Keeler (1993) quoting the Oxford English Dictionary (1988) defines reforms as “ the amendment, or altering for the better, of some faulty state of things, especially of a corrupt or oppressive political institution or practice, the removal of some abuse or wrong” (Keeler, 1993:775). Caiden (1970) provides a useful working definition  of reform to mean an induced, permanent improvement in administration. According to Wallis (1993), Elekwa and Eme (2006), this definition, however, requires additional discussion and explanation. The word “induced” is employed to indicate that we are talking about a form of change in administration which is deliberately brought about, not one which just happens by accident but it is one where conscious effort is made either by an institution or an individual (e.g. the president of a country) decreed that an action is needed.

The concept “permanent” carries a connotation that the changes introduced will be long-term, not just temporary. That is a reform is “permanent” when the changes made have “taken root”. The final term requiring discussion within this operational definition is “improvement” simply put, to improve means “to makebetter”. Though one man’s improvement may be another man’s decline (See keeler, 1993) and Wallis, 1993 for detailed analysis of reforms). Taking in tandem, economic reforms refer to the removal, correction and cancellation of errors that would have negative impacts in the national economy of a given country especially in her productive sectors
- Financial, industrial, human resources and capital components.

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This paper will adopt the radical political economy approach as its framework of analysis. There are numerous schools of though related to political economy. They can be rough fully divided into economic nationalist, economic internationalist and economic structuralists. These approaches are both descriptive and prescriptive; in that they, all purport to describe how any why conditions occur and make arguments about how policy should be conducted. The core of economic nationalism is the belief that the states should use its economic strength to further national interests. By extension, economic nationalists also advocate using a state’s power to build economic strength. To accomplish their ends, economic nationalists rely on a number of political economic strategies. These include the use of imperialism and neo-imperialism (that is direct control imperialism) and indirect control (neo-imperialism) economic incentives and disincentives (economic carrots (favourable Trade policies and foreign aids) and disincentives (sanctions) to promote the state’s national interest; and protectionism and domestic economic support. From this perspective, economic nationalists are suspicious of economic interdependence on the ground that it undermines state sovereignty andweakens the national economic strength. Economic nationalists would proffer that their local economies use trade barriers, economic subsidies and other policies to protect national industries, especially strategic ones. 

