Pro­duc­tiv­ity and na­tional de­vel­op­ment (II)

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

In ad­dress­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and na­tional de­vel­op­ment, the paper pre­sented by my hum­ble self at the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Pol­icy and Strate­gic Stud­ies ar­gued that cor­rup­tion sti­fles na­tional pro­duc­tiv­ity and na­tional de­vel­op­ment. It high­lighted other as­pects of the Ribadu re­port which re­vealed that the NNPC had failed to re­port N86.6 bil­lion to the govern­ment in 10 years by sim­ple ma­nip­u­la­tion of ex­change rates by of­fi­cials of the cor­po­ra­tion. On oil theft, the re­port showed that about 150,000 bar­rels of crude oil are stolen each day in Nigeria. This amounts to a loss of $13.5 mil­lion per day (at $100 per bar­rel). In a year, that stands at $5 bil­lion (N750 bil­lion). Ex­perts say ‘Nigeria earns $20bil­lion =N3 tril­lion in oil and gas rev­enue, federal taxes rake in 5 tril­lion naira , cus­toms duty is about 1 tril­lion naira mak­ing a to­tal of N 9 tril­lion. In a typ­i­cal year ex­cess crude ac­count is put at about $10 bil­lion.

If the coun­try earns N10 tril­lion and federal budget is 4.9 tril­lion naira, then 5 tril­lion naira is avail­able for politi­cians to throw around. On the other hand if we share 10tril­lion naira among 170mil­lion Nige­ri­ans, ev­ery cit­i­zen will get N 59,000’.A typ­i­cal fam­ily of six will get N 354,000 but cor­rup­tion has de­nied cit­i­zens of the ben­e­fits. Cit­i­zens are de­mand­ing an end to im­punity in the han­dling of cor­rup­tion cases and mak­ing chap­ter 2 of the con­sti­tu­tion jus­ti­cia­ble.

The paper made ref­er­ence to the pub­li­ca­tion by an Abuja based civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tion which shows that Nige­ri­ans want a new so­cial or­der. The Cen­tre of So­cial Jus­tice aptly cap­tures this. Eze Onyek­were, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre re­called that ‘The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ad-Hoc Com­mit­tee on the Re­view of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion on Thurs­day, April 18, 2013, pre­sented the col­lated re­sults of the Peo­ples’ Pub­lic Ses­sion on Con­sti­tu­tion Re­view to the pub­lic. Ac­cord­ing to the Com­mit­tee, the re­sults re­flected the views of Nige­ri­ans across the states of the fed­er­a­tion. Nige­ri­ans by a ma­jor­ity of 279 con­stituen­cies voted in the af­fir­ma­tive while 78 re­jected the pro­posal, with only three be­ing un­de­cided. The im­pli­ca­tion is that Nige­ri­ans have voted for im­proved gov­er­nance, ser­vice de­liv­ery and a rights-based ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment.’ The govern­ment is yet to yet to act on this.

The paper also un­der­scored the fact that na­tional de­vel­op­ment will take place when we elim­i­nate waste in uti­liza­tion of re­sources. It ob­served that govern­ment had also ini­ti­ated a com­mit­tee but ac­tion was not taken on the re­port. In Jan­uary 2013, a pres­i­den­tial com­mit­tee on pub­lic ser­vice re­form dis­cov­ered that top govern­ment of­fi­cials in Nigeria take home N1.126 tril­lion a year in salaries and al­lowances – out of a na­tional budget of N4.9 tril­lion. These pub­lic of­fi­cers con­sti­tute just 0.013 per cent of Nigeria’s pop­u­la­tion. The jumbo pay that leg­is­la­tors pay them­selves is also wor­ri­some. Nigeria’s 108 sen­a­tors each make over $1.7m dol­lars a year, when US Pres­i­dent Barak Obama only makes $400,000 a year. That alone is $183.4 mil­lion (N28 bil­lion) The 360 mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives each takes home over $1.2 mil­lion dol­lars, which amounts to $432 mil­lion dol­lars (N65bn).

An­other source of con­cern is Gov­er­nors and their se­cu­rity votes. Each state Gover­nor col­lects an aver­age of 200 mil­lion naira a month, just as se­cu­rity vote. In a year, they each get N2.4 bil­lion naira. Our 36 gov­er­nors take home N87 bil­lion naira on se­cu­rity votes alone ev­ery year. Add what they are paid as salaries and al­lowances. Add our 38 min­is­ters and min­is­ters of state, 100 plus heads of federal and state agencies, over 432 state com­mis­sion­ers, and 774 lo­cal govern­ment area chair­men and al­most 10,000 coun­cil­lors and it be­comes clear where the N1.126 tril­lion goes.

The paper high­lighted the path to na­tional de­vel­op­ment which has al­ready been care­fully ar­tic­u­lated by de­vel­op­ment ex­perts in the count­down strat­egy for achiev­ing the MDGs. Cit­i­zens are de­mand­ing that pas­sage of the Na­tional Health Bill which pro­tects and al­lo­cates re­sources to­ward pri­mary health­care as this will pro­pel Nigeria to achiev­ing the MDGs. Other de­mands are ‘ Ac­cel­er­ate ef­forts un­der ‘Sav­ing 1 Mil­lion Lives’ in or­der to reach the 2015 tar­gets of re­duc­ing pre­ventable deaths. Other strate­gies for pro­mot­ing in­clu­sive growth in­clude, build­ing up ed­u­ca­tion and skills. Tar­get re­sources bet­ter to pro­duce re­sults at the school level by re­duc­ing waste / leak­age and in­ef­fi­cien­cies. De­cen­tralise and sim­plify the fi­nanc­ing of ed­u­ca­tion; A struc­tural shift to make the pri­vate sec­tor the en­gine of growth and pay­ment of min­i­mum wage, a pro­jected in­crease in the pri­vate sec­tor share of in­vest­ment from 28% (2004-9) to 40% (2010-13), pro­vid­ing sus­tained job cre­ation. The MDG count­down strat­egy also high­lighted the need to ‘In­vest in hu­man re­sources as well as in­fra­struc­ture. Strengthen the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) and the In­de­pen­dent and Cor­rupt Prac­tices Com­mis­sion ICPC with pow­ers of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and prose­cu­tion of cor­rupt politi­cians and cit­i­zens. Elim­i­nate im­punity in han­dling cor­rup­tion cases.

World­wide the labour union is the leading civil so­ci­ety group that pro­motes work­ers rights and is strate­gi­cally po­si­tioned to en­hance pro­duc­tiv­ity. The week be­fore I made the pre­sen­ta­tion at NIPSS the Joint Ac­tion Front (JAF), a labour and civil rights group af­fil­i­ated to the or­gan­ised labour, warned the par­ent labour bod­ies, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), against tak­ing part in the Na­tional Con­fer­ence be­ing or­gan­ised by Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan. JAF gave the warn­ing at a press con­fer­ence ti­tled: Jonathan’s Con­fer­ence Is An Ex­er­cise In Fu­til­ity through its chair­man, Dipo Fashina and its sec­re­tary, Abio­dun Aremu. The or­ga­ni­za­tion ex­pressed pes­simism about any pos­i­tive out­come from the con­fer­ence, say­ing it is a waste of time, money and ef­fort. JAF said the con­fer­ence is a waste­ful jam­boree, claim­ing that ma­jor­ity of the del­e­gates are those who have soiled their hands and put Nigeria in its cur­rent sorry state. It there­fore urged the or­gan­ised labour to avoid be­ing seen as hyp­ocrites claim­ing to be fight­ing for the down­trod­den masses, yet din­ing with those con­sid­ered the real en­e­mies of the coun­try. JAF stated that the neo-lib­eral eco­nomic poli­cies of pri­vati­sa­tion and dereg­u­la­tion with its at­ten­dant fail­ure to deliver on ed­u­ca­tion, health, em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, so­cial wel­fare, in­fra­struc­ture, have made life un­bear­able to the people.

JAF had also warned Nige­ri­ans that it was not enough to talk about “Po­lit­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing and Rev­enue Deriva­tion”, but that Nige­ri­ans should in par­tic­u­lar, be con­cerned with: what use the cur­rent of­fice hold­ers make of the al­lo­ca­tions they re­ceive monthly.’

The paper pre­sen­ta­tion was fol­lowed by an in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion where par­tic­i­pants made use­ful ob­ser­va­tions and asked in­ter­est­ing ques­tions that opened new per­spec­tives to the is­sues dis­cussed in the paper. NIPSS ob­serves the pol­icy of non at­tri­bu­tion so the dis­cus­sion can­not be shared.

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