Needs, poverty and democracy in nigeria – an assessment

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  • 1. NEEDS, Poverty and Democracy in Nigeria – An assessment1 by J. ‘ Kayode Fayemi, Ph.D, Centre for Democracy & Development,IntroductionNigeria is the most populous country in Africa. With an estimated population of 121million (48% of West Africa) and a GDP of US$41 billion, Nigeria controls asignificant portion of the human and natural resource endowments of the WestAfrican sub-region. Nigeria has the capacity and potential to be the region’s enginefor economic growth with these endowments and, the primary objective of thecountry’s recently launched 2003-2005 National Rolling Plan, according to thePresident’s Chief Economic Adviser, Dr Magnus Kpakol, was to make ‘Nigeria thehub of the West African economy and promote sub-regional and regional economicintegration in Africa.’2 Even so, Nigeria’s economy is highly distorted, with oilaccounting for over 40% of GDP, 75% of budget revenues and over 95% of exports.It is also a heavily mismanaged and highly inefficient economy3. Evidence ofNigeria’s basic socio-economic indicators bears testimony to this. From a povertyindex of 28.1% of the population living below poverty line in 1980 to over 70% ofNigerians below poverty line in 2002 (more than two-thirds of its population).41 Being Introductory Remarks prepared for the CDD’s National Poverty Forum, Abuja, October 2-3,2003. .2 The Guardian (Lagos), January 8, 2003 – www.guardiannewsngr.com/business/article013 See Report of the Auditor General of the Federation on Federal Government Expenditure 2001. Alsosee interview with World Bank’s Country Director, Dr Mark Tomlinson in Tell Magazine (Lagos), 17January 2003.4 Current official poverty statistics should be treated very warily because of their deficiencies andunreliability. The Federal Office of Statistics (FOS), which is primarily responsible for trends data ischronically underfunded, hence figures are not regularly updated. The most commonly cited data onpoverty from FOS is six years old and many believe that the poverty situation has grown significantlyworse. Equally, sectoral ministries that have Planning and Research Department hardly produce anyresearch and data for their policy units and the National Planning Commission with its mandate toproduce economic statistics only do so largely at the instance of donors. This leaves the Central Bankof Nigeria with the most up to date statistics, but this is also restricted to the formal economy. Thisleaves policy makers with a huge dependence on external data and depicts the fundamentaldisconnection between research and policy. 1
  • 2. While the above socio-economic indicators provide a sense of the deep, widespreadand multi-faceted nature of poverty in Nigeria, it is important to understand thecontext within which this deterioration occurred. In our view, poverty is at its rootbred by unequal power relations, the structural and systematic allocation of resourcesamong different groups in society and their differential access to power and thepolitical process. The distorted distribution of the nation’s wealth has resulted in theenrichment of a minority at the expense of an impoverished majority. There is nodoubt that the chronic nature of poverty in Nigeria has a link to historical andcontinuing mismanagement of resources, persistent and institutional uncertaintyprimarily occasioned by military rule, weak rule of law, decrepit and/or absentinfrastructure, weak institutions of state and monumental corruption. Although thereare external factors like the huge debt burden the country is experiencing, structuraladjustment programme of the 1980s and the negative impact of globalisation, that areequally culpable, but central to the depth of poverty has been poor governance.It is precisely because of the role proper governance (or lack of it) plays in the povertytrap in Nigeria that many believe that deepening democracy and opening up the spacefor the involvement of all stakeholders also holds the key to systematically addressingthe problem of poverty. After fifteen years of military and authoritarian rule therefore,great expectations accompanied the resumption of civilian rule in Nigeria in May1999. For a country that had suffered severe deterioration in her economy andpolitics, the assumption that civilian rule would herald a dawn of peace and adeepening of democratic values and norms in society, was understandable. However,almost four years into the tenure of the civilian, democratic dispensation, it seemsclear that this assumption did not take into account the deep-seated divisions inherentin Nigeria’s body politic, which were not solely the products of military rule, even ifthe military had exacerbated them.Our attempt in this paper is therefore to examine how far these expectations have beenmet by assessing the impact of democracy on Nigeria’s poverty situation, looking atthe quantitative and qualitative trends in poverty and inequality over the last 20 years.The paper also examines other factors slowing down the pace of democraticconsolidation, looking at the nature and character of the Nigerian state, questions ofstructure, ethnicity, religion and regionalism as well as the legacy of Nigeria’s 2
