The wind of COVID-19 pandemic blows across the globe and has been with its negative impact on the economy. This has led to lockdowns, fall in prices of crude oil, global and local lockdowns in business activities. Nigeria is not excluded from these casualties, which have compounded the country’s problem of inclusive growth and youth development, especially in Northern Nigeria which hitherto has the lowest economic growth rate in the country and the most poverty stricken part of the country. Currently, the cost of governance is astronomically high that so many sectors of the economy have remained underdeveloped. This is ostensibly attributed to the fact that the resources that are meant to be channeled to sectors like Education, Health, Agriculture, etc are consumed by overheads or administrative costs such as very high salaries of political appointee and the elected officials as well as maintenance of government structures. The resultant effect is exclusive or slow growth, underdevelopment and youth restiveness, particularly in Northern Nigeria. This presentation seeks to establish the major indices responsible for the rising cost of governance in Nigeria and how it can be curbed. It also seeks to address the phenomenon of inclusive growth, youth development and how these could be achieved in the post COVID-19 Northern Nigeria. In Nigeria today the cost of governance is astronomically high such that so many sectors of the country have remained underdeveloped. The paper proposed that deliberate steps should be taken by Government towards curbing the high cost of governance, by empowering youths should be empowered with entrepreneurial activities to support their means of livelihood by Government through its Agencies like the Central Bank, NGO’s, critical units of United Nations Organization, World Bank, and the Private Sector.


Governance in Nigeria at all levels has become very expensive that other aspects like social, educational, economic and political spheres are also feeling the negative impact of such high cost of Governance. This high cost, commonly attributed to factors such as high overhead cost, at the detriment of capital and developmental projects, high recurrent spending, multiplicity of ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), retinue of political appointees for political patronage. The presidential system of Government with its attendant cost of operation where the legislature as the second tier of Government also come with a very high cost. For example, while the sum of One Hundred and Twenty-Seven Billion Naira (N127,000,000,000) was allocated to education in the 2021 budget, the sum of One Hundred and Twenty-Eight Billion Naira (N128,000,000,000) was allocated to the National Assembly. The tenets or antecedents of Civil Servants in relation to lack of integrity and accountability, according to Adamu and Rasheed (2016) are also major contributors to the high cost of Governance in Nigeria.



The attainment of independence in 1960 inaugurated a new era in Nigeria where Nigerians assumed the responsibility of governing themselves. The First Republic was an experiment in constitutional democracy. This started from 1963–1966, using a parliamentary or cabinet system of government. The structures of the government then were the Parliamentary Legislative System whereby the Head of State is distinct from the Head of Government. The Head of State exercises ceremonial functions, while the Prime minister is the head of government and exercises executive functions. For the period of the First Republic, the system of governance was adopted from the British that was our Colonialist (Eluwa, Ukagwu, Nwachukwu & Nwaubani, 2013). Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the leader of the NCNC became the first Nigerian Governor General (Head of state), while Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (NPC) was the Prime minister. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet were drawn from the Parliament, making them members of the executive as well as the Parliament. Not all members of the legislature were appointed into the executive as the others remained in the parliament. The leader of the majority party in the parliament was appointed prime minister and he chaired all cabinet meetings. The cabinet, which is the key decision making organ of government was set up by the Prime Minister who is generally regarded as the Chief Executive.

The Legislative or Parliament as a structure was made up of a House of Senate and House of Representatives. The House of Senate had 52 members representing the regions, that is North, West, East and the Mid–West. Each region was represented by twelve Senators. These Senators were chosen by a joint sitting of the regional legislative houses from a list submitted to it by the Governor. Lagos as the Federal Capital Territory was represented by four Senators who were selected by the President, on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Senators did not have to be chosen on political party basis. The House of Representatives had 312 members. Out of the 312 members, Lagos had 3, the West had 62, the East 73 and the North 174. The President, acting upon the advice of the Prime Minister, would summon or dissolve the parliament. The business of parliament was regulated by standing orders (law making) and bills which must pass through both the House of Senate and the House of Representative. After all discussions, the bills would be sent to the president for his assent. Only the House of Representative had the power to originate money bills. Parliament did not meet often, they can meet once a year. Among its principal committees were: Committee of selection, Standing Order Committee, House Committee, Public Accounts Committee and Standing Committee, (Falola, Mahadi, Uhomoibhi & Anyanwu, 2012).


The executive structure consisted of the President, the Prime Minister and the Ministers. The President, as a ceremonial head, was the Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces. He was appointed by a joint meeting of both House of Senate and the House of Representatives. Actual powers were exercised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet of ministers. The ministers were appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and his ministers were responsible to parliament in all functions except in a few matters.

The responsibility of the third structure which is judicial, was to ensure that the constitution and statutes were obeyed. There was a Supreme Court with not less than five judges. The Chief Justice and other Justices of the Supreme Court were appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Admittedly, what really led to the fall of the First Republic was the combination of factors which include the impacts of the British rule, neocolonialism, flamboyant lifestyles, corruption and nature of politics in Nigeria. After the interregnum by the military, between 1966 – 1979, the Military announced without equivocation that it would hand over power to an elected civilian government by 1st October, 1979. This brought into fusion the Second Republic government in Nigeria from 1979 – 1983, which adopted and operated a presidential system of government and a deviation from the earlier parliamentary system. The Presidential system of government has the President as the Head of State and Head of Government, with all executive powers vested in one person and hence called the Executive President and Commander-In-Chief. The first Executive President was Alhaji Shehu Shagari. This system promoted the principle of separation of powers into three structures of government, namely, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. In theory, it means that the same individual cannot perform any two of legislative, executive or judicial functions. In line with this doctrine, the Chief Executive, who is the president and Legislature is elected by the voters in a separate national election and for different tenures of office. In contrast with the Parliamentary System, the President is elected on his own merit and not because he is leader of a party with a majority of seats in the legislature. The president select the members of his cabinet and they do not sit in the legislature as in the parliamentary system, but they may attend and give evidence if invited to do so. Legislators who are appointed as ministers must first resign from their positions in the legislature. After the president has compiled his list of nominees, he sends the list to the senate for ratification. Once confirmed, each cabinet member is responsible to the president. The legislature cannot remove the executive until the latter has served its term, except under the unusual circumstances of impeachment.

