Daily Trust (Abuja)

8 December 2012

Nigeria: So Much Ado About Sanusi's Comment

Photo: Vanguard
Vanguard newspaper illustrates the concern.

opinion

I think one of the legacies that Nigeria would miss when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is finally done with the Central Bank of Nigeria as its Governor is the frank talk that we have not seen in any seen in any CBN Governor from Aliyu Mai-Bornu to Charles Soludo.

Nigerians especially those in very high places have failed to locate the relationship between Sanusi's often outburst and that lucrative job which very few Nigerians just like the office of the President or Governor are able to occupy since the beginning of Nigeria's self rule in 1960.

The tradition has been that those who live in glass houses should not throw stone, they say. The tradition has been that all those that are in government must collude with the rot in the system and refrain from making any unpopular decision if he or she is o survive.

We have so internalized a culture of collusion and sycophancy to the extent that the truth must not emerge from particular specific categories. This is appalling and a clear manifestation of the degeneration that our moral and ethical values have faced in contemporary times.

Yes, if I were the Governor of the CBN, my approach to critical issues that are today seen as controversial might have been different, but the bottom line is that of methodology. If we accept we posses some individual traits and attitudes then, we must build the culture of elastic tolerance if we are to make the desired progress that our nation desires to get us out of the woods of endemic insecurity threatening every facet of life in Nigeria beginning with the North.

I believe that the nation's most outstanding problems revolve around the meaning and essence of government. Expensive political structures and costly public service. Remember that it's in Nigeria that virtually all-pubic corporations established to promote good life became grounded. We're so utterly selfish and callous. When it is argued that a large chuck of our resources is expended in aircraft charter means that we are faced with fundamental problem of transportation.

No doubt the public sector remains the major employer of labor in Nigeria over time. All attempts to jump start the private sector into becoming the engine room of growth has met a brick wall and therefore what keeps several young people in jobs even if not well engaged is the government. I can understand the sensibilities of the nation's labor leaders if any suggestions are made as to reduce the size of work force for the sake of cost. However rational such an argument may be, it will not catch even my fancy not to talk of organized labor.

However, what we love to hear or not to hear as regard the drain that the public service has become in Nigeria in relation to the service it offers remains a burden on the nation. I do not for instance believe that the Nigeria public service is over bloated in terms of the number of people in employment I relation to the nation's population and resources.

What is clear is that the public service consumes over 70% of the resources that the federal state appropriates annually. In simple English, over 70% of every budgeted money is used to implement less than 30% of the entire appropriation. There are implications here. Either the art of government has been reduced to charity work whereby people are merely employed to get paid so that tension is either reduced or trouble averted in the society or the nation is simply pursuing wrong development index by channeling its resources to consumption while creation of capital items that are likely to lead to growth and development is left unattended to. At any rate, there is no way a country can make any meaningful strive under such a scenario.

Again of the nation's public service sector, it is clear that over 70% of all resources budgeted as recurrent expenditure is spent on officers on grade levels 15 and above. This particular category is not up to 30% of the entire work force. The argument therefore is that the bulk of the resources go to service only a fraction of the public service not even the majority of employees who are between the levels of grade 1 to 14.

This is a serious issue and therefore calls for urgent attention if the slide is to be reversed. One of the ways out is of course to ensure that the budgetary tradition of huge recurrent side doubling the capital dimension has to be changed and immediately too. Labor would not at any time like to hear the staff reduction argument.

Agreed the major issue even as the situations are at the moment is the endemic corruption in the economy and the obvious leakages and pilferages in government coffers. The rate of theft has become more worrisome that even the little that is budgeted as capital monies are massively stolen by those in charge of administering them.

To get the rot out, it is necessary that corruption in public and private sectors must be removed or drastically reduced in Nigeria. The public service must be re assessed and re prioritizes even if for the sake of cutting down the level wastages by improving capacity and service delivery.

My take on the pronouncement of the Governor of Central Bank, which has earned the angers of the labor movement and others who are eager to chastise him for any franc statement on the economy, is that the man is entitled to his opinion. He is free to say it as he sees it after all what we call diplomacy may simply be mere hypocrisy in our clime.

I am of the view that being a Governor of Central Bank is not a tea party neither a popularity contest. Some basic but painful truths must have to be said from time to time by those who see more closely. The argument that several people bring forth as to need to measure peoples sensibilities in my view does not hold waters.

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