Nigeria: Social sector financing and dwindling donors’ resources

By Abubakar Jimoh

The rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP has projected the nation as a middle income economy resulting in consequent dwindling donors’ resources with the effect that by 2022 the country will witness reduction in availability of grants and more external funds that can be accessed through higher interest loans.

Efforts at providing an enabling platform for inter legislative Committees dialogue to interact in proffering holistic solutions to the current trend and challenges confronting adequate and sustainable social sector financing coupled with the need to harness and strengthen domestic resources for social sector financing in the face of dwindling funding led to a one-day retreat for National Assembly Members organised by House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation in conjunction with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) recently in Abuja.

Giving his opening address, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) noted that the Retreat was primarily triggered by the current but unpleasant trend arising from pervasive dwindling donors’ resources, which without pretence leaves Nigeria as one of the major beneficiaries with a challenge and no option than to proactively brainstorm, provoke critical discussions and harness potential for domestic resource mobilisation for sustainable social sector financing to inform appropriate legislative decisions and policy directions in Nigeria.

As adequate and sustainable financing for social sector remains paramount to achieve healthy, secured and developed society, the Executive Director recounted the Nigeria’s ailing health, agriculture and education sectors that have hitherto suffered from inadequate financing, warning that though “donor resources play an integral role in complementing Nigerian governments’ efforts in social sector financing, however, we must as well not lose sight to acknowledge the present reality and proffer holistic measures to avert the detrimental impacts dwindling donors’ resources may pose to our nation’s social sector investment and development”.

He noted: “While the fundamental purpose of humanitarian aid by any government is to support the efforts of a receiving nation at revitalising her social sector as well as uplifting the poor from extreme poverty, which renders them incapacitated to attain self-reliance and effectively fight diseases, the present dwindling donors’ resources, if not instantly matched with concrete legislative and policy measures will without doubt revert existing achievements and backpedal development of our nation’s social sector.

The CISLAC’s boss provided an exclusive narration of the current development in donors’ resources to Nigeria, when he reveals: “It is no more news that the rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP has firmed up the nation’s position as an emerging market economy. However, in the wake of GDP re-basing, Nigeria is fast witnessing down-slopping trend in donors’ resources, practically buttressed by the recent international decisions to withdraw funding for social sector like the European Union (EU) which specifically withdraws financial support for Nigeria, saying the country has enough resources to meet her developmental needs; Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) which runs out by 2020 with potentially 7.5million children losing access to live-saving vaccines annually; United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warning governments to take full responsibility of their respective nutrition financing while their refusal may lead to another 2.5 million severely acute malnourished children and grossly intensify child mortality in the country.”

He did not conceal the similar and most recent development from proposed international aid cut by the United States, stating that if such executed without proactive national measures, will constitute additional challenge to the development of Nigeria’s social sector financing.

The Chairman House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Mustapha Bala Dawaki in his goodwill message urged concerted efforts by relevant stakeholders towards local production of immunisation vaccine to reduce high financial burden associating with vaccine procurement which constitutes the a major component of donors’ support in Nigeria, calling for a strengthen collaboration between executive and legislature arms to support and fast-track the process.

He said the continued mono-economic practice and lack of innovation in domestic resource mobilisation with particular focus on oil revenue had discouraged the nation’s capacity and efforts at diversifying and effectively harnessing domestic resources for financing social sector.

Also, lamenting delay and inadequate release of appropriated funds which remain systemic challenges to resource mobilisation, allocation and utilisation for the social sector development in the country, the Chairman House Committee on Finance, Hon. Babangida Ibrahim urged increased domestic financial priority for key sectors of the economy to mitigate wastage and shortfall in resource mobilisation and allocation for adequate and sustainable social sector financing.

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze added that while the rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP has projected the country as a middle income economy with propensity for incessant dwindling donors’ resources, by 2022 there will be decreased availability of grants with more external funds that can be accessed through higher interest loans.

He revealed that a Technical Committee has been constituted by the Budget and Planning Office will critically observe, analyse, and address the impacts of Nigeria’s transition from lower to middle income status.

