Nigerian opposition candidate makes false claim about Lagos state’s fiscal performance

The candidate for governor in Nigeria’s Lagos state, Olajide Adediran, has accused the incumbent Babajide Sanwo-Olu of frittering away the state’s resources. In a TV interview, he alleged that the state did not rank among the top five in fiscal performance despite leading in internally generated revenue. However, this claim is false: an annual ranking puts the state in third position for 2022 and fourth the year before.

“2022 fiscal performance … Lagos is not ranked among the first five,” Adediran told local broadcaster Television Continental on January 3, 2023, adding that “Rivers is number one, followed by Kaduna. Lagos is not ranked despite the huge revenue.”

World Bank data shows that Lagos state’s economy is the ninth largest in Africa as of 2021, dwarfing those of Nigeria’s neighbours Benin and Togo. It is Nigeria’s economic capital and accounted for 15.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ half-year report for 2021, the state collected some 267 billion naira (about $590.5 million) in taxes — more than triple the 69 billion naira reaped by Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.

Adediran argued in the TV interview that the state has little to show for such revenue.

But his claim that it was not ranked among the top five in fiscal performance for 2022 is false.

Ranked third in 2022

Lagos actually ranked third in fiscal performance for 2022, according to the State of States report (page 9), an annual ranking on states’ performance carried out by Nigerian civic organisation BudgIT.

It came behind oil-rich Rivers state in the south and Kaduna state in the northwest. Cross River, also in the south, and Ebonyi in the southeast completed the top five.

The index takes into account the states’ ability to offset their recurrent expenditure using only their internally generated revenue (IGR), the year-on-year percentage growth of the IGR, and the capacity of states to meet recurrent expenditure and loan obligations with only the total revenue generated.

The index also analyses how much each state prioritises capital expenditure in relation to recurrent expenditure and evaluates their debt sustainability.

In 2021, Lagos state was ranked fourth in this index behind Rivers, Ebonyi, and Anambra states.

BudgIT said Lagos state moved up a rank in 2022 because it "continued to improve its domestic resource mobilisation capacity as it has within a 6-year period grown its IGR by 80.65% from N302.43bn in 2016 to N546.35bn in 2021".

Adediran told AFP that his claim was based on BudgIT report. He added that his intention was to highlight that Rivers has fared “better” than Lagos “in all departments” despite the latter raking in more IGR and taking bigger loans than the former.