A second major theoretical perspective and policy approach to political economy is economic internationalism. This approach is closely associated with such terms as capitalism, laissez-faire, economic liberalism, and free trade respectively. Economic internationalists are liberals.
They posited that international economic relations should and can be conducted cooperatively because, in their view, the international economy is non-zero sum game in which prosperity is available to all. Economic internationalists contend that the best way to create political and economic prosperity is by freeing economic interchange from political restrictions. They, therefore, oppose tariff barriers, domestic subsidies, sanctions, and any other economic tools that distort the free flow of trade and investment capital.
The origins of economic liberalism lie in the rootsof capitalism. Adam Smith and David Richardo used it to theorize about the market economy and to attack mercantilist policies. James Mills and Jeremy Bentham used it to integraterepresentative government with the calculus of utilitarianism, equating good policy with the aggregation of individuals’ preferences. Economic structuralists believe that economic structure determines politics. That is the structuralists contend that society is divided between have and have-nots and that theformer work to keep the latter in order to exploit them. To change this, economic structuralist favour a radical restructuring of society and the economic system designed to end the uneven distribution of wealth and power. The structuralists can be divided into two major camps. The first is the Marxist Theorist Group, which sees the state and Capitalism as inherent sources of economic evil. The second groupincludes dependency and world system analysts, who do not necessarily share the view of the evils of capilism. Instead, they advocate fundamental reforms to end economic oppression.
Marxism is perhaps the best-known strand of structuralist thought. Communalist ideology, associated with Karl Marx, maintains that the economic order determines political and social relationships. Thus, the distribution of wealth andthe struggle between the propertied and powerful bourgeoisie and the poor and oppressed proletariat is the essence of politics.
According to Beckman (1983) “the theory and method of Marxian political economy is based on historical and dialectical materialism” (Beckman, 1983:106). Momoh and Hundeyin, (2005) adds: “Marx believes that it is the material existence of an individual that determines his/her consciousness. Marxian political economy thus gives primacy to the material existence and production of the society, especially the role of the economy in the study of society. For the sake of emphasis, the commoditization process is the basis of the scientific analysis of the Maxian political economy. According to this approach (especially under capitalism), those who control the means of production (economic/sub structure are those who also control the polity (super structure), to this extent, the societal ideology, values, philosophy, legal and political institutions all reflect and reinforce the economic interest of the dominant ruling class. It is only this approach that has strongly established the linkage between the economy and policy. The stage therefore is an organ of oppression by the ruling class. It exists as a result of the irreconcilable antagonisms between the bourgeoisie and proletariats contrary to the claims of bourgeois political economy that states, exists as a neutral entity regulating conflicts among social forces in the society. This assertion has led to accusation by bourgeoisie scholars that Marxists analysis amounts to economic determinism or a unilinear analysis of society. This claim can hardly be sustained because what Marxist analysis emphasizes is the role of the economic as the determinant in the last instance” (Momoh and Hundeyin, 2005:46). According to Ibeanu, the very separation of the state from the economy is a capitalist phenomenon. To understand why this is so, we need to understand the nature of production relations in class societies generally, and subsequently, their specificity under capitalism. In a society divided into classes, the commodification relations appear as a double interaction:
(a) The interaction between man as the agent of production and the objects and instruments of labour, and through this,
(b) Relations among these agents of commodification, which are class relations. These two interactions involves
1. The relationship between the non-worker (the owner) and the objects and instrument of labour, and
2. The relationships between the direct producer (the worker) and the objects and instruments of labour. These relationships define two crucial issues. First, they define economic ownership. By this we mean the real economic control of the means of production that is, “ the power to assign the means of production to given uses and so to dispose of the product obtained” second, they define possession that is, “ the capacity to put the means of production – always corresponds with economic ownership. “It is the owners who have real control of the means of production and thus exploitthe direct producers by extorting surplus labour from them in various forms” (Poulantzas, 1975: 18-19, Ibeanu, 2006:5)
Applying this approach in the analysis of the study to the Nigerian situation, the analysis goes as follows: it is only under capitalism that the direct producer loses possession of the means of production, leading to the emergence of the “naked worker”. This occurred by forceful mean initially (primitive accumulation). But, importantly, underlying all of these elite perceptions and struggles and the mobilization of identities to garner popular support for their political projects is the imperative of capital accumulation dependent on the character and role of the Nigerian state in capitalist development as nurtured and conditioned by its colonial origin and the mono-cultural and rentier nature of the modern, post-colonial Nigerian economy. (Jega, 2003:17). Critical to understanding these, is an appreciation of the nature and character of the postcolonial sate in Nigeria. Many scholars (e.g.: Graf, 1988; Forest, 1993; Joseph, 1987; Diamond, 1986.) have identified capitalist rent seeking; patrimonialism as the major characteristics of the postcolonial Nigerian state. Some have even fancifully referred to the Nigerian state as a ‘rogue state’ (e.g. Joseph, 1996). These characteristics have combined with one another, and with many others, in complex dynamics, to undermine the Nigerian state’s capacity to discharge those fundamental obligations of a modern sate to its citizens, such as socioeconomic provisioning, guarantee of fundamental rights and freedoms, ensuring law and order and facilitating peace and stability as preconditions for growth and development. Those who have presided over the state have tended to personalize power and privatization collective national resources, while being excessively reckless in managing the affairs of the nation. Indeed, the state has become the prime mover of capitalist development and class formation, with all the associated contradictions that this is wont to spew up. As noted elsewhere, in Nigeria: The ruling class derived both its origin and wealth from the state, around which it gravitates, using every available means to secure power and access. Hence, in the competition and struggles for state power, especially in the period of economic crises, identity politics become heightened and tend to assume primacy. The state tends to resort to politics of identity for its legitimation, while those excluded tend to resort to identity politics to contest this exclusion. The state, thus, is projected as the critical variable in identity transformation, and the resurgence of identity politics (Jega, 2000:19). According to Jega (2003); the colonial state pursued a capitalist development strategy initially through the promotion of primary commodity production for export, through which foreign commercial interests established a firm footing in the Nigerian economy; facilitating the rise of an indigenous commercial comprador class and the introduction of capitalist relations of production. Subsequently, in the postcolonial Second World War epoch, manufacturing enterprises controlled by foreign capital burgeoned, with the growing comprador classes playing a supporting role. With this came an accelerated process of urbanization and proletarianisation, the development and consolidation of capitalist production processes and relations. Jega (2003) goes on to posit that the role of the indigenous class in the capitalist production processes and accumulation increased in the era of decolonialisation, as foreign capital sought willing partners to protect its investments, and then even more swifty in the post-independence period when the post-colonial state be come a prime mover of capitalist development. These forces of self-serving “urban parasites” repressed oppositions (middle class professionals and the working/unemployed poor) by justifying their actions using capitalist ideology. The self-serving “urban parasites” in the 1970s till date not only colluded with colonial trading and manufacturing firms, but also recruited from the critical organs of the state such as the police, the military, bureaucracy, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary and the state itself has been the major source, facilitator and protector of their wealth, either through deliberate policies, such as indigenization, economic reforms or through corruption. Thus, given the critical role of the state in capital accumulation in the post-colonial epoch, political contest for the capture of state power became intense, more with the expanded revenue base it came to acquire from oil and gas earnings, which rose dramatically and profoundly in the late 1990s. Clearly, also, this phenomenon is associated with, if not directly caused by, the dynamics of the accumulation processes under economic crisis and economic reforms, as dominant social forces compete for access to the state for its power and resources.
According to Jega, “the onset of economic crises inNigeria in the decade of the 1980’s, which was accompanied by the introduction of structural adjustment programme (SAP) by the Babangida regime, gave rise to a profound crises of legitimacy of the postcolonial state (Olukoshi 1993; Fadahunsi and Babawale, 1996; Jega,2000). SAP was acclaimed to have, not only structurally adjusted the Nigerian economyto the requirements of global capitalism, but also created mass poverty in Nigeria.
(Jega 2002:37). As noted elsewhere: The incidence and magnitude of poverty has increased dramaticallyin Nigeria since the 1980’s, with the result that about 67% of Nigerians are decisively entrapped in conditions of acute poverty. Poverty has ravaged communities and families, it has torn the moral fabrics of society, and it is now threatening the country with violent eruptions. Most of the recent violent ethno-religious and communal conflicts can also be explained by poverty, joblessness and intense competition over scarce resources and services bothin the urban and rural contexts. The mass of unemployed youth in both the rural and urban areas of Nigeria need little motivation or mobilization to partake in riots and ‘reprisal attacks’, given the inducement or ‘opportunity’ for looting that often accompany these. Thus, poverty and joblessness, especially amongst the youth, are important causal and facilitating factors in violent conflicts. Such objective economic conditions nurture the subjective conditions of frustration and aggression, which create conducive atmosphere for violent conflicts to erupt (Ayoade and Jega, 2002). Beyond this, this paper has made very interesting revelations about the specificity of the dynamics of the resurgence of capital accumulation in Nigeria since 1999.

The management of the polity in the last eight years by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration is characterized by reforms of several sectors; ranging from banking to the ports. There was also, privatization, but the wide gulf between the expenditure and deliveries, as in poor infrastructure; particularly power supply has overshadowed the gains in banking consolidation and exit from debt trap. To the man in the street, things are worse. Segun Adeleye recently articulated this anxiety. He lamented the rise of negative forms of socio-economic dividends of democracy, and their potential exposure consequences. He stated, among other things, that: When the Obasanjo’s administration look office in may 1999, it acknowledged that he economy was characterized by declining capacity utilization in the real sector, poor performance of major infrastructural facilities, large budget deficit, rising level of unemployment and inflation. In addition, the economy had emerging problems of import dependence, reliance on a simple economic sector (oil), weak individual capacity, low level of agricultural production, a weak private sector, high external debt overhang, inefficient public utilities, low quality of social service and unacceptable rate of unemployment (Adeleye, 2007:2)
However, the government’s economic policy to tackle the problems was blur, rather than sharp at the beginning as the government reneged on its guiding principles to be lean, efficient; honest, transparent, cooperative and friendly; operate on the basis of extensive devolution of power, and function mainly as a facilitator Adeleye (2007), adds. HectorIgbikiowubo (2007) has articulated socio-economic reform under Obasanjo (especially in the oil sector) in the following ways: Eight years after marshalling policies and actions for the Nigerian energy industry, the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration may be leaving behind contingent liabilities capable of eroding whatever gains that may have been made within the period. From the downstream, midstream to upstream oil and gas sectors, as well as management of the Nigerian content development initiative, militancy in the Niger Delta and its consequences for conducting an enabling operating environment, to resultant impact on power supply, its been a pot pouri of measures and half measures.


