News BitePress Release

PAPER DELIEVRED BY BISHOP ISAAC IDAHOSA, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, At Women in Media Awards 2022, with the Theme: The Burden of Nigeria’s Leadership and Economic Template. Date, Saturday, December 10, 2022.

FB IMG 1671018626463
Share this post

PAPER DELIEVRED BY BISHOP ISAAC IDAHOSA, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, At Women in Media Awards 2022, with the Theme: The Burden of Nigeria’s Leadership and Economic Template. Date, Saturday, December 10, 2022.

Your Excellency, wives of State Governors here present,
The National, Regional and States Leadership of Women in Media,
The Press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

American Congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi while speaking on the role of women in leadership and society once posited;
” Women are leaders, everywhere you look – from the CEO who runs a fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women, and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes.”
Such is the magnanimity of the contribution of enlightened and conscious women to nation building, like we have in this room today.

I Recently Lost A Pregnancy — Toyin Abraham

I am most pleased and humbled by this invitation to share my opinions on state of the nation, with an array of the brightest and clear-sighted women in media.
Before I proceed, permit me to extend the good wishes of my principal, the presidential flagbearer of the New Nigeria People’s Party, Distinguished Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. His Excellency sends his congratulations to the leadership of this organization for successfully putting together this 11th edition of Women in Media Awards. His Excellency admires your consistency through the years, and encourages all members of this reputable organization to continue to uphold the ideals and ethics of the media profession, which is OBJECTIVITY, above everything else.

For perspective, to understand the topic before us, The Burden of Nigeria’s Leadership and Economic Template, I will re-imagine and recast the topic as Democracy, Her Challenges and the Cost of Governance in Nigeria.

To being with, let us examine DEMOCRACY, as the LEADERSHIP style adopted by Nigeria, and her CHALLENGES (BURDEN).

Since 1960, when Nigeria’s dream for self-determination was actualized, we have adopted a governance structure that comprised 3 tiers, namely the Federal, State and Local Governments.

Photos: FIRS, NNPC Inspect Roads Under Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme

Nigeria has a total of 36 states, with a Federal Capital Territory located in Abuja and 774 Local governments areas (LGAs), each administered by a local government council consisting of a chairman, who is the chief executive, and other elected members, who are referred to as councilors. Each LGA is further subdivided into a minimum of ten and a maximum of twenty wards.

FB IMG 1671018639819

Every government, be it federal, state or local government, is established with a view to providing social services that would improve the general well-being of its citizenry.

For every government, therefore, to achieve its objectives, it is required to adopt measures which would ensure effective revenue generation, as well as, judicious utilization of resources at its disposal.
In the past, Nigerian public service used to be characterized by persons who committed, dedicated and valuable to service, until few decades ago, when reckless misrule created a spiraling decline, systemic and institutional decomposition. The service came to be characterized by lack of professionalism, excessive partisanship, endemic corruption, slowness and inefficiency, and crass selfishness and greed.

FB IMG 1671018645902

The tenets of public service, which include honesty, integrity, loyalty, probity, accountability, transparency, impartiality, discipline, commitment, diligence, expertise and competence, among others, have not only been violated by public officials but also eroded by political office holders. Thus, paving way for the enrichment of the few, who are in power and authority, and in turns the impoverishment of the majority of the citizens who are subjected to poverty, squalor, insecurity and violence. All great nations of the world did not attain their enviable status without good governance, revenue assurance and moral uprightness by both their leaders and followers.

Public governance may be defined as use of political authority to promote and enhance societal values- economic as well as non-economic- that are sought by individuals and groups. It is the processes whereby values in society, at different levels, are realized. On the other hand, Revenue Assurance (RA), is about improving revenues and cash flows and eliminating leakages, excesses, abuses and fraud, as well as, minimizing operating cost.

Thus, RA in public governance is meant to reduce the excessive share of the budget being allocated to personnel and overhead costs; reduce the cost of governance in general; improve resource management by curtailing wasteful expenditure and increasing the level of productivity and efficiency, and ensure budget discipline (adherence to limits). There is a wide consensus that good governance must lead to broad-based inclusive economic growth and social development. It must enable the state, the civil society and the private sector to enhance the well-being of a large segment of the population. A number of studies have exposed many areas of wastages and fund leakages in the public budget, at all levels of government in Nigeria over the years in the practice of democracy in Nigeria.