  • 3. authoritarian past in the quest for deepening democratic development. Finally, thepaper examines the policy implications of this transitional phase and proffer policyoptions for pro-poor growth and development in the country.Trends in Poverty and Inequality in NigeriaAlthough there is no agreed definition of what constitutes poverty in Nigeria,perception is one of a condition that is widespread, complex and multi-dimensional.The narrow conceptualisation of poverty which is widely shared in official and non-governmental circles, privileges the economic, especially the income or ‘conjunctural’dimension of poverty over the structural dimension in Nigeria. The Nigerian NationalPolicy on Poverty Eradication regard poverty as a condition of: not having enough toeat, poor drinking water, poor nutrition, unfit housing, a high rate of infant mortality,low life expectancy, low educational opportunities, inadequate health care, lack ofproductive assets, lack of economic infrastructure, inability to actively participate indecision making, all of which ‘lead to desperation and helplessness and in turnproduce violence, high rate of robbery, theft, thuggery and other deviant humanbehaviour.’5The Voices of the Poor investigations conducted by the World Bank for the WorldDevelopment Report 2000/1 demonstrate clearly that the poor have more nuancedperspectives on poverty. The poor, more than any interlocutor, understand theuncertainty, insecurity, marginalisation and powerlessness that come with poverty insociety. Across the country, the priority areas for the poor also relate to how best toreduce the shocks that might upset their security: Lack of potable water; inadequateaccess to education; inadequate access to health, lack of rural feeder roads;unavailability of markets for locally made goods; lack of processing facilities and lackof agricultural inputs remain on the list of top priority for eradicating poverty. TheInterim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper draft (I-PRSP) treats poverty as ‘lack ofaccess to basic needs, combined with impaired access to productive resources.’6 Thebasic needs captured in the IPRSP are essentially the same as outlined by the Voicesof the Poor investigations.5 National Policy on Poverty Eradication, 2000, p.3.6 I-PRSP, 2001, p.8. 3
  • 4. In terms of its trends, commonly cited figures in Nigeria indicate that the incidence ofpoverty has been on the increase since the civilian government came into office in1999. According to the Human Development Report 2002, no fewer than seventypercent of the Nigerian population now live below the poverty line. In a recent pressstatement, the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, Professor Mbaya Kakwendastated that the country’s poverty situation has deteriorated since the inception of thisadministration in 1999.7 In the last two decades, the incidence of poverty hasincreased from 28.1.per cent in 1980 to 46.3 per cent in 1985, and 65.6 percent in1996. In absolute terms, the population in poverty were 18.26 million in 1980, 34.7million in 1985 and 67.1 million in 1996.8 (see Table 1) Recent statistics also indicatethat by 1997, 70.2 percent of the Nigerian population were adjudged poor, on lessthan $1 a day, and 90.8 percent were living below $2 a day.9Table 1 – Poverty Profile in Nigeria (Head Count) 1980 - 1996Year Poverty Incidence (%) Estimated Population Population in (million) Poverty (million)1980 28.1 65 18.261985 46.3 75 34.71992 42.7 91.5 39.11996 65.6 102.3 67.1Source: Federal Office of Statistics (FOS). “Poverty Profile in Nigeria, 1980-1996”The same official study by the Federal Office of Statistics further ranks the poor intoqualitative categories of non-poor, moderately poor and core poor between 1980 and1996, and concludes that the proportion of the core poor has increased from 6.2 percent in 1980 to 12.1 per cent in 1985, 13.9 per cent in 1992 and further to 29.3 per7 The Guardian (Lagos), December 15, 20028 I-PRSP, 2001.9 World Development Indicators, 2002. 4
  • 5. cent in 1996. During the same period, Nigeria’s Human Development Index rankingdeteriorated from 142nd out of 174 countries in 1998 to 148th out of 173 countries by2002.Again, examined by sector, official statistics reveal that the majority of Nigeria’s poorare located in the rural area. Yet, the percentage of the urban poor has also grownexponentially since the 1980s. For example, the urban poor population was 17.2 percent in 1980 and 58.2 per cent by 1996. Indeed, the World Bank painted a more gorypicture when it stated in 1996 that the number of the urban poor in Nigeria rose from9.7 million in 1985 (31% of an estimated urban population of 31 million), to 11.9million in 1992 (33% of an estimated urban population of 36 million). The seriousimplication of this is telling on the crime rate, corruption and a dramatic change inrural-urban lifestyle – resulting in child marriages, child labour, multiple modes ofsurvival, all of which has resulted in a rising drop-out rate in schools and a higherincidence of illiteracy.Yet, even this does not tell the whole story, in particular about the regional and genderdisparities that attend the poverty trends in Nigeria. Also, citing official figures, arecent publication by the Central Bank of Nigeria (1999) classifies the increasingincidence of poverty across geo-political zones in the following manner:Table 2 – Incidence of Poverty by Geo-political ZonesGeo-political Zone % % % 1985/6 1992/3 1997North East 53.2 N/A 68.0North West 48.4 N/A 62.0Middle Belt 48.4 N/A 53.0South East 30.9 N/A 79.5South West 42.0 N/A 74.1South South 38.0 N/A 78.6Nation-wide 43.0 N/A 69.2Source: Central Bank of Nigeria (1999) 5
