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Ministries, Agencies As Backbone Of Government

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Revving close to the day

Revving close to the day

MINISTRIES, under any government dispensation, play major role in the policy formulation and execution.

This is where the technocrats, who are supposed to serve any government in power are domiciled.

They know the workings of government and determine the success or failure of any government.

Besides, they know the end from the beginning of a government and they are indispensable.

In Nigeria, the present decadence and rot in the system can be traced to the ministries, or call it civil servants, who are always there to teach the politicians the way out.

That is why some projects continued to appear in the country’s budget year-in-year out for fiscal appropriation, even when they are already completed or not done at all. The appropriated fund eventually finds it way to some private pockets.

This is what the new administration will have to contend with during policy execution, beginning from May 29.

In this regard, special attention will be needed for ministries such as transport, works, finance, power and petroleum that hold the ace, in terms of revenue generation to sustain the country economically in the next few years.

With just four days to the end of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, ominous signs pervade the economic landscape. It is only a miracle or some extraordinary action that will make the touted ‘change’ mantra of the incoming President to be realistic.

Close watchers of the nation’s economy have expressed concern over what they describe as an inexplicable situation, where economic conditions seem to be deteriorating by the day.

The national revenue has fallen to a more than five-year low. The threatening local and foreign debt has rendered most states of the Federation almost bankrupt, as they can no longer meet their very basic obligations, such as, payment of workers’ salary, let alone, providing infrastructure because they cannot also pay contractors!

In the face of dwindling revenue, the incoming President would need to confront the challenges of expanding government’s revenue base.

The same goes for the Government’s integrated payroll system, which was introduced by the Office to weed out ghost workers who yearly draw billions of scare funds from the Federal Government’s treasury. Some very powerful agencies of the Federal Government have vehemently resisted to be captured and are allowed to be preparing their own pay table where they can perpetrate fraud.

Another sore area would be the tardy nature of budget implementation by the ministries, department and agencies even, when funds are released to them. Some of these agencies lack the capacity to carry out or supervise the implementation of these plans that are intended to provide Nigerians.

Another budget fraud again being perpetrated by the management of these agencies, according to the Director General of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, Mallam Aminu Dikko, is that, whereas the Federal Government has developed a robust World Bank, AFDB backed public private partnership (PPP) model for project financing, where private funds could be deplored to fund public utilities, some MDAs would prefer to take the projects for government financing because of the expected gains. Here are the ministries to watchout for.

Finance

EXPECTED to pose a great challenge to the change plan of the incoming President is the fraud inherent in the import waivers by the Federal Ministry of Finance and tax concessions for investors as recommended by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, which is robbing the country of several billions of Naira.

Apparently provoked by all this the Vice President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, declared during the week that the country’s economy has reached its worst moment in history.

According to him, Nigeria’s local and foreign debts now stand at $60 billion. Government’s inability to pay wages to workers, coupled with the extreme poverty that is prevalent in a large portion of Nigerian society made him to paint such a gloom picture of Nigeria’s economic state.

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, though, insists that President Goodluck Jonathan and the Economic Management Team were handing over a very strong and dependable economy to the incoming administration, she however agreed that things are no longer as rosy as they used to be.

“As you know, I have been honest with you since the current economic problems started. I would like to repeat: we have serious challenges, things have been tough since the beginning of the year and they are likely to remain so till the end of the year. We have serious challenges, but we also have strengths and if we do the right things we can keep a steady course and emerge out of the current situation.”

But the reality for the next government is to tackle the petroleum industry, the budget system, tax revenue and reduce government recurrent bill.

Works

THE Ministry of Works is saddled with the responsibility of fixing the road network in the country. According to the officials of the ministry, about 210 roads are under different stages of construction nationwide.

Many of these roads will not be completed this year because of the meager fiscal allocation to the ministry in the just approved 2015 fiscal appropriation. Only N11billion of the N100billion proposed by the Ministry was approved.

According to him, only 33 road projects have provisions in the 2015 budget out of a total of 210 ongoing road projects, while its agency, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), has no budgetary allocation at all. It then means that critical interventions, as is traditional with the agency, may not be carried out throughout this year.

Transport

THE Ministry of Transport is another critical one for the administration. It has the aviation, railway and maritime as departments, which the country can rely on, in terms of revenue generation, if well administered.
The maritime sector is today the second highest revenue earner, both in foreign and the local currency as about 60 per cent of the earnings by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are in foreign currency (Dollar). These two agencies can contribute substantially to the country’s revenue if they are restructured to curb excessive spending and revenue leakages.
The challenge that may confront the incoming administration is the implementation of policies, which are haphazardly done. It allowed the dominance of foreign operators, who are engaged in capital flight to the disadvantage of the country.
Within Nigeria’s maritime domain, there is ongoing high level of oil theft, making the navy to be helpless. Government must sanitise the maritime industry and review ongoing contracts and policies.

Aviation

THE Aviation sector, the new government may face the challenge of completing the on-going construction of five international terminals at Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu.

Although the projects are being financed by NEXIM Bank, but guaranteed by the Federal Government, China Construction and Engineering Company (CCEC) are executing them independently.

The ongoing remodeling of Ilorin, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Makurdi and Benin domestic airports will also have to be completed, while all airports will need to be provided with floor lights for a 24 hours flight operations. Presently, flight operations are limited at the airports to the hours between 6am and 6 pm.

Petroleum Resources

THERE is too much tension in the petroleum ministry and the Buhari administration will need to instill corporate governance in that ministry.

Fuel scarcity orchestrated by subsidy crisis is a serious issue to tackle. These are first symptoms of a poor oil industry, both at the upstream and downstream. Unfortunately, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which was expected to be passed into law to sanitise the industry, had been enmeshed in politics. Now, the new government has to take the bull by the horn to clean up the mess.

Power
THE power sector is really challenged and that is to say the least. The outgoing government has gone deep in privatizing aspects of the power industry. It is up to the next government to either review it or bring its own template. As a progressive and socially responsible government, what Nigerians want from the APC is a quick fix in order to bring back the industries, big and small, which rely on power to produce.

Defence
SECURITY of lives and property is key, and in the last five years Nigerians have seen enough of insecurity, both in the Northeast and elsewhere. Nigeria’s territorial integrity needs to be returned and that can only be done with a retooling of the defence system.


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