11 February 2013

Nigeria: Take Action On Committees' Reports


The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan richly deserves the epithet "government by committees". It has certainly set up more committees than any other in the nation's history. The interesting aspect of it all is that each committee that submits its report is immediately inundated with denials, outright condemnation and outrage that result in the setting up of another one to review its contents and make more recommendations. The Nuhu Ribadu report is one such celebrated case. Then, there is that on fuel subsidy theft which indicted a large number of "nouveau billionaires".

Now there are two new reports on the front burner waiting for necessary action: the NEITI report and the Fika civil service review report. Both reports admittedly have serious implications for the citizens of this country. However, they are seemingly facing the same challenges, maybe even more than the previous ones. The Fika report is all about the civil service, which tells its own story. The civil service review, started during the Yar'adua administration, had its recommendations accepted and implemented. Now, the Jonathan/Sambo regime has set up another committee to review the former review. Already, the Fika committee is being condemned in some quarters especially as it calls for a reversal of the tenure system at the directorate levels. It is an indictment of this regime that it has not kept faith with the former administration.

Penultimate week, NEITI published an audit report indicting the NNPC; it is currently the subject of outrage and denial by the oil corporation. The NNPC almost always seems to be at the centre of controversies that border on fraud. The corporation denied the Ribadu report allegations. NEITI and the House Committee on Finance have indicted it again: both committees are accusing it of not remitting certain sums of money generated as revenues to the appropriate accounts.

This administration, it seems, not only has a strong penchant for ad-hoc style of governance but insensitive to the people's mood. There is poverty in the land, whether the NNPC admits it or not, and spending on ventures that fail to have direct impact on the people's socio-economic welfare should be avoided.

The crux of the matter is that it costs money and other resources to run these committees. That their reports are never acted upon is a grave assault on our collective senses and dignity. Truly, they tell the public what is supposedly going on in our ministries and agencies. But to what purpose? Have the oil subsidy thieves been prosecuted, even as many of them have bought new private jets? That's not how to run a country.

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