Thursday, 28 May 2015

Nigerians Advocate Cut In Cost Of Governance

Some Nigerians have advocated cut in the cost of governance, describing the country’s presidential system as the most expensive in the world.
They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and decried the over bloated and unsustainable cost of running the system.
In Lagos, Prof. Pat Utomi, a political economist, urged government to make public life very simple in order to reduce the cost of governance.

Utomi told NAN that cost of governance was a major challenge in the country.
“In most parts of the world, politicians do not go around with the long motorcade and number of aides they go around with in Nigeria.
“It is Nigeria that you will see a minister having so much aides and wherever he goes, they go with him,’’ Utomi said, adding that all these contributed to the high cost of governance.

“Buhari should ensure that public life is made very simple so that it will be easier to touch the people, feel and know about them.

“Governance should not be about moving in motorcades, living in mansions and not stopping at traffic lights.’’
A Lagos-based maritime lawyer, Mr Osuala Nwagbara, called for the reduction of the number of ministries and ministers.
Nwagbara also said that government should slash the salaries and allowances of the elected representatives in the National Assembly as well as unnecessary overseas travels.
“The number of vehicles allocated to politicians should also be reduced because they are purchased from the taxpayers’ money,’’ Nwagbara opined.
Also, the President, Malaria Society of Nigeria, Dr Babajide Puddicombe, told NAN that National Assembly members should be placed on sitting allowances.
“International travels by public officials, staff of ministries, parastatals and agencies, for medicals should apply only in critical conditions.
“We should develop quality medical facilities in the country. Once we develop what we have here, it will invariably cut down cost of governance,’’ Puddicombe said.
A former Commissioner for Information in Ekiti, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, said government should rationalise some establishments.
“We have many irrelevant establishments that the government is wasting money on. These funds can be diverted to other areas that the ordinary Nigerians can benefit from,’’ Afuye said.
Also, Mr Wale Abde, Executive Secretary, Financial Markets Dealers Association, said that government should in all its policies stop duplication of roles in governance.
“Government must ensure that it blocks all the leakages in nation’s revenue generation. It should take firm decisions on fuel subsidy and right-size manpower in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“There is need for government to revisit the Oransanye Report that advocated right-sizing and merging of ministries to reduce duplication of roles,’’ Abde said.
The Head of Coaching Department, Nigeria Institute of Sports (NiSPORTS), Jimmy Adeniyi, stressed the need for `belt-tightening’.
“There is need now, more than ever before, to re-introduce austerity measure, which was applied during the Alhaji Shehu Shagari time as well as the principles of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) during Gen. Ibrahim Babagida era.
“We should use both principles to rejig cost of governance.
The Chairman of Nigerian Environmental Society, Lagos Island Chapter, Mr John Ekoko, said the nation had to pay attention to corporate governance.
“We should also be more interested in the results, rather than in the activities. The abundant labour resource we have should be trained to add value to the economy and not just recycling job creation.
“The government should clearly define its targets as well as diversify the nation’s economy,” Ekoko said.
Mr Ganiu Olaogun, Dean, School of Early Childhood and Primary Education, suggested that the remuneration of ministers be on part-time basis.
“The current cost of running the offices is over bloated and should be reduced by paying the policymakers only when they sit for policy making,” Olaogun said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem, urged the Federal Government to use Information and Communications Technology to reduce the cost of governance.
Ekuwem, a former President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, told NAN that certain aspects of governance that were done manually should be automated.
He said that automation would help to reduce the cost of governance in the country, adding that “automation of certain aspects of governance will ensure transparency, increase efficiency and productivity.
“Given the state where we are today in Nigeria, I will not advocate that Information Technology should be used toward reducing the cost of manpower.
“It should not be used to send people back to the streets of the labour market,” Ekuwem said.
In Abuja, Prof. Abdulhameed Ujo of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, advocated prudent leadership as key to cost effective presidential system of government.
Ujo told NAN that the presidential system practiced in Nigeria was against the vision of the designers of the system.
He expressed dissatisfaction that the bulk of country’s budget was being spent on payment of the members of the National Assembly.
Also, the Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, told NAN that government could reduce cost by bringing only relevant technocrats on the saddle to check impunity in the system.
