I study the different types of accountability that link citizens to politicians in developing countries like Nigeria and Brazil, and the effect these have on the delivery of public services such as healthcare, education and infrastructure. Whether or not public services are provided and functioning more often reflects a political decision than an economic one, and has a profound impact on the lives and livelihoods of the poor.
Often politicians are tempted to spend public money to buy votes, provide employment to swing voters, and secure another political victory. But sometimes they recognize that the best way to win an election is to provide public services ('public goods') and win public respect as a politician who can deliver social benefits. My research aims to find out where and when public goods make good politics. Specifically, under what conditions does 'performance politics' overtake corrupt clientelist politics?
I also research the converse relationship. Public goods and economic transformation can change politics by creating new channels of accountability, new opportunities for social organization, and incentives for politicians to invest in new political institutions like programmatic parties and transparent policies. These transformations occurred in European countries as early as the 17th century, are currently reaching maturity in Brazil and, I argue, are accelerating rapidly in Nigeria.
Currently, I am a second-year PhD Student in the Department of Government at Harvard University. Previously, I worked as an Economist and Fellow of the Overseas Development Institute in the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Millennium Development Goals in the Federal Government of Nigeria. Here I learnt how politics works, how to grasp reform opportunities, and how to eat pounded yam. Working for the National Development Foundation in Cameroon I started to gain an understanding of the centrality of politics to poverty and poverty reduction (see my placement info here). I have also worked as an economist for Vivid Economics and Oxera. I previously studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies and New College, Oxford University.