linked to the settlement of Nigeria’s external debts. Additional resources for the CGS are provided by states in the form of counterpart funding. By 2010, all 36 states and FCT had met the qualifying criteria and benefitted from the CGS for varying number of years. Then, CGS was extended to LGAs in 2011. The author stresses that CGS is helping to promote better cooperation and collaboration among the tiers of government, including sharing lessons about good practices in governance, public service management and public financial management. To date, CGS funding has been largely devoted to projects focused on primary health care and water and sanitation. Between 2007 and 2014, federal government had contributed 55.25% of a total of N196.8 billion CGS fund with the States contributing the balance of 44.75%. Bayelsa and Taraba States recorded the highest involvement in CGS compared with Ondo and Ogun States that showed the least involvement.

In conclusion, the author asserts that governments at the three tiers will be faced with tough governance issues at the end of 2015 election cycle, notably insecurity, corruption and “a perfect storm” in the area of the economy. The decline in revenue earnings from oil will result in mismatch between needs and financial resources and States, in particular, must adopt creative initiatives such as stimulus packages to facilitate job creation and innovative approaches for mobilizing domestic resources. And he calls for urgent restructuring of the polity “so that States and Local Governments can truly serve as the engine of development”.

[Dr. Afeikhena Jerome is the National Coordinator, State Peer Review Mechanism Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat, Abuja, Nigeria]


Sub-national Governments and the Development Process in Nigeria

IPAF 2015 Presentation by Jerome


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 2015.  1:20 a.m. [GMT]

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