Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday said the nation runs a large and expensive government.
Mr Osinbajo explained that there is need for a national debate on issues surrounding the size and cost of governance on Nigeria.
According to the Punch, Mr Osinbajo said this at a webinar organised by the Emmanuel Chapel on Friday.
The webinar, themed, ‘Economic stability beyond COVID-19’, was put together to look into Nigeria’s economic roadmaps amid covid-19 disruptions.
Reacting to a question thrown up by former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and immediate past Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, Mr Osinbajo noted that “something drastic needs to be done to the size of government to attain efficiency.”
According to the Vice president, the major conundrum surrounding issues around cost of governance in Nigeria lies in the fact that the reform is in the hand of those who benefit from the existing structure.
“There is no question that we are dealing with large and expensive government, but as you know, given the current constitutional structure, those who would have to vote to reduce (the size of) government, especially to become part-time legislators, are the very legislators themselves,” Mr Osinbajo was quoted to have said.
“So, you can imagine that we may not get very much traction if they are asked to vote themselves, as it were, out of their current relatively decent circumstances.
“So, I think there is a need for a national debate on this question and there is a need for us to ensure that we are not wasting the kind of resources that we ought to use for development on overheads. At the moment, our overheads are almost 70 per cent of revenues, so there is no question at all that we must reduce the size of government.”
According to him, “the problem was a major driving factor for the government’s decision to revisit the Steve Oronsaye report on public service reforms”.
He said: “Part of what you would see in the Economic Sustainability Plan also and several of the other initiatives is trying to go, to some extent, to what was recommended in the (Steve) Oransaye Report, to collapse a few of the agencies to become a bit more efficient and make government much more efficient with whatever it has.”
In his own intervention, Mr Sanusi raised concerns on why the government must institute reforms to address the issues.
He said: “The greater Atlanta (in the United States) has a Gross Domestic Product that is higher than that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Atlanta is not the richest city in the United States.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but the annual sales of Tesla exceeds the budget size of our country, so should we not begin to cut our coat according to our cloth; should we not begin to look at all these costs and the constitution itself; maybe turn the legislators to part-time lawmakers, have a unicameral legislature instead of bicameral, have the local governments run by employees of the Ministry of Local Government Affairs?
“We just need to think out of the box to reduce structural cost and make government sustainable over the long term.”