Interestingly, the Nigerian Third Republic (1992–1993) which was an unsuccessful attempt to restore Nigeria to democracy, was initiated by General Ibrahim Babangida. Nigerians were allowed to elect civilian governors for each state, and was then followed by election of the civilian President, M. K. O. Abiola in 1993. It was also a presidential system of government. Equally, the Fourth Republic from 1999 to date is enshrined with the presidential system of governance. The reason why the presidential system of government is more expensive than the parliamentary system is because the system demonstrates robust, distinct functions, both in the executive and the legislature. This is because the principle of separation of powers among the three organs of government, namely, Executive, Legislature and Judiciary is strictly adhered to in this system. For example, there are many ministers and law makers in both the houses and this makes the system costly to operate. The separation of powers of a presidential system establishes the presidency and the legislature as two parallel structures with each having its own huge separate budget. This has its serious implication for the North as it had the highest number of constituencies and sub-national government.



The term Cost of Governance or Administrative Expenditure has been defined differently by various scholars. However, before delving into the issue of cost of governance, it is important to understand what governance generally signifies. The UNDP (1997) refers to governance as the exercise of power and authority in the management of a country in terms of economic and social development. The major point of emphasis here concerns leadership and the way it is managed to achieve set agenda. Cost of governance on the other hand largely refers to the resources spent on administrative process for the day-to-day activities or maintenance of the governance structure. Another nomenclature to it is administrative expenditure. Cost of Governance, which can be viewed from two perspectives, namely, recurrent and administrative expenditures. This can be on yearly basis. From these various definitions of the cost of governance, the common indices used in summarizing all these activities are simply the finances spent by government or her agencies on salaries and administrative or overhead expenses to make it function. It is to be pointed out that the multiplicity of demands in the structure of governance has necessitated increase in the cost of governance, particularly in the North where wide governance space exist in line with large size, both physically and socially.  



It is expedient to discuss reasons for rising cost of governance in Nigeria, particularly Northern Nigeria. This is also addressed within the context of challenges or problems inimical to the implementation of Development Plans in the North. Some of the underlying factors of the cost of governance in Nigeria include:


4.1. Insecurity and Insurgency: With the escalation of conflicts occasioned by lack of willpower to stem insurgency, weak security enforcement, several states within the Northern region of Nigeria have witnessed a rapid increase in violence and criminal activities that are linked to insurgency, banditry, communal conflicts, violent confrontations between farmers and herders among others. In recent years, these conflicts and crimes have been changing patterns and expanding in scope and intensity; from highway armed robbery to cattle rustling; from community raiding and deadly attacks to abductions and kidnappings for ransom. This increased ugly trend has severely impacted on intergroup relations, as perceptions about the identities of the perpetrators of the conflicts or crimes largely remains unclear. He conflicts and criminality that have heightened insecurity in the Northern region are also responsible for the heightened levels of poverty, deprivation and youth restiveness, which has magnified social conflicts in many communities. This has led to the dynamics of segregation of settlements along fault-lines of identity representing a dominant feature of inter-group relations. For instance, the prevention of farming activities and damages to crops by bandits implies that many farming communities have been impoverished either due to the fact that the bandits dispose them of their monies through the payment of ransom or direct robbery. Additionally, the carting away of cattle by rustlers has left many herding

Communities without a sustainable means of livelihood. The insecurity has generally created a situation of severe food shortages for crops and livestock dependent communities. The absence of alternative source of livelihood led to rural-urban migration while it also drove many others into criminality and other 10 forms of radicalization, thus maintaining the circle of conflict, criminality and insecurity.

This security challenge is constituting a major drain on the country’s resources in view of its intractable nature and scope of banditry and spade of kidnappings, especially in the Northern part of the country. There is hardly a day that tales of bandits attacking communities and killing people, stealing their properties or kidnapping for ransom will not be told. The most recent is the kidnap of over 300 secondary school children in Kankara town, Katsina state and 317 Jengebe kidnap in Niger state. As a result of these security challenges bedeviling the country, government now has to embark on so many military operations such as operation Harbin Kunama, Lafiya dole in the North-East, Operation Safe Havens in Plateau State, Crocodile Smile in the South East etc, in order to curb the excesses of criminal elements in the society. These operations imply deploying the military out of the barracks with daily feeding allowances and also servicing hardware which cost a lot of money.

Apart from the security challenges of banditry and kidnapping, there is the problem of the Boko-Haram insurgency in the North-East which has been going on for about ten (10) years. This has gulped resources in hundreds of billions of Naira. For example, in the 2021 Nigerian budget, over N300 billion has been allocated to the execution of the Boko-Haram war and such allocations of funds for this purpose has been going on for about ten years. This is money that would have been channeled towards other developmental projects like education, industrialization, youth empowerment etc but is now being spent needlessly on the execution of the war and other security challenges.

Table 1. Ministry of defense budget from 2008-2017


1 2008 191.5
2 2009 223.1
3 2010 323.3
4 2011 348.3
5 2012 332.2
6 2013 364.4
7 2014 349.7
8 2015 375.5
9 2016 443.1
10 2017 465.5



The Table above indicates the rising military budget on a yearly basis in Nigeria. This is not unconnected to the rising insecurity in the country especially the insurgency war in the Northern part of the country. Unfortunately, security funds are unaccounted for. It is very clear that resources used for security operations could have been channeled to other developmental sectors of the country.


4.2. Huge Wages Bills: It is very apt to say that another dimension to the high cost of governance in Nigeria revolves around the issue of a retinue of public appointees of government from the Federal, States and Local Governments. This high expenditure is attributed to the large number of cabinets maintained by governments at these tiers of government largely to either pacify political, regional, religious and other interests with the attendant high salaries, allowances, estacodes and the like. Commenting on this matter El-Rufai, (2011) captured it more succinctly when he averred that:” our entire oil earning for the year cannot pay the salaries and allowances of politicians and public sector workers and their overheads, their teas, coffees, travels and estacodes, while the Federal Government spends over N38 billion naira on its staff, offices, vehicles and the like and none of these goes to build power plants, roads or railways”.

