Nigeria Country Dialogue 2002
January 18, 2002
The government in Nigeria is the dominant player in the economy, with government spending comprising 50% of GDP. The oil sector, which provides 90% of the foreign exchange, is controlled by the government and generates 70% of its revenues. Economic activity is thus highly correlated with oil price volatility and government behavior, and the issue of fiscal decentralization is of central importance to the country. Within this policy context, the 2002 IPD Country Dialogue focused on four main areas: Decentralization and Resource Management, Rural Development, Macroeconomic Management, and Institutional Reform.
IPD held its first event in Enugu, in southwestern Nigeria. The event, organized by AIAE (African Institute for Applied Economics), brought together policy makers, private sector representatives, academics, development specialists, and members of civil society.
The formal program included presentations by IPD Executive Director and President Joseph Stiglitz, Chief Economic Adviser to the President Magnus Kpakol, and the Executive Governor of Enugu State His Excellency Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. The IPD team focused on the need to strike the right balance between centralized and decentralized power structures in economic policy planning and implementation and presented an economic framework in which to analyze policy alternatives. An open forum following the formal presentations set off a vibrant discussion generating fresh ideas on policy in Nigeria.
The second dialogue, which targeted policymakers and government officials, took place in the capital, Abuja, and was also hosted by AIAE. Nigeria's Vice President Atika Abubakar and IPD's Joseph Stiglitz were the keynote speakers. This Dialogue exposed policymakers to best practice policies and created an open discourse for policy reform. The Dialogue emphasized issues of vital importance, such as the effects of exchange rate devaluation and corruption. In addition, several government ministers raised topics of importance to their particular ministries. Participants highlighted the need for additional research and a continuation of open dialogue and policy forums.
The final dialogue took place in Lagos and was jointly hosted by UNDP and AIAE. Most participants came from the private sector. Similarly to the previous day's dialogue, macroeconomic issues were key to the discussion, although more emphasis was placed on the necessity for institutional reforms, such as better customs clearance, increased stability and enforcement of laws, improved infrastructure to facilitate the movement of goods, trained human capital, and greater availability of capital.