Streamlined cost of governance as panacea for Nigeria’s problems

This is the way forward, a desideratum, in fact a prerequisite for the much-needed solution to the myriads of problems facing the country, if we must move forward.

A system that has plunged us into this mess cannot bring us back from the brink. It cannot be business as usual if we want to get out of the woods. So far, no political party has given a policy thrust that will bring us back from the precipice that is staring us in the face, and those who feel they are doing the right thing may in fact be offering derisory plans while thinking they are doing us favour.

There must be a paradigm shift in the system which the politicians cannot provide on their own as their motives put their personal interests above those of the collective. There must be a system that is fair and equitable to all concerned and meets global standard of cost control in governance. Now a solution proffers itself:

The political elite are the bane of the worsening situation in the country. As good as they may be individually, it would seem that they always conspire against the rest of us when they come together to play politics and are put in charge of the affairs of the country. This is when they treat the rest of us as fools, they lose their sense of humanity while they engage in primitive acquisition of wealth, inanities, waste, profligacy, frivolous and ill-conceived projects, misapplication of resources, compromised institutions and appointments that are more or less sinecure and job for the boys etc. and pay total disregard to service to the nation, democratic governance and collective national interests.

The reasons are not farfetched: the general feudalistic background of the political elite had been unduly buoyed by the autocratic and dictatorial tendencies of the erstwhile military whom they replace. So, at the point where proper resource management and sense of proportion should have come to play as in developed democracies, our politicians display total lack of integrity and sense of social justice, but instead display “what is in it for me” or such primordial and parochial tendencies.

The political class and their pliant compatriots in the civil service conveniently omitted to restore the checks and balances in governance when the military left the stage. As a result, what we now have is a cosmetic change from military to civil rule- a mere change from khaki to agbada- with total lack of fiscal discipline that is expected in a working democracy.

It would appear that, rather than focus on service to the nation, the political class are focused on the treasury and power for their selfish ends. They venture into politics with the mindsets of men/women out to reap highest possible dividends from their investments.
Therefore, the booties after winning elections, and not service to fatherland, in my opinion, remain the motivating factors in most cases.

This is the genesis of our problems: how corruption is nurtured and gain muscle and strength to the point of fighting back; this is why cost of governance is going through the roof while quality of service is going downhill. It is evident that if money and power continue to be the motivating factor, things will continue to get worse.

Something has to change as we cannot be doing things the same way and expect different results. The politicians, obviously, are at the end of their tethers: So instead of coming up with workable solutions, they engage in the blame game, passing the buck without taking the faintest glimpse at the mirror. But the truth is: the political elite, being bereft of integrity, brought about this mess through their acts of omission and or commission. There is no short-cut for the proverbial palm wine tapper- the means of ascent is the only means of descent.

Only statesmen- politicians imbued with integrity and desire for social justice can devise and implement a system that will take us out of the present mess. But no one can give what he does not have, hence the need to help politicians to help themselves and follow the advice of William Shakespeare: “assume a virtue if you have it not” –the need to devise a cost of governance model that will serve as a thermostat to direct/regulate cost of governance in line with the available resources, and the level of development of the nation.

Deriving a formula
In deriving a formula in this regard, realistic view must be taken of the country’s resources and not based on the mistaken assumption that Nigeria is the giant of Africa. It must also be noted that governance is a common service which feature in every country, even if its cost is relative to its resources/size and level of development.

The system whereby over 70 per cent of our resources is beings squandered on cost of governance is unwieldy and that is why everything is going downhill. There must be a paradigm shift in the system that turns politics and governance into business ventures.

This paper proposes to give a government or political party an option out of three systems designed as a means of planning for development and achieving desired goal of cost effective/cost efficient governance:

By (my) hunch: Cost of governance should be equal to or less than 30 per cent of the country’s resources for the period. This will leave 70 per cent for other commitments- education, health infrastructure etc.

Learn from others: it will be a wise counsel for the giant to go to the ants, learn their ways and be wise. When Nigeria became independent, we were at par, or even better off economically, than some countries then classified as third world/developing countries: examples are Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea.

These countries have left us behind and are now proudly referred to as Asian Tigers. Copy the consumption pattern that catapulted them out of the rung of the underdevelopment class.

Derive another (if different from 1 and 2 above) which must take cognisance of the fact that this country is the poverty capital of the world and all the indices of development put Nigeria at the last rung. Consider the paradox, the absurdity: the poverty capital of the world is paying the highest remuneration to her legislators or the office of the head of state or minister of the poorest nation being compared with that of the richest nation, one can go on and on, but the point being made here is that the consumption pattern must be based on objective realities.

Some tips on “working to the answer”
Having arrived at a cost of governance model, these are some useful tips in implementing the system: they are by no means exhaustive.The Chief Executive Officer- President, Governor, LGA Chairman is the budget leader in his government with the legislative arm as part of the team.

The remuneration of the regular public servants is sacrosanct and must take the first allocation of the budget. Virile civil service and strong government institutions are the backbone of any government. However, an unwieldy public service structure, apart from being a cost burden, is lethargic, clumsy and inefficient.

Therefore, the first thing to do is to trim the unwieldy civil service and para-statals with a view to achieving greater efficiency with a reduced workforce, and make the contractual part of the reduced workforce remuneration the first charge of each budget; while the surplus workforce are engaged in self-sustaining private/public projects established as part of necessary restructuring programme.

Loans should be tied to specific projects or investments which should be self-sustaining.Pensions must be contributory and must be charged to the period of service. There must be no ex-gratia payment and no roll-over of liabilities.

Ombudsman: There must be a strong public service consumer commission to be headed by an independent statesman.
The success of Nigeria is our collective desire, but we cannot achieve this if we continue to leave politics to the politicians. It is my considered opinion that we can contribute our quota in tiny and mighty ways by considering and applying this thesis as a verifiable and veritable chink in the armour of the giant that Nigeria’s problems have become.

In other words, when cost of governance is streamlined as suggested in this paper, everything will fall in place. Conversely, the longer the thesis is ignored the more of actions that are less than altruistic we should expect from our leaders.
Olukoya, a Chartered Secretary and Corporate governance Consultant wrote via aje olukoya@gmail.com

The post Streamlined cost of governance as panacea for Nigeria’s problems appeared first on Guardian Nigeria News.

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