In 1999, the Obasanjo administration inherited a regulated sector that depend on imported petroleum products to meet domestic consumption requirements; four refineries that were operating at sub-operational capacity, 7,00 kilometers pipeline system that was ruptured in several sections and was largely poorly maintained,depot facilities across the country starved of products, an outdated products receptor terminal at the Atlas Cove jetty and equity in some operating companies such as Unipetrol (OANDO),National (Conoil) and AP PLC.
Despite these developments, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) received an allocation of 450,000 barrels of crude per day for purported domestic refining of petroleum products, at highly subsidized levels. (Igbikiowubo, 2007:33). In the last eight years, the Obasanjo administration has succeeded in deregulating the sector by expanding the scope for participation of Nigerian companies in particular, in the importation, supply and distribution of petroleum products. Indeed the expanded scope of participation has had a multiplier effect in the creation of thousands of jobs across the country but failed to curb price profiteering among operator companies at the expense of the consuming public. Contrary to claims by the proponents of government deregulation and liberalization policy in the downstream, eight years into the life of the Obasanjo administration and four years after the deregulation of the sector, prices of fuel haveonly gone up with its attendant consequences for the prices of goods and services. Contrary to claims also by proponents of the deregulation and liberalization policy of the Obasanjo administration in the downstream sub-sector of the Nigerian oil industry, four yearsafter the introduction of the policy to chagrin of fuel consumers, the margins have failed to attract investment into the mid-stream or refining end of the business. Perhaps the failure of 18 refinery licenses to mobilize to site and commence construction work almost four years after government so licensed them, bears eloquent testimony to the lack of faith in the efficacy of the policy. Currently, the banks fall over themselves to fund fuel importation business because the return on investment satiates the gargantuan appetite of the bankers forinterest on loans so advances. Unfortunately, while the operator companies and their bankers declare huge profits, the fuel consuming public is bled dry and the cost of doing business mounts. Under the Obasanjo administration, government has also divested its holdings in downstream petroleum marketing companies, with indigenous players snapping up these equities to emerge big operators in the sub-sector. However, the divestment has mostly served to enrich the indigenous players and their shareholders, withlittle impact on the wellbeing of the fuel consuming public. Government also claims that it has expended over $700 million in the rehabilitation of the refineries and other facilities, which had gone into disrepair in the downstream sub-sector – including the extensive kilometers of petroleum products pipelines and the products storage depots across the country.
However, the products pipelines have equally been repeatedly vandalized, while some of the rehabilitated depots continue to be starved of products supply as a consequence (Igbikiowubo, 2007:33).


Although the NNPC claimed that its refineries were operating at an average 80 per cent installed capacity after Turn-Around-Maintenance (TAM) was carried out on them, output from them could only serve 40 per cent of domestic consumption requirements, leaving the balance to be sourced from imports. As if that was not bad enough, while the Obasanjo administration was still caught up in a semblance of inertia over management of Nigeria’s domestic fuel consumption needs, the activities of militants in the Niger Delta cut of feedstock and dealt the refineries a mortal blow – perishing any thoughts of improving output. In Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member nation, a conscious decision was taken by the government last year to construct three new refineries. Unlike Nigeria, Venezuela does not export crude oil but refined petroleum products. Perhaps, the government took the decision to construct new refineries because it was well aware that the last time any of the multinational operating companies built a refinery was 30 years ago. Indeed, tightness in refining capacity accounts largely for the spike in crude oil and petroleum products prices witnessed after Hurricane Katrina Knocked off output from refineries in the West Coast of the United States of America in 2005. Eight years into the life of the Obasanjo administration, this realization has failed to inspire government to consider the construction of new refineries an imperative (Igbikiowubo, 2007:53).
Although two years ago government said it was considering getting multinational operating companies to refine 50 per cent of their crude oil output locally by 2006, the government failed to enforce this. Essentially, the Obasanjo administration failed to impact the midstream sector and will be leaving it precisely where it met it eight years ago – with no visible improvement in refining capacity.


The Obasanjo administration inherited a sector that was outputting 2.1 million barrels per
day, run by multinational operators, a backlog of cash call arrears owing to predecessor
government’s non-responsiveness to its joint venture obligations; worrisomely embarrassing gas flaring levels but well thought out plans to expand into deepwater as well as monetise the abundant gas reserves; a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) agreement which left the government with limited ‘take’ and crude oil reserves portfolio put at 30 billion barrels.
However, in the last eight years, Nigeria ’s upstream has witnessed a steady growth in reserves and production capacity. Proven crude oil reserves now amounts to 35 billion barrels with producibility put at three million barrels perday. Due to the activities of militants however, current output figures fluctuates between 2.6 million and 2.2 million barrels per day. His Royal Majesty, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, the Minister of Energy and Amayanabo of Nembe Kingdom had while speaking with the Vanguard in one of the numerous interviews he granted explained that the growth in output is underpinned by the current deepwater discoveries. Exploration in new frontiers has progressed successfully – “about 7 billion barrels of oil and 19 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas has been discovered in Nigeria’s deepwater since 1996. For instance, Bonga commenced production in December 2005 with 60,000 b/d and has ramped up to 225,000 b/d.” In deepwater also, ExxonMobil operated Erha field has since come on stream with an output of 210,000 b/d. overall, 500,000 b/d additional output capacity has since been added from ongoing projects. Besides, the licensing of new oil blocks at the 2005, 2006 (mini round) and 2007 rounds significant potentials for further reserves additions. When speaking also, on the development, Dr. Funsho Kupolokun, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC noted that at the current rate of exploration, the government’s aspiration of 40 billion barrels and 4million b/d by 2010 is on course and achievable. In the last eight years also, the Nigerian petroleum industry has attracted a lot of investment and in an energy hungry world, it would appear that there might be no end in sight yet to the degree of investment that the sector can expect (Igbikiowubo, 2007:39).