Nwagwu called for the reduction of salaries and allowances across board of all public office holders in the country as well as the merger of institutions with overlapping functions.
An economist, Mr Lawrence Nze, urged the government to tackle corruption and ensure that political office holders declare their assets.
According to him, if the system can be free from corrupt practices the cost of governance will be reduced and the administration will be efficient.
Nze said the high salaries and allowances of political office holders had deeply affected the cost of governance in the country.
He suggested that their salaries should be reduced or measured according to what they do as public servants.
The economist said that the lawmakers had no right to fix their own salaries and allowances.
Similarly, Chief Charles Nwodo, a chieftain of Progressive Action Congress, decried the presidential system, saying it breeds corruption and stagnate Nigeria’s economic growth.
Nwodo said that the system was anchored on settling the stakeholders in politics rather than the citizens who laboured for the progress of the country.
He called for the strengthening of anti-graft agencies and reduction of the salaries and allowances of political office holders, which take more than 45 per cent of the nation’s budget.
A retired Director from the Federal Civil Service, Mrs. Nancy Oghenekaro, told NAN that parastatals, which would be merged, should be departments under appropriate ministries.
Oghenekaro advocated scrapping of the Office of the Minister of State and reduction of salaries and allowances of legislators which were very “unrealistic”.
“The legislators are overpaid. Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world,” Oghenekaro opined.
A female politician, Dr Olubunmi Usim-Wilson, urged government to explore tourism and agriculture potential to boost dwindling revenue from crude oil.
“Tourism and agriculture have not been fully tapped and they can generate high revenue that can boost our economy.
“We expect the government to take concrete action by drastically reducing government spending and the cost of leadership,’’ Wilson, the senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the March 28 election in the FCT, said.
In Osogbo, Dr Femi Sopade, a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Osun State University, said the high cost of governance had nothing to do with a particular system.
Sopade, however, told NAN that orientation of the political class about governance rather that political system determines the cost of running government.
Also, Dr Adegoke Ajila, a lecturer at the Department of International Relation, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, berated members of the National Assembly for their “extravagance”.
Ajila noted that the chunk of national expenditure was consumed by the lawmakers in the last 16 years.
“Sincerely, Nigerian people have been seriously short-changed by the lawmakers who are elected to protect their superior interests.
“It is pathetic that while an average civil servant is crying over the implementation of N18,000 minimum wage, lawmakers were raking in millions monthly with pride.
“It is important for the incoming administration to put a stop to this anomaly and distribute the commonwealth of the nation evenly and equitably for the good of all,’’ Ajila said.
Consequently, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Osun, Alhaji Saka Adejobi, called for openness in the implementation of salaries and allowances of the public office holders.
Adejobi said salaries and other emolument of the public office holders, especially members of the National Assembly should no longer be secret, to promote transparency in governance.
In Akure, Mayowa Fagboungbe, a political scientist, described the remuneration of political office holders as over bloated and unsustainable.
Fagboungbe said government should look into their wages because, “it should not be to the detriment of the people they are serving’’.
Also, Dr Michael Oke, a lecturer at the Department of Banking and Finance, Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, advocated cutting down of the number of aides.
Oke urged the incoming administration to ensure that salaries and allowances of all political holders were made public.
In Katsina, Alhaji Aminu Masari, the governor-elect, said his administration would scrap the office of first lady as a way to reduce cost of governance.
Alhaji Abdu Labaran, a senior media aide to the governor-elect, told NAN that none of Masari’s three wives would serve as first lady.
In Ilorin, PDP Publicity Secretary, Dr Rex Olawoye, called for scrapping of constituency allowances to the legislators in order to reduce the high cost of governance in Nigeria.
Olawoye said constituency allowances and constituency projects constituted drain-pipe on the nation’s economy.
He also expressed dissatisfaction with the jumbo pay of both the legislative and the executive, including their aides, saying that it was generating tension and crises in the political terrain of the country.
“Nobody knows the exact amount a senator, House of Representatives member and House of Assembly member earns in a month”.
He recalled that legislators in the US from where Nigeria copied the presidential system were on part-time basis.

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