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Editorial

System Failure: Overhauling measures remain sacrosanct to give Nigerians taste of good governance

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Accountability profile from among institutions of government in Nigeria has been a major topical issue when consideration is given to the assessment of governance in the Country. The poor profile of this principle of governance constitute one of the defective characters making the definitions of good governance in the Country a facade. The rate of recent probes by the National Assembly have continued to reveal resounding gaps of unaccounted and/or non remitted public funds from several Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) The call to answer before Investigative panels of the Parliament has occasioned records of several narratives of gaps of unbalanced records. The inability of these MDAs to proffer explanations on sight before the panel at most instances has left nothing behind the scene but perceivable sensations of ill practices. The ready acquaintances of the pervasive culture of corruption in the Country, will leave many with no choice than to readily conclude prima facie, any of such lacuna as a case of mismanagement, misappropriation, laundry or any likely corrupt practice.

It was disheartening when the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), on Tuesday was found in the same claws of inability to proffer a clean report of financial obligations on proceeds it recovered from crimes. The failure to proffer explanations to identified lacuna before the Parliament, is evidently reflective of the existence of the defective character of the poor accountability profile also within the Police structure. The NPF had on Tuesday appeared before the investigative hearing by the ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives investigating the assessment and status of all recovered loots, movable and immovable assets from 2002 to 2020.

However, the inability of the Force to account for the sum of $7.5million, being a part of the N37.5million recovered by the security agency in 2017 as proceeds of crimes, sends signals of foul play. The inefficiency had caused the Adejoro Adeogun (APC-Ondo) led panel after berating the representative of the Inspector General of Police, DIG D. O. Ogbunike, to demand the Force to disclose the whereabouts of the funds, with requests for details on another N360 million recovered as bribery from 26 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials who conducted the 2019 governorship election in Rivers State.

The Police had admitted before the panel to a lodgment of only $30million in a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) account, from the total proceeds, but however, failed to account for the balance of $7.5million. It also failed to account for how a document submitted before the committee claimed that on March 10, 2017, separate amounts of N4.198million,  N26,714,224.195 and  N3.85billion were lodged by the Police, but did not reflect in any account at the CBN.

The lawmakers who accused the police of a lack of recovery account to remit proceeds of loots, had mentioned that the attitude of the Police “gives the impression that police just pays tithes from recoveries.’’ The Chairman of the committee had queried in quote:  “Does the Inspector General of Police give monthly returns on items recovered as proceeds from criminals?  From our findings, the Police system is too opaque. The system makes stealing easy; it does.’’

It is incontestible that the working patterns of several government institutions in the Country are by and large deficient in administrative formations. The working characters of these institutions appear to be largely inconsistent with the provisions of good governance. The pervasive clustering of these inefficient tendencies of inaccuracies in accountability has been a bane which continue to frustrate good governance in the Country. It is lamentable that such tendencies have established their roots within the Police structure which ordinarily should be at the vanguard of expounding sanity with breath of impeccable standards.

The rot of the operating systems of Government institutions — Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) — ridden with administrative deficiencies of inaccuracies remains a distraught which is largely inimical to development in the Country. The poor standards and culture of accountability in governance as spread across all the formative organs of the Government, have left lacuna rotting the character of governance in the Country. This defective characters have formed the basis for corruption which has become endemic to the system of governance in the Country.

The necessity to keep in touch with rising realities in response to the need to address compounding challenges in the Country is paramount. The challenges posed before the Country have clustered too strong without responsive systems to address them appropriately. The necessity to overhaul the prevailing system of administration across all MDAs to bear reflexes of administrative proficiency towards good governance remain sacrosanct. The necessity towards redefining the working patterns of the prevailing systems to imbue them with sanity is imperative for Nigerians to begin to enjoy the benefits of good governance against the experience of untoward hardship which has partly been a product of administrative deficiencies which have created the drilling holes of corruption.  The devastating effects of these shortcomings have continued to ravage the Country with compounding negativities, and thus calls for pragmatic metamorphosis for a change in narrative.