Although industry watchers contend that the high degree of investment the Nigeria upstream sector has courted under the Obasanjo administration is a consequence of the growing needs of an energy hungry world, the fact remains that the administration has pursued a deliberate policy to attract such investment distinguishing itself admirably between 2005 and 2008 it is expected that as much as $ 67 billion would be invested in the expected made up of $34.4 billion would oil and $32.7 billion for gas. While speaking at a various oil and gas conferences in the last two years, Dr funsho Kupolokun explained that the expenditure would focus on five key areas including engineering design, fabrication and construction, materials and manufacturing, banking and insurance, shipping and logistics (Igbikiowubo, 2007:39).


The gas sector has enjoyed a good run in the last eight years under the Obasanjo administration with operating companies putting in place different gas commercialization scheme to meet the 2008 deadline on flaring. This has facilitated the rapid monetization of gas. With about 184 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas reserves, split almost equally between associated gas and a daily production of about 2.5 Billion cubic feet (Bcf), mainly of associated gas, Nigeria is endowed in gas resources which are expected to yield substantial process of commercialization take root.
In a presentation he made at word the petroleum congress in Sandton, South Africa, in September 2005, Dr. Daukoru said there has been a significant reduction in the volume of gas flared in the country from a high level of 75 per cent of Associated Gas recorded in year 2000 to less them 40 per cent presently. “The reduction in the amount of flared gas can be attributed to government’s commercialization/ monetization policy which has led to several projects being put in place to utilize the flared age, as well as Nigeria’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol Agreement.
Nigeria’s premier liquefied natural Gas plant (NLNG) that commenced production in October 1999 with two trains has since increased the numberof trains to eight with the fifth already producing and the sixth, seventh and eight scheduled to come on stream before the close of the decade. Under the administration several other LNG plants have also left the drawing board and are in various stages of implementation and these include: the brass (spearheaded by Agipand Phillips), Olokola (spearheaded by chevron, BG and Shell) and exxonmobil LNPC and Sasol of South Africa, which owns the patent for the technology being used. Only recently, president Obasanjo performed the groundbreaking ceremonies for the both Olokola and Brass LNGs –underscoring the importance of gas monetization to his administration.
It is expected that at the rate of development, revenue from gas may rival that of oil in the next 10 years. A transnational gas pipeline that would convey Nigeria’s gas to neighboring West African countries for power generation is 95 percent completed, but has been impacted by the activities of militants in the delta. Apart from mopping sizable quantity of gas upon completion in second quarter of 2007, the project represents a boost to regional collaboration with Sonatrach of Algeria for the Tran Saharan gas pipeline which will take Nigeria’s gas through Algeria to southern Europe. Indeed, the concept of regional cooperation as proclaimed in NEPAD is being given expression in these transnational projects. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the gas commercialization initiative is the power sector which to date has less than less than 4,000 Megawatts of power generating capacity.
With government intention to boost output to 10,000Megawatts before the close of 2007, the nation took recourse in the establishment of independent power plants. As part of its efforts to monetize flared gas in its operations, the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) constructed and commissioned the Okpai 480 Mw power station in 2005, while ten others are also in various stage of completion across different parts of the country with those at Geregu and Omotosho accounting for additional generation of 765 megawatts already commissioned this year. Secondary and tertiary gas distribution network tapping from the trunk-lines established by NNPC coupled with the incentive on gas utilization by industrial establishment is giving a lot of boost to industrial consumption of gas. With the manufacturing sector developing more confidence in gas as alternative tofuel oil for industrial use, the market for downstream gas consumption is growing by leaps and bounds especially in urban areas (Igbikiowubo, 2007:39).
In response, the government has established franchises for gas distribution to defined market/ industrial enclaves in different parts of the country on build operate and transfer (BOT) basis and these are being snapped up by willing investors. Perhaps, this market would develop even faster it and when a national transmission system for gas is put in place. Ongoing gas transmission programmes will entail commercialization of 14/50 mmscf/d of gas by 2011 (80 per cent by LNG). However about $2.5 billion will be required annually in stable investments (upstream and LNG plants) to capture opportunities in gas and power by 2010. Government hopes to generate much as $12 billion from these gas projects by 2012. This will no doubt contribute immensely to the economic development of the country. With these developments in the gas sector as well as the transformation in the upstream, it is believed that the energy sector –driven initiatives could contribute up to 60 per cent towards doubling Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 10 years. There are indications that potential GDP growth over the period may be as highas $47 billion made up of direct contribution from energy sector ($17 billion), indirect contribution through unlocking of other sector ($18 billion). In 2005, the administration initiated a new gas policy for industry stakeholders input. Upon enactment by the National Assembly, the document is expected to encourage investment in upstream and downstream gaswhether or not the investor is a gas producer (Igbikiowubo, 2007:40).

