STAKEHOLDERS have identified corruption in the public sector as the reason for the rise in the cost of governance in Nigeria.
The stakeholders spoke during an anti-corruption radio programme, Public Conscience, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) in Abuja.
The Convener, Campaign for Transformative Governance, Jaye Gaskia, led the call for President Muhammadu Buhari-led’s government to raise the bar in the fight against corruption by addressing the cost of governance.
He noted that there is a crisis in the cost of governance in Nigeria.
According to him, corruption had become an enormous industry in the country as revenue-generating government agencies have repeatedly failed to remit money into the government’s coffers arbitrarily.
He also linked corruption to the reason Nigeria, an oil-producing country, cannot produce petrol locally but continue to rely on the importation of refined products.
“Why are we the only OPEC country that imports 90 per cent of our refined products? It doesn’t make sense.
“Corruption has become a huge business and a huge industry. Multiple layers of politicians and government personnel benefit from this corruption. It is not in their interest to do anything about it because they benefit from it. Whether the country benefits from it or not makes no sense to them,” Gaskia lamented.
In tackling public sector corruption, Gaskia said the government should start by redefining the purpose of governance and ensure its agencies are focused and operating with a clear-cut objective.
Also contributing to the programme, the Publisher Fresh News Online Newspaper, Desmond Utomwen, faulted the Nigerian Constitution, which approves compulsory representation of all the states of the Federation in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which he said jerks up government expenditure and enables corruption.
He said, “I think the Constitution is an enabler of the high cost of governance, and it is linked to corruption.
“Why do you need to have different ministries that do not perform different jobs, and why do you also need to have certain parastatals that are similar in functions, more or less like duplication of responsibilities? Why do we even need to have 36 states? Because if you do not have 36 states, you will not need to create ministries that will accommodate 36 ministers,”
He called for a drastic reduction of the number of federal legislators or for the job of lawmaking to be made less attractive in Nigeria.
“I’m one of those who believe we need to reduce the number of lawmakers. If possible, we should make it a part-time thing. For the executive, I’m already against it because some governors have a thousand aides. I don’t know what they need them for.
“In the National Assembly, we have 469 lawmakers, these lawmakers also have their aides, of course, they have to do their jobs, they have at least 3 in aides. However, do they need to work in the interest of the public? Yes, but do we need the numbers? We don’t,” Utomwen stressed.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.