It should be noted that political office holders in Nigeria constitute a very negligible number of the over N200 million population of the country but gulp large amount of the nation’s resources in terms of salaries and allowances. For instance, in more succinct terms, it is estimated that the number of political appointees in the country are less than 5% but consume about 80% of public finances annually in relation to allowances and overheads (Wenibowei, John and Oladokun 2016). These huge amount of resources spent on salaries and allowances could have been channeled to Education, Health, Agriculture, youth Empowerment, Industries etc.


4.3. Corruption: In Nigeria today, corruption in both high and low places has increased the cost of governance tremendously, despite the activities of anti-corruption agencies like the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) aimed at mitigating corruption in the country. For instance, as at 27th January, 2020, Transparency International (2020) ranked Nigeria as the fourth most corrupt country in West Africa and the 136th out of the 176th in the world. The report further mentioned Africa’s least corrupt countries to include Seychelles, Botswana, Cape-Verde, Rwanda and Mauritius. The bottom most corrupt included South-Sudan, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea while the most improved countries on the continent were Cote’ivoire and Senegal. The forms of corruption range from procurement scams, inflation of contract figures, ghost workers syndrome/phenomenon, electoral corruption, nepotism, favoritism, pension scam and many more, (Ijawereme 2015). Several high profile officials from Government and Private Sectors have been sentenced to different terms of imprisonment, ranging from six months to over ten years for embezzling hundreds and billions of Naira. In fact, after independence and in 1966 specifically, one of the reasons advanced by the coup plotters was corruption but whether they were also absolved of corrupt practices is a subject of debate for another day. Below is a table of corruption index according to the Nation Newspaper of January, 2016, for some 15 Ex-Governors, 4 Ex-Ministers, 5 Ex-Legislators, 7 Ex-Federal Public servants, 5 Ex-state public servants, 8 Ex-bankers and 11 business numbering 55 of them and amounting to 1 trillion, 354 billion, 132 million and 400,000 Naira.

Table 2. The staggering amount stolen by 55 people between 2006-2013.


Ex-Governors 15 146,840,800,000.00
Ex-Ministers 4 7,050,000,000.00
Ex-Legislators 5 8,350,000,000.00
Ex-Public Servants (Federal) 7 6,906,600,000.00
Ex-Public Servants (State) 5 7,275,000,000.00
Banking Industry 8 524,560,000,000.00
Businessmen 11 653,150,000,000.00
Grand Total 55 N1,354,132,400,000.00

Source: The Nation Newspaper, January 2016. This monumental level of corruption has crippled the economy of the country and government lacks the resources to implement projects that will benefit youths and the general public directly.


4.4. Government Support for Political Parties: The Federal Government of Nigeria usually gives support to political parties that are registered with INEC at the eve of elections. The idea behind this is to provide some form of grants to these parties to help them organize their own party activities and also prevent individual money bags from dominating the parties and single handedly determining who contest elections under the party. Part of the reasons for this according to Wenibowei, John and Oladokun (2016) is that “When political parties are owned and sponsored single handedly by an individual or some few persons, mass participation becomes difficult as the individual or the few who control the party decides who becomes a candidate on the party platform to contest election”.

For instance, between 1999 and 2009, the Federal Government disbursed over 42 billion naira to political parties as grants to help them strengthen internal party democracy, but it is evident that individuals or some few persons still control the political parties. Consequently, this feat has not been achieved because these government grants do not translate into the productive sectors of the economy but only contribute to high cost of governance.


4.5. Huge Overheads and Personnel Cost: Ifeanyi and Innocent (2015) using statistics from Central Bank of Nigeria annual report 2011 stated that the state governments in the North-East and North-West geopolitical zones were the most expensive states in Nigeria when measured in terms of personnel and overhead costs data compiled by Business Day Research and intelligence Unit (BRIU). Based on combined regional personnel and overhead costs, the six states in the North-East zone, comprising Adamawa, Bauchi Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe spent N182 billion out of N360.6 billion realized as revenue for the year 2011, which means that 51 percent of the revenue made by the zone ended up in personnel and overhead costs. Also, the North-West geopolitical zone, which is made up of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara expended 44.8 percent as cost, which translated to N217 billon out of N485 billion total yearly revenue realized by state governments in the region. The North-Central was third with 41.4 percent of its 2011 receipts or N196 billion, incurred as the cost of governance. The South-West, South-East and South-South ranked 4th, 5th and 6th with 37.3 percent,27.5 percent and revenues for 2011 ending up at N230 billion, N89 billion and N251 billion respectively were the combined expenses incurred by state governments in the three geopolitical zones in the south. On state by state analysis, the combined personnel and overhead cost of Kano State was the highest in the country, translating to 75 percent N72.4 billion) of its 2011 total annual receipts, being used in paying personnel and overhead costs. The state was left with N24.6 billion for developmental projects. Kano was closely trailed by Bauchi (70%) and Plateau (68%) in that order, which amounted to N45.4 billion and N42.8 billion respectively of the total money received by the aforementioned state governments being spent on administrative costs. In the South-West region, Oyo State (63%) and Ogun State (57%) were the most expensive states among the states analyzed.



High cost of governance prevalent in the Northern part of Nigeria as discussed above has grave consequences to the growth and development of the region in the following ways:


5.1. Increased insecurity: One of the dare consequence of the high cost of governance in Northern Nigeria is the incidence of increased insecurity in the region. This is largely attributed to the fact that the money that would be required to purchase advanced weapons to fight insecurity is usually diverted into individual pockets due to corruption or spent on payments of huge salaries and wages to a large number of political appointees and corrupt politicians.


