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What is the fastest growing state in Nigeria?

High performing states promise bountiful opportunities to the Nigerians who live there compared to their slower counterparts.

Put simply, Nigeria must be more than Lagos for Nigerians to become broadly prosperous.  

What is the fastest growing state in Nigeria

Major Takeaways

  • There is limited data on the economic performance of states.
  • Akwa Ibom leads in GDP estimates and revenue growth.
  • We suggest that active internet subscriptions imply disposable income suggesting wealth and profitable economic activity. 
  • Ogun state leads in the number of active internet subscriptions as a percentage of PVCs collected and shares a border with Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial centre.  

It is vital we know which is the fastest growing economy in our federal republic. That is because competent governance in the federal capital, states and local governments is the best path to solving most of the quality of life problems plaguing the average Nigerian. 

Growth in this context means economic performance. High performing economies promise bountiful opportunities to the Nigerians who live there compared to their slower counterparts. Put simply, Nigeria must be more than Lagos for Nigerians to become broadly prosperous.  

Limited data about affairs beneath the federal tier of government is thus unfortunate. That likely explains the obsession with presidential politics that animates the Nigerian body politic. However, Our Red Eagle will make the best of the resources at hand. We are Nigerian, after all. 

I will stress that the analysis below is speculative. We are certainly interested in discovering if our conclusion tallies with your impressions.

Budgit, in the 2022 edition of its State of the states report revealed which states witnessed the most revenue growth between 2020 and 2021. They were:

  1. Akwa Ibom 
  2. Borno 
  3. Oyo 
  4. Cross River 
  5. Edo 
  6. Ogun 
  7. Nasarawa 
  8. Delta 
  9. Taraba 
  10. Katsina

All those states earned revenues in the tens of billions. However, going back to the 2015 edition of the Budgit report, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ogun and Oyo were the only members of the group then earning revenue in the tens of billions. That suggests at least eight years of strong economic performance on their part. 

We can narrow the field by using state GDP, foreign investment and internet access. The first measures how much a state produces; the second, how much foreign investors value said production and the last, but not least, how pervasive is internet usage therein. 

The 2022 edition of the Budgit report also provides GDP estimates for Nigerian states. That allows us to narrow the field. Akwa Ibom, Delta and Ogun states come in at third, fifth and eighth, respectively. 

Next, we turn to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for another set of data, namely investment amounts. In the NBS Capital Importation Report of 2022, Akwa Ibom received foreign investor backing to the tune of $42 million. Delta and Ogun states received nothing that year. Akwa Ibom’s performance was good enough for third in the federation, behind the expected behemoths: Abuja and Lagos. 

Finally, given the realities of the 21st century, access to the internet is indispensable to economic endeavours. 

Akwa Ibom, Delta and Ogun had active internet subscriptions that were 123%, 189% and 404% of collected PVCs respectively. Active internet subscriptions are an easy indication of minimal prosperity, commercial activity and disposable income.

PVCs, given their dual use as voting and identification documents, are the best alternative we have to the presently non-existent national census data. PVC collection numbers were 2,198,628; 2,989,514; and 2,278,063 for Akwa Ibom, Delta and Ogun, respectively in 2023. 

As of the fourth quarter of 2022, the NBS reported that the active internet subscriptions were 2,713,375; 5,656,374 and 9,206,614 in Akwa Ibom, Delta and Ogun, respectively.

Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna and Kano are widely acknowledged to be leading parts of the federation. We can use them to establish a performance baseline. Those states respectively accounted for 1,476,451; 6,214,970; 4,164,473 and 5,594,193 collected PVCs. Their Q4 active internet subscriptions (and as a percentage of PVCs collected) were:

  • Abuja: 7,354,569 (498%)
  • Lagos: 18,702,394 (301%)
  • Kaduna: 7,046,143 (169%)
  • Kano: 8,470,131 (151%)

Those states all have famous universities. So the presence of Covenant and Babcock in Ogun state does not necessarily give it a special economic advantage. Even with adjustments made for students and faculty who likely registered for PVCs in other states, it is obvious that Ogun is an outperformer. That suggests citizens with greater disposable income. Consider that Ogun outperforms even Lagos on that basis. Akwa Ibom, in contrast, performs worse than in the other examined statistics. 

Given the above evidence, adventurous Nigerians would do well to place their bets on Ogun as the best-performing states outside of Abuja and Lagos. 

Akwa Ibom has a higher GDP, a government that extracts greater revenue and was a foreign investor darling in 2022. Those are all undisputed advantages. But I cannot discount its weak performance in the measurement of active internet users. I always prefer statistics that show high purchasing power among individuals to outsized government performance. Furthermore, Ogun state has a stronger foundation for future growth due to the presence of Covenant University—widely acclaimed as Nigeria’s leading private institution of higher education. If transport links with Lagos continue to improve, then its status as the next big thing won’t be a prediction; it’ll be a spoiler.   

Emmanuel-Francis is a Nigerian nationalist. He is for clean streets, safe nights and full bellies. Please, indulge his verbosity; and join his campaign to abolish the African Union.

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