At the end of 2019, Nigeria’s parliament passed a record 10.59 trillion Naira ($35bn) budget for 2020. The goal was to fully shake the country out of the impact of a four-year recession. This did not go as planned. In 2020, the world was hit by a coronavirus pandemic upsetting social, economic, and political activities globally. Oil prices fell drastically. In consequence, beyond responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the monolith budget had no significant effect on development across the country.
Prior to the pandemic, all Nigerian statistical data was absurd for a country not at war. At least 300 people die every hour in Nigeria. Malaria alone killed 250 people every day in 2019. Two people die every four hours on Nigerian roads. On the security front, the country has been fighting against an Islamist insurgency for over ten years, with over 6,000 people dead and millions of people displaced. Even though Nigeria also has one of the highest youth populations in the world (80million), half of this number are without jobs.
A connecting factor to this increasing data of doom and system failure is corruption. However, corruption alone did not sustain over 50 years of failure. Corruption is driven by an opaque system without efficient accountability measures. With a system ravaged by corruption, the lack of public and private sector accountability at all levels of government is further amplified. A problem that organizations such as the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) are working to address.
Introducing bottom-to-top accountability
Anti-corruption campaigns are as old as Nigeria itself. A series of reforms have been attempted by previous administrations with no tangible effects. These reforms have taken a top to bottom approach — targeting high profile corrupt officials, political scandals, and big institutions. A look at the reason why this has not worked will reveal that the more evident problems are at a lower level: the mismanagement of healthcare services, schools, roads, markets, and public institutions spread around over 774 local governments across Nigeria.