In a world beset by myriads of economic, social and political challenges, think tanks serve as the bridge between decision makers and researchers. A think tank is a body of experts that provides evidence-based research andadvisory on specific socio-economic problems. Most are non-governmental organizations, but some are semi-autonomous government agencies,businesses or political parties.
Think tanksare often funded by private individuals, businesses or government grants. They foster high-level stakeholder dialogues, publish articles or draft legislation used by governments or private entities to achieve their goals.
In Nigeria, most think thanks are focused onpublic policy, democracy, strategy and socio-economic development. Several that frequently come up in national discourse include: The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Centre for Development and Democracy (CDD) and The Initiative for Public Policy Analysis and Management (IPPAM).
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG)
The NESG is Nigeria’s foremost private sector-led think tank and policy advocacy group. It was established in 1993 as a first-class research institution to help stakeholders from the public and private sectors execute policies, articulate programmes and dialogue on the future of the Nigerian economy.
From 1996 till date, NESG has successfully organized 26 economic summits, its flagship event focused on dismantling the pillars of corruption, encouraging sustainable growth and development and aligning home-grown development agenda with the UN sustainable development goals.
The NESG’s Policy Commissions comprise public and private sector executives who meet regularly to fast-track the adoption of Summit recommendations and ensure their implementation. Its interventions help drive policy changes through dedicated research, capacity development and high-level stakeholder engagements. Prior and ongoing interventions include BetterTax, Bridge Fellowship, FarmGain, the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER), the Nigerian Renewable Energy Roundtable (NiRER) and Policy Innovation Unit (PIU).
Notably, NESG is leveraging all the resources at its disposal to touch lives, including technology. Its 26th annual economic summit was a blend of physical and virtual due to COVID-19 concerns.
This gave distant participants the opportunity to join discussions on how to chart a path forward for the Nigerian economy. The Group currently runs NESG Radio, a weekly syndicated podcast that helps communicate critical information to a cross section of Nigerians on economic policies, ideas, health, trends and interventions.The NESG is arguably Nigeria’s most influential think tank, considering the amount of clout its annual economic summit commands and influence on government policies in the national interest.
Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER)
NISER was established in Ibadan in 1960, where it is currently based. In 2006, the Federal Government merged the National Manpower Board (NMB) with NISER and placed the Institute under the National Planning Commission (NPC).
In 2020, NISER developed its Webinar Series in partnership with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office-funded Partnership to Engage, Reform, and Learn (PERL). It leverages this Series to draw on expertise from academia, government, civil society and the private sector to proffer solutions to complex socio-economic challenges affecting Nigeria. The output from the Sessions is disseminated to critical stakeholders as Briefing Papers. NISER conducts research and consultancy on Federal Government, individual and externally funded projects. It also organizes an annual policy dialogue and provides training on research methodology, report and in-service writing.
National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS)
NIPSS was established in Kuru, Plateau State in 1979. The Institute’s primary objective is to develop top-class technocrats to drive the implementation of innovative policy initiatives critical to national development. The Institute is a formation centre for bureaucrats, private sector leaders and senior civil servants. They exchange ideas on the major issues affecting society, particularly as they relate to Nigeria and Africa within the context of a dynamic world. NIPSS offers senior executive courses in Policy and Leadership, as well as a Strategic Course for Command Responsibility.
The Centre for Development and Democracy
In 1997, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) was established in the United Kingdom as a not-for-profit research and advocacy organisation. CDD is based in Abuja, where it shapes global opinion and provides resources to address challenges hampering democratic developmentin West Africa.
The Centre advances its objectives through its national and regional programmes on democratic governance and people centred development. This includes budget monitoring and capacity building for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),Deradicalization and Counterterrorism and West Africa Insight. The CDD’s focal areas include: parliamentary engagement, peace and human security, democratic governance and transparency.
The Initiative for Public Policy Analysis and Management (IPPAM)
IPPAM is aninternational policy think-tank based in Abuja. Itprovides policy analysis, research, advocacy and offers support services to state and non-state institutions.
The Initiative is focused on institutionalisingpublic policies as instruments for good governance and sustainable development, with thematic areas centring on Governance, Economic Management, Environmental Sustainability and Human Development. IPPAM’s membership categories include intern, affiliate, full member and fellow.
Musa is an Abuja-based banker