By our reporter| Nigeria’s vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday acknowledged the high-cost of governance in the country and agreed that something must be done to address the situation.
He, however, noted it will be difficult to reduce cost of governance because those to vote to become part-time legislators, are the legislators themselves.
Osinbajo who made the disclosure at a webinar hosted on Zoom by Emmanuel Chapel on Friday, with the theme, “State of the Nation: Economic Sustainability Beyond COVID-19”, described the governance structure as “large and expensive”.
The vice president while responding to a contribution from former CBN governor, Muhammadu Sanusi, on the need to “reduce structural cost and make government more sustainable over the long term,” affirmed the need to reduce cost, but said it may be a little difficult considering the structure of the constitution.
Osinbajo said, “There is no question that we are dealing with a large and expensive government. But as you know, given the current constitutional structure, those who would have to vote to reduce government, especially to become part-time legislators, are the very legislators themselves. So, you can imagine that we may not get very much traction if they are asked to vote themselves, as it were, out of their current relatively decent circumstances.”
“So, I think there is a need for a national debate on this question and there is a need for the will to ensure that we are not wasting the kind of resources that we ought to use for development on overheads.
“At the moment, our overheads, as you know, are almost 70 per cent of revenues. So, there is no question at all that we must reduce the size of government.
“Part of what you would see in the Economic Sustainability Plan also and several of the other initiatives is trying to go, to some extent, to what was recommended in the (Steve) Oransaye Report; to collapse a few of the agencies to become a bit more efficient in terms of how we use current MDAs and those that we do not need anymore, and also, generally speaking, trying to make government much more efficient with whatever it has.”
At the moment, we know that given what has been done already, the size of the workforce that we thought we had probably isn’t true. And that goes for several of the services as well.”
“As we bring the military onto the IPPIS platform, and as we bring the universities also onto the electronic platform, we will definitely be able to reduce some of the waste that we see at the moment, which is a lot of money being spent on ghost workers and ghost entities generally. So, there is no question at all. We must do something about the cost of governance.”
The webinar, which is the 10th in its series, was moderated by Konyin Ajayi, a senior advocate of Nigeria, and Chinny Ogunro, co-founder and managing director of Africa Health Holdings.
Other members of the panel were, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, two-time minister of finance in Nigeria, and Donald Kaberuka, former president of the African Development Bank.