5.2. Increased poverty and unemployment: The poverty index and unemployment rate arising from large population in the Northern part of the country is one of the resultant negative effect of the high cost of governance bedeviling the region. The capacity of the states to implement economic policies that will alleviate the people from economic crisis and create more employment opportunities is lacking because most of the resources required to do so are used to run government business rather than capital and development projects.

 The United Nations Global Multi-dimensional poverty index has published a report in 2018 about the poverty rate of Nigerian states as shown in Table 3 below:

Table 3. United Nations Global Multi-dimensional poverty index, 2018


1. Lagos 8.5%
2. Osun 10.9%
3. Anambra 11.2%
4. Ekiti 12.9%
5. Edo 19.2%
6. Abia 19.2%
7. Rivers 21.0%
8. FCT (Abuja) 23.5%
9. Kwara 23.7%
10. Akwa-Ibom 23.8%
11. Delta 25.1%
12. Ogun 26.1%
13. Kogi 26.4%
14. Ondo 27.9%
15. Enugu 28.8%
16. Bayelsa 29.0%
17. Oyo 29.4%
18. Cross River 33.1%
19. Plateau 51.6%
20. Nassarawa 52.4%
21. Ebonyi 56.0%
22. Kaduna 56.5%
23. Adamawa 59.0%
24. Benue 59.2%
25. Niger 61.2%
26. Borno 70.1%
27. Kano 76.4%
28. Gombe 76.9%
29. Taraba 77.7%
30. Katsina 82.2%
31. Sokoto 85.3%
32. Kebbi 86.0%
33. Bauchi 86.6%
34. Jigawa 88.4%
35. Yobe 90.2%
36. Zamfara 91.9%
  National Average 46.0%

Source: United Nations Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index 2018.

From the report, it is evident that the states from the Northern region of the country are the worst in terms of poverty level in the entire country. Since statistics also indicates that it is states from this region that spend more money on recurrent expenditure, it is contributing to the poverty level of the region.


5.3. Infrastructure: One area that the high cost of governance in the North has affected badly is the area of infrastructure. For example, health services, water supply, power supply, good roads, good education have continued to remain in poor shape owing to paucity of funds for developmental of capital projects in favor of recurrent expenditure.



If the high cost of governance in Nigeria will be reduced at all, certain steps have to be taken urgently and deliberately otherwise, the country will continue to experience deficit in resources for capital development. Some ways to achieve this includes:


6.1. ICT in Governance: The need to deploy Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) facilities for e-governance at all levels of government is paramount to future economic growth and stability of any nation especially the Northern region. It is averred that e-Government enhances transparency, efficiency, productivity and citizen engagement. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have changed the process of governance in the world (Haruna, Dauda and Aloko 2014). To manage government affairs for the benefits of Nigerian citizens especially in the Northern part of the country, governments at various levels need to adopt e-government technologies in service delivery. Governments in various parts of the world have employed the use of the ICT revolution to provide services for her citizens with services ranging from transportation, health, taxation, land management, company’s registration pension, payment of bills, registration and renewal of licenses and certificates. E-Government is about using the tools and systems made possible by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to provide better public services to citizens and businesses. ICTs are already widely used by government bodies, just as in enterprises, but e-Government involves much more than just the tools. Effective e-Government also involves rethinking organizations and processes, and changing behaviour so that public services are delivered more efficiently to the people who need to use them. If Implemented well, e-Government will enable governments at all tiers to carry out their business more easily, quickly and at lower cost by reducing travelling cost, fueling of vehicles, avoiding hotel bills and the like.

6.2. Use of Local Content: The Nigerian Local Content Development Commission provides for comprehensive framework, structures, programmes, and schemes for the institutionalization and strengthening of Nigerian local content in all sectors of the Nigerian economy for self-sufficiency, job creation, international competitiveness of Nigerian domestic businesses and economic diversification. The idea behind the local content Act is to ensure that domestic products are patronized by government agencies in all their businesses. The implication of this in reducing the cost of governance is that the cost that would naturally be incurred in purchasing foreign goods, for instance, will be reduced because the cost of transportation and other duties to be charged on such goods will not be included thereby reducing the general cost of such goods and services. In the process of patronizing locally made goods, job creation is also enhanced to by reducing unemployment and boosting the profit margins of the local companies leading to higher taxes and improving government revenue.


6.3. Sizeable Civil Service and Political Offices: The current status quo in relation to over bloated civil service and multiplicity of political offices with their attendant huge personnel and overhead costs contributes to a large extent to the cost of governance. For any government that wants to take deliberate efforts at embarking on development projects it is important to allocate more funds to capital projects, have a sizeable civil service and only realistic political offices should be given serious consideration. If the work force is sizeable and affordable to sustain, it can be given adequate training and well equipped for maximum efficiency; thereby reducing extra cost on government resources saved and channeled towards capital expenditure.


6.4. Streamlining of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs): Currently at the national level, there are twenty eight ministries (28), forty four (44) ministers and about 215 government departments and agencies. In 2011, the presidential advisory committee (PAC) led by Gen. T.Y. Danjuma expressed concern over the high cost of governance and advised that “government should begin the process of merging and reducing the federal ministries and other government agencies to help cut down on governments unnecessary spending so as to direct spending on infrastructural development. The committee further said that where there are ministries with similar functions, they should be rationalized.”

The large number of political aids, ministers and commissioners need to be rationalized if the idea of reducing the cost of governance will be achieved. At the level of states in the Northern region of the country, some have created MDAs that have overlapping responsibilities, which sometimes even create friction among the civil servants and efficiency affected. A lot of resources are often channeled to these MDAs to make them functional, despite the fact that their work overlaps. It is on this basis that it is expedient to merge some of these MDAs in order to preserve more funds for capital development.


