The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organized a one-day Policy Dialogue Session on Cutting the Cost of Governance, Public Service Reforms and Job Creation. The session drew participants from the Bureau for Public Service Reforms, Labour Movement, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Professional Bodies, Students, Civil Society and the media. Two presentations were made during the Session. These were: “Cutting the Cost of Governance and Finding a New Template” by Dr. Joe Abah, Director-General, Bureau for Public Service Reforms who was represented by Mr. Yamusa F. Bin and “Setting Agenda for the New Administration on Cutting Cost of Governance in Nigeria” by Jaye Gaskiya. There were 84 participants in attendance at the session which was highly participatory
After the presentations, an interactive session and very robust deliberations, Participants at the session made the following observations and recommendations:
- The high cost of running government is a major hindrance to national development as it deprives the government of resources for the development of critical sectors that will drive growth
- The high cost of governance is further exacerbated by the high level of corruption and leakages in public expenditure management, especially the procurement process
- There is a disproportionate allocation of funds for inexplicable and unjustifiable overhead and superfluous personnel costs in the public sector affecting all arms of government
- In spite of spirited efforts toward reforms, the public service is still not effective and the practice of outsourcing of civil service functions to consultants contributes to the high cost of governance only makes this worse
- There are multiple wages and salaries structures in the public sector with disparities between staff of ministries, those in parastatals and seemingly juicy agencies of government. This creates disaffection and a sense of discrimination within the workforce
- The actual staff strength in the civil and public service and their corresponding wage bill vis a vis the expenses on political appointees is not known and so the position that the civil service is over bloated, is the cause of excess recurrent costs and requires down-sizing or right-sizing is yet to be supported by real evidence
- There is not yet a clear cut roadmap and work plan by the new administration on how to cut down the cost of governance, reform the public service and create jobs other than intermittent pronouncements, recommendations and repeated reference to the Orasonye Committee Report and reduction in the ministries
The session therefore made the following recommendations:
- Government at all levels should take concrete steps to cut the cost of administration to save money and invest resources in critical sectors that will generate growth by increasing the budgetary allocations and spending on capital projects.
- The Federal Government under the new administration should make good its promise to fight corruption and block leakages in the public expenditure, especially the procurement process by empowering institutions and allowing them to function.
- The Federal Government should adopt a holistic approach to preventing superfluous allocations and wastages in budgets and spending across all arms and tiers of government, including costs unnecessary foreign travels. The budgetary process should be overhauled to become performance based, open and participatory.
- The Federal Government should ensure the implementation of reforms to make the public service effective and civil servants more professional and skilled, they should stop the outsourcing of civil service functions to consultants, rid the public service of Ghost workers and ensure the recovery of the monies paid to ghost workers and punish facilitators and beneficiaries of the scam.
- The relevant government agencies should ensure a uniform basic salary structure based on proper job evaluation and entrench a fair, just and equitable remuneration system that rewards hard work and promote prudent management of resources.
- The Federal Government should conduct an audit to verify the accrual staff strength in the civil service and establish the actual wage bill vis a vis the expenses incurred on political appointees to serve as empirical data to dive evidence based approach to cutting costs and saving money.
- The New administration should come out with a clear cut roadmap for cutting the cost of governance, reform the public service and create jobs with time lines by which citizens can measure progress and hold it accountability.
- Governments at all levels should implement policies that will create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive so as to promote entrepreneurship, generate se-f-employment and create job opportunities.
The participants concluded by conceding that the challenges confronting the nation are much and reqires collective efforts of all stakeholders. That committed to ensuring that they promote public debates and sustain the conversation to ensure that public participation in addressing the problems s sustained. They thanked CISLAC for convening the Dialogue saying that it was timely. They enjoined the new administration to ensure that citizens are consulted and carried along in policy formulation and implementation.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director, CISLAC