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Scale and depth of development challenge in Nigeria remain significant

27 July 2016

International Development Committee report finds the vast potential of Africa's most populous nation is still to be realised.  

The International Development Committee's report: DFID's programme in Nigeria, published today, highlights regional inequalities and the depth of poverty and instability in the north of the country, despite the re-establishment of democratic civilian rule in 1999 and sustained economic growth over the past 20 years.

Nigeria is home to 120 million people who live below or only just above the poverty line; 10% of the world's mothers who die in childbirth and 16% of the world's out of school children.
The Government's funding to Nigeria has increased over the last 15 years, rising to £266 million for 2016–17, making the country the Department for International Development's (DFID) second largest programme in Africa and third largest in the world.
The Committee welcomed DFID's increasing prioritisation of Nigeria and endorsed the Department's strategy of working to strengthen the capabilities of the Nigerian authorities to tackle corruption and foster more effective and accountable governance. The Committee believes successful development in Nigeria is a global priority and DFID's assistance is important to stability and prosperity in West Africa.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"Nigeria is making progress. The election of the reformist President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 is a cause for optimism and there have been economic successes.

However, the need to support reforms to governance in Nigeria is clear. The strategy of helping the Nigerian Government to do better with its own resources is the right one. Sustainable development demands effective governance so that Nigeria can pave its way towards an exit from aid.

In health, wealth and education, there are great disparities in Nigeria—which is struggling to meet the new global targets in the Sustainable Development Goals. More than 60 percent of DFID's funding is spent is six northern states.

A massive population growth is projected over the next few decades. If the Government is supported to deliver on basic services such as education and health, a growing population could be an asset to a stronger, more stable and prosperous Nigeria.

DFID programmes have a tremendous role to play in rebuilding communities amid conflict and danger presented by groups such as Boko Haram, who have consistently targeted schools. The Committee continues to campaign for the 218 Chibok girls who have not yet been returned to their families and members will speak in a 'Bring back our girls' debate in Westminster Hall in September.

Assistance is vital to the stability and prosperity of West Africa and is, therefore, in the UK's national interest. It is safe to say that the Committee views DFID spending in Nigeria as one of the most important development challenges of this century."

Committee recommendations

On Governance – process and outcomes:

  • Maintain support throughout the election cycle by strengthening systems, institutional management and civic education in advance of the 2019 Presidential Election. Include staff from other UK Government departments where possible, in accordance with the stated desire for DFID's work to be "embedded in the broader HMG effort". DFID should also use its comparative advantage in parliamentary strengthening to enhance scrutiny, foster transparency and support legislative oversight (Paragraph 19).
  • Invest in research into the political economy of Nigeria, particularly on how to better align political and development priorities. (Paragraph 28)
  • Make use of the large number of UK-trained lawyers who may be motivated to help drive reform in the judicial system, including the UK-based Nigerian diaspora. The Vice President, with whom DFID works closely and who studied law in the UK, can serve as a key figure in rallying a powerful network of reformers, both in Nigeria and abroad. (Par 37)
  • Ensure that the States Peer Review Mechanism (SPRM) is implemented with the specific objective of delivering greater accountability. Bottom-up, this should keep citizens well-informed of the relative performance of their state government and generating calls for greater accountability. While top-down, it should bring pressure to bear on the poorer performing states from the Federal government. (Paragraph 44)

On Inclusive Economic Development:

Encourage the Nigerian Government to take measures to mitigate negative impacts of electricity price increases on the poorest households and consider both the short and long term impacts of its power sector programmes in terms of poverty reduction. In preparing for any future infrastructure programmes in Nigeria or elsewhere, DFID should carry out more in-depth impact assessments to thoroughly consider the impacts of privatisation on the poor. (Paragraph 56)

  • Conduct a review into its engagement with British Nigerian diaspora groups, particularly professional associations and those focussed on development, with the objective of ensuring that the substantial financial flows in the form of remittances and foreign direct investment (FDI) complement Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the benefit of the poorest Nigerians. (Paragraph 58)
  • In addition to its new Operational Plan, recommend DFID publishes a strategic plan of how the UK Government's various approaches will be mobilised to make progress towards inclusive growth and poverty reduction. (Paragraph 62)
  • Invest in research to develop a better understanding of the processes underlying quality job creation in Nigeria. (Paragraph 68)
  • Build upon current programmes aimed at generating jobs and increasing incomes by addressing the non-market barriers—such as unpaid childcare and family planning—that many women in Nigeria face. (Paragraph 72)