The public sector has come into a new wave of prominence in the last fifteen years in Nigeria and Africa at large for two significant but interrelated reasons. The first reason is that since 1999, there has been a wave of democratic revival in the whole of Africa that led to countries like Nigeria responding to the global demand for good governance and responsible government. The second reason is that for government to be responsible in enthroning good governance, it requires a machinery of government that presents and transforms the intention of the government to the people in the form of policy formulation and policy implementation that impacts the lives of the citizens. This government apparatus is the public sector. And it is characterised essentially by its ability to manage government business effectively and its service delivery capacity to the populace.
These two reasons explain why the public sector and its reform are serious issues for any government that lays claim to being democratic. Reforming the public sector signals the intention of the government to consistently present a human and humane face to the people. When we talk, for instance, of the Nigerian State, what the citizens confront is the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Customs, the Inland Revenue Department, the Schools, the Passport Office, the Corporate Affairs Commission, the Hospitals, Waste Disposal Boards and all other segments of the public sector administration in Nigeria. When the citizens are satisfied with the performance of these segments, it is then that we can say that the Nigerian State is working. Thus, for the government to perform effectively and efficiently, the public sector requires serious and constant overhauling from time to time to meet with global democratic and administrative standards for performance.
However, learning about what reforming the public sector means and how it has been done so far, especially in Nigeria, gives us the understanding of how the process can be moved forward. This is the rationale for this study. The pivot of the study will therefore be hinged on the significance of four questions:
  • How is the PS perceived by the public?
  • What are the requirements for global competitiveness?
  • How do we want to be seen?
  • What must we do to be what we want to be seen?
With these questions as focus, the paper will be developed in five sections. In the first section, we will be examining the conceptual question of what reform means, especially within the context of the Nigerian public administration. This will also enable us to examine the critical phases in reform emphasis in Nigeria. The second section therefore takes a historical turn as it considers the trajectory of reform in Nigeria from its pre-independence beginning to its post-military manifestation and resurgence with the arrival of democratic governance. We will move on in the third section to do a critical assessment of reform performance so far in Nigeria, especially from a global perspective of best practices and innovations in reforming the public sector. This will lead us next, in section four, to ask the question about reform complexity and the landmines that make reforming a critical issue any government must guard against in making a success of public sector performance. Lastly, the fifth section will highlight the institutional issues involved in reforming the reform process for effectiveness and efficiency in Nigeria.
The Idea of the Public Sector
The first issue to tackle is that of delineating what the public sector means in any state. As we have earlier noted, the destiny of the state and its public sector is tied in the sense that an effective public sector makes for an effective and developmental state. This is because the state exists essentially to serve the public interest, and this consists solely in the provision of goods and services which enable the citizens to live good, healthy and comfortable lives. Thus, Haque argues, in this context, that the basic function of the public sector in Africa is to provide goods and services to citizens based on “realization and representation of public interests and its possession of unique public qualities compared to business management” (Haque 2001: 65).
There is a sense therefore in which we can use the “state” and “public sector” interchangeably. The reason is simply that both are coextensive: In the first instance, the existence of the state automatically signals the existence of the public sector. In the second instance, the public sector is the manifestation of the abstract entity we call the state. The space represented by the state and governmental activities is what we call the “public space” as different from the “private” space where individuals can become whatever they want to be without the intrusion of the state. The public sector, therefore, represents the realm where the government operates for the benefits of the citizenry. This is different from the private sector where individuals operate.
The Dictionary of Politics and Government defines the public sector as the “industries and services owned by the government”. For Kai Wegrich, it refers to “the portion of the economy composed of all levels of government and government-controlled enterprises… [I]t also implies a definition of public activity that goes beyond the core domains of public administration. The general definition of the public sector includes government ownership or control rather than mere function, thereby including, for example, the exercise of public authority or the implementation of public policy” (2007: 776). Given this definition, the ECA sees the public in a broader perspective as
…the machinery of government, that is, the totality of services that are organized under public (that is, government) authority. It is the totality of the administrative structures within which the work of government is carried out…. The public sector covers the following categories of institutions. They are the (a) the civil service in the strict sense of ministries and departments of the central government; (b) the legislature and judiciary; (c) local governments; (d) public or state enterprises, boards, corporations generally referred to as  parastatals which operate and provide service in areas such as water and electricity; (e) the security forces; (d) the professional regulatory bodies which are given the power to prescribe training required for members; to regulate the conduct of members and to prohibit the unqualified from practicing (2009: 4).

To buttress this broad perspective, Wegrich suggests a concentric cycle at three levels that outline the scope and reach of the public sector (See Fig 1). The inner cycle represents essentially the public service provided by central and subnational government agencies. It is in this sense that the analytic distinction between public and private sectors is most acute, especially in terms of “employment relationship and exercising public power” (2007: 226). The next cycle designates quasi-governmental agencies that lie outside the direct accountability framework confronted by the agencies at the first level. The last, outer cycle belongs to state-owned enterprises “usually defined by the government’s ownership or [their] owning the majority of shares” (ibid).

FIG 1: Public Sector Concentric Cycles
The public sector in most third world countries signals the worst tendencies of the “dead hand” of bureaucracy—corrupted, inefficient, poor services, cumbersome red tape—due to “accumulation of excessive power, lack of accountability and representation, indifference towards public needs and demands, official secrecy and inaccessibility, and role in depoliticizing the public sphere” (ECA, 2009: 1). This has led to a constantly declining level of efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public goods to the citizens. This has precipitated the crisis of underdevelopment that has equally made the government largely illegitimate in the eyes of the people. This assessment of the bureaucratic nature of the public sector in Africa coincided with the growing call, at the global level, for a redefinition of the state in the light of their functioning capacity to meet the growing needs of the citizens within a democratic dispensation. These are the issues that gave birth to the idea of the reform of the public sector.
The idea of reform
To reform, in simple terms, implies the readjustment or repositioning of an organisation in order to be able to effectively and efficiently meet the dynamism and challenges of its universe of operation. It often requires a trajectory of moving from a present but unfavourable state through series of strategic and institutional stages of change towards a future state marked by efficient and effective improvements leading to better performance. Reforming an organisation in this sense could mean attempting to restructure it either to meet an original conception or to prepare the said organisation for future challenges. These two senses may be termed the “backward-looking/or rear-view reforms” and “forward-looking reforms” respectively. The first sense is backward-looking/rear-view in that it seeks to reform an organisation/system in accordance with some ideas conceived in time past; while the second sense is forward-looking in that it seeks to reform an organisation/system in order to position it to meet the challenges of the future.
In either cases, the point is that the organisation as-is is going through a present phase of decay and dysfunction. To reform such an organisation therefore implies putting in deliberate efforts aimed at changing the structures and processes of the organisation in order to make it perform its designated function better and effectively. Public sector reform involves the idea of improvement in the ways and manners in which government is managed and public goods and services are delivered effectively, efficiently, economically and with value for money. It involves the “processes and practices which are concerned with improving the capacity of institutions to make policy and deliver services in an efficient, effective and accountable manner” (ECA, 2009: 4). For Pollitt and Bouckaert,
Public management reform is usually thought of as a means to an end, not an end in itself. To be more precise we should perhaps say that  it is potentially a means to multiple ends. These include making savings (economies) in public expenditure, improving the quality of public services, making the operations of government more efficient, and increasing the chances that the policies which are chosen and implemented will be effective.  On the way to achieving these important objectives, public management reforms may also serve a number of intermediate ends, including those of strengthening the control of politicians over the bureaucracy, freeing public officials from bureaucratic constraints that inhibit their opportunities to manage, and enhancing the government’s accountability to the legislature and the citizenry for its policies and programmes (2004: 6).
According to the African Development Bank, “Public sector reforms usually include a range of reform measures dealing with core government functions such as civil service reform, financial and fiscal reform, decentralization, enhancing accountability, legal and judicial reform, and improving corporate regulatory frameworks” (ADB, 1995: 139).
Public sector reform in Africa was carried out within the conceptual framework of “redefining the role of the state.” This is a highly ideological framework which speaks to the declining relevance of state-managed economies, especially in the third world, vis-à-vis the growing rate of progress recorded in the market economies of the Western societies. Redefining the role of the state therefore implies that the state restrict its interventions to those areas of governance that are strictly public while subcontracting the rest to subnational agencies and especially the private sector. In this regard, the significant function of the government is to serve in a regulatory capacity that nurtures a conducive environment for the private sector to perform and produce results.
The need for reform derives from the acute dissatisfaction of the citizens with the performance of the government and its apparatuses. The rationale for this is that since the taxpayers’ money goes into the running of these institutions for socio-economic development, it is only rational to ask that they produce efficient and effective results, especially given the competition from the private sector. Innovation in the public sector is therefore meant to meet the challenge of efficient service delivery that will improve the receptiveness of this sector to public expectations. The case for this efficiency in service delivery is even more crucial in the African public service.
We can therefore say that public sector reform is driven by what Pollitt and Bouckaert call the symbolic and legitimacy benefits of management reform, which is the fact that politicians want to be seen to be doing something. According to them,
For politicians these benefits consist partly of being seen to be doing something. Announcing reforms, criticizing bureaucracy, praising  new management techniques, promising improved services for the future, restructuring  ministries and agencies- all these activities help to attract favourable attention to the politicians who espouse them…. There are also legitimacy benefits for those senior officials who, almost invariably, play important parts in shaping and implementing such initiatives. They may gain in reputation—indeed, make a career out of—‘modernizing and ‘streamlining’ activities (2004: 6).
Another driver of reform is the need for government to be better positioned in order that it may be better enabled to meet the needs and aspirations in the society with governments using “management reforms to reshape the role of the state and its relationship with citizens” (Kettl, 2000: 1). In this regard, governments have had to improve its performance while at the same time reducing the cost of running itself; increase the skill of government workers; increase the flexibility with which government workers have to do their jobs while maintaining their fidelity to government policies; redesign government services in an attempt to regain citizen’s trust; define their new relationship with an increasing global community, where neither economic nor social policies could be pursued in isolation (Jain, 2001: 2).
Other reform drivers include:
Reforms resulting from the challenges the public sector faced in the environment in which it operates. The challenges of a public sector entering an information and knowledge age no doubt require adapting to the adoption of information technologies to enable faster informational processes.

