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An Overview of Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations and Subnational Public Finance in Nigeria

Fiscal decentralization reform, the reform of fiscal relations between different levels of government, is an important fiscal policy issue in many African countries. While for many African nations the decentralized delivery of government goods and services is a relatively new concept, the issue of intergovernmental fiscal relations has been a constant and important fiscal policy consideration in Nigeria since the country's independence in 1960. Despite Nigeria's long history with a federal government structure, until recently it was hard to truly consider Nigeria as an effectively decentralized country. For much of the country's history, successive military regimes dismissed elected officials and legislative bodies at all levels of government and replaced them with military appointees; since under military rule subnational governments in Nigeria were accountable to the country's military authorities rather than to state or local electorates, we cannot properly speak of political and fiscal decentralization during this period. Nonetheless, in many respects Nigeria's basic decentralized federal administrative structure was maintained by successive military regimes. Under military rule, state and local governments continued to operate as distinct government units, provide important government services, collecting own source revenues and receiving intergovernmental transfers, albeit at the direction of military governors and appointed local executives rather than at the discretion of the local electorate. However, with the return of civilian rule to Nigeria in 1999, which entailed the adoption of a new constitution and the election of government officials and legislative assemblies at all levels of government, Nigeria instantaneously became one of the most decentralized countries in Africa.To this effect, this paper presents a broad overview of intergovernmental fiscal relations in Nigeria. This paper follows the main conceptual building blocks or pillars of fiscal decentralization and subnational publc finance. After a brief overview of Nigeria's federal system, Section 2 discusses the assignment of functional responsibilities in Nigeria's federal system. Section 3 presents an analysis of revenue assignments, considering what revenue sources are available to each level of government. Section 4 looks at the design and implementation of Nigeria's system of intergovernmental transfers. Section 5 considers subnational fiscal management issues, including the importance of capital "development" budgets in the Nigerian budget process. Finally, Section 6 considers the role and status of local governments and state-local government relations.

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Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper0201.

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Length: 62 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2002
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0201
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  1. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & LF Jameson Boex, 1997. "An Analysis of Alternative Measures of Fiscal Capacity for Regions of the Russian Federation," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper9704, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & LF Jameson Boex, 1997. "Fiscal Capacity: An Overview of Concepts and Measurements Issues and Their Applicability in the Russian Federation," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper9703, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
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