  • 6. What the above indicates is that the condition of the poor in Nigeria is highlydifferentiated, rather than homogenous and the responses. There are markeddifferences in the depth and incidence of poverty along regional lines. The responseanalyses of the poor is also more differentiated and nuanced on geo-political andsectoral lines when disaggregated. For example, when the Federal Office ofStatistics(1997) examined the regional distribution of poverty along sectoral lines(using the rankings – extreme poor, moderate poor, non-poor), the results show thatan approximate 39 per cent of the extreme poor (rural and urban indices) are mostlyconcentrated in the North. While the North East has the highest percentage ofextreme poor: 22.39%, closely followed by the South West: 19.2%, north west:16.6%, north central: 16.1%, South-South: 12.4% and South East: -10.9%. Thestatitiscs also show that on a state by state basis, the national poverty index averagestood at 65.6 per cent with Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara (all States in the North Westzone) recording the highest incidence of 83.6per cent followed by Bauchi and GombeStates in the North East Zone with 83.5 per cent.Niger-Delta Region – The Paradox of PlentyThe Niger Delta, Nigeria’s oil belt, was easily one of the most repressed and deprivedregion of Nigeria over the long period of military rule. Statistics on social conditionsin the Niger Delta are dire. Only 27% of households had access to safe drinking waterin 1994, while 30% of households had access to electricity. On both indicators, theNiger Delta fell below the national average, which stood at about 32% and 34%respectively. In 1991, the number of population per doctor in the Niger Delta wasestimated at 132,600, nearly 100,000 over the national average of 39,455.(UNDP &World Bank, 1997). The situation most probably has worsened since then. Yet, theNiger Delta provides about 80% of all government revenue in Nigeria. On thepolitical front, during the period of military rule the Niger Delta bore the brunt ofmilitary repression. Extra judicial killings, torture and incarceration were widespread.In the Ogoni area alone, it was estimated that between May 1994 and the beginning of1995 at least fifty Ogonis were executed summarily by security forces.Sources: UNDP, Human Development Report: Nigeria, 1996; Human Rights Watch. 6
  • 7. Gender and PovertyThe heterogeneity of poverty condition however goes beyond geopolitical zones. Italso has a gender dimension to it. As every study of the poverty incidence in Nigeriaclearly demonstrates, women and men experience poverty differently. Indeed,vulnerability analysis demonstrates conclusively that women, girls and people withspecial (dis) abilities are worst hit. The primary reason for this huge disparity is thepower relations between men and women and the limited effort in broader decision-making beyond the household. Increasingly, women are gaining decision-makingpowers in the household due to their rising income, but this has hardly translated intoa significant power base in the community. Social indicators of status in thecommunity still demonstrate than more boys than girls are enrolled in schools(although some studies show that more girls than boys are enrolled in the South East),the overall educational level of males as compared to females are much higher. In1996, the literacy rate for males was 62 per cent and 39 per cent for females; thecorresponding figures for 1997 were 61% and 47% respectively and 61% and 46%respectively for 1998. Equally, the average net primary school enrolment in 1996 was55 per cent for boys and 45 percent for girls, with 57% for boys and 44 per cent forgirls in 1997. Despite the introduction of Universal Basic Education, in 1999, thesituation has not changed fundamentally. Women are mostly plagued by poverty,ignorance, illiteracy, high fertility, high maternal mortality and a lack of socialrecognition. Economically, women are generally poor, underemployed and unfairlyrewarded. Politically, there are insufficient women in public life and positions ofpower to advocate for the voices of poor women to be heard.10 Health wise, they aremore at risk to maternal mortality and infection of HIV/Aids, all related to theirpowerlessness in making informed choices in a social context in which they are lessregarded.10 In spite of Nigeria’s commitment to the Beijing Platform’s 30 % minimum presence of women inpublic life and the President’s professed gender sensitivity, Nigeria has only four women Ministers outof 49 ministers, three women in the Upper Chamber of the Legislature out of 109 members, ten womenin the lower chamber of 360 members, generally poor representation in the State Assemblies and LocalAuthorities - all due to entrenched discriminatory practices. Yet, in the average household, women’srole in decision-making has increased as they become significant players in the ‘bread winning’ taskson the home front, in the wake of structural adjustment programmes and the inevitable demand formultiple modes of livelihoods. The incongruity between the public and private spaces occupied bywomen is but one further demonstration of the unequal power relations, with deleterious effect on thepoverty complex in the country. 7
