With independence from the British rule in 1960, one would think and hope that Nigeria was set
on the path of progress and prosperity, but sixty-two years down the line, there is almost
absolutely nothing concrete to show, and as years go by, drawing afar of the British hold,
things get worse. What exactly went wrong? To be sure, in the last sixty-two years, good
governance has been absent. But what is good governance and how is it measured?
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), good governance has three
dimensions namely economic, political and administrative governance. The economic
dimension is concerned with the economic activities and relationships with other economies,
while the political dimension relates fundamentally with the formulation of policies, and the
administrative dimension in the main takes care of implementation of the policy. These three
dimensions bear such fruits as justice, equity, security of lives and property and
accountability to the citizens whose electoral choice assured the mandate of elected officers.
There are different measures to good governance, and for Ogundiya I. S, it is “the process
that is employed to achieve the noble end of the state”. This implies that good governance
has to achieve the purposes of the state. In this regards, Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes and Locke
advanced the cause for a state, wherein order and justice are in place.
With reference to Nigeria, a basis for good governance is provided in section 16(1) of the 1999
constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; wherein the Nigerian State shall not just
harness the resources, but as well, control the economy to secure the maximum welfare,
freedom and happiness of every citizen; manage and operate the major sectors of the
economy; and protect the right of every citizen. From this, we deduce that the responsibility
of good governance, as enshrined in the constitution, rests on the shoulders of the political
leaders, who, as a matter of fact, must pursue these objectives in the overall interest and
benefit of the citizenry. In this case, therefore, one can rightly claim that good governance is
only achievable if and only if governance brings about justice and equity in the distribution of
the nation’s natural resources.
The Nigerian situation
Nearly everything has gone wrong in Nigeria. Previous administrations in Nigeria saw to the
habitual plague of bad governance and corporate ineptitude. But regardless of their failures,
collectively and individually, it has never been as bad as it is currently. We cannot understate
the colossal systemic failures of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last
seven years, where nepotism, high-handedness, mediocrity, ineptitude, grand incompetence,
corruption, electoral frauds, dictatorship, rascality and all manner of disdain for the rule of
law and social order have thrived. Things have gone so wrong that the words of the great
writer, Chinua Achebe, capture the situation thus: things have fallen apart.
Insecurity is the order of the day, with the rise in crime and terrorism as violent activities such as
bombings, kidnappings, theft, mass killings, and so many others feature daily in the news.
Per the 2022 Global Peace Index, Nigeria ranked 143rd among 163 independent nations and
territories. Moreover, there is a palpable tension in the country with the rising of different
secessionist groups, flowing from non-inclusiveness of some tribes against the federal
character. As a result, the country is torn apart along ethnic and religious lines and heavily
bedevilled with crises and clashes.
There is infrastructural deficit with many bad roads and decaying institutions. Power sector is on
free fall as the national grid collapses every time, as a result of which domestic productions
and businesses suffer setbacks. Unemployment has become normal due to severe economic
recession. This affects the economy by every means. And per the 2022 Statistica’s
unemployment forecast rate in Nigeria, it is estimated to reach 33% this year, taking a 0.5%
rise from the 32.5% in 2021. Yet every year, thousands of students graduate from different
There is hunger in the land and so many that Nigerians are frustrated. While the children of the
politicians study abroad; the students in public schools in Nigeria are currently at home as a
result of striking action by the university staff across the nation. We cannot overstate the
obvious. We have been pushed to our breaking points.
What are the factors affecting good governance in Nigeria?
This is the bane of any country. Of course there is no country in the world without
corruption, but in Nigeria, it is different as it appears to have eaten deep into the fibre
of our existence. To tell you how bad it is, in 2016, the former UK Prime Minister,
David Cameron, marvelled by the degree of corruption in Nigeria, described Nigeria
as “fantastically corrupt.” Also, Transparency International ranked Nigeria 149th in
Corruption Perception Index out of the 180 countries measured.
- Inconsistency of Governance Policy
One of the challenges we face in Nigeria is lack of consistency in political policies.
Almost every new administration comes up with a new policy initiative rather than
building on the one started by the previous administration and this greatly affects the
continuity of governance. For example, with the coming of the late Umaru Musa
Yaradua’s administration, the national economic employment scheme of the Obasanja
era established by Prof Charles Soludo was abandoned for an entirely new scheme to
convert Nigeria into one of the top 20 biggest global economics by 2020. But with the
entrance of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari the scheme was
jettisoned for another.
- Greed and choices of visionless leaders at elections
We have leaders and even followers who only seek only their personal gains. This does
not sit well with the idea of good governance. This begins with our flawed political
process which shoves competent people aside, but produces leaders without passion.
Greed has made different political leaders produce candidates who lack foresight,
essential skills, adequate knowledge, determination, passion and selflessness.
- Poor planning and management
We lack leaders who make right choices and even follow up on plans. We also have a
problem of poor management as a result of which we run a consuming government.
