T he Federal Government has said it intends to keep the cost of governance within manageable limits by reducing its personnel cost. This will be actualised by giving incentives to make some of her workers leave for the more challenging but fulfilling world of entrepreneurship.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed announced this at a forum in Abuja recently. Mrs. Ahmed explained that the savings from a reduced workforce would be utilised to pay teachers to be recruited, as some of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would be merged. New Telegraph salutes the FG from refraining from her habitual borrowing to look inwards to solve a major economic problem. Though, the current administration already has one foot at the exit door, we hope that she would continue to de-emphasise the cosmetic approach of borrowing spree for the more realistic option of costmanagement. Regrettably, the Executive Branch has been economical with the truth, being tight lipped over the juicy salaries and privileges enjoyed by the nation’s political office holders.
Seats of power such as the State House, Aso Rock, Abuja and the Government Houses in the 36 states of the federation have attracted an army of aides. Some of the aides perform functions said to be overlapping. Members of the National Assembly, like their counterparts in the Executive Branch of goverment, have contributed significantly to the country’s high cost of governance, through equally juicy salaries and privileges. The FG’s silence on the salaries and emoluments of the political office holders and their motley of aides is, for want of a better expression, perplexing.
The political office holders and their aides are to keep their positions, wages and perks while the already – groaning workers are being stampeded into an unprepared entry into entrepreneurship. W hy not offer the same exit plan to the high-earning political office holders to help make savings for the country? By surrounding themselves with many aides, some political office holders have demonstrated indefensible incompetence which makes them ineligible for the fat personal emoluments accorded them. We observe with dismay, the trend whereby National Assembly members, like their counterparts in the 36 states, take their parliamentary duties to be fulltime instead of part-time. This has grave financial implications for the nation.
The present situation whereby over 43 persons are appointed Ministers to serve as mere political heads of the different ministries has been anything but cost-saving. Virtually, each ministry has two ministers – a senior minister and his/her junior counterpart. Some MDAs have been established to help extend political patronage to supporters. Some of the responsibilities of some ministries are merely a rehash of what others are already handling. Institutions of higher learning with similar mandates are replicated. A classic example seems to exist in the Nigerian Army University, Nigerian Navy University and the Nigerian Airforce University.
The three divisions of the Armed Forces namely the Army, Navy and Airforce are already well represented in the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), which is both a military training institution and university. The resort to establish three separate universities for the three divisions of the Armed Forces, when the NDA has not been scrapped, makes the public treasury bleed and portrays the FG as a preacher who preaches a sermon that she is demonstrably unwilling to comply with. Some political office holders frequently travel abroad despite the fact that some officials like Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other embassy officials could do justice to such responsibilities. Worse still, many persons who are not connected with a specific duty are often members of FG delegations to foreign nations.
For instance, mention must be made of the country’s delegation to the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon with top government officials drafted from the National Assembly and different MDAs to be part of the team. Apart from the Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, other members of the delegation ought not to have been named as part of the group, even if they are acclaimed football enthusiasts. New Telegraph enjoins the Executive Branch of Government to refrain from stampeding workers into the uncertainty of entrepreneurship, in order to correct the mistake of high cost of governance, which is largely caused by the juicy salaries and perks of political office-holders, duplication in the establishment of educational and other institutions as well as other unjustifiably economic decisions.
Some of the federal employees will clearly be ill-prepared for and are unlikely to be full-equipped for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship, at short notice, even with the promised – incentives. Compelling them to become businessmen and women in a matter of weeks or even months is likely to be catastrophic for an economy that is already a suffocating monster to the populace. What we believe the FG needs to do is to deepen the study of entrepreneurship and vocational education at all the levels of the nation’s education system.
The same should be replicated in all work-places to enable employees to take time off to attend entrepreneurial and vocational classes. Consistency on this path will help trigger a reduction in the workforce, as envisaged by the FG. Complimentary to this, is a review of the mode of recruitment, which has largely been nepotic and influenced by politicians, should be reviewed.
In addition to the possession of academic requirements, would-be workers should have a strong liking for their new careers and demonstrable productivity regardless of their social networks. Part-time law-making should be embraced while the salaries and privileges of political office holders should be reviewed downward. They should also be limited to only a few aides judged to be absolutely necessary. The establishment of additional educational institutions and MDAs, which merely replicate the mandates of the existing ones, while compromising the public till, should be eclipsed. In the end, the low cost of governance would be achieved to the pleasure of all.