“After the rebasing, Nigeria was rated a Middle Income country, meaning that Nigeria should be able to take care of its own. By the year 2022, Nigeria will bear the full cost of vaccines formerly funded by GAVI. Most donors’ resources are already on their way out. Therefore we must take cognizance of this fact,” the Director-General explained.

Mr. Vishal Gujadhur, Lead Presenter also Senior Program Officer, Development Policy and Finance in USA noted that though in 2010, while Nigeria’s GDP almost doubled with per capita income much higher than originally thought, it as well showed untapped revenues from non-oil sectors and weakness in the nation’s revenue mobilisation.

He said: “As countries grow wealthier, donors begin assessing whether a country can pay its own way. With a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $2,450, Nigeria is now squarely a lower middle income country (LMIC). It continues to receive significant concessional funding – for example from the World Bank, Gavi, and bilateral donors like DFID.

“When a country is above the ‘threshold’, it will be ‘graduated’ from assistance. In 2016 Nigeria fully exited the ADF which is the concessional window of the AfDB – a marker of things to come.”

The Senior Program Officer observed that based on Official Development Assistance (ODA), between 2011 and 2015, Nigeria received an average of $2.9 billion in aid flows. To size this figure, he recalled that ODA inflows in 2015 at $3.2bn were more than total government expenditure on education.

“Nigeria graduated from ADF in 2015, entered the accelerated transition phase of Gavi in 2017 and is projected to stop receiving Gavi and International Development Association (IDA) funding by 2022. More than 80% of these flows come from a few institutions – IDA, Global Fund, USAID, DfID, and Gavi. This means the graduation policies of a few institutions will have a significant impact on Nigeria’s aid flows.

Nigeria’s top 3 bilateral donors – USA, France and the UK – make up more than 80% of total bilateral aid in-flows. Recent political trends in these countries, and more nationalist leaning policies will impact aid flows. The US is already due to scale back its aid according to the 2018 budget proposed by President Trump. DfID current five year plan (through 2020) has this current plan as the last “full” one for Nigeria,” Gujadhur added.

He warned that since Nigeria has crossed the eligibility threshold for both IDA and GAVI which combined amounted to about $1.1bn, 34% total 2015 ODA flows, crossing the eligibility threshold would raise high expectation of Nigeria to graduate from these sources of funding soon. “Nigeria will lose the equivalent of 10% of 2016 FGN revenue.”

Gujadhur argued that though on an aggregate level Nigeria is not as dependent on aid, however, on sectoral level, Nigeria is more dependent on aid, given the significant concentration of aid flows across health, population policies, education and agriculture. “This means that the impact of transition will be felt more in these specific sectors if not so much at the aggregate level. Transition preparation would therefore require a more targeted approach.

An uncoordinated aid transition will impact Nigeria’s primary health care and the government would be unable to achieve the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)’s goal of revitalizing primary health care in Nigeria. Some sub-sectors, like vaccines and family planning, are at particular risk without proper planning,” he cautioned.

The ERGP in the analysis of Ministry of Budget and National Planning, articulates Nigeria’s vision for the country for the period 2017-2020, and lays the foundation for long-term growth, primarily to optimise local content and empower local businesses. The plan stipulates the role of government in facilitating, enabling and supporting the economic activities of businesses. It articulates the strategy for aligning fiscal, monetary and trade policies. The plan outlines relevant policy instruments to promote import substitution and export promotion.

Similarly in agriculture, Gujadhur observed that between 2012 and 2015 ODA inflows averaged 75% of FGN budget to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development and even surpassed Ag budget in 2014. He said an uncoordinated transition could impact the economy especially given that agriculture has been a strong driver of the economy as the only sector that grew in 2016 in spite of the recession.

Discussing the potential opportunities for domestic resources mobilisation, he stated that Nigeria’s revenue as % of GDP is lowest in world. “Numbers are even worse for 2016 – now below 6%”.

As part of the immediate measures, Gujadhur advised that apart from Fiscal Strategy Paper and fiscal space which must be connected to realistic short and medium terms targets, 2018 budget should be center of Nigeria’s development strategy with Economic Recovery and Growth Plan as basic to put medium term plan together.

On short term basis, he acknowledged the an inter-ministerial team set up by the Honourable Minister for Budget and National Planning to work on transition strategy, but according to him adequate support from the National Assembly and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies remains critical to the success of such process.