6.5. Transparency and Accountability: Another way of reducing the high cost of governance in Nigeria is if corruption is mitigated to a very high extent by being transparent and accountable through blocking leakages of both civil servants and public office holders. Corruption has so many indices as discussed earlier where government funds are stolen on so many fronts allegedly for good cause but it ends up in some individual personal pockets. When President Buhari became president, he remarked that “If we do not kill corruption it will murder Nigeria”. Ibrahim Magu, the then Chairman of EFCC also said that “We will kill corruption before it murders Nigeria”. Corruption is really killing Nigeria, which is the more reason why it has to be mitigated, otherwise the country will continue to operate a deficit budget that is riddled with recurrent expenditure at the expense of capital budget and largely remain underdeveloped. The hundreds of billions of naira lost to corruption as the 4th most corrupt nation in West Africa is appalling and therefore, all hands must be put on deck to fight this deadly menace that is hampering development in Nigeria. This is very pertinent because even if government finds a way of reducing cost of governance without reducing incidences of corruption to a serious level, the same funds that have been generated would disappear into individual pockets rather than being utilized for national development.



The concept of Inclusive Growth could be traced back to post World War II development theories, when it was believed that development naturally followed a pre-determined path. The idea was that income growth not only produced but also needed inequality, which would eventually decline as economies grew. After this theory was challenged by countries where growth produced more inequality, the idea that poverty, and most importantly inequality, constrained growth gave way to the emergence of an understanding that equity can and should be a part of the growth process, as reducing inequality can contribute to both reducing and making growth more sustainable.

The term inclusive growth simply refers to growth that benefits everyone, creates fair opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity both in monetary and non-monetary terms. In other words, it is growth that not only expands the national economies but also embraces and accommodates the most vulnerable people in the society. It emphasizes equal opportunity and participation by all, especially the poor, disadvantaged and the unemployed.

These views recognize the fact that the poor face challenges that impair their conditions and limit their opportunities and therefore such growth process should strive to encompass both outcomes and processes that involve participation and sharing of benefit by all and sundry.



As pertinent as inclusive growth is to the development of any society, there are, unfortunately some impediments to its actualization especially in the Northern region of the country. These include:


8.1. Energy Crisis: In a report on Nigeria’s power/energy sector, the USAID observed that there are 95 million Nigerian’s (55%) who do not have access to electricity supply. Even for majority of those that have access, they suffer from extensive power outages. The report further observed that businesses routinely suffer losses due to the cost of electricity as the principal obstacle to their profitability and competiveness. Schools and health centers are said to function without electricity supply while relying heavily or solely on generators. The prevailing energy crisis associated with lack of adequate power in the Northern region of the country 22 constitutes one of the major drawbacks to growth and development as evident in the low level of industrialization in the region. Hydro-power remains the major source of electricity in the region with a production capacity that is far less than the average requirement. Despite the rapid population growth rate, there has not been any deliberate effort to address the lingering energy problem which has resulted in either the shutting down of businesses or their relocation away from the region.


8.2. Educational Gender Disparity: A UNICEF 2018 report showed that educationally, the gender gaps between boys and girls in the North remain very wide which has continued to provide the basis the marginalization and underdevelopment of women in the region. So far, there are over 10 million of children of school age who are out of school. A report on the state of girl child education in the country also revealed that eight states in Northern Nigeria namely Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Katsina and Gombe states have the country’s worst girl child education, coupled with highest female illiteracy, highest adolescent girl child marriage, highest under 15 child bearing and highest risk of maternal injury and deaths respectively. Fundamentally, investment in Women empowerment, education and health will address some of the underlying issues around gender disparity and the major root causes of underdevelopment in relation to opportunities and access.


8.3. Recurrent VS Capital Expenditures: As discussed earlier, one of the factors responsible for the high cost of governance in the Northern part of the country is the high personnel and overhead/administrative cost as against capital expenditure. The statistics released by the CBN in 2011 showed that states in the North spent more money in recurrent than capital expenditure. This also has a spill-over negative effect on inclusive and development growth. In another research report which supports the observation made by the CBN governor about the high cost of governance, on economic development in Nigeria, it was also reported that “a unit rise in recurrent administrative expenditure would lead to a 0.52 unit fall in gross domestic product (GDP)” (Ejuvbekpokpo 2012). Conversely, a unit rise in capital 23 administrative expenditure would cause gross domestic product to fall by 0.45 units”. Put in another way, if recurrent administrative expenditure rises by 100 percent, GDP will fall by 52 percent, which ultimately becomes detrimental to the realization of inclusive growth. Since most states in the North spend more money on recurrent expenditure compared to capital expenditure, inclusive growth is ultimately hampered.



With a brief panoramic view of what inclusive growth means, it is important to discuss ways in which inclusive growth could be achieved, especially as applicable to the Northern Region and how we would want to empower the Citizens. The following are some strategies towards achieving inclusive growth:


9.1. Investment in Human Capital: Investment in human capital is universally recognized as a key pillar of achieving inclusive growth. Investments in health and education have been correlated to better economic development outcomes. As labor is the main asset, a good level of health and education enables both poor men and women to participate in and benefit from economic growth. At the level of governance in Northern Nigeria for instance, improving educational access is a key element of breaching inequality, which also in the long run ensures more equitable distribution in labor market earnings. Investment in health is also a key component of human capital. Inequality in health has a significant impact on economic growth, possibly through effects on labor productivity. The cost of poor health have also impacted negatively on the North’s economy and growth.


9.2. Job Creation: Whether they are subsistence farmers, salaried workers or self-employed entrepreneurs, poor people derive most of their income from work. This basic fact means that the level of employment, the quality of jobs and the access with which the poor have decent earning opportunities will be crucial determinants of poverty reduction especially in the Northern part of Nigeria where the level of poverty is higher than any other region.

It is not surprising that better opportunities for wage and self-employment have a significant impact on how inclusive growth is. No doubt, labor-related events through new jobs or wage increase trigger exits from poverty. Conversely, lack of job opportunities reduce the ability of households to improve on their well-being.

According to 2013 World Development Report, jobs are also transformational in providing household income, raising economic productivity, providing resources to invest in children’s health and education, changing social and power relationships and providing a sense of dignity and well-being.

It is important to note that in job creation, especially in the North, we must do away with stereotype of not paying sufficient attention to female employment, marginalized groups or geographical disparities.

