A careful study of Nigeria’s capital expenditure versus recurrent expenditure shows that Gen. Sani Abacha’s military regime performed well better than that of other presidents elected after 1999.
Every budget is judged on its capital versus recurrent expenditure comparison for obvious reasons. The lower the capital expenditure is, the harder it is to invest in the critical infrastructure a country (Nigeria) needs to move forward.
Ironically, the military government performs much better than democracy when it comes to capital expenditure vs recurrent expenditure. The biggest irony is that the Abacha government (with all its looting) spent more on capital expenditure than it did on recurrent expenditure. This is evident from the graph below:
Between 1994 and 1999 Nigeria saw capital expenditure as a percentage of government revenue outstrip recurrent by as high as 77%. However things began to change dramatically after democracy happened. The gap simply just widened and today it appears there is no way to go back to how things were.
In a democracy, bureaucracy is the order of the day where civil servants and public officials earn a huge chunk of a country’s revenue without any single meaningful contribution to nation building most times. What suffers the most is capital projects. It is a known fact and one that successive governments have had to deal with over the years.
So how did Abacha achieve this despite all the looting. One reason this could have happened was due to the influence of PTF at the time. The Petroleum Trust Fund managed by current Nigerian President, Buhari carried out a lot of capital projects in that time.
To get Nigeria moving, recurrent expenditure needs to drop and that could mean rendering some MDAs moribund.