Governor El-Rufai said the government must cut expenses and increase income. Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba have proffered solutions to the high cost of governance in Nigeria.
The solution was proffered on Saturday, May 29, 2021, at the Rauf Aregbesola Colloquium, an annual event held to commemorate the birthday of the Minister of Interior.
Speaking at the event, which held online, Osinbajo who was the keynote speaker at the colloquium said that the collapse of socialism in the 90s gave rise to the notion that a market-driven economy works better; therefore, global economies began to be fuelled by market forces.
He noted that following the failure of the Social Adjustment Programmes (SAP), the World Bank put poverty reduction at the centre of its programmes.
The Vice President said that SAPs were important in countries like Nigeria with a high level of poverty.
He noted that concern has been raised on Nigeria’s debt burden, adding that the burden must be viewed in terms of the impact it has on development.
He also said, “We should not be trapped into thinking that cost of government is the problem only. We must ensure that we have the right fit and the right quality of skill in public service as a balance.”
Also speaking on the cost of governance, Governor El-Rufai said the government must cut expenses and increase income. “We cannot leave fiscal challenges to chance”.
He said, “I don’t think you should have a government larger than the taxes you can raise.
“Each state needs to set its minimum wage because the cost of living is different across the states.
“Let us use our oil revenue for capital expenditure and pay salaries through taxes.
“Our government has to cut the cost of governance to have a fighting chance.”
El-Rufai also noted that the quality of the public service was what mattered and not the number, saying “No country can perform better than the quality of its public service.”
Also on the panel was the national president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba.
Wabba in his remarks noted that “there is a nexus between insecurity and lack of employment in Nigeria.”
He said that development policy in Nigeria should be centred on the people with fairness, justice and respect for the rule of law.
He also said that political office holders should be the focus in cutting the cost of governance noting that “the minimum wage has a global standard” which government must not fall below.
Other panellists included the CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Yemi Kale, who stated that development is a process for which data is important.
He said, “Data is important in measuring development. Most problems cannot be solved without looking at data. Using data, the policy can be developed. And you can measure the effectiveness of a policy by looking at data. Using data, targets can be set to get to the next level of a development strategy.”
In his closing remarks, the celebrant and Minister of Interior, Aregbesola, expressed gratitude to all the participants for making contributions that made the discussion robust.
“We must focus on mobilising most of our people to work. This is the way out of the quagmire we find ourselves. If we get our people to work, definitely we will be rich.”
This, he said, will make Nigeria a torchbearer among other nations.
The event was organized by a collection of the younger generation, admirers of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who explained that they are seeking to advance solutions for Nigeria through the colloquium by gathering leaders to discuss objectively issues of national importance.