Niger is the largest state in Nigeria, occupying 10 per cent of the national land mass and providing home to 4 million people. Based around the Niger River, and known as the power state, Niger is home to some of the largest dams and hydroelectric power stations in the country. The current Governor, Dr Babangida Aliyu, prefers to be known as the Chief Servant, and important reformist legislation has been passed during his tenure, including the Fiscal Responsibility Law, Public Procurement Law and State Statistics Act. Dr Aliyu's term will come to an end when the Governor-Elect, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, will be sworn in on 29th May 2015.
In 2012, Niger became one of the pilot states undertaking the State Peer Review Mechanism under the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and SPARC is now engaging with the government to address some of the weaknesses that have been identified. SPARC has worked in partnership with Niger State Government since 2012 on improving governance structures for effective and efficient service delivery. The list of achievements is extensive.
As a trusted partner to key Niger State MDAs, we would like to take the opportunity to highlight the:
- Preparation of the Niger State Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) 2015-2019;
- Niger State’s Vision 3:2020 has ensured that the state policy and plans are linked to the annual budget through medium term sector strategies (MTSS). The state has prepared three sectors MTSSs for the second time: 2014-2016 MTSS for Agriculture, Education, and Health; and 2015-2017 MTSS for the same three sectors. There has also been good collaboration between SPARC and the UNDP in assisting Niger State Government in the MTSS preparation. This has led to adoption of three new sectors by the State for MTSS – Investment, Infrastructure and Transportation;
- Development of the Government Resource Estimation, and Allocation Tool known as Economic and Fiscal Update (EFU), Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), and Budget Policy Statement (BPS) based on the provision in the State Fiscal Responsibility Law for a Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) that will ensure realistic and implementable budgets;
- Budget realism has improved since 2012 – from 49% (2011) to 85% (2013). This has led to some restructuring of the personnel and department for increased IGR in the State. As a result of this exercise the State recorded N400 million, about 20% improvement in IGR, in the first six months of 2014;
- The Office of the Head of Service (OHoS) is centralizing the human resources database - 75% of the MDAs submitted their nominal rolls to the OHoS for the exercise which has helped the Niger State to identify some abnormalities with the current payroll system, and eliminate some ghost workers in the payroll. Corporate Planning has commenced in three MDAs: Niger State Internal Revenue Service (NSIRS), Niger State Planning Commission (NSPC) and the OHoS. A Human Resource Development (HRD) policy and an improvement plan have been prepared to address key human resource management (HRM) issues;
- Compendium of Niger State MDA mandates developed, ensuring MDA mandates align to the State Development Plan, and the laws that establish them; and support on the development of guidelines for mandate rationalization and updating given;
- There has been improvement in the proportion of Key Performance Indicator data available, from less than 15% in 2013 to more than 50% by end of 2014, for tracking results and analyzing performance and reporting changes;
- A law for the establishment of the Niger State Office of Auditor General was passed by the State House of Assembly, indicated the state’s dedication to reform and transparency.
Major progress on Gender & Social Inclusion (G&SI) has also been made in the state:
- The State Development Plan was updated and is made G&SI sensitive with measurable indicators that can be tracked over time;
- G&SI has been mainstreamed in the three sector MTSSs (health, education, and agriculture) ensuring that money is allocated to those in the state who need it most;
- Gender desk officers in almost all MDAs have been assigned;
- There has been fruitful donor coordination with the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ) towards improving G&SI mainstreaming in the state;
- Women Day Colleges and nine Women Education Centre’s (Second chance education) were established to provide opportunities for second chance education for girls who have either dropped out of school for marriage or other social issues to complete their education.