In fact, it has become evident that the much-dreaded corruption in the public service exemplified by the looting of public funds starts with the budget. It is an open secret that senior civil servants are some of the richest persons in Nigeria today even though their stupendous wealth cannot be equated with their legitimate wages (Nzeshi, 2012). It is common that audit reports in Nigeria, at all levels, reveal flagrant disregard to rules and procedures, overthrow of financial discipline, accountability, probity and transparency, which the treasuries were set-up to establish and protect. These abuses/breaches range from varied duplication of contracts, over-valuation of contracts, fictitious payments of contracts, non-certification of payment vouchers by the internal auditor, among others. Other fraud in treasury activities may include over payment to existing staff, payment of salaries and allowances to dead or retired staff and ghost workers. These are clear manifestations of the collapse of standard policy and practices in treasury departments, and hence the inability of most governments to achieve their objectives. Standard treasury management policy and practice is, therefore, particularly essential in governance in Nigeria, with a view to being proactive in preventing persistent lack of efficiency and effectiveness that characterized financial activities in the public sector, resulting in fraud (Hamid, 2011).

In Nigeria, costs associated with the running of government have increased dramatically over the years such that an increasingly higher proportion of public revenue is used to support and implement the primary functions of government. Rising government expenditure has, therefore, not translated to meaningful development as Nigeria still ranks among world’s poorest countries. In recent years, everyone in and out of government in Nigeria seems to agree on the need to cut the cost of governance, by eliminating areas of wastages in the budget and the unexplored opportunities of entrenching prudence. Many Nigerians want governments across the three tiers to reduce the cost of governance so that more resources could be channeled towards development projects that impact positively on the quality of lives of the citizenry.

COST OF GOVERNANCE

Public expenditure refers to the expenses which government incurs in the performance of its operations. With increasing state activities, it may be easy to judge what portion of public expenditure can be ascribed to the maintenance of government itself and what portion to the benefit of the society and the economy as a whole. Government expenditure is broadly divided in to two (2) main categories, namely recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure.

Recurrent expenditure is the type of expenditure that happens repeatedly on daily, weekly or even monthly basis. This includes for example payment of pensions and salaries, administrative overheads, maintenance of official vehicles, payment of electricity and telephone bills, water rate and insurance premiums etc.
Capital expenditure on the other hand refers to expenditure on capital projects. This includes construction of houses, roads, schools and hospitals, human capital development (expenditures on education and health), purchase of official vehicles, construction of boreholes and electrification projects, etc. Public finance literature in consensus that cost of governance is associated with current expenditure, which is the expenditure ascribed to the maintenance of government itself and not for the benefit of the society and the economy as a whole.
Some scholars argue that increase in government expenditure on socio-economic and physical infrastructures encourages economic growth. For example, government expenditure on health and education raises the productivity of labor and increase the growth of national output. Similarly, expenditure on infrastructure such as roads, communications, power, etc., reduces production costs, increases private sector investment and profitability of firms, thus fostering economic growth. A point of consideration is to consider how the State governments’ budget is divided strictly between recurrent and capital expenditures. Where a rising proportion of government budget, at whatever level, is used to support the administrative structure of government, poverty is bound to be pervasive as economic growth slows down or even stagnates.
What this implies is that maintaining government administrative structures comes at gargantuan costs to the economy, as available funds are barely sufficient to finance projects in vital sectors of the economy.
Enormous administrative expenditure is not only used to finance an unusually large, inefficient and corrupt civil service personnel, but also a larger than optimal executive cabinet, and an ineffective legislature. However, citizens would perceive government as a burden when its recurrent expenditure is repeatedly higher than its capital expenditure, which should impact positively on the economy, especially in the areas of employment generation, investment and other activities that induce growth.

Nigeria’s Economic Template (CONCEPT OF REVENUE ASSURANCE)
Revenue Assurance (RA) is a discipline that has existed for over 20 years. It is a concept that was previously applicable to telecommunication industry, but its practice has gradually spread to many industries and organizations. Revenue Assurance (RA) may be defined as the process within an organization of ensuring that all possible revenue is collected accurately and in a timely manner, identifying where revenue gets lost, and minimizing such losses by eliminating revenue leakage and lowering overhead costs whilst managing fraud to an acceptable level.
RA is, therefore, about improving revenues and cash flows and eliminating leakages, excesses, abuses and fraud, as well as, minimizing operating cost. Revenue assurance is used to describe a service performed to identify operational underperformance relating to operating cost and collection of revenue.
RA can also be described as a service associated with identifying, correcting and preventing errors which might cost organization enormous financial resources due to ineffective cost control, unnecessary expenses, revenue leakages and fraud, excesses and abuses, financial impropriety and extravaganzas in the discharge of responsibilities. RA can also be used to ensure compliance with regulations and internal policies, though it cannot replace effective implementation of business controls.