 

 

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Editorial

Finding permanent solution to perennial fuel scarcity in Nigeria

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It is no longer news that Nigeria, ranking as one of the highest oil producing countries in the world, continuously suffers from perennial fuel scarcity day in, day out. A trip to the creeks of the Niger Delta will reveal abandoned and operational wellheads of crude oil, a fallout of oil exploration activities.

Some have developed to glorified Christmas trees, typical of the relics of the slave masters, aftermath of the abolished slave trade. A closer look at the Niger Delta Region will uncover communities sitting on oil wells.

Pollution and degraded environment reigns supreme, yet Nigerians are on daily basis tortured with scarcity of petroleum products, especially fuel, popularly referred to as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

This is a country where leaders ‘throw away’ our crude oil’ to industrialised nations, only to turn round to buy the same product now refined at exorbitant prices. Governments of other oil producing states like Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, amongst others are more circumspect with resources. But Nigerian citizens wallow in abject poverty under the harrowing experience of high costs of living.

No point being shocked at incessant fuel scarcity when all four refineries in the country are decrepit. No point being shocked when the Nigerian Government is more concerned about election results than election promises. Daily, this administration is on a patience campaign to a religious degree. The doctrine of patience is being used to institute docility in the citizens.

It is not enough to make half-baked declarations in a bid to ‘hit the ground running,’ there should be commensurate efforts. The country’s travails with inflation are directly tied to this. A new ministry without a minister is another symptom of tactless leadership. Again and again, billions are spent on nothing-projects. Over and over, the Government has told Nigerians that Port Harcourt Refinery would resume operations in less than no time, all fantastical pronouncements.

The list of unfulfilled promises are endless. Ironically, the fastest policy by this administration is turning the old national anthem to a new one and buying SUVs for the National Assembly members. Anything short of putting food on the tables of poor Nigerians amounts to failure.

We pray that the next phase of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership brings a glimmer of hope for Nigerians. We do not know how they intend to achieve that, but it is in their own interest to do so. No one is impossible to unseat. When the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway in the corridor of powers, they became so power drunk that they boasted to rule Nigeria for sixty years unchallenged. Today, they are peeping from the fringes and dreaming to launch a comeback.

Nigerians are learning from their Kenyan neighbours. 2027 is fast approaching when Nigerians will again file out to cast their votes. The proper thing should be done in terms of good governance. Proper policies should be put in place to harness the abundant human and material resources that abound in this country.

Dangote Refinery should be given adequate support against foreign and local cabals. Also, support for artisanal refineries currently feeding the country with adulterated petroleum products will inevitably turn the fortunes around. This will do the country a lot of good. If we can make substandard goods, we might as well produce the original. It is a matter of commitment, focus and getting priorities right.

Nigeria is capable of incredible feats. The human resource is peerless as evidenced in the fintech industry. What a tragedy to partake in this samara of fuel scarcity. A whole generation of adults deprived of a functioning system will, in no time, turn on the inept leaders. The clock is ticking…

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Editorial

Tinubu’s tax waivers on staple foods, a good omen 

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The decision by President Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Administration to remove taxes on staples foods items like rice, maize, beans and other grains will assist in depreciation of the inflation in the country.

The development will reduce pressure on the naira by discontinuing the payment of taxes and levies in foreign currency and prioritising the procurement of Made in Nigeria goods and services by all levels of government.

Precisely, the Federal Government has announced the suspension of duties, tariffs, and taxes on some essential food items imported through land and sea borders.The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, disclosed this at a briefing in Abuja yesterday.

The listed food items, which include maize, wheat, husked brown rice, and cowpeas, will enjoy a 150-day Duty-Free Import Window. He added that the move was part of the Presidential Accelerated Stabilization and Advancement Plan, which is aimed at achieving food security and economic stability in the country.

