Researching the politics of development



Service delivery reform in Nigeria: The rise and fall of the Conditional Grant Scheme to Local Government Areas (CGS to LGAs)

Working paper 114

Download pdf

Bala Yunusa Yusuf and David Hulme
This paper analyses Nigeria’s Conditional Grant Scheme to Local Government Areas (CGS to LGAs). It tracks the design and implementation of CGS to LGAs at multiple levels, with a conceptual focus on the dynamics of state capacity and elite commitment. The paper finds that, while considerable progress was made initially with reforms, the increase in patronage politics following the change in national political leadership in 2011 meant that reforms were not sustained. At the local level, the scheme partly achieved its objectives, as in Guri LGA, where an informal development coalition seized the opportunity to increase spending and improve LGA capacity to deliver basic education and health services. The reforms were less effective in other LGAs, such as Mashi, where pre-existing factors, especially elite capture and frequent turnover of civil servants, undermined reforms. Even in difficult governance contexts, service delivery programmes can be designed and implemented in a manner that is both technically adequate and politically smart to achieve better development outcomes. However, sustaining such gains requires the continued commitment of political and bureaucratic elites along the implementation chain.