Former Vice-President of the World Bank (Africa) and former Minister of Education, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has stated that the National Assembly has between 2005 and 2013 received over N1 trillion.
Making the revelation yesterday in Abuja, at a one-day dialogue session on the cost of governance in Nigeria and review of the Oronsanye Committee Report, organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the former minister lampooned the budgetary allocation system in the country, which gives more to recurrent expenditure instead of capital projects.
She reeled out the composition of the 2012 budget with more than 80 per cent allocated to recurrent expenditure, while a paltry 18 per cent was for capital expenditure.
“In the 2012 budget, personnel expenditure alone gulped 44 per cent at N1.81 trillion, overheads was 14 per cent at N590 billion, and debt services of 16 per cent of the budget at N679 billion, while capital expenditure stood at 18 per cent of N744 billion.
“Our lack of development is occasioned by this kind of budget, where capital expenditure is just 18 per cent of the budget, whereas in other developed and developing countries it takes about 60 to 80 per cent of their budgets,” she added.
Ezekwesili who lamented the frivolous spending of the government revealed that in 2005 and 2006 the National Assembly was allocated N54.79 billion respectively, but it rose to N158 billion in 2010 and that the allocation had been steady at N150 billion since 2011.
“Since 2005, the National Assembly has been allocated over N1 trillion. Things will improve through part time legislators, as it will also filter the number of people who will go into the National Assembly. You must have means of livelihood and you don’t need to depend on public funds. We need to learn more on the good and bad side of it. But, we cannot rule out the possibility.”
Another bane of Nigeria’s growth, according to Ezekwesili is its over-reliance on oil, which encourages laziness, corruption and mismanagement.
She lamented that over-dependence on oil had dragged the nation backward, while other nations with similar historical and economic background with Nigeria such as South Korea, Singapore, Qatar have not only diversified their economy, but were far ahead in technological advancement.
“Nigeria is entrapped in something called oil, where $1.6 billion is lost to theft annually,” she said, adding that the nation’s greatest tragedy is the entrapment by the oil.”
“Nigeria lags behind other oil-producing countries in business competitiveness with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) at number 14, 17 and 22 respectively.
“Economic evidence shows that the answer, which we must ponder deeply is that oil has entrenched corrupt, and mismanagement of resources in government.
“We are entrapped by the so-called oil and the politics it entails. Our greatest tragedy is being entrapped by the oil economy, which has excluded creativity.”
Ezekwesili decried the poverty level of the nation, saying Nigeria was endowed with wealth that breeds poverty, adding that 69 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line.
“There should be effective demand of the report of the Oronsaye report. You should demand a mini national transparent dialogue because it touches on the heart of good governance,” she urged.
Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, had in his opening remarks, frowned at the cost of governance in Nigeria, especially the maintenance of 10 planes in the presidential fleet, which allegedly gulped about N9.08 billion annually.
He noted, however, that there were some reforms in public finance management such as the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), which have reportedly uncovered about 46,000 ghost workers and saved about N119 billion.
“In spite of these gains, the debate still rages on. The recent media reports of our National Assembly members being the highest paid in the world, the size of the government cabinet at the executive level, including the retinue of superfluous aides and special assistants.
“The 10-planes size of the presidential fleet, which allegedly gulps N9.08 billion annually for maintenance, the usually scandalous size of government contingents on foreign trips and many other seemingly curious provisions in the appropriation, continues to beg the question as to whether the ongoing government approach is the most appropriate approach in reducing the cost of governance and freeing valuable resources for developmental purposes,” Rafsanjani said.