Oil subsidy, cost of governance and budget restructuring in Nigeria (2)
CONTINUED FROM FRIDAY DECEMBER
WE hope that it will be applied effectively so that double dipping, budget padding , traditional cost items that does not add value and duplication of activities which contribute to the high recurrent expenditure will not form part of the budget.
The cost of governance in Nigeria will be impactful when Government organs including the Civil Service are facilitating the economic growth for every penny spent. The Civil service should be more accounting to the Nigerian people and how well they facilitate private sector development is one indicator of efficiency. This calls for a re-orientation with a specific and measurable accountabilities that should be validated by the Nigerian public. There should be a benchmark of our civil service levels to promote competitiveness of our economy. Budgetary sums without value for money is essentially a zero sum game.
4. Diversification Of The Nigerain Economy , Review Of System Of Fiscal Federalism & Passage Of The Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB)
Every government agrees that diversification of the Nigerian Economy is key and strategic to the development of the country. Unfortunately successive governments have not done anything significant to actualise it. It is therefore crucial that the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari which is premised on change, takes practical steps to ensure that the Nigerian economy is diversified by truly growing other sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and services.
There is an urgent need therefore for the Labour movement to put pressure on Government at all levels by engaging them at all levels of policy and programmes to design frameworks for moving Nigeria out of the the grips of the Oil and Gas industry. We must increase our advocacy outreach in this direction so that Governments will understand the urgency to move away from this present comfort zone and spread the nation’s root into various sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals mining, manufacturing and services etc. We cannot afford to continue putting all our eggs in one basket as they say.
Furthermore, the country must be courageous enough to review her system of fiscal federalism such that states and local governments would be effectively motivated to grow their economies in their areas of comparative advantages, rather than continue to depend on federal allocation. This further calls for Constitutional reviews and amendments as diversification of economy may not be achieved without relevant sections of the constitution such as the Exclusive list etc being amended or repealed as the case may be. For instance, A state desirous of investing in power sector may be scuttled by the fact that its plans and outcomes will be controlled by the Federal Government starting from granting of licenses and permits to use of generated power etc .What it means is that the development of the respective states will be hindered by a Federal Government that is not favourably disposed given the political system in Nigeria.
It is important that the government urgently implements the Gas Masterplan. This is because Gas revolution is a catalyst for diversification of the economy as investors in power, manufacturing and Refineries will depend on its strength for propulsion.
As we have aforementioned, the PIB is key to the Nigerian oil and gas sector. The effective passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law will signal the commencement of the conclusion of some 15 years of reforms in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Indeed its non-passage by the 6th and the 7th National Assemblies despite all appeals by various stakeholders presented the country as very unserious. Also, the fact that the PIB has been the subject of discourse in the National assembly for 8 years without any progress created significant uncertainty in the Nigerian oil and gas industry and made investors to adopt a wait and see attitude. This uncertainty therefore led to the loss of $80bln in investments and arrested development of the industry.
It is not enough for the government to present the PIB or any of its parts as is being currently suggested to the National Assembly. We have seen that since 2008. Government must , more importantly show the necessary political will to ensure that it is passed into law before the end of 2016 and implemented to the letter.
5. GOOD GOVERNANCE AND EFFECTIVE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Government at all levels must identify leakages in the system and block them effectively. Duplicated services must be stopped, while agencies that carryout similar activities must be merged for effectiveness and efficiency. The fight against corruption must be pursued tenaciously; while the cost of governance pruned down significantly. Let me commend the leadership of NLC and TUC for the September 10th 2015 National Day of Action against Corruption and for Good governance. It is a step in the right direction. However the scale of corruption in Nigeria and the desire for good governance by the ordinary Nigerians dictate that the labour movement goes beyond that, to proof critics wrong. The Labour movement must match words with action!
Corruption has expanded its borders beyond financial misappropriation and leakages. Corruption is not only about the actions or inactions of indivivduals; it is also about group aspirations. In the economic and political parlance, it is now viewed in the modes of government structures, policies and implementations and lack of them ;and by the individuals and sections of country as it impacts their well-being. This has a far-reaching consequence for our polity! Good governance must address these concerns to earn legitimacy.
Finally, let me conclude by thanking you once again for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Let me also advise that at these difficult times both globally and locally, government and the various stakeholders such as the Nigerian Labour movement, must ensure that they do not inadvertently derail the country by putting on our familiar thinking caps. They must review their options in the light of available information.
They must avoid unilateral actions on sensitive issues such as fuel subsidy and privatisation of refinery. It was the unilateral action of the Federal government in removing fuel subsidy on 1st January 2012 that led to its eventual reversal in the same month after so much economic and political losses.
Effective engagement and inclusion of important stakeholders like the labour movement is key to any far-reaching and successful change programme and Nigeria cannot be an exception!
Thank you for your attention.
• Comrade Onuegbu is the state chairman Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Rivers State Council
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