Poor Public Management and Public Governance Failure: Nigerian Experience on Oil Resource Curse or Blessing Debate

Poor Public Management and Public Governance Failure: Nigerian Experience on Oil Resource Curse or Blessing Debate

John Ugoani
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJPAE.20200701.oa1
Article PDF Download
Open access articles are freely available for download


Nigeria is regarded as the giant of Africa because of its huge oil resource wealth. For years the country has been restoring peace in troubled countries. It also has the support of world leaders because of its strong advocacy against corruption and terrorism. This achievement in the global governance agenda is a blessing. However, the problem of corruption and mismanagement is a curse. In the context of the curse or blessing debate in oil-rich countries, it is clear from evidence that the experience of Nigeria is a mixed blend of blessing and curse. Exploratory research design was used for the study, and data analyses showed positive association between poor public management and public governance failure, as a result of the gross negative effect. To mitigate such a negative trend, it was recommended that government should institute management teams in government, departments, agencies, and parastatals to monitor the use of public resources for public good.
Article Preview


It takes good management of public resources for the entrenchment of good public governance architecture in the polity of any country. Good public management focuses on the sound management of public resources to reduce incentives and opportunities for public corruption and mismanagement. The direct opposite of good public management is poor public management which is a reflection of impropriety, inefficiency, misallocation and misdirection of public resources. Poor public management is notorious for lack of transparency in public financial management practices, and putting of pressure on public administration by the diversion of public wealth for personal gains by public officials. This in effect results to poor governance. Poor governance contrasts with good public governance which ensures the enactment and execution of public development policies that create an efficient, effective and responsible government. It also seeks to address the problems of accountability, probity and transparency and equally promotes an environment that accelerates national sustainability. Richardson (2010) asserts that good governance which opposes poor governance is mainly concerned with the good and progress of society and the people. Poor public management and poor governance are noticeable in Nigeria largely as the result of the inability of successive governments to implement reforms. For example, the Babangida government is reputed to have introduced the highest number of reform programmes unprecedented in the Nigerian political history, but it is also on record that over 50 percent of such programmes failed to achieve the intended results (Anifowose, and Aiyede, 2004). A reform is meant to remove faults in the system, strengthening good qualities and making necessary corrections to avoid abuse. In view of the fact that corruption is a universal phenomenon and that there will always be people and groups in any society that will always attempt to enrich themselves unjustly, government needs a well co-ordinate strategy and to implement reforms so as to minimize the incidence of poor governance. To this extent, Pope (1999) suggests that to bring integrity to government, appropriate attitudes and conducts must be taught and reinforced at all levels of government to ensure the success of reforms. He posits that reform is a long-term process, involving a series of carefully formulated programmes. Also, reforms can reduce poor public management and government must therefore, address core political and administrative goals that are not only integral to management functions but also regular reports should be made and evaluated. Reducing reform failures requires good public leadership, because it is a vital ingredient in national progress, starting from the corporate, community, state, and to national level. The challenge of leadership is the inability to craft appropriate visions and goals and to align people behind them to achieve common objectives. Also, in a changing world environment, national progress and improvements in the quality of life of the average citizen, comes to those able to efficiently use human and material resources for growth and sustainability. Nigeria since the 1960s has had leaders noted for misrule, misleadership, corruption, abandonment of projects that constitute poor public management and ultimately influencing poor governance in an oil-rich economy. While great nations have produced great leaders like: Washington, Clinton, Gandhi, Churchhill, Mao, and Mandela among others. Nigeria is cursed for producing corrupt leaders too many to mention, while also blessed with fine leaders like Bello, Awolowo, and Azikiwe among others. According to Olatunbosun (2006) unfortunately, Nigeria has had successions of reluctant leaders, mediocre leaders, and visionless leaders. Leaders who had diverted the abundant wealth of the nation into their private accounts and imposed an unforgiveable level of poverty on a nation that should be one of the world’s wealthiest. This explains the theory of poor public management and poor public governance. This is a country where state governors’ allegedly arranged to liquidate the nation’s cash reserves. For example, according to Okonjo-Iweala (2015)When the country should have saved for a rainy day, states blocked that saving and insisted on sharing the monies in the Excess Crude Account (ECA). The states blocked further saving in the Sovereign Wealth Fund. These were views of the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance of Nigeria, where despite a huge fuel subsidy scandal of over N2trillion is yet to be resolved, about N500billion was paid to marketers in 2014 and N192billion in 2015 respectively. According to her, as at 2015 marketers made an additional claim of N291.7billion outstanding payment of which N160.5billion was in foreign exchange differentials. At the time of this report, there was no verification of the accuracy of the payments and claims. Under the intimidation of multinational oil companies (MOCs) and those posing as marketers, Nigeria is swindled of trillions of Naira because of lack of good public management, accountability, transparency and probity in public office. Onuoha (1999) states that the late Abacha as at 1999 was worth N476 billion. His studies also indicate that virtually all top government officials in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) such as governors, ministers, commissioners, permanent secretaries, managing directors, rectors, vice-chancellors, embezzle public funds. In all cases, these top officials conspire with their fraudulent-partners like contractors in their nefarious activities. According to Mabikke (2012) many African countries are blessed with oil and mineral wealth that have the potential to transform their economies. However, he states that such resources have often proved to be a curse rather than a blessing due to poor public management. He emphasizes that among the major causes of Africa’s resource wealth curse involve but not limited to lack of strong legal and political institutions, dictatorial and repressive governments among other causes that stem from poor public management. The level of mismanagement of Nigeria’s oil revenue is too bad that billions of Naira daily flow into the pockets of corrupt people. For example, according to Ribadu (2013) The nation’s oil cash cow, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is being milked to death by a few persons put in charge of watching over national patrimony. Also, the reported N16trillion revenue lost in 10 years was close to federal government’s capital votes in 10 years, which means that the more Nigeria earns from petrodollars the more it sinks into absolute poverty in the midst of huge revenues (World Bank, 1996, Onwuka, 2018, Mujtaba, et al, 2013, Ohuanunwa, 2010, Ojiabor, 2018a, 2018b, Okafor, 2018, Onyemegbulem, 2018, Onyeneke, 2018, Reinikka, 2001, Tshinyoyo, 2012).

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Volume 11: 1 Issue (2024): Forthcoming, Available for Pre-Order
Volume 10: 1 Issue (2023)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2022): 1 Released, 3 Forthcoming
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2021)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2020)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2019)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing