MINIMISING GOVERNMENTS’ SELF-IMPOSED BURDEN OF FAILURES
By: Augustine Omilo
It has become normal for successive governments at different levels in Nigeria to blame past ones for lapses experienced in governance. The expectations of the citizens are often met with disappointment. And these seemingly avoidable failures occur due to the inability of leaders to share collective responsibilities with the people. It is erroneous for people in positions of authority to conduct the business of government as if the government alone can resolve all the challenges faced by the nation.
This government pattern of thought negates all management theories, especially with regards to the principles of delegation of power, shared responsibilities according to SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats).
Under unavoidable circumstances, there is no region or state in the country that cannot survive as a nation without the other parts. Some have human technological intellect like Japan while others can make do with the trading acumen of the United Arab Emirate (UAE). And yet, there are those blessed with abundant mineral resources and agricultural potentials. Unfortunately, the government at the centre has continued to pay deaf ears to calls for the decentralization of the economic reward system in the land by recognizing these differences.
Those clamouring for fiscal federation hold the view that if states are allowed to control their resources with commensurate contributions to the federal government, all the segments of the federation will be compelled to rediscover themselves with a view to competing with each other towards economic success. With this arrangement, the central government will only be saddled with the burden of providing the enabling environment for international relations and the territorial protection needed for the nation to thrive.
Based on their potentials, the state governments can attract investors along the line of opportunities available within their domain. Most advanced nations of the world are doing well because of the opportunities offered the informal sector to do well, thereby providing job opportunities and increased economic activities in the states and local government areas.
Leaving the challenge of unemployment for example for the governments alone to manage can only deepen the already tattered standard of living among citizens. Over bloated civil service results into great overheads expenditure on the part of government, especially when it has no production models that attract income required for development.
It is alarming to note that the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoFI) which is the federal government entity responsible for managing the investment assets of the Nigerian state has a staff strength of about fifteen thousand (15,000) people. In spite of this, the federal government of Nigeria is presently contemplating on handing over the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) in the country to it for better management and distribution of electricity. Laudable as this may be, it is difficult to believe that it will solve the electricity power problem of the people.
Apart from the fact that Dr. Armstrong Takang, the newly appointed managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the organization is a thorough bred expert and a former director with Growth Alliance Partners of U.K, there are no proofs that MoFI has done so well in the past in the role it plays in enhancing the profitability of government enterprises.
In the 80s, a Nigerian Minister for Communications told the country men and women that telephones were not meant for the poor. Indeed, it was only the rich that had access to it at that time. But the notion was proved wrong with the introduction of the Global System of Communication (GSM) in 2001 and the breakage of the monopoly hitherto enjoyed in the industry by the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited, NITEL which was owned by the federal government. Despite the advantage of national spread enjoyed by the communication agency, it could not compete with MTN, Airtel and Globacom. It fizzled out with all the human and other forms of investment on it by Nigeria.
It is therefore imperative for the government of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to hearken to the voice of the people on the call for the control of resources by states. This will certainly bring about a more robust economic system, guaranteeing a better living standard of life of the citizens. In addition, there will be less agitations for self-government by perceived neglected members of the society.
Summarily put, the federal government must free herself from the burden of economic failure by ensuring that the different facets of the populace are allowed to harness their potentials in the greater interest of the nation at large. Contrary thoughts and actions in the opposite directions will only ensure the perpetuity of Nigeria in a stunted development growth position.