Following comments of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that Nigeria runs a large and expensive government, economic analysts have joined voices calling for the reduction in cost of governance as they say the rising expenditure of the government is unsustainable.
Osinbajo had noted that “something drastic needs to be done to the size of government to attain efficiency” a stand analyst say is critical for the growth of the Nigerian economy. Nigeria’s Government Expenditure is forecast to reach N19.43 trillion and N30.27 trillion by the end of this year and 2024 respectively, as reported by International Monetary Fund.
Associate professor of the Department of Private and Public Law, Babcock University, Tayo Bello deplored the fact that Nigeria is running an expensive government. He said during Nigeria’s independence era the country ran a parliamentary system of government, in which case a member of parliament could become the prime minister, and they were basically performing their duties part time. But when Nigeria adopted the American system of government in the late 1970s, according to him, all members of parliament became full time, and that was the beginning of the unsustainable cost of governance in Nigeria.
Bello called attention to the allegation of ex-CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, who once said that the country’s national assembly gulps as much as 25 percent of the country’s annual budget. He said when that spirals down to state and local governments, the country cannot bear such humongous cost.
He cited example and lamented that at the state level, it costs up to N2 billion to maintain the lifestyle of some ex-governors, monies, according to him, that could be diverted to build roads and improve electricity supply to Nigerians, and the larger economy. Bello said the country cannot sustain such high costs of governance over the next ten years.
According to Managing Director and chief executive of Cowry Assets Management, Johnson Chukwu, Nigerian government requires the political will to cut the cost of governance rather than another discussion over the over bloated bureaucracy of the government.
Noting that the Oransaye Report, which was prepared during the tenure of President Olusegun as far back as 2007, remains a critical part of solving Nigeria’s cost of governance. Chukwu said “it is good enough that the president said he had given the minister of finance the mandate to review the Oransaye Report for implementation purposes, it doesn’t require any debate, we know what to do. What is required is the political will to do it.”
Chukwu added that the document had “over 13 years ago recommended the rationalization of overlapping ministries and agencies. “We know we need to do that; we also need the government to pull out of some of the businesses it is going into and allow the private sector to take over those things” he added.
On his part, Managing Director of Afrinvest Securities Limited, Ayodeji Ebo noted that the country has seen an “increasing recurrent expenditure and revenue has been going down” adding that “there is nobody that can run a business that way.
“So even if they do rationalization or implementation of the Oransaye report that is still one part of it. If we are not careful the rate at which we are going, expenditure is growing at an unsustainable rate amidst a persistent decline in revenue and also the challenge of rising revenue. So it is a major call that all the executive and legislature have to focus on if they have the interest of Nigerians at heart.