Reforms also arise as a necessity due to the bureaucratic incapacitation and constraints internal to the public sector which prevents the officials and bureaucrats from carrying out their functions effectively.

Reforms are also driven in the public sector by the outcome of the innovations and best practices operating in the public sector of other countries. A country is therefore faced with the results of the lessons about what works and what does not with regard to public sector governance. In this regard, a country’s decision to reform is sometimes as a result of noticing the rate of progress made in other countries. This has been followed by attempts to adopt, adapt, and institutionalise innovative ideas and best practices put into the conduct of public service elsewhere.
The idea of public sector reform in Nigeria
The idea of reform in Nigeria straddles both its backward and forward dimensions. In other words, the attempts at reforms in Nigeria are meant not only to capture the framework of a professional and efficient civil service the Nigerian state was blessed with at independence. In his valedictory speech to the Western Nigerian House of Assembly in 1959, Chief Obafemi Awolowo made this remark about the Nigerian Civil Service:
Our civil service is exceedingly efficient, absolutely incorruptible in its upper stratum, and utterly devoted and unstinting in the discharge of its many onerous duties. For our civil servants, government workers and labourers to bear, uncomplainingly and without breaking down, the heavy and multifarious burdens with which we have in the interest of the public saddled them, is an epic of loyalty and devotion, of physical and mental endurance, and of a sense of mission, on their part. From the bottom of my heart I salute all of them (cited in Adamolekun, 2005: 25).