From our experience, in order to help generate more and better jobs for development, especially in the face of limitations in white collar jobs, strategic approaches, will require deployment of additional tools such as entrepreneurship, developing basic skills, strengthening labor institutions and mature approaches to industrial relations, as well as less conventional measures like protecting jobs when large numbers of these are at stake.


9.3. Structural Transformation and Broad-Based Growth: It is important to note that the route to inclusive growth lies in shifting to more productive economic activities through structural transformation. This reduces an over-reliance on a few sectors which in turn increases stability and can generate more and better jobs. Without economic transformation, the poor will remain locked into low-return activities, and any progress will be volatile. This is very pertinent because:

  1. It places the focus on tangible outcomes rather than on achieving preferred policies. This is however with the presupposition such development will lead to poverty reduction, reminding policy makers that pursuing reforms is not an end in its own right.
  2. It places emphasis on identifying direct impacts on poor men and women and the parts of the economy that are important to them, either for employment or for supply of goods and services – such as agriculture or the informal sector. It is not sufficient to increase growth, it is necessary to be mindful of costs and benefits to the poorest. Earlier approaches to liberalizing economies have been criticized for ignoring the equity aspects of policies. iii. It places much greater emphasis on stability and managing a smooth transition. Poor men and women tend to suffer most from economic instability and periods of change. As the universal principle of justice and equity in relation to growth notes, structural change involves “the microeconomics of creation and destruction” and it is important to protect those adversely affected by those dynamics.


9.4. Progressive Tax Policies: Tax policy has an obvious role in direct redistribution. However, its importance in inclusive growth extends beyond this. Taxation is essential to generate revenue for investments in human capital, social transfers and infrastructure necessary for pro-poor growth. Taxation can provide incentives and support for particular sectors or types of businesses, as well as barriers. How taxation systems are structured can make economies more or less pro-poor. For example, capital flight and high tax incentives undermine the contribution of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to pro-poor growth. Furthermore, small businesses can end up paying disproportionately more taxes than multinationals. The OECD report on tax base erosion and profit shifting found that on average, multinational corporations pay 5% corporate tax, whereas SMEs pay 30%. Inclusive growth strategies need to consider the ways that tax policy undermines or contributes to pro-poor outcomes and as this case illustrates, needs to ensure that the sectors where poor people work aren’t disproportionally negatively affected especially agriculture in the case of Nigeria.


9.5. Social Protection: Social protection is also a prominent policy area in the inclusive growth literature. Whilst also being a tool for promoting greater equality and poverty reduction through direct transfers and redistribution, it also has a more dynamic role to play in achieving inclusive growth. In Nigeria for example, transfers to poor households, notably through the poor of the poorest programme of the Federal Government conditional cash transfer scheme and trader money, are ways of trying to give some forms of social protection but the amount ranging from N5,000 to N10,000 is too meagre to make any serious impact. This, as little as it is, stimulates aggregate demand and consumption, creating a vicious cycle of increased purchasing power – increased demand – higher labor demand – and higher incomes. Social protection, if properly designed, can also contribute to higher incomes for the poor entrepreneurs, by helping to overcome what the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD, 2006) refers to as:

“All pervasive economic insecurity at the household level associated with generalized poverty which adversely affects entrepreneurship as it leads to short-termism and limits risk-taking.” Social protection can also prevent households coping with shocks by selling productive assets, reducing consumption or sending under aged children to work, all of which undermine economic prospects of the household in the longer term.


9.6. Non-Discrimination, Social Inclusion and Participation: Although social exclusion is not the same as inequality, it is clear that systematic discrimination against marginalized groups has an impact on economic opportunities and outcomes, as well as prospects for poverty eradication and improving well-being. It is clear that if bolder inclusive growth ambitions benefiting all groups are to be met, then policies need to address the fact that the same groups are persistently left behind in growth and poverty eradication efforts. Social exclusion are serious matters for opportunities. To illustrate this concern, in Nigeria, there ethnic groups that are tagged ‘minority’ or marginalized who are not represented in government and sometimes hardly have access to, or benefit from government programmes, whether economic, educational, health etc. Data shows that failing to address social inclusion leads to worse results for growth and for poverty eradication. Therefore, tackling social inclusion and ensuring participation of marginalized groups can have dynamic and multiple benefits. For example, education of women is not only desirable in its own right, but leads to better education and livelihoods prospects for their children, breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty.


9.7. Strong and Robust Institutions: An inclusive economy requires an inclusive society that has very strong and robust institutions, structures and processes that empower local communities so they can hold their governments accountable. It also requires the participation of all groups in society in decision-making processes. This would require proactive policies for the participation of marginalized groups, such as those highly dependent on land or natural resources, who may otherwise disproportionately bear the costs of particular development decisions. If growth is to benefit all, then governments need to be committed to uphold the rights and opportunities of all their citizens and to counter vested interests that might stand against change to make economies fairer and more inclusive.

Government also need to be efficient and capable, for example, of financing and providing essential services to all. Government needs to be able to overcome corruption which acts as a barrier to employment creation and firm productivity


9.8. Diversification of the Economy: It is a fact that majority of the states in the Northern region of the country largely depend on the monthly federal allocation to states in order to service state government structures. This has negative consequences to the development of the region because the federal allocation is also dependent on the prices of crude oil at the international market due to the mono-economy which the country operates. Currently, the market price of crude oil is dwindling and is affecting the amount of money that goes to the states in the country generally. As a result, states that will witness any meaningful developmental strides will be those that do not depend on the monthly allocation only. This calls for the need for states in the Northern region to begin to search for alternatives outside the monthly revenue allocation in order to cope with the exigencies of administering their states effectively. One of such ways could be revamping the traditional agriculture-based economy, which the North is well endowed.



The term youth is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood independence. The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by Member States.

