Nigeria’s delayed election—What does it mean for international donors?
By admin February 16, 2015

Nigeria was expected to hold its new elections on February 14th. However, a week before the scheduled election, Nigeria’s national security advisor urged the electoral commission to delay the election for six weeks to March 28th. The Security Chief, Sambo Dasuki, said the reason for the delay was that still half of the biometric cards needed to be handed out. He indicated his dissatisfaction towards Nigeria’s armed forces who hampered the campaign against the insurgents. Several soldiers have complained about not being given the weapons they need to fight Boko Haram.

Nigera’s top development partners were quick to voice their concerns for the delay. U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond argued the delay is unnecessary arguing that Nigeria’s security, “should not be used as a reason to deny the Nigerian people from exercising their democratic right.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile said the United States is “deeply disappointed” with the decision, and referred to alleged political interference with the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission as “unacceptable.” “The United States underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.”

These strong words may put some pressure on Nigeria to keep up its word on the new election date, but they do not mean that the delay in elections would necessarily translate into aid suspensions. Any potential aid cut to Nigeria from its traditional donors is more likely to come as a result of its perceived ability to fund its own development.

Nigeria received $2.5 billion in official development assistance in 2013, according to the latest data by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This number pales in comparison to what Nigeria is expecting in 2015 oil revenues alone: 1.918 trillion naira ($9.3 billion). In its 2015 proposed budget, the government is also allocating 521.27 billion naira (11.7 percent) for education and 278.8 billion naira (6.3 percent) for health, out of a total planned spending of 4.46 trillion naira.

These numbers are still far from meeting internationally recommended targets for domestic spending. Nigeria was among the African countries that pledged to spend at least 20 percent on education and 15 percent health in previous years. Moreover, it’s unclear how far government spending can go toward addressing outstanding issues such as maternal and under-5 mortality and HIV and AIDS. Therefore in these sectors aid will continue to play an important role.

If we look at the sectors that Nigeria’s donors are focusing on, we may find an answer to saving Nigeria’s health sector. Currently, Nigeria’s top donors are World Bank, United States, United Kingdom, African Development Fund, and the European Union. The World Bank will give on average $2 billion a year until 2017, with the main focus on growth and job creation. The United States will give $701 million and the bulk of that budget is for health, with HIV and AIDS taking much of that funding. However, US aid to Nigeria is set to suffer cuts of almost $100 million in 2016. It’s unclear yet which programs will suffer, but any reduction in health funding is likely to have an impact on the country’s fight against HIV and AIDS.

As for United Kingdom, health continues to be a major part of aid spending in the country. In the current period, indicative spending for health is at 73.2 million British pounds. The African Development Fund contributes small amounts of funding compared to the country’s total financial needs, and much of the funding is not spent on health. The European Union is set to provide 512 million euros ($580.75 million) to Nigeria from 2014 to 2020, The bulk of EU aid will go to health, nutrition and resilience (240 million euros), with a focus on helping the government deliver on primary health care and boosting child immunization campaigns.

Clearly, not holding on to its democratic processes is not a good choice for Nigeria, since the country relies so much on aid for its development. Whether Nigeria will hold its election on time, the international community, and especially it’s donors, are waiting to see.

Thanks for sharing !

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