• Friday, December 01, 2023
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Why Tinubu must address cost of governance

Ahead of the unveiling of Bola Tinubu’s cabinet, intense political pressures are mounting on the President to have as many as 42 ministers.

BusinessDay gathered that each governor has already forwarded names of three nominees to the President, out of which he is expected to pick one that will represent each of the 36 states, while the President will further nominate one from each of the six geopolitical zone, to make them 42.

An Abuja based legal practitioner, Suleiman Lamorde, in his opinion, said the President is mandated by the 1999 Constitution to have a minister from each of the 36 states.

According to him, “section 14 subsection (3), that “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.

Section 147 subsection (1), stipulates that “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.

“(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.

“(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:- provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such state.”

“ The President may also assign any roles to his Vice President, using his discretion, as it is also stipulated in section 148 of the same constitution. Since 2015, the facts in public domain show that Nigerian government in the past eight years, have consistently incurred increasing cost of governance

At Present, the Tinubu’s government has a total of 27 ministries left vacant by the previous administration.

Recall that former President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 17, 2023, assented to a bill mandating the incoming President and Governors to submit their nominees, within 60 days of taking oath of office.

In 2015, Buhari inherited a budget of N4.5 trillion, signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, which was considered very high because it was an election year budget, by 2023, however, the budget had risen to about N21 trillion,

Public sector analysts believe that the current government must move fast to reduce spending, against the backdrop of prevailing economic realities, as dwindling revenue may force government to borrow more to pay salaries of workers, going

In 2014, the federal government inaugurated the Mohammed Adoke Committee. The report of that committee was abandoned, soon after the emergence of the Buhari’s administration in May, 2015.

Under Buhari’s administration, the government went ahead to create more agencies, including the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, North East Development Commission as well as the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), amongst several others.

Reports by the Budget Office indicate that Nigeria is facing increasing deficits as it has spent N29.3 trillion, in ten years, between 2011 and 2021, on non- debt recurrent expenditure.

The federal government’s cumulative earning for the same period was put at N33.2 trillion, according to statistics compiled by the Budget office on budget implementation.

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The report also shows a high recurrent expenditure at 50.6 percent of budgetary expenditures or 88.5 percent of revenue, including those spent on personnel costs, pensions, and gratuities, service-wide votes, and overheads.

Budget office indicated that while the federal government was recording budget deficit, averaging N1.1trillion every year, from 2009, driven mainly by the increase in the recurrent expenditures, the figures rose to an average of N3.3 trillion under the Buhari administration from 2015, forcing the government to increase borrowing to meet the increasing demands

Thus, from a recurrent expenditures of N2.65t in 2016, the amount rose to N6.83tn under the 2022 budget.

In 2020, the federal government had to borrow the sum of N2.8 trillion from the central bank via the Ways and Means provisions.

Debt servicing gulped N3.2 trillion in the same year, while Nigeria spent a total of N5.6 trillion on recurrent non-debt expenditure in 2021.

The money was spent on Personal cost for MDA’s rising from N2.8 billion, in the 2020 budget to N3 billion in 2021 budget.

Personal cost for government-owned enterprises (GOEs) also more than tripled from N218 billion (2020) to N701 billion, in 2021.

Comparatively, while the sum of N1.8 trillion was voted for personnel costs in 2015 for the entire government, in 2023 N1 trillion, the Ministry of Defence alone has a budget of N1T for personnel costs.

As Nigerians raise concerns over the over-bloated government spending, the institution, that ought to help check government spending, the National Assembly, has consistently increased its annual budget as can be seen from the increase from N134 billion in 2022 budget to N169 billion, under the 2023 budget.

President of the African Development Bank (AFDB) Akinwumi Adesina speaking in Abuja recently, said for Nigeria to grow its economy it must immediately tackle its low productivity, poor infrastructure and epileptic power supply, as well as cutting down growing cost of governance.

Also, Abiodun Adeniyi, of Baze University, Abuja, in his assessment of the current economic situation in the country, said the President Bola Tinubu’s administration “must be concerned about cutting cost of governance and must work towards result oriented appointments”, as he compile his team

According to him, “He should not just try to please people, but should engage those who can do the job with minimum supervision.

“We expect the government to build compromise between engaging those politicians who helped him to get elected into the office and reducing high cost of governance.

“There should be a compromise between resource availability and political patronage, prudence, accountability and efficiency in governance.

Adeniyi while also speaking on the Orosanye report on Civil Service reforms, stated that the government revisit the report with the view to implementing it.