As medium term measures, Gujadhur recommended increased non-oil revenues “from very low base” with continual government’s efforts on the tax administration through appropriate legislative driven tax policy.

Prof. Ode Ojowu, a renowned economist also the lead discussant added that the GDP growth reduces ODA flows, and “may not necessarily buffer the shock to specific sectors of ODA intervention like Health and Population”.

He called for more efficient, transparent and accountable budgetary process to provide a cushion to the reduced flow of ODA. “We note that in assessing the impact of development assistance, we should not lose sight of the fact that a reasonable percentage of the funds returns to donor country by way of expatriate consultants and procurement of goods,” Prof. Ojowu noted.

The renowned economist recommended the need for ODA Policy in Nigeria to provide a portal where the activities, funds and location of donors could be accessed and practically collate for effective utilization as donors are guided by their respective country laws, rules, regulations and politics.

“In 2005, the National Planning Commission produced a draft ODA policy for Nigeria, but it did not sail through. The immediate objective of that policy was Nigeria still needs the ODA policy. In the interim, given the co-funding relationship, government can negotiate with development partners to focus their resources in a defined area of priority rather than spreading thinly across sectors,” he explained.

As part of the exit strategy, Prof. Ojowu recommended: domestication of ODA funded activities with significant reduction in major costs such as freight, insurance and other port handling charges; greater cooperation between the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Finance and the benefitting Ministries and Agencies to promote joint ownership of the intervention projects and minimize the sectoral impact of declines in ODA flows; an appropriate population policy; a framework for states to compete for federal government grants and donor support; proactive multi-tier budgeting for greater coordination, efficient budgeting and improved outcomes in place of the focus on federal budgetary allocations.

In order to increase revenues from incomes, he further suggested institutionalized revenue and expenditure tracking; strengthen institutions to fight corruption; adoption of international best practices in tax legislation and administration; comprehensive data to track compliance to Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme; established centralized database that harmonizes the extant databases, covering international passport, bank verification number (BVN), driver’s license, permanent voter’s card, mobile network sim registration, national identity card.

Examining Nigeria’s financing flows and efficiency for mobilizing domestic resources for sustainable social sector investment, a don at Department of Economics, University of Ibadan, Prof. Abiodun O. Folawewo, observed that total government generated revenue at all levels of government has been grossly inadequate to finance the administrative, socio-economic and developmental responsibilities.

He said: “At the federal level, externally driven revenues (oil-revenue) have dwarfed domestic domestically (non-oil) sourced. At state and local government levels internally generated revenues (IGR) usually fall below accruals from federal allocation accounts.”

He identified available sources of local funding for developmental projects and social sector investment to include: constitutional provisions in terms of taxes, levies and others rates; investment opportunities; and borrowings from local financial market.

The existing gaps in domestic resource mobilisation according to him include inefficiency in tax regime; weak capacity of revenue collection agencies; lack of innovation for resource mobilization; inadequate utilization of current tax law provision; and corruption and revenue leakages/losses.

The university don recommended as ways forward: training and re-training of revenue collection personnel at all government levels; continuation of the current restructuring of revenue and expenditure system of government; innovation in terms of exploring hitherto existing untapped aspect of constitutional provisions; removal of all administrative bottlenecks to the levying and collection of taxes, especially at state and local government levels; motivating and incentivising of citizenry for payment of taxes; mainstreaming of the large the informal sector; public-private partnership; and enactment of law on minimum budget benchmark for social sector funding.

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Good Governance and Peaceful Co-existence in Nigeria

By Abubakar Jimoh

With Nigeria’s rich ethno-religious and linguistic diversity, good governance remains essential to ensure minority rights, equality and peaceful coexistence for all citizens to survive and thrive.

While governance is referred to as a process by which decisions are made and implemented or not implemented—in case of bad governance, good governance is the main driving force behind a healthy, secured and prosperous nation.

Given this backdrop, governance cannot be described as good without some fundamental features like participatory, consensus building, transparency, accountability, efficiency, effectiveness, equity, inclusiveness, and rule of law.

