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The road ahead (2), Voices from Nigeria & The Diaspora: The Great Expectations! – Tola Adenle

April 11, 2015

Nigeria

Nigerians must do something about the jumbo salaries of legislators  – Dr. Lati Opawoye

For the past few days, I have been contacting some of the new Senators/reps that I have their email addresses to do something about the Jumbo salary/foolish allowances that they get.

We need to mount a vigorous campaign against it using our contact in the press. This is just a subtle way to contribute to bring an end to the jumbo salaries.

A change to redirect the country can start by our campaigns in the newspapers to hold APC to their words.

 

Co-equality of federating states on rights to resource control basic necessity among others  – A. Tao
These damage limitation and proactive steps are admirable and essential. They however need to be based on a firmer political arrangement through early action to restructure Nigeria into a coequal democratic Union of FEDERATING States based on the constituent nationalities’ rights to resource control, rule of law as agreed to in a new federal constitution presented to and approved in a popular referendum.

To ignore this fundamental step and assume that it is enough to treat symptoms instead of the disease, is to show a poor understanding of the Nigerian State as an experiment waiting to fail.

 

Unsolicited advice on running a ‘lean government’ – Professor Ladipo Adamolekun

ALTHOUGH it is only the APC candidate who has committed to running a “lean government” if he is elected president on March 28 (The Nation, February 16, 2015), this unsolicited advice is for whoever becomes president after the election. In my considered opinion, running a lean government will be a necessity not a choice for Nigeria’s next president. And he would need to announce a roadmap for achieving it as a priority action after assuming office.

Beyond cutting out “wastages” that APC presidential candidate is reported to have stressed, achieving a lean and efficient government that would free funds for “capital and development projects that will assure prosperity for all Nigerians” would require significant reductions in the cost of running both the executive and legislative arms of government.

The decline in revenue earnings from petroleum resources that is likely to remain permanent for the foreseeable future makes serious cost cutting inevitable. I would argue that an important dimension to the cost cutting that must be embraced is a sizeable reduction in the salaries and allowances of all political office holders.
After discussing the kinds of cost cutting that can be achieved in respect of the executive and legislative arms of government, I make some suggestions on reducing the salaries and allowances of political office holders. In closing, I consider the linkage of cost cutting to the problem of corruption.

Reducing a bloated federal executive: A lean and smart federal executive can be achieved by reducing the size of the Federal Cabinet by about half of its current size. Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution on “Federal Character” does not require that a minister or minister of state must be appointed from each state. It only requires that the composition of the Government of the Federation shall ensure “that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government…” Therefore, I would recommend a cabinet of 12 members (two per each of the six geopolitical zones) and each would have a deputy (minister of state) who will not have cabinet rank. This contrasts with the current total of 27 ministers and 17 ministers of state.

Next, the current large number of special advisers/senior special assistants (SAs/SSAs) can be reduced by about 50 percent, at least. I would recommend twenty SAs/SSAs for the president, five for the vice-president, two for each cabinet minister and one each for ministers of state.

Techno-professional competence
This would be close to a return to the modest numbers of SAs/SSAs when they were first introduced in Nigeria in 1979-83. The opacity that surrounds the numbers, functions and accountabilities of SAs/SSAs must be replaced by transparent rules for their appointment and relations with the permanent civil service and ministers. In particular, only men and women with decent levels of techno-professional competence (such as policy, political and media expertise) should be appointed into these positions.

The recommended reductions in the number of political office holders in the executive will result in significant cost savings. With a 12-member cabinet, the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) will shrink and this, too, should result in cost savings. Furthermore, a president that works through 12 ministers is very likely to be more effective than one that works through 27 or 28 ministers. (For comparison, current USA cabinet has fifteen members, called Secretaries). For example, performance contracting for ministers that has not been meaningfully implemented to date is likely to become more effectively operational in respect of 12 ministers and the functioning of the entire federal bureaucracy is likely to improve.

Reducing the cost of running the legislative arm of government: The burden of Nigeria’s National Assembly (NASS) on the budget is among the most onerous in the world. The modest achievements recorded by successive legislatures to date in respect of law making and oversight functions constitute a strong argument for significant reduction in the cost of running the NASS. Two obvious areas for cost cutting are: reducing the number of committees in both Chambers by 50 percent (currently there are between 60 and 80 committees in each Chamber) and abolition of constituency projects.