In order for RA to be effective, a business organization needs to ensure that they have in place good corporate governance practices. RA can be used in public governance to eliminate overlap, duplication and redundancies which lead to inefficiencies and wastage.
Revenue Assurance is the work effort to ensure that processes, practices, and procedures maximize revenues; it is end-to-end, crossing all departmental boundaries; it involves completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of data; ensure revenue maximization and fraud containment. RA services may be provided internally by an organization through its revenue assurance units and internal audit or externally by accounting firms, management consultants and soft ware houses.
Types of Revenue Assurance RA can take any of the following dimensions, namely Reactive, Active or Proactive.
1. Reactive Revenue Assurance: Reactive Revenue Assurance is used to just detect the existing revenue leakage after it occurred.
2. Active Revenue Assurance: Active Revenue Assurance addresses problems as they occur. This approach is designed to initiate corrective responses prior to incurring any losses. The actual business process is monitored in real-time. Discovering problems in real-time helps in correcting the leakage before it causes damage and impacts the customer.
3. Proactive Revenue Assurance: Proactive Revenue Assurance acts in anticipation. Controls and other measures are implemented in order to prevent problems from occurring in advance.
The methods described above are complementary. As a first step, it is important to detect and fix the actual revenue leakage in an organization.
After finding the reasons for that, active or proactive RA should be implemented to prevent damage or as an ultimate goal to prevent the occurring of leakage, revenue leakages and control of fraud, excesses, and abuses, financial impropriety, extravaganzas in the discharge of its responsibilities.
Over the years, Nigerians have always associated security vote with governors and nursed the belief that it is prone to abuse, as well as, resulting to a duplication of the votes allocated to the security agencies in the budget.
It is, however, astonishing to find security vote as an item running through all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). More surprisingly, as found by Nzeshi (2012) even agencies whose primary functions revolves around security have security vote allocations in the budget.
There have also been cases of duplicated budgetary provisions under various sub-heads to attract more allocations that would be eventually siphoned at the end of the fiscal calendar (Nzeshi, 2012). Similarly, budgets are usually filled with wasteful expenditure from which great savings can be made.

There were also too many MDAs collecting huge sums of money through the budget and delivering little or no tangible services. Revenue Assurance is a combination of organizational structure, processes, technology and information responsible for monitoring the revenue process. Its activities are designed to provide assurance that business processes and systems are performing as developed, in order to reduce the risk of revenue leakage, by ensuring that risks have been identified and appropriately addressed; promote operational efficiency, by analyzing processes and systems, identifying gaps and design flaws which drive up operating costs; and effectively communicate business risks to management, in order to allow informed decisions and eliminate surprises.

Good governance can only achieve the desired objective if corruption is addressed and completely eradicated from the society because no programme can be successfully implemented under a corrupt environment. Revenue leakage is a growing problem in public governance in Nigeria. To get the most out of a revenue engagement, it has to be carried out as part of a government performance strategy – and not be just a leak detection exercise. The task of reducing cost of governance for revenue assurance at states level does not rest on the executive, legislature and judiciary alone. It is task demanding the collective effort of all stakeholders.

Recommendations
1. There is the need to reduce recurrent expenditure to sustainable level through reducing waste, inefficiency, corruption and duplication in government, as well as, make capital spending more effective.

2. There is the need for more citizens’ participation to ensure prudence, transparency and accountability in the budgeting process.
3. There is the need for merging, restructuring and even repealing their enabling laws to ensure that nonessential agencies ceased to exist to prune down wasteful expenditure.
4. There is the need to continue the implementation of the monetization of benefits by ensuring that the practice of purchasing fleet of cars for public officers was discouraged, except ambulances, Black Maria, and Hilux vans. The continued implementation of the monetization programme will save resources and cut down expenditure.
5. The number of commissioners in the States Executive Councils, as well as, special advisers and personal assistants to the Governors should be streamlined to optimum. Similarly, none of this appointed official should have more than one official vehicle.
6. Regulatory agencies and authorities in Nigeria should ensure that all salaries and allowances of civil servants, public servants including political office holders conform to due process, constitutional provisions and existing financial rules and regulations. This will no doubt reduce friction and instability within the entire system.
7. Efforts should also be made to ensure fiscal discipline through effective public policy formulation and implementation aimed at reducing re-current expenditure and budget deficits. 8. One of the major costs of governance, is the larger than optimal size of the executive cabinet. It is possible to reduce the cost of governance by ensuring an optimal size of cabinet, where merit and core competence are the primary reasons for appointment to serve in public offices.

To close this paper, let me emphise as impossible as it has become to implement a framework to achieve these recommendations, I want to remind you all, that a New Nigeria led by Distinguished Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso when elected into office will set Nigeria on the right pedestal.

Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

Image courtesy of Seunmanuel Faleye - ApplesBite International Magazine
Website | + posts

Seunmanuel Faleye is a brand and communications strategist. He is a covert writer and an overt creative head. He publishes Apple's Bite International Magazine.


Share this post

Comment here