The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria needs a national debate to address the issues around the size of government and cost of governance in Nigeria.
Osinbajo said it is important to reduce the size of government to prevent wasting the resources meant for development on overheads, which he said is 70 per cent of the country’s revenue.null
The VP said this on Friday, June 19, 2020, while fielding questions by a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, during a webinar organised by the Emmanuel Chapel.
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi (Council on Foreign Relations)
Sanusi, who had recently maintained that the governance structure of Nigeria was set up for bankruptcy asked Osinbajo what the current administration would do to address the problem.
The former CBN governor said, “The greater Atlanta (in the United States) has a Gross Domestic Product that is higher than that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Atlanta is not the richest city in the United States.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but the annual sales of Tesla exceed the budget size of our country, so should we not begin to cut our coat according to our cloth; should we not begin to look at all these costs and the constitution itself; maybe turn the legislators to part-time lawmakers, have a unicameral legislature instead of bicameral, have the local governments run by employees of the Ministry of Local Government Affairs? We just need to think out of the box to reduce structural cost and make government sustainable over the long term.”
Reacting to this, the Vice President admitted that Nigeria runs a large and expensive government. He added that those who have the power to reduce the cost of governance and the size of government are the same people benefiting from the system.
He said, “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. 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.