  • 8. Problems of regional disparitiesIt is fair to ask why the incidence and depth of poverty in Nigeria is as bad as it is, inspite of the country’s human and natural resource endowments and the plethora ofschemes aimed at addressing poverty. While Nigeria has become the laboratory fornumerous policy interventions, many of these schemes are hardly thought through bygovernment officials and development professionals. In the first place, most of theinitiatives were imposed without collective ownership by the poor (due to lack ofconsultation) and second, because they were primarily reactive to particular problems,not designed as a holistic framework for community regeneration. In addition, theinstitutions created were temporary palliatives all of which succumbed to unduepolitical interference without any serious consideration for human development.To illustrate the above assertions with the Niger-Delta for example which hasexperienced more of these institutions than other parts of the country, the 1958 NigerDelta Development Board and the post-independence Niger Delta DevelopmentAuthority were reactive attempts to allay minority fears strongly captured in theWillinks’ Commission report of 1957. OMPADEC (Oil Minorities Producing andDevelopment Commission) was largely, albeit not exclusively a reaction to the crisisin Ogoniland and the growing inequality in the Delta, but it only succeeded inwidening the gap because it was not accountable in any way to the people. Therecently approved Niger Delta Development Commission, under the Obasanjoadministration is itself a reaction to the variegated minority fears in the whole of theDelta which is seen to threaten the corporate integrity of the nation, not acomprehensive policy framework for addressing the poverty trap in the Delta.The same is true of the various poverty alleviation and ‘development’ interventionschemes at the national level. Department of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructures(DFRRI,) National Department of Employment (NDE), Peoples’ Bank of Nigeria(PBN), Federal Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) and Petroleum TrustFund (PTF) - all of which were recently merged into the National AgriculturalDevelopment Bank by the Obasanjo administration represented stop-gap limitedreactions by the Generals Babangida and Abacha regimes to the growing cries of 8
  • 9. Nigerians about the need to humanise the Structural Adjustment programmes that haddestroyed the fabric of the society. They were all conceived in a non-participatorymanner with little or no consultation with the target beneficiaries, completely lackingin accountability and transparency to the communities, and consequently butinevitably lacking in any legitimacy with the people.The above explains the lack of importance attached to policy planning in the varioushalf hearted attempts to address the poverty situation over the years, and underscorethe necessity for effective participatory assessments and planning before any policy isconceived for and implemented by the State.There are however other reasons for these distortions beyond the lack of anoverarching comprehensive framework. Chief among these are poor governance andcorruption, ineffective targeting of the poor; institutional rivalries and overlappingfunctions leading to uncoordinated sectoral policy initiatives (more on this later),absence of sustainability mechanisms over the long term, lack of complementarityfrom the beneficiaries and lack of involvement by the civil society, poor humancapital development and low productivity, heavy donor influence and unwieldy scopeof poverty programmes often resulting in concentration on low yielding schemes. Allof these factors continue to plague even poverty reduction and eradication policieseven in this dispensation.Post-military institutional mechanisms for poverty reduction and eradicationWhile the rhetoric is one of using the ‘new’ democratic space to address poverty,there is very little evidence to suggest that there has been any change in the politics,structure and operational processes of responding to the serious poverty situation inthe country. Indeed, the flagship policy on poverty alleviation by the newadministration has not been devoid of political interference, as it did not derive from,nor was informed by knowledge from consultations with the poor.On his assumption of office in 1999, President Obasanjo inaugurated the PovertyAlleviation Programme (PAP), with a promise to distribute ten billion Naira ($80.37 9
