Cablegate: Nigeria: Little Progress Toward an Iprsp

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: The World Bank invited GON officials and a small
group of donors to an April 2-4 retreat with representatives
of African countries that had successfully completed the
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) process. The retreat
was a limited success in reorienting Nigeria's approach to
the PRSP and spurring progress in producing a useful Interim
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (IPRSP). In an April 12
meeting, international donors discussed the results of the
retreat. As of now, the process stands as follows:

a) The PRSP process lacks strong commitment and an
articulated vision from the highest levels of the Government.
Key GON officials needed to make this process work may not
clearly understand PRSP. Donors will identify and work with
GON officials to
fill this leadership gap.

b) Participation by civil society and state and local
governments is currently insufficient. Donors will seek
opportunities to broaden participation by these groups.

c) The national political leadership is hesitant to reach out
to civil society and grassroots organizations on reforms
before the elections for fear of raising questions about why
the current Administration has not effectively addressed
these issues after three years in power.

d) Donors agree Nigeria should not be pressured to complete
the PRSP quickly if the result would be a paper exercise with
little follow-through.

e) The World Bank should write the President and Vice
President articulating a common donor approach to the GON on
PRSP matters. This missive will form the basis for talking
points to be used by individual donor diplomatic missions.
End summary.

2. Donors met April 12 to discuss Nigeria's progress toward
an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Discussion
focused on progress made during the April 2-4 retreat
organized by the World Bank for representatives of the donor
community and members of the GON National Forum. The retreat
was designed to educate the GON team on how successful PRSPs
have been completed elsewhere and to raise awareness of
poverty measurement techniques and the relationship between
the macroeconomy and poverty reduction. The National Forum,
with 86 members including five members of the donor
community, is to be reconstituted from the superceded
National Core Team, which had approximately 35 members. The
mandate of the National Forum includes public outreach,
consensus-building and drafting of the Poverty Reduction
Strategy Paper. The National Forum is working under the
Guidance Committee, chaired by Festus Osunsade, Secretary of
the Presidency's Economic Policy Coordination Committee.

3. Approximately three dozen GON officials, including the
President's Principal Secretary Stephen Oronsaye and
Director-General of the Debt Management Office Akin Arikawe,
attended the retreat, along with a handful of donor community
members. Representatives from Uganda and Ethiopia -- two
countries that have successfully completed PRSPs -- presented
their perspectives on the PRSP process. The group broke out
into three working groups focused on: broad-based
participation in the PRSP process, the relationship between
macroeconomic policy and poverty alleviation, and data
requirements for a successful PRSP.

4. Donor community participants agreed that much work remains
to be done before Nigeria will complete an Interim PRSP and
that the GON should not be pressured to complete the PRSP
quickly. There continues to be a wide gap between donor and
GON perceptions of what constitutes a good PRSP. Some donors
cited a lack of seriousness among GON officials and a sharp
division between the few Nigerians who understand the need
for a PRSP and the much larger group of those who lack this
understanding. The participants also noted strong
institutional competition between GON officials involved with
the various poverty programs, such as the NAPEP (National
Poverty Eradication Program), the PAP (Poverty Alleviation
Program) and the PRSP.

5. One obstacle to achieving a comprehensive PRSP is the lack
of high-level GON leadership and absence of a common
objective. It remains unclear who at the highest levels is
responsible for the PRSP; although the Chief Economic Advisor
to the President is tasked with this responsibility, his long
absences from the country have kept him out of the loop and
he has assigned the task to the EPCC. Completion of a
meaningful PRSP may depend upon one or more high-level GON
advocates, or a small group of mid-level, but influential
champions to push the process forward. However, with
national elections looming, the political leadership may be
hesitant to tackle the PRSP, which implies a commitment to
fundamental reform. Many GON officials have commented that
in the process of soliciting input from civil society,
expectations will be raised that the government will deliver
poverty alleviation programs. No one wants to raise
expectations at this time.

6. The retreat revealed that some Nigerians view the PRSP
solely as a mechanism to obtain debt relief while others
focus on the personal political benefits the resources given
to poverty alleviation can bring. The donors agreed that
Nigeria must develop and articulate a clear vision and
purpose for the Poverty Reduction Strategy and felt that it
would be up to the Economic Policy Coordination Committee
(EPCC) to fulfill this need.

7. The donors agreed upon the following next steps:

-- Donors need to elevate efforts to include a wider range of
stakeholders, including state and local governments and civil
society groups. To do this, however, all agreed that
Nigerian civil society must be educated on how to carry on a
positive and constructive dialogue with the GON.

-- Donors must identify a small group of influential GON
officials who can effectively champion the PRSP process.
Some proposed names included Stephen Oronsaye, Principal
Secretary to the President; Akin Arikawe, Director-General of

the Debt Management Office; and Bola Illori, National
Planning Commission.

-- Donors will continue to communicate to the GON the
importance and reformist nature of the PRSP in a variety of
ways, including through diplomatic channels.

-- Donors should continue work with the EPCC to better
articulate the GON's objectives and vision for the PRSP and a
deadline for the IPRSP.

-- The World Bank will draft a letter to the President and
Vice President outlining donors' views and prepare talking
points as a common agenda for the donors' use in bilateral
discussions with the GON.

8. Comment. Progress on the IPRSP has been excruciatingly
slow because the GON has not gotten its act together. The
absence of a high-level GON advocate for the PRSP, combined
with the lack of a clear vision and articulation of what the
PRSP means for Nigeria, continues to frustrate the donor
community. There is a growing recognition among the donors,
however, that Nigeria should not be pressured into completing
this process too quickly, as this would probably result in a
document that pays mere lip service without providing a
realistic and achievable action plan to alleviate poverty.
Moreover, with elections fast approaching, the GON may not
want to raise public awareness of the PRSP for fear of
evoking expectations of significant resources and improved
social services ) neither of which is likely in the
near-term. A viable IPRSP will also commit the GON to a
course of responsible macroeconomic management, budget
re-prioritization, and transparency that it is not willing to
undertake at this point. In short, Nigeria's PRSP will
remain a long-term objective of the donor community. How and
whether donors can support a PRSP process under these
conditions remains unclear. Decisions about what
implications there might be for donor assistance in support
of programs growing out of a PRSP will not be taken soon.
End Comment.


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