Reforms are also meant, on the other hand, to tackle the challenges of public sector management in a sophisticated global environment driven by democratic ideals, modern technologies and market exigencies. This requires that the institutional scope, capacities and competencies of the public sector are broadened and the civil service restructured to meet present and future challenges.
Reform in the sense we are talking about, and especially in its Nigerian context, is strictly administrative reform as different from administrative change. The latter is merely a normal self-adjustment by an organisation responding to certain administrative fluctuations. Administrative reform however refers to a more deliberate effort at combating serious malfunctions in the capacity of the system to self-adjust. According to Chief Jerome Udoji,
I regard as administrative reform any systematic changes in the administrative system…designed to lead to more efficient, effective and responsive administration. By responsive I mean that the reforms must be geared towards the achievement of national objectives. One must, however, distinguish between large-scale administrative reforms and minor isolated administrative reforms. Examples of the latter include minor improvements, care maintenance such as new leave rates, housing allowance, creation of new posts, etc. To qualify as reform, there must be across-the-board change, the aim of which is the achievement of national objectives in the shortest possible time, and with the least expenditure in human and material resources (cited in Olaopa, 2009A: 55).
Administrative reform in Nigeria has included both a periodic review of a part or the whole of the processes and systems of the machinery of government. In this sense, public sector reform is conceived as “the process of aligning public service structures, systems and processes, human and material resources to government policies, targets and plans” under the justification that it is always only possible to determine the configurations of the public sector organisations from the nature of the comprehensive plans they exist to implement (Olaopa, 2009A: 55). When faced with such a wholesale health check or turn around maintenance to re-engineer the structure, management and functioning of the system, reformers are often confronted with such critical questions like: “What features of our current structures, cultures, systems, processes or skill-sets, etc get in the way of what we are trying to achieve” or “What sort of strategy do we need to take advantage of in order to be able to exploit our existing strengths and opportunities”.
Nigeria has attempted to answer such reform questions through the setting up of reform commission, panels, study groups and so on to analyse the management and function of government operations, and make recommendations that could orient the operations and function towards the achievement of national objectives. The underlying principle upon which these reform efforts take is: Form follows function. This implies simply that it is only when comprehensive plans have been prepared, that it will be possible to determine the appropriate configurations of public sector organisations to implement them (SEEDS Manual, 2005: 209). Thus, reforms essentially transform the manner in which government operates in view of current or anticipated reality or desired state.
Nigeria has equally gone through the gamut of reforms from policy to governance to institutional reforms. It should be noted that all administrative reforms are connected generally with policy performance in a government. Policy reforms include macroeconomic management policies like the Vision 20:2020. Governance reforms include all attempt at reforming the ways and manners that government duties are carried out. In other words, emphasis on governance reforms ensures that the machinery of government runs transparently as much as possible. This leads, for instance in Nigeria, to the formation of the ICPC and the EFCC as anti-corruption instruments. Our focus in this paper is the institutional dimension of administrative reform in Nigeria, especially those structural and organisational issues that are conducive to the proper functioning of the public sector or the civil service.
Historical analysis of constitutions and electoral laws and processes in Nigeria are incontrovertibly gender insensitive. Beginning from 1922, when the first Constitution in Nigeria was made to the 1999 constitution, which purportedly gave legitimacy to the third republic, aspirations and concerns of women, who represent majority of the population, have been undisputedly discarded.
But since the return of civilian rule in 1999, there seem to be a lot of momentums gathered around the need for constitutional and electoral reforms. This development has also challenged the women folks in the country, with several women groups lending their voices to the electoral and constitutional reform discourse. Their active participation is dated back to the first attempt at reviewing the 1999 constitution by President Olusegun Obasanjo Administration in October 1999, when the first Presidential Committee was inaugurated to do a comprehensive constitutional and electoral review. The committee had twenty four members out of which four were women. The report submitted by the committee had some gender friendly provisions, to wit;  a proposal that the  Federal Character Commission  be replaced with Equal Opportunities Commission with a more expanded and inclusive mandate; It also proposed that women should have a choice in claiming their own state of origin or their husband’s in political arrangements, the third major amendment proposed by the committee was the substitution of the word “sex” as it refers to the feminine in the Constitution with the word “gender”. On Political Parties, it also included gender as one of the grounds for which discrimination in terms of membership of the Party shall not be permissible. Unfortunately, the report was later jettisoned.
After the re-election of the President in 2003, he again convoked a National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) in 2005, to address the challenges of Nigeria’s political system. Unfortunately, in terms of representation the conference did not attempt to give equal opportunities to all Nigerians. There were only 30 women out of about 400 delegates.  Despite the obvious gender gaps in representation of women, the NPRC significantly mainstreamed gender issues in its outcomes. This attempt at political reforms also failed.

Nigeria then ran into the 2007 elections without a viable constitution but with a weak electoral law adopted a year earlier in 2006. As it has been widely acknowledged, the 2007 elections were replete with charges of irregularities, electoral malpractices, violence and various degrees of disruptions.
One would then think that  the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) inaugurated by  the late President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’ Adua on 28th August 2007 with the mandate to review and ensure quality and standard general elections would address some of the pertinent issues of Nigeria’s electoral democracy. The Committee, headed by a reputable retired Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Muhammed Bello Uwais, went round the country taking memoranda and oral presentations from Nigerians; it also met several women groups agitating for the inclusion of women issues and concerns in the committee’s recommendation to the government. The committee’s recommendation has been adjudged as one of the best in the history of constitutional and electoral reforms in Nigeria. The report of the committee acknowledged the voices of women and their proposals for gender democracy and made some gender sensitive recommendations of the committee worthy of note. For example (i)on the composition of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC): it recommended that  the Chairman and the Deputy should not be of the same gender and out of 6 geo-graphical representations 2 must be women. In addition, there should be a woman representative from the women’s organization.  ii) On political parties’ registration and regulatory Commission, the ERC recommended that 2 out of 6 persons from the geo-political zonal representatives must be women.  It also recommended further that the political associations should maintain 20% women in the membership of its governing bodies.  iii) On enhancing internal democracy in the political parties: the ERC recommended that political parties should give more attention to the nomination of women and youths as candidates and ensure that women have equal access to leadership opportunities within party organizations. The report also recommended   that political parties shall nominate for the proportional representation at least 30% female candidates and 2% physically challenged candidates for legislative elections.  
The ERC report was subsequently submitted to the National Assembly for consideration. The National Assembly has passed the 2010 Electoral law and has concluded the review of the constitution. The only probable gender friendly proposal by the National Assembly was the new clause allowing for independent candidacy which was later thrown out by the state houses of assembly. This development shows the failure of the Nigerian state once again to put a legal framework in place to support a gender friendly electoral system. One of the challenges therefore for women in the 2011 general elections in Nigeria is the need to engage political parties and demand for gender parity.
The absence or under-representation of women in the very process of decision making and implementation undermines the fundamental concept of a democratic form of governance which assumes that participation and representation in all areas and levels of public life will be equally available to women and men. However, politics and political arrangement in Nigeria has undermined female legitimacy resulting in women’s political powerlessness. From available statistics women’s overall political representation and participation in government is less than 7%.
The consignment of women’s roles to the domestic arena while the public space is seen as the traditional place for men, tend to perpetuate discrimination and distinctions on the basis of sex although there is growing emphasis on gender equality, which is a central component of the process of democratization. The case for promoting gender equality in governance is simple: the increased involvement of women in the democratic process of any country is essential to broadening and deepening its commitment to democratic governance. Thus, canvassing for support for gender equality is not just a consequence of democratization. It is part of a broad cultural change that is transforming industrialized and developing societies and bringing growing mass demand for increased democratic institutions.
Among the factors affecting women participation in politics in Nigeria are: gender and cultural patterns, ideology, pre-determined social roles assigned to women, male dominance and control, conflicting demands on the time of women candidates due to their domestic and social responsibilities and women’s lack of confidence to run elections. Others include women perception of politics as a dirty game, lack of funds and resources as politics is heavily monetised, poverty and unemployment, illiteracy and limited access to education, the dual burden of domestic task and professional obligation, lack of confidence in other women, lack of access to information and the multiple effect of violence against women. Nomination and selection processes of candidates in political parties usually consider women as the second best. In most cases, women are usually considered fit for nomination only if they have powerful men as their pillars. Besides, the processes are usually so heavily monetized that most women with lean financial muscles are elbowed out of the race from the outset.
For these and other reasons, the choice of our electoral system has important and significant impact on a range of issues. It is within this context that the recommendation of the ERC that political parties should have 20% of women in their governance bodies becomes significant. It is believed that such representation will have positive effect in engendering party democracy in Nigeria.
Since the commencement of indigenous politics in Nigeria in the mid-1950s, one remarkable feature has been the near absence of women in the parties especially in party leadership. Although there has been improvement over the years, the situation today still leaves much to be desired. Despite several efforts made by women locally and internationally to improve the situation of women in politics, very little progress has been made as women are still excluded from the mainstream while the support they enjoy is at best cosmetic. As a result the marginal increase in their participation has not enhanced their positions within the party hierarchy; their influence in decision making is equally minimal and not commensurate with their number.
An analysis of Nigeria electoral system shows that 2003 and 2007 elections witnessed unprecedented increase in the number of female aspirants and heightened local mobilization of the generality of women, yet only a handful made it to the end. Also a review of the manifestoes and constitutions of over 30 political parties in the last elections showed that almost all the political parties in Nigeria, at best, paid lip services to women’s political development since they are still considered ‘outsiders’ in the game of politics. The experiences of women during the last elections show that the political parties have refused to integrate women’s needs and concern in the business of democracy. There are only few women in the National Executive of political parties in Nigeria, Where they manage to get to this level, they are  given the post of  welfare, social organisers or ex officio which may be politically redundant. For example the Peoples Democratic Party has 52 National Executive Officers out of which only 6 are women with 3 holding ex officio positions and 2 occupying the position of national woman leader and deputy national woman leader and the third, the position of deputy national publicity secretary.

