Need to reduce cost of governance now imperative

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It is good news that a member of the National Assembly, Senator Adamu Aleiro, has pointed out the need for the very high cost of governance in Nigeria to be slashed by at least 50 percent. Aleiro made the proposal recently while speaking with newsmen at the State House, Abuja, after a ‘friendly visit’ to President Bola Tinubu. The distinguished senator insisted that the cost of governance, which normally took about 70% of the national budget, was extremely high. Aleiro, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transportation, said he was impressed with the adoption of the Oronsanye Report on restructuring of the public sector by the Tinubu-led government, and noted that the implementation of the report was long overdue.

Aleiro explained that it was very necessary to deflate the over-blown cost of governance in the country. He said: “Oronsoye Report implementation has been long overdue. The cost of governance is getting extremely high to the extent that over 70% of whatever is budgeted goes into running government leaving only 30% for capital projects. This is not good for a developing country like Nigeria.”

Nigeria, like some other countries around the world, has continued to face the scourge of official corruption over the years, a cancer that corrodes trust in public institutions which, in turn, impedes socio-economic progress. A significant contributing factor to this anomaly is the exorbitant cost of governance, which makes public offices attractive to unscrupulous politicians who view them as lucrative opportunities for personal enrichment.

To address this problem effectively, Nigeria must re-evaluate its governance structure, prioritizing efficiency and accountability over extravagant spending habits and the opulent lifestyles of public officers. By adopting a bottom-up approach to governance and slashing excessive expenses, Nigeria can make public offices less appealing to rogue politicians and so, foster a culture of service with integrity in public offices.
Another point is that Nigeria’s governance structure is characterized by a top-heavy system where resources are disproportionately allocated, to sustain the opulent lifestyles of political elites. Annual budgets prioritize servicing the needs of the presidency, the senate, and houses of assembly, while such essential sectors as healthcare, education and infrastructure receive inadequate funding. This skewed distribution of resources continues to perpetuate a cycle of inequality and undermine the country’s development prospects.
At the heart of Nigeria’s governance crisis lies the exorbitant salaries, perks and allowances enjoyed by elected officials and civil servants. In other words, the cost of maintaining a bloated bureaucracy is contributing immensely to the national budget, draining resources that could otherwise be invested in critical sectors. Moreover, the culture of impunity surrounding embezzlement and mismanagement of funds further exacerbates the financial burden on taxpayers, widening the trust deficit between the government and the governed.
Nigerian leaders must understand that building a nation is akin to constructing a house, with the foundation serving as the bedrock upon which progress is made. In Nigeria, however, the prevailing approach to governance is building from the top-down, with resources funnelled towards elite institutions while neglecting the needs of the masses. To break free from this flawed paradigm, Nigeria must embrace a bottom-up approach to governance, prioritizing grassroots development and fiscal responsibility.
Therefore, a primary step towards reconfiguring Nigeria’s governance framework would involve restructuring the budgetary process to prioritize essential services and infrastructure projects. By re-allocating resources towards sectors that directly impact the lives of citizens, the government would be demonstrating its commitment to addressing the needs of the people. This entails streamlining bureaucracy, eliminating redundant agencies, and curbing wasteful expenditures that serve no tangible purpose.
There is also an urgent need to overhaul the compensation packages of public officials, ensuring that salaries and allowances are commensurate with the responsibilities entrusted to them. This necessitates revisiting existing laws and regulations governing remuneration, with a view to promote equity and fairness. Furthermore, the institution of robust oversight mechanisms and enforcement of stringent anti-corruption measures would be essential to hold errant officials accountable for their actions.
There is no doubt that central to the success of Nigeria’s governance reform efforts is the cultivation of a culture of accountability and transparency. Public officials must be held responsible for their actions, to the highest ethical standards, with zero tolerance for corruption or malfeasance. This would require fostering a climate where whistleblowers are protected, investigative journalism is encouraged, and the judiciary operates independently to mete out justice without fear or favour.
Nigerian leaders must also consider that citizen engagement and participation are vital components of a vibrant democracy, empowering ordinary Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable and demand greater accountability. Civil society organizations, the media, and grassroots movements play a crucial role in amplifying the voices of the marginalized and advocating for systemic change. A reformative government must appreciate that by harnessing the collective power of civil society, Nigeria can catalyze meaningful reforms that address the root causes of corruption and inefficiency.
The need to cut down on the cost of governance in Nigeria has become imperative to stem the tide of official corruption and foster sustainable development. By adopting a bottom-up approach to governance, re-allocating resources for essential services, and promoting accountability and transparency, Nigeria can make public offices less attractive to rogue politicians who view them as goldmines and avenues for personal enrichment. Building a nation requires a solid foundation rooted in integrity, equity, and justice and I think it is time for Nigeria to embark on this transformative journey towards a brighter future for all its citizens.

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