Conflicting decisions appear to characterise the present administration’s plans and actions on the cost of running the government, an analysis has revealed.
Against his campaign pledge to reduce the cost of governance by pruning the number of federal ministries, President Muhammadu Buhari created five new ministries in November, 2019.
But a recent presidential directive to implement the Stephen Oronsaye report on restructuring of federal Ministries, departments and Agencies (MDAs) may be a step towards fulfilling the president’s original pledge.
Under the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, the Oronsaye committee recommended the reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161, and now, more agencies have been established.
The five newly created ministries are police affairs, special duties/intergovernmental affairs, aviation, humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development; and power.
The ministry was a stand-alone ministry during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. However, upon President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of office, he merged the ministry with the Ministry for Interior, with a minister in charge. They have now been de-merged.
Special duties/inter-governmental affairs
The ministry was created by President Buhari, and its duties and area of coverage include coordinating multi-agency and inter-ministerial functions and monitoring of constituency and special projects.
This was carved out of the Ministry of Transportation. While under aviation, the portfolio was being overseen by a minister of state. However, the president separated it as a stand-alone ministry, with a substantive minister.
Humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development
The new ministry, apart from intervention on natural disasters, is also involved in special projects, emergency management and humanitarian issues, among others.
Under the Jonathan administration, the Ministry of Power was equally a stand-alone ministry. However, President Buhari merged it with works and housing under the supervision of a former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola.
However, with the numerous power challenges in the country, the president restored it to its former status of a stand-alone ministry.
Speaking on the development, a security and economy expert, who pleaded anonymity, told Daily Trust that the Federal Government must review its budgetary process to include community participation and reduce wastage.
He said the high cost of governance had impeded economic development.
He further said the budget was not making much impact because most of the money was spent on recurrent expenditure like salaries and overheads, especially of political office holders.
According to him, in terms of the content of the budget, the budgetary allocation to the social sectors: education, health and infrastructure, which would directly impact on citizens, was still low and should be acted on.
There are also complaints that the president is not living up to his reputation as a frugal person due to some recent usage of presidential paraphernalia by unauthorised persons.
The expert cited a case of one of the daughters of the president who used a presidential aircraft for a personal visit.
Another expert, Comfort Oseghale, said in a report that since the 70s, total government expenditure in Nigeria had been on a continuous rise with capital expenditure taking the lead, and that recurrent expenditure was at N3.81bn in 1977, capital expenditure was N5bn. In 1980, recurrent expenditure rose to N4.8bn, while capital expenditure was more than double at N10.1bn.
According to her, perhaps the interest in development policies aimed at rapid industrialisation was due to the recently bequeathed legacy of planned development from the British colonialists.
She said government at this time was involved in the speedy growth of infrastructural amenities, social services and even the production of goods, which could not be manufactured by the private sector because of the huge capital costs.
Oseghale further said, “After 1980, capital expenditure lost its significance in Nigeria’s national development while recurrent expenditure assumed a more prominent role. From N36.2bn in 1990, recurrent expenditure rose to N461.6bn in 2000, N1.5tn in 2007 and N2.63tn in 2011. On the other hand, capital expenditure received N24.04bn in 1990, N239.45bn in 2000, N759.3bn in 2007 and N1.9tn in 2011.