The State of Sub-National Government in Nigeria (Public Finance is Hard)

This is from the March Africa Research Institute (ARI) report on the state of sub-national government in Nigeria:

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 6.33.32 PMA federal structure, whose prime objective was to maintain security by curbing regional and ethnic influence, does not foster development. Despite receiving about half the national revenue – a sum of N2.7 trillion in 2014 (US$13.5 billion at current official exchange rate) – state governments fail to provide the services that could materially improve the lives of tens of millions of Nigerians. The 2015 United Nations Human Development Index ranked Nigeria 152nd out of 187 countries. State authorities are not accountable to citizens, state institutions are weak and corruption is endemic. The 774 LGAs – the most proximate form of government for most Nigerians – have all but ceased to function. Furthermore, groups armed by or linked to state governors have been responsible for the most deadly outbreaks of violence of the past decade: ethnic clashes in Plateau state, conflict in the Niger Delta and the Boko Haram insurgency.

… If oil were at US$20 a barrel, at 2014 budget levels only three states would be able to cover their recurrent costs with recurrent revenues: Lagos, because it generates substantial revenues internally and depends less on federal transfers; Kano, because of the amount the state receives in federal transfers due to the large number of local government areas; and Katsina, because the overhead and personnel costs are very low compared to other states.

And on Lagosian exceptionalism:

…. to raise tax revenues from various sources, including property, required a promise of benefits; and to make it sustainable those benefits had to be delivered to taxpayers. Federal funding resumed in 2007, but taxes still produce 60% of Lagos’s revenue. Its IGR, about N300 billion (US$1.5 billion) in 2014, is equivalent to the combined IGR of 32 of Nigeria’s 35 other states.4

Reliance on IGR made the Lagos state government more accountable to its electorate, who in turn became more aware of their right to judge its performance. Under Tinubu’s protégé and successor, Babatunde Fashola, crime was reduced, the environment improved, roads were built and the transport system expanded. Prompt action to contain a possible outbreak of Ebola in 2014 demonstrated governmental competence. Now that Fashola is a federal minister, many expect Nasir el-Rufai in Kaduna state, in the north-west, to earn the reputation as Nigeria’s most praiseworthy state governor. Elected in 2015, el-Rufai moved quickly to close the state’s commercial bank accounts; eliminate “ghost workers” from the payroll by introducing digital ID for the civil service; concentrate resources on infrastructure, transport and public services; and ensure that LGAs receive their correct share of funding.

The report is definitely worth a look. You can find it here.

sectarian violence in nigeria getting out of hand

The BBC reports that at least 500 people were killed in a massacre carried out on Sunday morning by machete wielding men near the Nigerian city of Jos. This Day, a Nigerian daily, puts the number at 200. The attacks were in response to similar killings that took place in the same area in January.

This latest incident highlights the ineptitude of the Nigerian security forces. Most of the villagers were hacked to death with machetes. In an age of cell phones it is unbelievable that the Nigerian police could not have arrived soon enough to stop this madness. It must take quite some time to kill more than 500 people with machetes. The slow response of the Nigerian security forces is unpardonable. And in any case how can such a plot be planned and carried out in an already volatile area out without the knowledge of the Nigerian intelligence services?

So far 95 people have been arrested. This is not enough. Abuja should move ahead and identify the planners of this abhorrent act and serve them justice. Anything short of this and the international community should move in and try those involved for crimes against humanity. Over 350 people were killed back in January when this sort of madness descended on Jos. The January attack in Kuru was just as ghastly. Several bodies were dumped in wells. Abuja should stop the killings ASAP and then attend to the problems that force people to commit such heinous crimes in the first place.