  • 10. million) from the national budget, to initiatives on job creation and material benefitsto the communities. What PAP turned out to be was a way of keeping politicalhangers-on and ‘area boys’ quiet through a regular stipend that asked no questions onrecipients’ long term goals for job creation or skills development. Before long, PAPbecame mired in the controversy that it was a facade for settling political debts, not aneffort to reduce poverty through regenerative initiatives. By mid-2000, PAP hadbecome a recipe for how not to formulate a policy that purports to be in the interest ofthe people and the President scrapped it in response to the widespread criticism thatattended its ineffectiveness.Around the time of PAP’s scrapping, an earlier decision to examine the activities ofthe various poverty reduction institutions in the country with a view to ensuringpolicy coordination and coherence had resulted in the recommendation in December1999 that the existing 36 institutions be streamlined to 18, through yet another processof mergers. Through a variety of government committees11, a blueprint for theharmonisation of poverty policies emerged in January 2001, leading to theestablishment of an institutional structure, the National Poverty Eradication Council(NAPEC). Chaired by the President and drawing membership from fourteenministries with direct mandate on poverty eradication, NAPEC is the ‘apex body forpolicy formulation, coordination, monitoring and review of all poverty eradicationefforts and activities in the country’. (Federal Government Statement) The NationalPoverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) serves as the secretariat for NAPEC withthe primary aim of monitoring and coordinating the implementation of theprogrammes of the core poverty eradication ministries.In addition to the central coordinating body – NAPEP – other institutionalmechanisms directly linked to NAPEP under the auspices of NAPEC include theNational Assessment and Evaluation Committee (NAEC), the National CoordinatingCommittee (NCC), State Coordinating Committees (SCC), Local GovernmentMonitoring Committees (LGMC). At the state level, there is also the State PovertyEradication Council, chaired by the State’s Executive Governors, modelled after theNational Council.11 The Ahmed Joda Panel (1999), the Ango Abdulahi Panel (2000) and the Babalola Borisade Panel(2000). 10
  • 11. NAPEP’s activities are built around four schemes, namely: the Youth EmpowermentScheme (YES); Rural Infrastructure and Development Scheme (RIDS), SocialInfrastructure Services Scheme (SOWESS) and the Natural Resources Developmentand Conservation Scheme (NRDCS).12While the above institutional arrangements appear de-personalised and technical, theyhave turned out to have been driven mainly by entrenched personal and party politicsand not by the objective conditions of the poor. As noted by a discerning observer,even the evolution of the three Committees that shaped the eventual structure ofNAPEP was dominated by powerful individuals intent on safeguarding entrenchedinstitutional interests. The most cited amongst these actors, is the current head ofNAPEP, who was a key figure in the poverty policy circles under the military asDirector of FEAP, subsequently served on the three committees, and eventuallyemerged as the Permanent Secretary at the Presidency in charge of NAPEP. It hasbeen suggested that the reason for the similarities and perhaps return to the traditionalapproach to poverty reduction by the Federal Government is not unconnected with theoverwhelming influence of this particular bureaucrat. While it could be argued thatcontinuity is critical to the desired change, it is also true that the battles in NAPEPover the past three years has been about control and access to resources, and not aboutbenefiting from institutional continuities.The politics of NAPEP is however not limited to the competition over administrativecontrol, but also relate more to the institutional arrangements between the Federal andstate authorities. While the idea of the State Poverty Eradication Council appearslaudable, in terms of connecting the local to the national and avoiding duplication ofthe poverty processes and policies, several state governors, especially those fromopposition parties have accused the Federal Government of using NAPEP as apolitical patronage and some, like the Alliance for Democracy Governors in Lagosand Ekiti states, have vowed not to establish Poverty Eradication Councils in theirStates unless the institutional relationships are clarified.12 Advertisement by NAPEP Secretariat, The Vanguard Newspaper, November 22, 2002. 11
  • 12. To complicate matters, the intra-governmental relationships and control over thedomestic stream of poverty eradication, as represented by NAPEP and theinternationally assisted and donor driven PRSP also represents a regular source ofneuralgia. The National Planning Commission (NPC) launched the process ofdrafting the PRSP. In no time, the NPC, the Economic Policy Coordinating Council(EPCC) and NAPEP engaged in a turf battle over who takes responsibility for thedrafting of the interim PRSP. Eventually, the institutional location for PRSP nowformally moved to the EPCC secretariat, it is evident that NPC and NAPEP haveremained very lukewarm about EPCC’s direction of the PRSP process and theserelationships between differently positioned actors have also triggered different policyresponses to poverty reduction and eradication, evidently lacking in coordination andcoherence, and often undermining the primary objective of poverty eradication.Almost four years into the current administration’s term of office, it is clear that thegovernment is still bedevilled with trying to find the most appropriate institutionalapproach on poverty reduction and what we have is an expanded replication of thetraditional spaces of poverty policy making, full of appropriate rhetoric but signifyingmore motion than movement.The above, in our view, returns our search to the patterns, texture and quality ofpolitics that emerged with post-military