In Nigeria Youth are generally classified as those between the ages of 15 and 34 or 18 and 35 years old. Youth in the Northern States of Nigeria share certain characteristics with their counterparts in other parts of the country. Regardless of where they live, all youth have common aspirations, the desire to improve their life chances and contribute meaningfully to national development. They also face similar challenges in realizing their dreams (such as limited access to education, health, employment and other opportunities); then there is the challenge of trying to adjust to rapid changes in the global environment of which they are a part. Nevertheless, in the Northern States certain institutional and cultural bottlenecks converge to make youth’s dreams and full potential particularly difficult to realize. These include rapid population growth, high numbers of out-of-school children, seemingly scarce resources, and gross gender inequality.


Development on the other hand is an economic and labor concept which means the impartation of labourial skills and sensitivity to an able-bodied, mentally fit individual or group of individuals to enable them participate in the harnessing and distribution of economic and social resources for meaningful self-benefits and the improvement of the society. This means that to empower an individual is to train, educate, cause him to acquire a means of livelihood or skill in order to enable him to live usefully and optimally in the society. It also means inducting somebody into a life-sustaining occupation or profession to enable him or her fight the challenges of poverty, scarcity of resources and boredom. Youth development or empowerment as the case may be, focuses on creating a better community which is centered on creating a strong independent individual. The youth empowerment activities are addressed towards making a gateway to personality development, international equity, Civic engagement, and democracy building.

Youth development will help to build a better tomorrow, which elevates the standard of living of the people. It is pursued by promoting youth rights, youth activism and standing for their rights. It inculcates values in youths to make them better standing individuals. It is the most effective means of making a better future for Nigeria, which could be achieved in so many ways.



There are quite a number of ways to develop youths for their individual growth, survival and societal good. Some are discussed below:


10.1.1. Educating the Youths: This means allowing or enabling youths to acquire the necessary basic education. Basic education introduces one to life coping skills and allows one the benefit of socializing with the world around one. The basic objective of the Nigeria basic education system as contained in the UBE Act, 2004 (p.16) stipulates that: “Every learner who has gone through nine years of basic education should have acquired appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communicative and lifelong skills; as well as ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning, as the basis for scientific and reflective thinking”.


10.1.2. Teaching of Entrepreneurial Skills: By this we mean training them into various trades, occupations and professions. The essence of education is to give one worthwhile skill. Some people are multi-talented and can learn many skills to create wealth. Others must have to fit into an occupation to be able to earn a living. One may be an artisan, semi-skilled or skilled (professional) worker. Those in the artisan group include the shoe-menders, street sweepers, laborers, traders, farmers, etc. Those that are semi-skilled are drivers, masons, tailors, electricians, technicians, etc. while the skilled or professionals include teachers, surveyors, doctors, engineers, priests, administrators, technologists, computer experts, etc. 10.1.3. Indoctrinating the Youths: Indoctrination means the process of making an individual acquire self-sustaining conscience. It is a process of helping him internalize worthwhile values, morals, faith in God and society and the needed discipline to cope with social demands in life. Morals and social values remain the hub of one’s conscience, directing him to lead a purposeful life and to channel the resources within his reach towards self-development and community service.


10.1.4. Youth Empowerment and Financial Intervention: NGOs, Government, Philanthropists and Financial Institutions, World Bank African Development Bank (ADB) could afford the youths with such opportunities. The beneficiaries of this opportunity could take responsibility for their own business and become managers and employers of labours for sustainable economic development.



Developing the youths is very important to Nigeria as a country and Northern Nigeria as region in so many ways. These include:


10.2.1. Poverty Eradication: It will help reduce the rate of poverty in the country and Northern Nigeria as a region. Youth empowerment is about making them grow and developing their skills. When youths are equipped with the essential skills, those skills will help them to lead a better life later. It’s like an investment in their present which will pay off in the future. Youth empowerment will help increase the employability of youths which will add to the GDP of the nation and national economy. Poverty is among the reasons adduced for youth’s involvement in the current Boko-Haram insurgency in the North.


10.2.2. Good Education Standards: Youth empowerment will help youths understand the importance of soft skills training and education that will definitely lead to a better standard education system. Understanding the importance of education helps to uplift its span and in a developing country like Nigeria. It is very essential to have a standard education system which will help be a catalyst towards building a better future. 10.2.3. Crime Reduction :Empowering the youths will definitely help to attain life skills training which will help to live a good life towards a path that isn’t supportive of any criminal activities especially the spade of kidnappings going on in the country. Developing the youths will help them to understand the crimes on a deeper level and that will make them sure that they stand against anti-social activities. Empowerment enables individuals with a mindset that helps them to differentiate between what’s wrong and what’s right and choosing a path of justice, truth, and peace. 32 10.2.4. Reduce Crime and Youth Restiveness: Let us tell the truth to ourselves: One reason that crime rate and youth restiveness in these society has increased over time is due to the high level of youth unemployment. Some of them have become willing tools in the hands of mischief makers and would make themselves available to be used to perpetrate crime in the society. Quite a number of them are used as thugs in politics to attack perceived political opponents. However, if they are engaged through entrepreneurial trainings and job recruitments for meaningful development, they will not be available to be used to the detriment of the society but rather for societal growth.



It is estimated that Nigeria is currently the eighth largest country in the world and by 2030, it is expected to have an additional 68 million people with another 63 million added by 20150, making the country the 5th most populous country in the world outside China, India, Pakistan and United States of America. Such a surge in population represents a considerable growth in Nigeria’s influence both regionally and globally. The reality today is that as victims of exclusion, Inequality, high unemployment rate and climate change, the youths have become vulnerable to radicalization. Violent extremism, terrorism, sexual violence, organized crime and forced displacements. In this contexts, they have become the agency that fuel and sustain instability in the country.

Northern Nigeria is an interesting paradox. It has one of the most blessed human and material resources but remain the poorest region in the country-rich region, poor people. The youths represent what has severally been described as the country’s democratic dividend. This is largely due to the productive capacity of the youths as the principal agency for peace and development. Despite a surge in this demography, (youth population), huge concerns have been raised concerning how to utilize this productive capacity. According to a British Council Next Generation Report on Nigeria:

“Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the transformation in its history. By 2030, it will be one of the few countries in the world that has young workers in plentiful supply. Youth, not oil, will be the country’s most valuable resource in the 21st century”.