Participatory

As credible and sustainable governance depends largely on effective citizens’ participation and on what it delivers, the quality of governance diminishes if citizens are ignorant about plans, programmes and policies of the governments.

Involving citizens in governance process helps ordinary citizens to assess their own needs and participate in and monitor governments’ plans and programmes.

It is evident across the globe that citizens’ participation can help governments to be more accountable and responsive, improve the people’s perception of governmental performance and democratic dividend the citizens receive from the governments.

Effective citizens’ participation is guaranteed when they understand and want to exercise their rights to participate in local political issues as legally protected under Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, which states: “(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice. (2)(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority…        (c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

The citizens’ civil and political rights include freedom of expression and access to information, which are at the basis of political participation as guaranteed and highlighted under relevant provisions of Freedom of Information Act, 2011, which provides for citizens’ access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest; and  African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which mandates all African countries including Nigeria to uphold the supremacy of their constitutions and promote participatory democracy by encouraging culture of popular participation and protect fundamental people’s rights.

Apart from this, through their local institutions, governments can facilitate the citizens’ participation to ensure they feel confident and know where and how to participate.

In this case, strengthening one-to-one and one-to-many constructive communications between individual legislators and their constituents are important elements of participatory governance; as direct communication between them helps legislators to make appropriate decisions about legislation and public policy issues, and provide enabling platform for the expression of public views and opinions. Solidified linkages between the two promote peace and stability in a democratic system. These linkages in the analysis of Nikhil Dutta et al are a two-way phenomenon—top-down and bottom-up communications. That is, legislators represent the people`s interests, while simultaneously providing feedback and information to their constituents on the political processes.

E-governance has been adopted in most parts of the world to transform citizen service, provide access to information to empower citizens, enable their participation in government and enhance citizen’s economic and social opportunities. The features of E-Governance highlighted by Crowley M, a researcher at Center for Public Policy & Administration University of Utah, includes the ability for citizens to leave feedback to various government offices; a subscription based list serve or e-Newsletter that keeps citizens and other agencies informed; Online discussion forums or chat rooms to discuss policy issues; e-Meetings for cross agency/cross governmental participation; Online citizen surveys or polls for specific issues with published results; Online citizen satisfaction surveys with published results; Online decision-making – e-petitions, e-referenda; Online performance measures with published results.

Consequently, E-Governance has become an enabling involving the use of Information Technology in improving transparency, providing information speedily to all citizens, improving administration efficiency and improving public services such as transportation, power, health, water, security and municipal services. Local governments in this case, can take responsibility in developing integrated rural-based, citizencentric, information-driven, user-friendly, easily-accessible, and dynamic e-governance system.

When citizens feel that their views are represented in government and their representatives bear constituents` interests in mind, they are encouraged to participate in governance process. Through this process, citizens’ participation in governance will improve accountability and the ability of local authorities to solve problems, creates more inclusive and cohesive communities, and increases the number and quality of initiatives made by communities.

Efficient and effective service delivery

A peaceful and productive society is achieved through effective and efficient service delivery by the state institutions. Good governance in this case, according to GIZ means “effective and efficient structures which provide optimal support to citizens in leading a safe and productive life in line with their desires and opportunities”.

We cannot say good governance is in place in presence of continued diversion of resources reduces the level of resources and investments available for the public health system. Resources are reportedly drained from health budget through embezzlement, fraud and corruption reduce the funding available for salaries, health services and maintenance, contributing to lower staff motivation, quality of care and declining service availability and use.

As observes by the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), corruption impedes effective and efficient public health care service delivery, and this practically symbolises: unethical attitudes of the health workers towards helpless patients, discouraging attendance at public health care facilities; scarcity of drugs even when they are provided by governments but patients are directed to private hospital or stores to purchase such at expensive sums;  poor access to health care facilities, intensifying the already increasing maternal and child mortality rate, especially in the grassroots; poor monitoring and evaluation of the health facilities by relevant authorities, giving chances to degrading treatments and unethical attitudes by some health workers; delayed release of health budget as appropriated, backpedalling timely interventions and provision of adequate, accessible and affordable health care services; poor implementation of health budget even when released.

