The All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Chairman of Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), Simon Lalong have criticised the cost of governance in Nigeria, just as they lamented the level of poverty in the country.
The 2021 Sardauna Annual Memorial Lecture, held at the Arewa House, provided the platform where President Muhammadu Buhari’s Government policies were examined, while the participants canvassed for a more pragmatic approach to save the nation’s polity and economy.
Tinubu, in his speech, as Chairman of the occasion, said it is time those in authority in Nigeria emulated the attributes of the founding fathers of Nigeria, while commending the contributions of Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello; the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, who preserved the nation’s unity.
The former Governor of Lagos State, said: “President Buhari has been carefully steering the country through the pandemic, such that the negative impact on us and the economy remains weak with too much unemployment and resources left idle.
“Cost of governance is always a key factor in the socio-economic development of any nation. But, it is also one side of an important coin. We must not look at the cost alone. We must weigh the cost against the benefits derived therefrom. For example, one can pay a high cost on a productive enterprise, but reap a higher benefit and such would be considered a good investment.
“However, one can pay a low cost, but reap no benefit at all because the endeavour was inherently unproductive. This would be a waste. Thus, we must be careful in what we say and truly mean, when we talk of the cost of governance.”
He argued that the development of any populous nation has always been dependent on the ability of Government to allocate sufficient funds to projects and programmes that create and encourage enduring growth and employment, adding, “we must reject that mode of thinking that assumes Government expenditure is inherently unproductive, as well as harmful to the overall economy. The issue is not whether Government is spending money or not. The real issue is the economic utility and quality of the expenditure.
“Fiscal wisdom but not necessarily austerity is required for an economy like ours in a time like this, to ensure equitable wealth redistribution and meaningful use of resources. The years have shown that the private sector is much too weak to spur the growth we need. If the private sector could manage this feat, it would have done so. Where the private sector is too weak and unable, the Government must fill the void. This means Government must not be afraid to embark on an activist fiscal policy to create jobs, build infrastructure and develop our industrial sector, as well as continue to improve Agriculture.”
Tinubu also dwelled on the pervasive insecurity across Nigeria, saying, “the issue of insecurity, poverty, unemployment and extremism have many things to do with governance, over time.”
Lalong, in his keynote lecture titled: “Reducing the cost of governance for inclusive growth and youth development in post COVID-19 Northern Nigeria,” commended the efforts of Sardauna of Sokoto in laying a solid foundation for Nigeria.
Lalong, who is also the Governor of Plateau State, said: “Returning the Northern region to normalcy is one of the highest priorities of the Northern Governors Forum. Achieving this feat, however, will require ending insurgency, banditry and other forms of insecurity that have become the persistent plight of the region for more than a decade.”
The governor spelt out the role of the Northern Governors in reducing the cost of governance in the region and enhancing youth empowerment.
“Looking at the poor economic situation of the region and the need to find ways of reviving the region’s economy, with a view to develop the area, constituted another Committee chaired by the Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Bagudu Atiku to come up with ways of improving the region’s economy. A robust economy, as envisaged by the Northern Governors will ultimately lead to more funds for capital expenditure and general development of the region.”