Because constituency projects are ignored by state and local governments who are not consulted by the legislators who finance them, they are, with a few exceptions, white elephants that add no value to the lives of the citizens. It is also the case that a good number of projects are uncompleted while a significant number of legislators simply convert funds for constituency projects into additional allowances. This huge wastage must be eliminated. The bad idea of legislators’ constituency projects that was first introduced in Africa in Kenya in 2003 must not be allowed to take root in Nigeria. The good news is that Kenya parliamentarians’ Constituency Development Fund Act (2013) was declared unconstitutional by a high court last month.

Reducing the salaries and allowances of political office holders: Comparison of the salaries and allowances of Nigerian legislators with those of legislators across the continents has revealed that those of the Nigerians far exceed the average of the others. The minimum cost cutting that would make the earnings of Nigerian legislators close to those of the comparators would be a 50 per cent reduction. In 2009, the Federal Government inexplicably extended the definition of “political office holders” to include permanent secretaries in the civil service, vice-chancellors in universities, and several other chief executives of federal government agencies.

Salaries and allowance
Then, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) approved huge increases in the salaries and allowances of all the political office holders with significant distortionary consequences within the civil service and the other agencies of the Federal Government. For example, arising from the increases that were not based on any job evaluation, there is a huge gap between the total emoluments of permanent secretaries and those of the immediate next rank of directors. And this has unsurprisingly resulted in low morale among the directors with negative consequences for performance in the service.

Regarding the public officials who were reclassified as political appointees in 2009, adjusting the increases awarded to them in a fair and just manner would require a job evaluation involving the civil service, the universities, and the other concerned agencies.
The proposed job evaluation would be a much-delayed sequel to that undertaken by the Udoji Commission (1972-1974). Although RMAFC acted within its constitutional mandate (Third Schedule of 1999 Constitution) – “determine the remuneration appropriate for political office holders”. Significantly, President Jonathan announced on March 16th a salary reduction of 30 percent for himself, ministers and some political office holders in response to the prevailing austerity. This is the right thing to do. However, details of reductions for the different categories of political office holders concerned should be made public: salaries and allowances before the reductions and the new amounts to be earned by the officials concerned. And this is what whoever wins the presidential elections on March 28 should do.

Linkage of cost cutting to the problem of corruption: There is evidence to support the thesis that decent pay levels for political office holders and chief executives of government agencies and parastatals tend to discourage corrupt practices on the part of the concerned officials. For example, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister, who led the transformation of the country from Third to First World has claimed that he combined a Head of Government remuneration that was one of the highest among his peers world-wide but with zero corruption.

Corruption perception
He cascaded this down the country’s entire public sector and Singapore has been one of the world’s top five “clean” countries annually since Transparency International began to track corruption perception levels in the late 1990s.

The Nigerian case since 2009 has been a counter factual: the huge increases in the emoluments of our legislators and other public office holders has been accompanied with ever rising levels of corrupt practices. Whilst the existing institutions, systems and processes for fighting corruption might not be robust enough as recently observed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, it is also true that political will to fight corruption in the country has been lacking. Because the fish rots from the head, the corrupt practices in all our public sector institutions would be significantly reduced if the heads of the different institutions were to demonstrate zero tolerance for corruption.

I would end by commending the recently reported commitment of APC presidential candidate to publicly declare his assets and those of his wife if he is elected president on March 28th as a commitment that all presidential aspirants and governorship candidates should make. If Nigeria’s next president and the governors of all thirty-six states publicly declare their assets and those of their spouses and oblige all political office holders under them as well as the top executives in the civil services, government agencies and parastatals to follow suit, the level of corrupt practices in the country is almost certain to begin to fall drastically.  (First published in  The Vanguard, March 27, 2015.)

 

 

Suggestions are vital for the APC to accept to justify the confidence of Nigerians  –  Professor Bisi Sowunmi

What a brilliant, lucid, patriotic and sound statement by Ladipo.
Am very happy that Lai Mohammed is one of the recipients. The suggestions there are vital for the APC to accept if it is to justify the confidence and hope which many Nigerians have in it.