We cannot think of good governance in the presence of endemic mismanagement of educational funds. This triggered a lamentation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that corruption has weakened the sector, leading to low efficiency, wastage and misappropriation of resources, low quality service delivery. The Commission classified the ills into different levels of occurrence such as policy, Ministry/state and local government, schools and administrative levels. Corrupt practices in the education sector are extensively endangering the country’s social, economic and political future.

Of course, good governance cannot be arguably in place with the unquantifiable and unforgivable inefficient and poor service delivery by our nation’s security services, with their continued and unchecked sabotage of the nation’s socio-economic development and well-being of the citizens through institutionalised human rights abuses and systemic bribery, which gives chance to hopelessness, insecurity and degrading treatments of the less privileged; sexual assault, extra-judicial killings and shooting of citizens for refusing to bribe; high-level embezzlement and diversion of security personnel entitlements into private pockets, limiting resources, efforts and motivation to effectively secure lives and property of the citizens; and the porous nation’s borders, which paves ways for influx illegal immigrants, illegal importation of weapons of various kinds that further endanger lives of the citizens.

Transparency and Accountability

Having a transparent and accountable system helps the governments in adapting to social and technological changes, stay close and respond to citizens demands. Through transparent system, a legislature provides more information and expands citizen participation in a deliberate and meaningful way that makes it more effective in delivering democratic dividend to the electorate. Every citizen regardless of his or her social, political, economic, education and ethno-religion background should have access to public information, which should be made available by the concerned public institution.

Transparency and accountability are increasingly recognized for their crucial role in making legislative and policy information more accessible to citizens, strengthening the capacity of citizens to participate in legislative and policy processes to advocate for greater access to government, improved accountability, and increased collaborative dialogue on issues bothering public reform.

How can we talk of transparency and accountability in governance when budget processes or information are not public accessible for citizens’ participation scrutiny, contributions, monitoring and evaluation in most states across the country? We cannot talk of transparency and accountability when federal allocation and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) are diverted and used for unknown purposes. We cannot talk about transparency and accountability in presence secrecies and lop-sidedness in tax collection, administration and utilisation, breeding illegal and multiple taxation.

Lack of accountability could be practically buttressed where maternal delivery services are practically carried out based on unaddressed ‘queue-and-swamp’ system in the health facilities; when unavailable but avertable drugs and other essential commodities, and poor access to health care facilities intensify the increasingly maternal and child mortality rate, especially in the grassroots.

Equity and inclusiveness

Women constitute over 50 percent of the world’s population; perform two-third of the world’s work, yet receive one-tenth of the world’s income; represent a staggering 70 percent of the world’s one billion poorest people.

In the analysis of the Executive Director, Centre LSD, Otive Igbuzor, in developing countries, women own less than two percent of all land. At least 60 million girls are missing due to female infanticide or sex selective abortion and an estimated 5,000 women murdered each year in “honour” killings. He observes unequal distribution of food and health care including 93 million children who are not enrolled in school are girls.

In eight Northern States, over 80% of women are unable to read (compared with 54% for men), as reported by UK Department for International Development (DFID) in 2012; owing to some traceable factors such as lack of funds, existing traditional and religious inclination, non-provision of educational facilities by government, poor funding of the educational sector, weak educational policies, early marriage, early childbirth, poor sanitation and ignorance.

Nigeria has the highest population in African continent with 38 percent of its women lacking formal education as against 25 percent for men and only four percent of women have higher education against the seven percent of their male counterpart.

Consequently, in Nigeria, majority of girls and women face real-time poverty, gross inequality, molestation and injustice, denying them effort to acquire meaningful skills and contribute positively towards the nation’s development.  Series of discrimination and atrocities against women include poor education, poor nutrition, violence and brutalization, vulnerability and low pay employment.

Since democratic rule in 1999, women are under-represented in all key political decision making bodies in Nigeria. During the 2007 elections, women constituted about 11% of all candidates with only one woman contesting for the office of the President; 33.9% for governorship positions; 13.5% for Senate, 15.6% for House of Representatives, and 15.8% for Houses of Assembly. Following the elections, women occupied only about 7.5 percent of key leadership positions in Nigeria.

During the 2007 general elections, the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s administration promised 30 percent of political appointment to women, a year after the elections, only 11 percent was allocated to women.

