Cutting Cost Of Governance

With the stark realities of the current economic downturn staring all tiers of government in the face, it has
become obvious that something drastic has to be done to reduce the high cost of governance in Nigeria. But the question remains, how far is the country ready to go in order to achieve optimal success in this direction?

What we have seen so far smacks of cosmetic measures. Some governors and members of legislative houses have announced with fanfare that they would give up proportions of their salaries and allowances. The Federal Government has also hinted that it will cut down the number of ministries, departments and agencies. It remains to be seen how many of the over 500 federal agencies will be done away with, and what will happen to their workers by the time the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is through with its “painstaking” exercise.

These are largely superficial measures. The heavy drainage of the public treasury has very little to do with the salaries and allowances that political office holders are paid. Very little will be gained from the so-called voluntary forfeiture of such in part or whole. They will not serve much purpose beyond making sensational headlines. Since governors have unlimited access to the treasuries of their states, their salaries mean little or nothing to them.

What we need is a comprehensive overhaul of the system. We need to re-examine the 1999 Constitution and reform it to reduce the sizes of governments, both at the state and federal levels. It is only through constitutional reform that we can adjust the number of ministries, departments and agencies, and address the administration of the Federation Accounts, revenue sharing and resource control.

It is only through this mechanism that we can escape the trap of having to use three-quarters of our annual budgets to service overheads and personnel costs of public sector workers, thus crowding out the vast majority of the population who operate in the private sector. Our high infrastructure deficit can never be overcome with mere pittance being devoted to development activities.

The danger in cosmetic approach to this problem is that as soon as the heat of the moment passes, as soon as another good fortune in oil prices intervenes, politicians will return to the squandering of riches. We have seen this repeatedly.

The era of centralised control of the resources of the nation and large governments has passed. This is part of our inglorious military legacy which we must now give up. It is time to take the people’s money – and the economy as a whole – closer to the people. That is the only permanent solution to the financial crises.
Cutting Cost Of Governance Cutting Cost Of Governance Reviewed by Vita Ioanes on Saturday, July 04, 2015 Rating: 5

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