 

There are, and have always been experts who are the real personnel to assist ministers/commissioners  –  Femi Aborisade, Labor Law Attorney & Human Rights Advocate
Excellent opinion! This is a big test for the “change” party. Let’s see how much of it they can accommodate. However, in reality, Special Assistants for political appointees may be unnecessary. SSAs can be picked from each Ministry. It should be expected that each Ministry employs experts in the area of responsibility of the Ministry. Therefore, it should not be difficult to find experts who can assist the minister/commisioner. But the reality is that Ministers/Commissioners as well as their Special Assistants are appointed for ‘politicking’, not for public service. And ‘politicking’ means performing roles that can sustain retention of power or re-election or party work.

We may as well be preaching to the deaf. The politicians know what is right but they will consider it “idealistic”!

 

I concur, Femi. 

Ministers, even in Shagari’s supposedly profligate Administration, went to their various Ministries with no P.A.s, no SSAs, PROs … They also had two vehicles each. I even heard that in one state, these appointees are supposed to “SOURCE” their salaries.  Meanwhile, there are overlapping duties with no correlating responsibilities:  Special Advisers and Commissioners were often at loggerheads because neither was ever been responsibly utilized.  Anyway – pardon me for always referring to the ‘Baba’  who infamously was quoted by papers as saying he might have appointed ‘advisers’, but he did not have to take advice offered!  Talk of being rendered redundant even before reporting for duty! 

Why would a Ministry need or deserve a commissioner as well as a Special Adviser, to start with, before a retinue of other political hangers-on? 

TOLA ADENLE

 

My People,
A Nigerian senator earns in a month just less than what his American counterpart earns in a Year!***  –  Fatai Bakare

On the salary issue we have a lot of work to do as far as Nigerian National Legislators’ salary and allowances are concerned. Nigerian legislators are the highest-paid legislature in the whole world. See for instance

The total monthly salary of a senator in Nigeria is N29,479,749. This is ($181,736.50). This more what a U.S. Senator makes in one year. This is when the exchange rate of $1= N162. Now that the exchange rate is between $1= N197 and N199 official rate the monthly salary of a senator will be more that $181,736.

The total Salary of a U.S. Senator per year is $174,000

A Nigerian Senator makes Naira 353,756,988 ($2,183,685) Per year. This does not include so many allowances for Nigerian Members of House of Representatives and Senators. See the so many allowances a Nigerian Legislator gets in the following:

(1) Hardship Allowance
(2( Constituency Allowance
(3) Newspapers Allowance
(4) Wardrobe Allowance
(5) Recess Allowance
(6) Accommodation Allowance
(7) Domestic Staff Allowance
(8) Utilities Allowance
(9) Entertainment Allowance
(10) Personal Assistants Allowance
(11) Vehicle Maintenance Allowance
(12) Car Allowance
(13) Leave Allowance
(14) Severance Gratuity
(15) Nigerian Legislatures live in free houses
Why are all these and what are these people doing for the country?

American Legislators do not get these allowances or live in free houses but buy or rent wherever they stay in Washington, DC and suburbs of Washington DC. I know a U.S. Congressman who said he could not afford to pay rent in Washington, DC, and decided to sleep in his office for two years.***
The U.S. Speaker of the House makes $223,000 per year; U.S. House Majority and Minority leader each makes $193,000 per year; the same as the Senate majority and Minority each makes $193,000 per year.

You can see why many of our legislatures will do anything, even to kill to get elected into the National Assembly at Abuja because of these kinds of salaries–free money they are getting. These people are ruining Nigerian economy. Money that should be used for development of the country, most of it used to pay salaries and allowances for the legislators. What a jock. Our so-called politicians are not serious, when about 70% of our citizens survive on about one dollar a day and some people are getting these kinds of free money.

Nigerian Legislators are draining Nigerian economy by getting these kinds of salaries. We Nigerian people both at home and in Diaspora must wake-up now and speak out and let them know that this has to stop. Whoever wants to run for political office must know that he/or she is going into the National Assembly to serve the people. Public office is for the service of the people. What Nigeria needs now is servant leaders. All these allowances must be removed and the salaries must be cut.

Anybody who wants to go to the National Assembly must be prepared to serve and sacrifice for the Nigerian people. We must start now to put pressure on them in all news media: Newspaper, radio, Television, internet, facebook etc.

The Nigerian labor organization, Nigerian Trade unions, Nigerian Teachers Association, Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU), Nigerian National Students Association, Nigerian Market Women Association and other organizations in Nigeria should get involved in putting pressure on the National Assembly to cut their salaries and remove those allowances. These Legislators are looting the wealth of the Nation while Nigerian masses are suffering. The average salary of Nigerian worker based on the national minimum wage Naira18,000, yet some states cannot pay their workers this minimum wage. What is wrong with us? It seems that some people are deceiving themselves by buring their heads in the sands.