Official records released by the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) shows that a total of 809 women emerged as candidates for the 2011 elections on the platforms of various political parties. This represents a 17% increase over 692 women who emerged as candidates during the 2007 elections. But when the results was released, women’s representation at national level regressed slightly from 7.5% in 2007 to 7.1% in 2011. In the 2015 elections, the number further decreased to 7 in Senate (6.4 percent) and 19 in House of Representatives (5.2 percent).

During President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, women occupied 33 percent of cabinet positions. This was later decreased to 19 percent in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

In Nigeria, every 10 minutes one woman dies from conditions associated with childbirth; and only 39% births take place with assistance of medically trained personnel, coupled with the scarcity of skilled attendants, absence of personnel among other factors impede the effectiveness of health services in the country.

Nigeria records one of the lowest rates of female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa; with majority of women concentrating in casual, low-skilled, low paid informal sector employment.

Women are important in our society; and every woman has a role to play. Without meaning to sound like a broken record, I will like to remind us that women owing to their nurturing nature make good managers.

More importantly, a healthy society doesn’t automatically emerge and stand firm without the balance of that pivotal role played by women. Indeed, from behavioral to health education, it is a woman who teaches how to behave, how to speak and how to deal with different classes of people. Consequently, women remain fundamentals of a good society and essential contributors in the nation’s building.

Similarly, it is often said that the basic unit of society is a family; one cannot overemphasize the importance of women in the family. As women make a family, a family makes a home and homes make a society. Thus, there would be no society without the contribution of women.

Although women have great responsibilities in upbringing of a healthy, solid society, but records the lowest rates of political participation in the country. She plays roles as a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife.

While imposition of tax remains a vital instrument for the promotion of resource re-allocation, social equity through wealth distribution, women marginalisation in tax processes and responsibilities of government towards its citizens has hitherto constituted public and policy debates, but with little effort to address the emergent plights of women under unwary tax regime.

With increasing incidence of taxation in the contemporary tax reforms, Nigerian women are worst hit by the socio-economic burden of the various gender-insensitive tax policies.

It would be recalled that in September 2015, Nigeria joined the rest of the world at United Nations’ High Level Plenary Summit for the adoption of Structural Development Goals (SDGs) with 17 goals and 169 targets as part of the global efforts to build a comprehensive development plan in order to complete the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs).

Adopting the SDGs, at country level with Goal 1 and 5 promising to: end poverty and hunger in all its forms everywhere; and achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, respectfully, Nigeria is committed to address poverty and ensure equal opportunity for women in all socio-economic and political ramifications. However, the existing gender-biased tax regime remains a major impediment that if not strictly addressed may backpedal or obstruct the country’s success in the implementation of SDGs.

Also, the imbalanced Value Added Tax (VAT) system is another endemic challenge to the women’s earning and well-being. The VAT Amendment Act 2007 removed the 5 percent fixed rate and gave the Minister of Finance Power to determine the VAT rate. Exercising the authority, the Minister of Finance raised the rate to 10 percent, but later repealed its decision with the rate returned to the initial 5 percent. Nigerian women are known to purchase more goods and services that promote health, education and nutrition compared to men.

In 2004, the Nigeria Living Standards Survey report by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that over 50% of the expenditure by female headed households was on non-food items which as likely to attract VAT. This in the observations of GTZ creates the potential for women to bear a larger burden of VAT, especially if the VAT system does not provide for exemptions, reduce rates or zero-rating.

Good governance cannot be in place when women are maginalised in all ramifications with a high percentage of girls out of schools. Appreciable efforts must be made by governments at all levels to recognise girls and women as equal players in the game of life whilst empowering, up-skilling and investing in them for a better world.

Full-fledged implementation of 35% Affirmative Action for Women by governments at all levels is paramount to encourage full participation of women as leaders and decision-makers in households, communities, and in the public and private spheres.

A god governance system improves access to education and eliminating gender gaps in education, proper individual orientation, mass public awareness and sensitization on the provisions of the Rights of Women.

Rule of law

In every governance system, the guiding principles of rule of law must be upheld and respected since it’s the foundation of good governance. In Nigeria with a contrary experience, the basic principles are violated through carelessness and recklessness conducts.