transition, which in Nigeria’s case reflects areconfiguration and reassertion of pre-existing (even if temporarily submerged)structures of national and local power bases, rather than a fundamental transformationof the political processes. It also involved, in other cases, the activation of alienatednew strata – especially amongst the youths, reflecting the dangerous ideologicaltransformations wrought by the combined forces of authoritarianism, economicdecline and social marginalisation in Nigeria. The impression we get now is theGovernment is poised to get policies and processes right in this new era, although notmuch is still known in the wider society how it intends to do this.What future for Poverty Reduction and Eradication in NigeriaWhile is still very early to pronounce judgement on the Government’s ‘NewEconomic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), since it is apparently 12
  • 13. still at a conceptual stage, one hopes that the Government has learned certain lessonsin the last four years. Critical to these lessons is an understanding that povertyreduction is deeply structural and political, arising out of unequal distribution ofscarce resources. Without addressing the structure of governance on the basis ofcontestation and dialogue, it is difficult to utilise democratic deepening as a vehiclefor achieving poverty reduction. But if the structural dimension of the crisis ofgovernance is successfully addressed, it is possible to begin the journey towardsdevelopmental democracy or ‘democracy in stages or parts.’ Having made thisgeneral point, certain specific conclusions can be drawn on the basis of the trajectoriesand challenges of the last four years of civilian democratic dispensation:1. Nigeria is still experiencing serious shocks in her political economy in thecountry’s attempt to deal with its post-military, prolonged authoritarian past. Whileelectoral politics is key to the consolidation of the democratic process, there are fearsthat severe security problems triggered by lack of access to resources might createdeteriorating security challenges. Commentators cite the various ‘resource control’crises in Nigeria as the touchstone of this issue. Nevertheless, the present governmentappears to have a strong appreciation of the place of security and economicrevitalisation in the country’s growth and developmental process. It also displays anunderstanding of the holistic approach that is required to deal with the multifacetednature of the security challenges it faces, although its responses are often toopersonality-driven, rather than institutionally focused, placing democratic governanceat the mercy of the leading players in politics and not on the collective wisdom of thepeople. Although the Grand Strategy for National Security released by theGovernment in 2001 incorporates this holistic vision of security in a human securityframework, there is very little to suggest that the reality matches the rhetoric sincesecurity sector reform and poverty reduction strategies are still largely focussed on‘hard’ issues.2. Government policies to redress poverty and other socio-economic concernshave been characterised by institutional gridlocks and cosmetic projects, with little orno impact on the poverty situation. It is unlikely that the full PRSP would see the lightof day and even the ‘home grown’ National Poverty Eradication Programme is still 13
  • 14. driven largely by politics, rather than drawing on lessons from past policies.Although some aspects of the Government’s macro-economic strategies, especially itspublic expenditure review framework and its budget monitoring unit have receivedcommendation from critical constituencies, many are still worried about the feasibilityof timely implementation of laudable initiatives, given the severe capacity constraintsthat the Nigerian civil service continues to experience.3. Clearly, the internal threats that confront Nigeria are potentially dangerous.Many of them have to do with who lost power, who has gained power and who iswielding power. In dealing with them, Government has to adopt an institutionalapproach that does not paint its actions as patently partisan. There is no doubt thatthere were serious concerns within powerful constituencies about the investigationsinto past abandoned contracts, human rights violations as well as with therestructuring within the security sector and the anti-corruption investigations.Although these are steps that have proved popular with the people, care has to betaken to ensure that actions do not undermine the human rights and fundamentalfreedom of citizens, including accused persons. The danger of a heavy handedapproach to internal security is that the Government risks destroying the very values itis trying to protect. Yet, there is always the risk of doing little, especially for aGovernment often perceived as failing to provide even the minimum securityrequirements demanded by citizens.4. Governance is at the core of all the concerns raised above. The success ofNigeria’s democratisation and decentralisation programmes, and policies to improvegovernance and civil-military relations are as important to the overall performance ofthe Government as are the socio-economic performance criteria. Issues of governanceloom large in all discussions of Nigeria’s future, and it ought to take a more seriousform of constant dialogue and consensus building, legislative advocacy and action,independent awareness-raising through institutions such as the National HumanRights Commission and the National Orientation Agency etc. All indications pointtowards a commitment to good governance even if a coherent strategy is still lackingand given Nigeria’s role as the Chair of the NEPAD’s Implementation Committee, 14