I hope when General Muhammadu Buhari takes office as from June he will cut his own salary to show leadership by example. If he did this there will be no reason for the Nigerian Legislators not to cut their salaries and all those allowances. After all the President of the United States makes only $400,000 a year and his Vice-President makes $233,000 a year. Only the U.S. President and Vice-President live in free housing. Nigerian People should wake-up and fight for justice and their rights.

 

On becoming Vice Chancellors, such professors should earn their salaries plus Responsibility Allowances  –  Professor Adeoye Akinsanya

Well put. My annual salary as a Professor before retiring in March 1999 stood at about N19, 000.00. A VC should only earn his salary as a Professor but paid only Responsibility Allowance. That will put at bay the fierce struggles in academia to become VCs and eliminate corrupt practices in the process of appointing VCs.

The idea of VCs living free off Tax-Payers should be reviewed. The US President does not live free in the White House and his personal emolument stand at a fraction of that whereas the President of the Nigerian Senate earns $1,500,000.00 which is very reprehensible.

There is much to be overhauled in Nigeria. We can only hope that the APC Leaders will support the unfolding Revolution which would inevitably consume them in the event of a failure or volte-face.

 

Why can governors easily divert so much money to personal accounts? What we need are Incorruptible Structures. R. AJAYI

I am as happy as everyone else that someone reputed to  have good discipline and fiscal responsibility is taking on the management of office – that is Nigeria.  The problem I have is that this is not the first time someone has climbed this same throne, holding a whip.  During his truncated first term in office, he whipped Nigerians  into shape and Nigerians fell in line but complained a lot  — according to calls from my friends then.  Several people were jailed etc.   The point is that this same man is going back to meet the same type of Nigeria he subdued!   Why did we degenerate so fast?

The way I read this is that, reliance on periodic strong man to whip  people into shape is not the answer we need.   We need a country that runs fairly well regardless of who is in power.   This means that we need “incorruptible”  structures on ground and not just incorruptible leaders.  For instance, this election became hard to rig  not so much for Jega being at every polling station with a whip but mainly  because the PVC etc made it hard to “cook up” bogus figures.  These are the types of structural changes we need in all walks of Nigerian life.

Why is a Governor  able to “handle” the funds allocated to his state?   Is it possible for every civil servant, contractor, etc  that deals with government to have an account to which money is paid?  This way the Fed government can trace every penny.  Why can a governor so easily divert so much money to his personal account somewhere?    Where are tender boards  and what do they do?  Why are civil servants so rich from contracts meant for honest contractors?   A pensioner  is forced to sign for an amount much  greater than what  he/she is actually paid.  Will this be possible if the bill is submitted to the central bank and the money is paid directly to the pensioner’s  account?

Why can’t all  major  projects like building railway tracts, etc be paid directly into the overseas accounts of the French or Chinese companies?  The same with roads.

Why are the major projects not published in major  newspapers  as part  of compulsory   government function?  These should also be compared to the rate  in other countries.  For instance, if a contract is given to Julius Berger for $800,000.000.00  to revamp all Nigerian Federal roads, this  should be published in the dailies and alongside this, what a similar length of road costs  in similar countries  where labor costs are comparable to that of Nigeria.  If it comes to $2,000,000.00/mile in Nigeria and is $1,000,000.00/mile  everywhere else then the “kickback” scheme would have been exposed.  Okonjo Iweala did something similar  when  she first got to Nigeria.  Apparently, corrupt GEJ administration refused to continue this practice.

This brings me to the next suggestion that these changes should be entrenched in the  Constitution and not mere rules of current leadership.

Let us remember that the British ran our civil  service through a huge book called the “G.O” –Government Order.  Civil servants ran into serious problems whenever they took decisions outside  the G.O.  We need an enhanced G.O for the running of the entire country.

My examples are merely intended to direct the discussion.  They are not necessarily the best for Nigeria.  The idea is that a president that will help us today must not put all his emphasis on arresting, jailing, and locking people up only.  This will be very shortsighted and short-lasting.  He needs to establish structures on ground that make corruption not only harder to engage in but easily detected and punished according to established laws.