As former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal puts it, “the principle of rule of law is, like other attributes of liberal democracy such as accountability, transparency, and human rights promotion and protection, essential element of democracy without which the process, dynamics and success of a democratic system is likely to be endangered, some would say, bereft of its inherent value and sanctity.”

According to him, without the rule of law democracy is impracticable as arbitrariness is likely to hold sway and torpedo the process of realizing good governance. “The rule of law encompasses all it takes to uphold, promote and safeguard the supremacy of law over any proclivities of institutions, groups or individuals. It is a term which is essentially instrumental to the nurturing of a virile democratic culture and democratic consolidation,” he added.

In order to uphold the principles of rule of law, an effective judicial system must be guaranteed to promote equality and fairness in legal processes. The judiciary has a great role to play in the efforts to save the nation from imminent collapse under the weight of unbridled corruption. Without doubt, judges symbolize the judicial powers of the state; they stand out as the central figures in the judicial system and the administration of justice.

Good governance is not attained through intentional creation of backlog of cases to pave ways for demanding bribes to fast-track a case; endless abuse of offices and distortion of judicial processes; judges who are on politicians’ pay roll, even when such is against judicial code of ethics; high-ranking judicial officers who serve as couriers of bribe.

Consensus building and responsiveness

Adopting strategies for consensus building in Nigeria through such holistic techniques as bringing diverse groups of stakeholders together to engage in shared learning and decision making on legislative and policy issues has become imperative to enhance collaboration, peaceful co-existence and encourage public participation in governance.

Consensus cannot be built on a failure to separate party politics from state, which in the observations of Commonwealth Network is extremely damaging, “making important public institutions such as the military, judiciary, election commission and state media hostage to the incumbent”.

It is important that governments provide for credible and independent institutions and adequate political space for an effective opposition and diverse groups. At the same time opposition parties must respect the rule of law and engage in a meaningful and constructive manner in the political process.

Consensus building process must be sincere and transparent to restore confidence in and represent interest of oppositions or diverse groups. Through this process, outcomes of dialogues or meeting will be acceptable and respected by all parties.

In order to uphold the principle of good governance, governments must be aware of what the citizens want and citizens must as well be aware of what governments are going.  Governments must be responsive and responsible towards citizens’ demands and expectations by maintaining integrity, transparency, and accountability. In Nigerian context, to be responsive and responsible, government have the primary responsibility to effectively relate and interact with the citizens.

Trump’s aid cuts, a setback to humanitarian supports in Africa

By Abubakar Jimoh

Recently, the humanitarian world was thrown in a sober reflection by a shocking but unpleasant development arising from President of the United States, Donald Trump’s financial decision to cut-down global aid spending by 32 percent as contains in the proposed budget plans for the Fiscal Year 2018.

The decision which was thankfully subjected to extensive criticism by both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature was as well instantly denounced by a global movement—ONE Campaign, which through its works on good governance across globe including Africa has been able to ascertain the detrimental impacts such proposed plans will pose to the existing efforts at successfully combating poverty, diseases and marginalisation, and boosting social investments, especially in Africa.

While the fundamental purpose of humanitarian aid by any government is to complement the efforts of a receiving nation at revitalising her social sector as well as uplifting the poor from extreme poverty, which renders them incapacitated to attain self-reliance and effectively fight diseases, the on-going financial decision by President Trump, if not instantly addressed and reversed will, without doubt result in counter-productivity to the United States’ tracked and commendable records in supporting and sustaining enabling environment for political and socio-economic stability, particularly in Africa.

As a continent with emerging democracies and pervasive inadequate funding for social sector, experiences have revealed that most African governments rely on international aids, which are largely secured from United States through various counterpart-funding agreements to augment their budgets for social sector. A good example is the recent tripartite agreements among some Nigerian state governments, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Dangote Foundation to sustain the fight against dreaded polio virus, which was prevalent in northern part of the country owing to lack of funding for the procurement and administration of vaccines.

