The high cost of governance in Nigeria has become a disturbing phenomenon. It has widely been acknowledged by Nigerians within and outside the corridors of power as a conduit pipe for the pilfering of public funds.
The Convener, Campaign for Transformative Governance, Jaye Gaskia, led the call for President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to raise the bar in the fight against corruption vis-a-vis addressing the cost of governance
Gaskia spoke during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja.
He noted that there is a crisis in the cost of governance in Nigeria. He lamented that corruption had become an enormous industry in the country as revenue-generating government agencies have repeatedly failed to remit money into the government’s coffers arbitrarily.
He also linked corruption with the reason Nigeria as an oil-producing country, cannot produce petrol locally but continue to rely on the importation of refined products.
“Why are we the only OPEC country that imports 90 percent of our refined products? It doesn’t make sense.
“Corruption has become a huge business and a huge industry. Multiple layers of politicians and government personnel benefit from this corruption. It is not their interest to do anything about it because they benefit from it. Whether the country benefits from it or not makes no sense to them,” Gaskia lamented.
In tackling public sector corruption, Gaskia said the government should start by redefining the purpose of governance and ensure its agencies are focused and operating with a clear-cut objective.
He identified political patronage as one of the main factors limiting past administrations and the current federal government led by President Buhari from reducing the cost of governance while charging Nigerians to brace up to ask politicians questions concerning corruption and good governance ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
On his part, the Publisher Fresh News Online Newspaper, Desmond Utomwen, faulted the Nigerian Constitution, which approves compulsory representation of all the states of the federation in the Federal Executive Council (FEC); which he said jerks up government expenditure and enables corruption.
His words: “I think the constitution is an enabler of the high cost of governance, and it is linked to corruption.
“Why do you need to have different ministries that do not perform different jobs, and why do you also need to have certain parastatals that are similar in functions, more or less like duplication of responsibilities? Why do we even need to have 36 states, because if you do not have 36 states, you will not need to create ministries that will accommodate 36 ministers,” questioned.
Utomwen condemned the government’s unwillingness to implement the Stephen Oronsaye report on public sector reforms and urged a document review. He also called for the promotion of efficiency in the public sector as inefficiency and flawed recruitment processes were negatively affecting the development of the country.
Utomwen called for a drastic reduction of the number of federal legislators or for the job of lawmaking to be made less attractive in Nigeria.
“I’m one of those who believe we need to reduce the number of lawmakers. If possible, we should make it a part-time thing. For the executive, I’m already against it because some governors have a thousand aides. I don’t know what they need them for.
“In the National Assembly, we have 469 lawmakers, these lawmakers also have their aides, of course, they have to do their jobs, they have at least 3 in aides. However, do they need to work in the interest of the public? Yes, but do we need the numbers? We don’t,” Utomwen stressed.
In November 2021, the Federal Government announced plans to implement the Stephen Oronsaye report. The Federal Government had sent out White Paper on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies, and Commission. It inaugurated two sub-committees to review the main report, but to date, the implementation remains elusive.
Stephen Oronsaye had, in its report submitted on April 16, 2012, recommended a reduction in the number of federal agencies from 263 to 161 to reduce the cost of governance in the country.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.