One other area  is that of our funny Judiciary.  A lot of these past governors going  all over the place spending money like water still  have cases with EFCC.  Most of them have almost  permanent injunctions.  What does this mean?   This should be addressed.

Who becomes the IG—that maintains law and order?  On what records  is he/she appointed?  There should be a tally of crime/population over the last 15 years of a prospective  IG’s career.  If this rate exceeds a certain set limit, the next person in line should be considered.  Therefore,  an ambitious policeman would refuse to take bribes from armed robbers for fear of affecting his future career.  Currently, policemen are merely transferred somewhere else  whenever  it becomes obvious that crime goes up wherever  he is located.  This same principle should apply to all levels of policing –not just to the  IG.  We need similar restructuring at the Customs, etc.

Is it possible ban Royalties and  Clergy  from participating in politics (and sometimes  contracts)?  They are supposed to be neutral and non-partisan.

The issue of decentralization of federal power may come in later.   This should be addressed at the same time as the inordinately -high compensation of the elected officials.   Too much power and money in anyone’s  hand encourages corruption.  There should be a formula  whereby public salaries are fixed multiples of the official minimum wage.  This idea of earning thousands of times more than the people you represent is absurd and leads to the “fight to finish” we see in trying to get  into these positions.

Qualifications/jobs should be clear and strictly adhered to under pain of serious punishment.  The idea of putting a boy (well-connected parents) with a first degree in biology as a bank manger should be a criminal offence.  Such a boy will never allow well- qualified people to rise in that  bank  – same in civil service.

Structural changes please!  Structural changes please!!  Structural changes please!!!

 

Fear of Buhari may slow the growth of the bounty system but a truly-democractic Constitution is needed  – A. Tao

In economic theory, prices never fall,they rise less rapidly. If anyone expects that in the absence of a violent nationalist revolution, a group of Nigerians whatever their political hew, will sit and restructure down the bounties of public office in Nigeria … it’s the pursuit of a fool’s gold.

In 1999, Femi Okunrunmu fresh from high involvement and committed service to NADECO went up to the Senate. The now infamous if forgotten furniture allowances were voted in and paid. Did Okunronmu and his then AD/NASS members protest or reject the proceeds of crime against the peoples of Nigeria? No,they all ducked under the table and collected and are still collecting. The fear of BUHARI may slow down the growth of the bounty system; it is unlikely to reduce it as desirable.

Better to concentrate on root and branch changes by fighting for a new truly-democratic federal constitution based on the MNR/PRONACO DRAFT CONSTITUTION OF AUGUST 2006.

A long haul but unavoidable and better started under this new arrangement of progressives.

===============================================================

***A 2011 CBS SURVEY ON US CONGRESSMEN WHO SLEEP IN THEIR OFFICES
A CBS News survey of all freshmen members of the U.S House of Representatives has found that at least 21 of the 96 members are sleeping in their office – that’s 19 of the 87 new Republicans and 2 of the 9 new Democrats.

The reasons range from making a symbolic statement that they are not part of Washington, proving they are fiscal conservatives, and just saving money.

They sleep on air mattresses, cots, couches, and rollaway beds.

Arizona Representative Paul Gosar, a dentist from Flagstaff, is among the new Capitol campers. He estimates that he will save $20,000 a year by not paying for rent or parking. That’s no small change when there is no taxpayer stipend for congressional housing, and when (like Gosar) you have three teens in high school eyeing college.

Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, sleeping in his office for a second term, put his choice in perspective by pointing out that 10 percent of his constituents are jobless, 20 percent lack health insurance, and 40 percent of homeowners in his district owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.

For a list of the 21 Congressmen representing one-fifth of the fresh congress newly-elected class of 2011: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/one-fifth-of-house-freshmen-sleep-in-offices/

===============================================================

Thanks for reading through these submissions.  To contribute to the discussion on The Road Ahead for Nigeria, join this OR any other such discussions online or in Nigerian newspapers. 

We all have a stake in making the Nigeria Project work, either you voted for General Buhari’s APC or for the PDP.  We must not allow Nigeria to become a one-party state which, left to the politicians alone, it would because most, as Ghandi said, are practitioners of politics without principles.  A second party is a necessity and the criss-cross that happened in the last one year, especially, does not augur well for democracy.

Thanks,  TOLA ADENLE.

 SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2015.  3:25 p.m. [GMT]

 

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