Meanwhile, working alongside the aforementioned donors, Global Alliance for Vaccine (GAVI) has been supporting African governments in routine immunisation through procurement and donation of polio vaccines, leading to a major success in the fight against polio virus in various parts of Africa including Nigeria

It is noteworthy to highlight that GAVI receives 79% of its funding from contributions by governments with United States as a key donor significantly contributing no fewer than 9.2% amounting to US$ 800.0 million as at March 2017 that according to GAVI, “will greatly enhance Gavi’s capacity to purchase and deliver life-saving vaccines for children and help in immunizing millions of children in developing countries against vaccine-preventable diseases, which claim 1.5 million lives every year”. The contribution as disclosed in an acknowledgment by GAVI was part of the US$ 814.5 million approved for USAID’s Maternal and Child Health programs for 2017.

Apart from direct financial aid to the governments, the sincere efforts of other agency like USAID has been recognised and widely acknowledged most especially in promoting good governance through its project and activity labelled “Strengthening Advocacy and Civil Engagement” (SACE), which has helped to increase the capacity of citizens across the continent to be more involved in democratic reform processes by influencing institutions whose function are to serve public interests.

Not only have funds from USAID assisted in enhancing participation of marginalized populations — such as women, youth, and the disabled — and emphasizing the importance of leadership and innovation, the agency is famous in addressing developmental challenges in Nigeria by promoting political and socio-economic stability through improved social services, transparent and responsive government, and humanitarian assistance to the crises affected zone like North Eastern part of the country.

In 2011, a report entitled “U.S. Foreign Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa: The FY2012 Request” published by Congressional Research Service, reveals a total bilateral U.S. development assistance from USAID and the State Department to sub-Saharan Africa amounting to an estimated $7.08 billion in 2012 as against $1.94 billion in 2002 Financial Year. The rapid increase in development assistance which was later explained in another corresponding report titled “Overview of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)” by Center for Global Development, was largely driven by global health spending, which concentrates on resources to combat the fast spreading HIV/AIDS primarily to 14 countries, 12 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Consequently, another major success has been recorded in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region. An instance is Nigeria which in a 2016 report entitled “Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases: Where we are” published by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was applauded for the falling trend in HIV/AIDS satisfying the criteria for the attainment of Goal 6 of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Similarly, while HIV and AIDS have had a significant negative impact on life expectancy in South Africa, leaving many families and children economically vulnerable and often socially stigmatized, it has received the largest Anti-Retroviral Therapy programme in the world through the effort of United States PEPFAR and has contributed towards stabilizing HIV prevalence in Africa. This fact was buttressed in another study by the Science Desk of National Public Radio (NPR) that “PEPFAR, really, has saved a huge number of people’s lives. This has been one of the most effective public health inventions outside of clean running water, decent nutrition and vaccine programs. This has made an unbelievable difference”.

Moreover, of $48 billion to PEPFAR in 2008, $500 million was allocated to fight HIV/AIDS in Kenya. In fact, single biggest change for public health in Kenya was according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Kenya, achieved by the founding of PEPFAR.

It is also important to mention that in 2013, following a political crisis that claimed tens of thousands of South Sudanese lives and left about 4 million displaced, USAID had charted a strategy that increased humanitarian assistance and support for fundamental needs including access to water, health and education services. With continued support through direct service delivery and technical assistance, the agency has helped in saving South Sudan from deteriorating into famine conditions in addition to significant progress recorded in the quality, coverage, and impact of the national HIV/AIDS response.

Additionally, these facts were reiterated and highlighted when in Fiscal Year 2015 report, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) could not conceal but to state that through available funds, USAID sustained provision of critical, life-saving assistance in response to conflict and displacement in South Sudan and Sudan’s Darfur Region; met conflict-related needs in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia; provided nutrition assistance in Kenya; and supported flood-affected communities in Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique.

The opposite of this backdrop is a clear indication of horrific conditions Africans will be subjected should President Trump get his proposed plans passed. We therefore call for a rethink on the proposed financial plans by President Trump.

 

Advocacy visit to the Director General of Bureau of Public Service Reform

advocacy-visit

Abubakar Jimoh (left), Communication and Information Officer, CISLAC during advocacy visit to Dr. Joe Abbah (right), Director General of Bureau of Public Service Reform in Abuja, as part of the efforts by CISLAC to strengthen core Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) systems and its capacity to deliver public services, with the overall goal of a more capable and accountable Government of Nigeria.