Thankfully, we have a new bride in Mr Peter Obi for the 2023 elections. He
constantly preaches the gospel of moving “from consumption to production.” We
spend without planning and building. And we do not even save, but consume
everything and most time, monies meant for public service end in the pocket of few
Are there solutions?
Below are the twenty-three possible ways of achieving a better future for Nigeria through good
- The fundamental human rights enshrined in the federal constitution of the republic of
Nigeria must be respected by all and sundry.
- The change we seek and need must begin with the voting in of qualitative and
competent people to pilot our affairs. The choices we make at the polls have
implications and until we learn to choose good leaders, things will remain the same.
And as the 2023 elections draw near, Nigerians must be ready to overhaul the bad
leadership system in our country through our choices at the polls.
- The unity of Nigeria as a one entity has been shredded into pieces. We have to do
away with our tribal and religious differences which our politicians have continuously
used to manipulate us. And the federal character must be respected for the sake of
inclusiveness and fairness.
- Governance is a continuum. Incoming administration should build on or remodel the
policies of outgoing government instead of discarding them and introducing another.
- We have to diversify the economy. We do not have to over-rely on oil. We can
recover from the current economic crisis if government diversifies the economy by
encouraging and creating enabling ground for agriculture, creative economy and other
sectors to thrive.
- Provision of adequate security will create fertile ground for the economy, since it will
encourage investments and tourism. With the current strength and state of our armed
forces, a lot has to change. They have to be increased in numbers with proper training
and commensurate remunerations.
- Priority should be given to the educational sector. It is a shame the public
universities are under lock and key. There is need for a total reform which will
reflect national priorities and deal with the challenges of the present day and not thrive
on theories. Government should provide enough funding for research and
- The government should empower private sector which is supposed to be the
engine of growth. This would be valuable in shaping our economic direction and also
tackle the problems of unemployment in Nigeria. When these private sectors are
empowered, as Mr Peter Obi rightly said, government will generate revenue through
- Provision of employment opportunities for the youth and encouraging the youths to
go into entrepreneurship by providing basic amenities like good roads, power and
- There should right budgetary plans, which must be backed up with the right monetary
policy. Such policy must be moved from consumption to production, in the words of
Mr Peter Obi. If we take agricultural sector for instance, it must be developed to
produce goods and have agro-based industry as well as have enough to feed and to
- Timely implementation of the nation’s budget should be ensured by all agencies in
charge of the budget implementation.
- There is also the need to harmonise the fiscal policy and the monetary policy before
the value of the naira can be determined. It is crystal clear that Nigeria is in a
deteriorating financial condition, so it needs fiscal and monetary policies to actually
stabilize the situation for us to have a recovery.
- Government should do everything in his power to solve the problem of power
generation in Nigeria. Countries like Egypt should be copied. Thankfully, Mr Peter
Obi travelled to Egypt to study their power generation model with the hope of
replicating if elected.
- The legislature and judiciary should be empowered to carry out their functions
without interference from the executive.
- Much more electoral reforms should be made to ensure free and fair elections,
paving way for the emergence of credible leaders. Vote-buying should have no place
in our polity.
- The Federal government should come up with a formidable economic policy that
would arrest the continuous decline in the economy of the nation to forestall the
present hardship been experienced in the country. Moreover, regionalisation is
important. Each region should be allowed to use what they have to develop itself
instead of depending on sharing formula as Obi rightly said, “there is nothing to share
- Deliberate efforts should be made at all levels of government to allow for popular
participation in decision- making process.
- The government should ensure application of technology in the entire governmental
agency, doing away with paper works which most times take time and to prevent
- Appointment into key and even less important offices should be based on competence
and not tribe or religion or connection.
- Healthcare should be given an emergency. In fact laws should be enacted which
prohibits politicians from seeking medical care abroad. This would make them revive
- The government should remove subsidies paid on fuel. It has proven to be a conduit
pipe for siphoning public funds. Existing refineries should be remodelled and more
built to ensure enough fuel is refined. And before this is done, basic amenities such as
power, working hospitals, schools and others should be provided.
- Corruption is our main challenge and should be eradicated completely. Government
officials must realise that they are accountable to the citizens and when institutional
reforms are made, anticorruption agencies must have to work tirelessly to ensure
public office holders are held accountable at the end of their service.
- Government should stop being wasteful. Expenses should be cut down and frivolous
expenditure should be discouraged. For example, government has no business
sponsoring pilgrimages in Nigeria.
The economic difficulty facing our country is indeed huge and we cannot afford to let it get
worse the more. We have discovered and discussed major challenges affecting good
governance and have offered possible solutions. And as we are in politicking season for the
2023 general elections, this discussion is timely. And so, it is incumbent on the citizens to
put an end to the continuous recycling of the challenges we have from generation to
generation, by doing away with the politicians who brought us to