An article published this May in the Foreign Affairs journal provoked heated debates about whether Nigeria is a failed state.

Professor Nic Cheeseman, who is an acquaintance going back a decade ago when I consulted and wrote on EU-Kenya development cooperation, co- authored the article. His collaborator, Fola Aina, is a doctoral fellow at King’s College London. Their article is provocatively titled “Don’t call Nigeria a failed state”.

Having given five public addresses these past 14 months or so since Covid-19 cases were first reported in Nigeria in March 2020, their theme naturally piqued my interest. In each of those speaking engagements, I had found myself offering an unusual disclaimer – that I have spent much of my two decades plus career in African Security, Development and Governance dispelling the notion that Nigeria is a failed state.

Oladiran (Ola) Bello obtained both his MPhil and PhD degrees in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and also holds a First Class BSc degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He has worked for organisations including the United Nations (New York) and Management Systems International (Washington DC), Merchant International Group (London) and Arthur Andersen (later KPMG). Dr Ola Bello has more than 10 years of experience in research and policy advisory, including on governance and extractive sector reform; sustainable development; and international development cooperation (including in EU-Africa relations). He spent three years with FRIDE (Spain) managing a donor-funded programme on the EU’s role in managing fragility and resource governance in select African countries. In 2012-2015, he was Head, Governance of Africa’s Resource Programme (GARP) at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and also functioned as head of SAIIA’s Cape Town office. Ola is spearheading GGA's technical support to Nigerian reform, including delivering ethics training for senior Nigerian judicial officers and change-makers (2017-2019). He's also working to expand GGA's role as in-country resource centre for multilateral consultative missions to Nigeria's ministries and parastatals. These missions include the UNECA/AU mineral sector governance team.