Nigeria’s Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, participating in a webinar organised by the Emmanuel Chapel, called for a national debate to examine the issues around the size and cost of governance, said to be expensive and unsustainable.
His position was expressed on Friday, while responding to a question thrown at him by the former governor of Central Bank, and deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi.
The webinar moderated by Professor Kanyinsola Ajayi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and Dr Chinny Ogunro, had other panellists in attendance.
At the webinar with the theme: “Economic stability beyond COVID-19,” Sanusi, in a follow up to his last Friday’s position that Nigeria’s governance structure had set it up for bankruptcy, asked the vice-president a question on what the current administration would do differently to address the perennial problem.
But Osinbajo responding said, there was a need for national debate to address the situation, contending that it could be difficult for the government to do something about its cost by itself but that it is something that must be done.
However, he informed that government had been able to cut waste through detection of ghost workers.
Sanusi, in asking his question had observed that: “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 exceeds 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.”
While responding, Osinbajo said: “There is no question that we are dealing with large and expensive goverment, 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.”
It was on this premise, Osinbajo said there was a need for national debate.
“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.
“Part of what you would see in the Economic Sustainability Plan also and several of the other initiatives is trying to go, to some extent, to what was recommended in the (Steve) Oransaye Report, to collapse a few of the agencies to become a bit more efficient and make government much more efficient with whatever it has,” Osinbajo said.
Meanwhile, Nigerians, who have expressed their feelings on Twitter, came up with mixed reactions to Osinbajo’s call for national debate.
Their views expresses below:
HAVE YOU NOTICED?
When some Nigerians hear about 'national debate', their first idea is usually CONFAB.
When Prof Osinbajo said there is need for national debate on cost of governance, he meant there is need for the 3 arms of govt to look at the matter & adopt ways to prune up
— Olufunke Lawson (@bravefacefunkie) June 20, 2020
99% of our budget was spent on servicing debts in just the 1st quarter.Buhari is givin the NASS N27bn to renovate & borrowing to hand NTA $500M.N13.8bn was earmarked to feed school kids at home..In 2018,Osinbajo said it was $1.8M daily.I pray we still have a country left by 2023.
— Umar Sa'ad Hassan🇳🇬 (@Alaye_100) June 20, 2020
Even as the Vice President, Osinbajo is the best thing to happen in the country, Nigeria.
He needs more space to get us to the destination.
— Eniola Opeyemi (@eniola_opeyemi) June 20, 2020
CONVERSATION BETWEEN SANUSI AND OSINBAJO @ "Economic Sustainability Beyond Covid19" Webinar oragnized by Emmanuel Chapel that @MobilePunch published upside down.
SANUSI LAMIDO SANUSI
“The greater Atlanta (in the United States) has a Gross Domestic Product that is higher than pic.twitter.com/DaJWAFPlFM
— Ekitikan (@EkitiKetekan) June 20, 2020
An advocate of peace
An advocate of unity
An advocate of a better Nigeria
An advocate for the vulnerable
Osinbajo, uniquely outstanding. pic.twitter.com/hjFaaroYzc
— Kemisola Adekunle * (@KemisolaAdekun1) June 20, 2020
Osinbajo is not smart. He's part of the government that is expensive. He knows the nitty gritty and all. But he wants a "national debate" to reduce the cost of governance 😂😂😂.
They should do another trick please. I've seen this before.
— Olaudah_Equiano (@somsamsek) June 20, 2020
If this govt has done really well as y’all claim, why are you trying to separate Osinbajo from the ‘success’?
— Kora Kezman (@sir_k_kezman) June 20, 2020
99% of our budget was spent on servicing debts in just the 1st quarter.
Buhari is giving the NASS N27bn to renovate & borrowing to hand NTA $500M.
N13.8bn was earmarked to feed school kids at home.
In 2018, Osinbajo said it was $1.8M daily.I pray we stil hv a country left by 2023
— Khay Ariyo (@AriyoKhay) June 20, 2020
National debate to cut down cost of government? Is this supposed to be rocket science? Something Peter Obi did more than 8yrs ago, and still singing it like Anglican hymn.
Baba Osinbajo, you and your boss should go & consult Obi, NOI…
Debate wey dem go use N500B organise 😏
— Bring Back Leah Sharibu (@Frank_Obiora) June 20, 2020
I am pro Pres. Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Pro. Babatunde Raji Fashola. I am not a politician, I am campaigning for good governance. So I love leaders with gud governance not the one with greedy attitude. Who want to change a state name to his name.
— PRINTING IS OUR PROFESSION (@fn_prints) June 20, 2020
Prof Osinbajo and Buhari both behave and act as if they are in the opposition – pls can someone tell the two of them that they are in power and have authority.
They should both do the right and stop telling us what needs to be done – they aren't Atiku and Peter.
Action now pls.
— Otunba Sola (@AkanbiOgunnaike) June 20, 2020
I support V. P. osinbajo call for a debate , we don't certainly need one now, the allowances of every one in the tries of government should be stopped. Their basic salary should be enough
— Jeremiah Adeliyi (@JAdeliyi) June 20, 2020
Given the larcenious political past we have had, embracing a Buhari Osinbajo combination wasn't only a logical choice for Patriots- it was the moral & Godly choice!
If you are going to counter that move, you CAN'T do so with kleptomaniacs as your political candidates.
— Olufemi Adebimpe (@femiadebimpe) June 20, 2020
That is Osinbajo for you. Always trying to absolve himself.
Meanwhile, billions were budgeted & allocated to run his office and that of the President. He did not ask for it to be reviewed downwards but he is playing to the gallery here calling for debate!
— MR. Ikman5 (@Ikman5) June 20, 2020
Osinbajo (2020): "So that in the future they will not come and say I did not suggest restructuring."
Osinbajo (2030): "Google it. In 2020 I suggested that we restructured the govt. But did anybody listen?"
— Abubakar Idris (@IAtalkspace) June 20, 2020