The British Council Report further argued further that:

“Over the next 20 years, Nigeria will experience huge growth in the number young adults in its society. If these young people are healthy, well-educated and find productive employment, they could boost the country’s economy and reinvigorate it culturally and politically. If not, they could be a force for instability and social unrest.”

The report was also quick to draw attention to the fact that:

In the worst case, Nigeria will see: growing number of restless young people frustrated by lack of opportunity; increased competition for jobs, land, natural resources, and political patronage; cities that are increasingly unable to cope with the pressures placed on them; ethnic and religious conflicts and radicalization; and political system discredited by its failure to improve lives”

The #EndsarsProtest, which later transformed into #EndBadGovernanceProtest, represents a form of social discontent amongst the youths in their demand for a better society. Unfortunately, the protest which started as a peaceful one was high jacked by some enemies of progress. Above all, the protest was also short lived due to mobilization of identity fault-lines-religion, ethnicity and regions which clearly underscores the fact that despite their common fate of poverty and marginalization, they easily be divided by the elites through some of the youths.

For emphasis, unless government take deliberate steps in reducing the cost of governance, inclusive growth, youth development and welfare of the generality of Nigerians will be a far cry and it will elude us forever. Similarly, governments at different levels must be deliberate and assertive in blocking all leakages that increase the cost of governance if youth development and inclusive growth is one of its targets.



The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) is the forum for all governors of the region where issues bedeviling the region are discussed and addressed. It is currently chaired by my humble self, the Governor of Plateau State. The forum in its bid to find ways of addressing challenges confronting the region has taken a number of steps in this regard. Some of these include:


12.1. Focus on Youth Development: In order to find ways of helping the youths out of the predicaments of unemployment and poverty, the forum constituted a committee chaired by the Emir of Zazzau to advise it on how to effectively address the problem of youth unemployment and poverty in Northern Nigeria. The committee made some recommendations to the forum which include: a. Introducing and investing in skill development centers and technology education. The rationale behind this idea is to empower the youths with practical skills that help them to be self-sustaining considering the acute shortage of white collar jobs.

  1. Equipping them with Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills to enable them cope with global trends on ICT which could be self-sustaining. Acquisition of ICT skills in the youths will enable them start their own businesses with little capital which will keep them busy rather than exposing them to political manipulations leading to thuggery and crime.
  2. The committee also came up with the idea of free and compulsory education for the region which seeks to improve enrollment rates and hence the literacy level of a region that is educationally disadvantaged.
  3. In addition to the above, a legal framework towards ensuring that parents comply with the free and compulsory education is also being suggested by this committee
  4. The committee also suggested the re-introduction of the Grade II teacher certificate in view of the peculiar situation of the Northern part of the country.

12.2. Security: In the area of the security situation confronting the Northern region, the forum observed that the large unoccupied space (land mass) in the region which cannot be effectively patrolled by the formal security network should be complemented by the informal and traditional security apparatus. In addition, the committee which is also chaired by Alh. Mohammed Badaru Abubakar recommended that:

  1. There should be a synergy between the modern security architecture (police, military, DSS etc) with the traditional security system that integrates the hunters and vigilante groups.
  2. Ensuring Peaceful Co-existence: The need for communities in the region to live peacefully with each other also necessitated the forum to constitute 36 another committee chaired by Alh. Abdul’aziz Suleiman with the mandate of intervening between the Tiv and the Jukun towards finding a lasting solution to the intractable crisis among them that has cost so many lives. A secured region will reduce the amount of money spent on insecurity thereby reducing the cost of governance and channeling same towards developmental projects.


12.3. Traditional Institutions: The NGF in its effort to engage the traditional rulers and give them their rightful place in the society, constituted a committee chaired by the Emir of Lafia, to advice on how to effectively bring the traditional institutions to function within the society and justify the offices they occupy. 12.4. Economy: Looking at the poor economic situation of the region and the need to find ways of reviving the economy of the region with a view to develop the area, constituted another committee chaired by the Governor of Kebbi state, Alh. Bagudu Atiku to come up with ways of improving the economy of the entire region. A robust economy as envisaged by the NGF will ultimately lead to more funds for capital expenditure and general development of the region.



Returning the Northern region to normalcy is one of the highest priorities of the Northern Governors Forum (NGF). Achieving this feat however will require putting an end to insurgency, banditry and other forms of insecurity that has become the persistent plight of the region for more than a decade. This must be carried out simultaneously with efforts and strategies aimed at handling the humanitarian crisis through the implementation of an effective rehabilitation and resettlement programme. It will require the implementation of a solid peace building, reconciliation and de-radicalization framework; effective utilization of the mean resources as well as the effective reconstruction of social and physical infrastructure, and immediate rehabilitation of major infrastructural facilities such as communication and transportation networks within the region.

The Northern Region will require the successful implementation of a development strategy that leverages advanced knowledge of post conflict redevelopment strategy and the commitment of Nigeria’s partners such as the United States working with other allies and with the support of other international development partners. Since agriculture is the mainstay of the economy for all states that make up the Northern region, the transformation of the agricultural sector as a key driver of growth and development, as well as livelihood, job and wealth creation remain imperative. Support towards the transformation of the agricultural sector in Northern Nigeria should be anchored on four interrelated pillars, namely, Production, Availability, Accessibility and Utilization respectively.

From the foregoing, it is a fact that poverty, unemployment and inequality are key predisposing factors that drive conflict, violence, insecurity and instability in Northern Nigeria. Consequently, stabilization and governance remain two important issues that need to be addressed in the context of building a firewall of resilience through the design of what can be termed a common agenda and vision for the progress, unity and development of Northern Nigeria.

Finally, as I end this presentation, let me make a clarion call to all and sundry that there is the urgent need to faithfully embrace the paradigm shift from high cost of governance and state security and welfare investment approach. We must prioritize honest investment in human security, consistent with the constitutional obligations placed on all levels of organ and arms of government by Section 13-20 of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.







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