In the opposition Action Congress (AC), there are only 4 women out of 32 National Executive Officers. The four occupy the positions of national financial secretary, the deputy national publicity secretary, national legal adviser and the national women leader.
There are 28 National Executive Officers in the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), only 4 are women, two national internal auditors, one national women leader and one deputy national women leader. 
These forms of marginalisation and poor representation of women run through all the other political parties. Incidentally, an analysis of the manifestoes of the parties shows the inclusion of gender provisions despite that in practice this is not evidenced. For example Article 6 of the PDP manifesto titled the ‘The character of the Party’ states that ‘it shall be a non tribal, non religious and non sexist democratic organisation’ (6.1). Section 6.5 says it shall promote the emancipation of women by encouraging their representation at all levels and combat sexism while Section 16 (a) specifically provides for the position of a woman leader from national to Ward level (local). The ALL PROGRESSIVE GRAND ALLIANCE (APGA) constitution and manifestoes has a chapter 16, titled the Policy on Women, which gives a brief but incisive analysis of gender discrimination and emphasised the need to work in accordance with the Beijing Declarations and promote gender parity and more inclusive democracy. The policy proposes to ‘fight gender inequality and insensitivities in all aspect of national life through public enlightenments, promote affirmative action in employment,  promote girl child education and compulsory education for girls until 16...”
Also the National Democratic Party dedicated her Chapter 20 to Women Policy. The party promises to take active practical and concrete steps to empower women and facilitate their entrance into various organs of the party; women will be encouraged to contest elective party and public political post and as a matter of politics women will be given their fair share of appointment and accept equality of men and women.
Some ofthese provisions provide opportunities for women to hold their party accountable and demand internal democracy and parity towards 2011 general elections, such interventions can only yield fruits if it is well thought out.
Going by the amendment to the 1999 Constitution as recently concluded, elections are expected to take place between 150 and 120 days to the end of every tenure. The implication is that the forthcoming elections must hold between December 30, 2010 and January 29, 2011. Unfortunately women   seem not prepared enough for the coming elections, although there might be slight victories compared to the representations between 1999 and  2007. The reasons for this forecast is simple, women are still faced with the numerous challenges that have contributed to their marginalization from mainstream politics. Though there is growing awareness and resolve by women to influence the decisions that affect their lives and their families, the political, economy and social environment as well as the structure of the nation still define their political participation and representation.  Their strong- will must be tapped into to change the situation of women in politics in 2011 and beyond

As it has been noted above, one of the forward looking approaches to 2011 is that women in political parties must negotiate gender parity through the party system as a temporary measure. Since there is no legal framework backing affirmative action, the National Gender Policy 2007 remains the only persuasive document that can translate into a good negotiating instrument for concession for women. Women   activists in Nigeria can mobilize around the policy, create awareness particularly, regarding the provisions relating to 35% affirmative action and through this demand electoral accountability from political parties.  
Political Parties are the ultimate political gatekeepers because they produce party or candidate lists. Although women account for a significant number in party membership in Nigeria, it is commonplace to have parties presenting consensus candidates (most of whom are men backed by their godfathers). Women activists and politicians should explore the opportunities created by some gender friendly provisions in political parties’ manifestoes and constitutions to demand accountability for women.
Another opportunity existing for women groups in 2011 is to proactively identify and recruit women members with political potential for future elections. In addition,   party women members must insist that parties democratize their leadership structures and reform their financing mechanisms to ensure increased participation by women. Success in recruiting and promoting women’s leadership within parties may also point the way for engagement of other under-represented sectors in social change processes in 2011 and beyond.
Another door of opportunity is for women activists to engage INEC. The recent appointment of Prof. Attahiru Jega as Chairman INEC and 10 other national commissioners, as well as 19 resident electoral commissioners have been largely well received, except for the pocket of protests about the partisanship of few of the nominees, which however the President responded to by dropping them.  Also, out of the 13-member board of INEC, there are three females. Women can work with INEC to begin to model an electoral process that mainstreams gender. Through collaborative partnership with INEC, the possibilities of gender parity in political structures could be more open.
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Change in political parties will require commitment from the top and pressure from below. Unfortunately, leadership of a party’s “women’s wing” is rarely seen as a desirable position in the party hierarchy, perhaps because it lacks real responsibility. Women party members cannot rely only on quotas to bring real change to their political organizations. Rather, they will need to mobilize and organize for change from within, through alliances that may include other party members, women from other parties and gender-focused civil society groups. Women should also be encouraged to register with parties of their choice as card carrying members and be actively involved in the party primaries. Besides campaigns for balanced gender representation in political decision-making positions, an integral part of the core of strategies for women's political participation is building women's agenda for change.
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