  • 15. the country has a critical role to play in the implementation of the Peer ReviewMechanism. One hopes that with the renewed interest in policy and programmesmonitoring at the highest level of government, we will begin to notice the differencein regular impact assessment arising out of constant monitoring and evaluation ofgovernment initiatives.5. Related to the effectiveness of a governance strategy is the question ofcapacity. High priority should be placed on redressing the policy expertise andhuman resource imbalance that is critically hampering the performance ofgovernment. Although there are competent, middle level technical advisers ingovernment, they are sometimes too overwhelmed with administrative drudgery andthus unable to concentrate on crucial thinking on policy review and formulation.6. All of the above underscore the important point that this is a process and thatthere is no teleological link between elections and consolidation of democracy. Yet,deepening democracy is a core requirement for building an accountable andtransparent State that is answerable to its citizens and guarantee their security anddevelopment.From the foregoing analysis and conclusions, it seems clear that the future ofdemocratic consolidation depends on both reforming the institutional andconstitutional basis of governance as well as on the performance of the civilianadministration in the quest for 1) Poverty reduction and provision of basic necessities;2) Fight against corruption and entrenchment of transparency; 3) macro-economicstability; 4) provision of basic infrastructure – telecommunication, energy, sanitationand water; 5) security sector reform, access to justice and reform of the criminaljustice system; 6) Gender equality and 7) ethnic and religious harmony.Policy RecommendationsNigeria is now at a critical juncture in her history. Although we seem to have nowovercome the jinx of failed second elections since independence, there are seriousfears about violence truncating the country’s fragile democracy in the wake of 15
  • 16. increasing poverty. While there is a sense in which this is exaggerated, the test of theviability of Nigeria’s democracy and the prospects for its consolidation will dependon the establishment of a social contract between the rulers and the governed, as amechanism for arresting the desertion of the State by its citizens. Consequently, webelieve that the focus in terms of policy recommendations must concentrate on factorsthat can help sustain democratic governance over the long term. We have attemptedto outline the most critical of these factors and also provide in the Appendix belowindicators for monitoring these factors and government’s adherence to theirimplementation. The factors include:a) Entrenchment of the Rule of Law and a Culture of Constitutionalism: In spite of the overwhelming focus that the Nigerian citizens paid to the question of constitutional reform in the past four years both in terms of redefining the nature and character of the Nigerian state and in ensuring basic fundamental freedoms for the citizens, government and parliament have failed to address this issue seriously. It is evident that a lot more attention will be demanded by campaigners for citizens’ rights and constitutional reform, from the demand for a sovereign national conference to the minimum demand for a comprehensive constitutional review process. Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye, especially given the link between decentralisation and poverty eradication. Instead, government’s local government reform agenda has been seen as a further attempt to over- centralise authority.b) Enhancing Political Representation and Citizens’ involvement in Politics: With the registration of thirty political parties, it could be argued that this is being addressed. Yet, if we believe that freedom of association represents the basic mode of deepening democratic development and an inclusive political process is important for this, then the idea of government sponsorship or registration of political parties is still a misnomer. The modalities for party formation is unfortunately still driven largely by money and one of the critical issues that will need to be addressed now that elections are over is the question of political party financing and its impact on entrenching genuine democratic dispensation. 16
