The Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday said there was need for Nigerians to come up with a national debate on how to reduce the size of government in the country.
According to the VP, it was practically impossible for the government by itself to carry out the exercise, insisting that the current size of government in Nigeria is expensive to maintain.
Osinbajo, who said cutting the size and cost of governance in the country is something that must be done, was fielding questions from the deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi during a webinar organised by Emmanuel Chapel.
Sanusi, had asked the vice-president what the current regime would do differently to address the perennial problem of high cost of governance in the country.
Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria 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 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.”
Responding to the question, Osinbajo 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
“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.”
According to him, government had been able to cut waste when it detected some ghost workers.
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