Should a Government be run like a business?


Lagos has recently been referred to as the model Nigerian states should strive to emulate.

I’ve heard it said that because Lagos state was largely refused federal funding back in the “Tinubu days” (not like the “Tinubu days” have technically gone; Jagaban still remains the Jagaban), the state was forced to source its funding from within i.e Taxes, Fines, Fees etc.

All seems to be well and good except for the concern that as Lagos continues to strive to become a true MegaCity, a larger percentage of the middle - lower class is gradually being phased out as the state continues to strike deals and partnerships and implement policies more like a “business” and maybe not a “government”; I might be wrong.

For example, this article on the upcoming environmental concerns about the Eko Atlantic City, begs the question if such potential concerns were put into consideration while signing this deal, as well as what checks and balances were put in place to ensure the private firm has the best interest of the state as a whole at heart.

I agree that a large part of the problems we have as a country are due to the inefficiencies associated with governments and how they are run, but is “privatisation” a true panacea? Is the solution to completely overhaul current failing governmental systems and begin to run them with a bid to ensure sustainability/efficiency; measuring them using profitability metrics?

As John T. Harvey put it:

The problem in a nutshell, is that not everything that is profitable is of social value and not everything of social value is profitable.

Where should the line be drawn?


A government is technically a co-operative forcefully contributed to by the citizens of a country.


Operationally government should be run like a business in order to succeed and compete globally. However, you can’t always apply the logic of purely business to issues of governance especially when it comes to what should be the humanitarian side of government and dealing with the welfare of the low income, old and infirm members of society.


I would equally not recommend anyone joining the chest beating sing-song that Lagos is the model every state should try to emulate. Lagos for a number of obvious reasons enjoys better revenue performance than other states in Nigeria owing to the special advantages conferred to it by the Federal Government during the period it was the Nigerian administrative and commercial capital as well as beyond, while the state has done well in certain regards to sustain its self sufficiency, it still underperforms in various areas from a continental and global perspective.

Ask yourselves the following questions:

  1. If Abuja is not the federal capital of Nigeria tomorrow, can its inhabitants claim the success of the city was their doing and theirs alone and the federal government had little to do with it?

  2. If Abuja was a coastal city with access to the ports, legacy telecommunications and transportation infrastructure, would Lagos be able to compete in the same fashion? Mind you Lagos was the capital of Nigeria for 77 years. Abuja has only been capital for 26.

I would rather individual states aim to compete to be Singapores or Dubais and borrowing from those templates. Of course they can adapt in areas Lagos has seen significant success. However looking at Lagos as having achieved something phenomenal or as the gold standard everyone should follow is just advocating mediocrity.




Never seen this issue laid to bare in this light before. Thank you @fish