On Basic Services:

  • Support key Nigerian decision-makers, with a specific emphasis on the value of basic public services. (Paragraph 81)
  • Assist the Nigerian Government in performing an exercise to scope its trajectory towards SDG 4. It should develop a working model on education logistics (covering pupil numbers and distribution, teachers, classrooms, learning materials, etc) which will deepen understanding of what needs to change to get closer to achieving that Goal. (Paragraph 82)
  • When funding such projects in the future, ensure immediate and urgent improvement of hospital hygiene standards; and that structural problems in hospital management systems are resolved before funding agreements for any specific programmes are finalised.
  • Work with the Nigerian Government to ensure that memoranda of understanding include commitments to improve hospital management, operational systems and hygiene. (Paragraph 84)
  • Ensure that support to private sector provision of education aligns with its commitment to “leaving no one behind”, and that the very furthest behind are prioritised. (Paragraph 95)
  • In its response to this Report, DFID should set out what steps it, and UNICEF, are taking to improve the effectiveness of the Girls Education Project and address the specific concerns raised about enrolment, learning, effective financial management and resource planning. DFID should also state over what timeframe it expects the project to be fully meeting expectations, including an indication of at what point continued underperformance will mean that DFID no longer deems the project viable, and will withdraw its support. (Paragraph 101)
  • Apply lessons from SuNMaP on how catalytic investments, such as in building the capacity of the Nigerian Government's National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), can have wider benefits for the provision of basic services. DFID should also ensure that the length of programmes matches what research has shown to be most effective: we have heard evidence that this is not always the case at present. Implementing partners and stakeholders should also be kept up-to-date on strategic funding priorities so that they can plan their activities accordingly. We would also like to see DFID invest in building networks between research communities and relevant state and federal authorities in order to deliver effective partnerships and policies that have a strong evidence base. (Paragraph 107)
  • Scale up the Tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases programme as part of the effort to eliminate NTDs in Nigeria through an Integrated Approach which has shown how cost effective life-saving health interventions can be in changing the lives of millions of Nigerians. (Paragraph 110)
  • Take immediate action to influence the Nigerian Government to scale up its support services to victims of sexual violence through SARCS, and extend this support to all women and girls subjected to violence. (Paragraph 116)

On Conflict and Stability:

  • Do all it can to ensure that the UN appeal for Nigeria in 2016 is fully funded. In line with commitments made to education in emergencies at the World Humanitarian Summit in May, use DFID resources and influence over other donors to ensure that the Education Cannot Wait Fund is well supported and quickly operationalised so that interruptions to education caused by the conflict are minimised to no more than 30 days.
  • Scale up support for the Safe Schools Initiative, and engage with and support the special investigative committee appointed by President Buhari to assess the safety of schools in Nigeria. (Paragraph 128)
  • Ensure robust processes are in place for learning and disseminating lessons on effectively operating in a fragile environment. (Paragraph 134)
  • Continue support for work to address the drivers of conflict through the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP). (Paragraph 140)
  • Prioritise livelihoods and peacebuilding in programming in the North East. DFID should encourage the Nigerian Government to launch large-scale temporary employment generation programmes and cash transfers targeting the poorest households with DFID support. Reconciliation and community cohesion should also be considered a priority. The more effective peacebuilding elements of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) should be scaled up and concentrated on the communities where they are most necessary. DFID should fund and make use of the experiences of faith-based organisations and other civil society groups, who are in a unique position to bridge divisions within and between communities. (Paragraph 145)
  • Scale up community-based work which the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has suggested can have a promising pro-poor impact. Specifically, DFID should aim to scale up its community-based efforts in the areas of justice and peace and security, with a particular focus on the communities' worst affected by Boko Haram in the North East. In line with its disability framework, we urge DFID to adjust the focus of its ‘Life Saving Humanitarian Support in Northeast Nigeria' programme to include specific targets to cater for the needs of people with disabilities affected by the conflict. (Paragraph 150)

Further information

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