“We are by this notice telling all those importing contraband products to stop doing so. We know where you are. And if you do not stop this nefarious activity, we will come after you in two weeks”. You might have seen this type of notice in a newspaper, sponsored by a government agency in Nigeria. Whenever I see such, I chuckle that a Director General who has the power to take immediate action is wasting taxpayers money on newspaper advertisements, creating an illusion of doing his/her work.
That takes me to Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo’s statement that Nigeria is running a large and expensive government. The question has been “who can fix it?” We know the problem – and we are looking for solutions. Like I keep saying, if President Buhari was never elected a president, he would have been the best president ever in the Nigerian history! Yes, many of us would have said, had he been given the opportunity, he would have fixed this and that. But here we are, talking over the problems instead of fixing them. Mr. Vice President, your party controls the House, the Senate and the Presidency, you can fix the “large and expensive government” problem.
“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.”