  • 17. c) Personal Security & Access to Justice: From our analysis, it is clear that this is an area that Government, in spite of its best efforts, has failed to satisfy the yearnings of the people. The extent to which it is able to enhance personal security and access to justice, seen by most assessments as the key barometer of judging government’s performance, the more credible and legitimate the government will be in the eyes of the people. The challenge is to address this within the context of national restructuring – strengthening the processes of devolution and decentralisation and defining the powers and responsibilities of security institutions at the local, state and federal levels in inter-governmental relations.d) National Security & Conflict Prevention: This is closely linked to the issue of personal security and access to justice, albeit broader. Given the scope, scale and intensity of communal, religious and resource driven conflicts in the last four and a half years, addressing the governance of the security sector and democratic control of the military remains a critical issue for poverty eradication. Although government achieved a level of success in its military reform agenda, formal disengagement of the military has not resulted in demilitarisation of society, nor reduced the level of societal violence, traceable to the legacy of militarism. Ownership of the security sector reform processes promises to ensure the deepening of democracy as a means of preventing conflict.e) Open and Accountable Government: The need for government structures and processes that are transparent, decentralised and participatory can hardly be overemphasised. This is improving and the impact of certain structures within government is beginning to show, but policy incoherence remains Government has traditionally been alien to the people, especially during military rule and it is critical to ensure that the principles of participation, accessibility, ownership and openness help ensure the legitimacy of the institutions.f) Effective and equitable provision of basic services: Nigerians generally refer to this as the democratic dividend expected of civilian rule. It is clear from the section on poverty above that majority of the Nigerian people are still lacking in basic services – water, sanitation, electricity, feeder roads for transportation of farming produce, education and jobs. For those lacking in these basic essentials, 17
  • 18. they see a direct correlation between supporting democratic development and expecting fulfilment of these needs. The fact that most estimates of the poverty situation suggest that it is worsening in Nigeria underscores why a focus on this will go a long way in restoring the diminishing faith in the democratisation project and raising hopes about government’s ability to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Targets.g) Facilitative Government for Economic Management and Private Sector Development: Fundamental to the notion of governance is the ability of the state to provide efficient and well functioning institutions and infrastructures of government – legally backed and socially coherent – that together establishes and maintains an enabling environment in which human security and human development takes place. Although state capacity has improved significantly under this administration, the shortage of skilled expertise, trained managers and civil servants capable of operating within government machineries needs to be speedily addressed. In the short term, this is being addressed by the employment of consultants. Government needs to address the incentives base for civil servants to a level commensurate to what obtains in the private sector. It equally needs to set up a rapid response, in-country educational and training facility for middle level, career civil servants, a feature that is currently lacking. In short, there is a need for a major public sector reform initiative, aimed at enhancing capacity and effectiveness of the sector.h) Enhanced Global Partnership for Democratic Governance: Even if Nigeria were to achieve effectiveness in all of the areas outlined above, the challenge of operating in the global and regional environments also impinges on the performance of government, especially one that is heavily dependent on a single product for its survival. Hence, the ability of the Nigerian State to develop sustained partnerships on an equitable basis for the benefit of its citizens will have implications on issues such as debt relief, foreign direct investment, regional economic integration and world trade negotiations. Nigeria is in an unstable region that poses a number of direct and indirect threats to her security and stability. She is also often seen as a peace builder in the region given her consistent prominent role in peacekeeping and conflict prevention. It is therefore 18
  • 19. in her interest to ensure that the region attains stability over the long term. This provides an explanation for her involvement in regional and global issues, but it is not an engagement that has produced expected dividends. The challenge is therefore to ensure that Nigeria’s ability to be a force for change in West Africa, nay Africa, is further enhanced and not undermined by lack of support from the international community.We don’t know if NEEDS is in a position to address all these factors, since we in civilsociety know very little about NEEDS beyond the few sketchy remarks innewspapers. It would have been proper for government to engage critical stakeholdersin the thinking, planning and implementation of NEEDS. If it is to have any chanceof success, the people should be engaged very early in the development of NEEDS,not when it has become a finished product. It should promote partnership first andforemost between the rulers and our people, even before it promotes ‘enhancedpartnership’ with the donor community. For NEEDS, charity really must begin athome. I Thank you. 19