right at the start of the funding chain, high level politi- cians and officials siphon off huge sums of money to line their own pockets and maintain the clientelist net- works that help keep them in power. From the outset, therefore, the health, education, infrastructure, and other budgets are reduced in size to the detriment of those who depend on the services they are supposed to fund.
The money that is spent is often poorly invested, as these same politicians and officials use their privileged positions to award lucrative public works contracts to companies owned by friends and relations. As a result, the public rarely gets good value for money, as it is forced to pay over the odds for the work that is under- taken. All too often, that which is carried out is sub- standard, as middlemen and contractors cut corners in order to reduce costs and maximize their profits. And, finally, at the other end of the funding chain, the low level officials and state employees, whose task it is to deliver these services, habitually demand additional payments from those requesting their help. Sometimes these demands are motivated by greed, but on other occasions they are driven by necessity, as these em- ployees are forced to supplement their meagre and er- ratically paid salaries.
The ineffectiveness of Nigeria’s public services is highlighted by their continued failure to adequately meet the needs of ordinary people. This accusation is not unusual and is frequently levelled against service providers the world over. Yet it is the degree of short- fall between what those in Nigeria offer and what is actually needed that, in this case, makes this criticism both legitimate and so concerning. Indeed, the latest data on the state of the Nigerian nation’s health and education is extremely worrying. First and foremost,