The minister stated that the government had been working tirelessly to address the food inflation crisis, which had seen prices skyrocket to unprecedented levels.

He assured Nigerians that the government was committed to achieving food security and ensuring that no citizen went to bed hungry.

He said,  ”The federal government has announced a 150-day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities, suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities (through land and sea borders). These commodities include maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas.”

According to him under this arrangement, imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

“I am glad to reiterate that the Government’s position exemplifies standards that would not compromise the safety of the various food items for consumption.In addition to the importation by the private sector, the Federal Government will import 250,000MT of wheat and 250,000MT of maize. The imported food commodities in their semi-processed state will target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country.”

The Minister also said the Federal Government had inaugurated the Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee to develop and implement policies that prioritise livestock development and align with the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

Dissecting into the decision by Mr. President, the effect lies on reducing the strain on households across the country, which has been exacerbated by the already fragile economy. Addressing the concerns of investors in the real economy..Reducing the cost of doing business for investors, reducing food inflation and Increasing tax compliance by consolidating all consumption taxes into a single VAT system. It enhances less administrative costs by consolidating all consumption taxes into a single VAT system.

Another critical area the federal government must focus on is the transport sector. To address reduction in transport fares, Tinubu can subsidise fuel prices thereby reducing fuel prices to lower transportation costs.

The government should invest in efficient transport systems: Encourage modern, fuel-efficient vehicles and public transport infrastructure and regulate transport fares by establishing fare controls to prevent price gouging.They Should promote alternative transport modes: Encourage walking, cycling, and public transport use. Support transport cooperatives: Empower transport unions to negotiate better fares.

Improving road infrastructure to reduce travel times and costs by maintaining roads and encouraging competition by  fostering a competitive transport market to drive fares down.Offering of subsidies or discounts for vulnerable groups.

The Minister of transport should as a matter of urgency modernise and formalise the transport sector to reduce inefficiencies and engage Public-private partnerships to Collaborate with private operators to improve services and reduce costs.

By implementing these measures, Tinubu can help reduce transport fares, making transportation more affordable and accessible for Nigerians.

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Editorial

The scourge of ghost workers and absenteeism in Nigeria’s civil service

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The recent exposé concerning Nigerian civil servants receiving salaries while living abroad has brought to light a pervasive culture of corruption and neglect within the system.

President Bola Tinubu’s directive for these absentee officials to refund unlawfully obtained salaries marks a step in the right direction, yet it only scratches the surface of a deeper-rooted issue.

This newspaper believes that the blatant misconduct going unchecked for years reflects systemic failures within Nigeria’s civil service. The case of a Nigerian taxi driver in the UK admitting to still receiving payments as a junior government official two years after leaving Nigeria is not an isolated incident; it symbolises a broader lack of accountability and oversight enabling widespread corruption.

Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan’s assertion of Nigeria’s civil service as the “best in the world” appears hollow in the face of such scandals. In reality, Nigeria’s civil service has become a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy more akin to a welfare scheme than a productive government arm. This inefficiency contrasts sharply with the high-performing civil services of other nations where excellence and integrity attract top talent.

President Tinubu’s call for accountability is commendable but must be backed by concrete actions. Mere salary refunds are inadequate.

A thorough investigation is essential not only to identify absentee workers but also to hold accountable the supervisors and department heads complicit through negligence or connivance. Only comprehensive accountability can begin to restore integrity to the system.

Furthermore, the issue of ghost workers and absenteeism is just the tip of the iceberg. Corruption permeates various aspects of Nigeria’s civil service, from inflated contracts to outright embezzlement.

The recent exposure of flaws in internal auditing by Civil Society Organizations and the Auditor-General is a stark indictment of the current state of affairs.

The mandated establishment of internal audit functions across government entities has failed to curb corruption, highlighting the need for a systemic overhaul addressing cultural and ethical deficiencies enabling such malpractices.

To truly reform the civil service, Nigeria must take bold steps. Firstly, a comprehensive audit is imperative to root out ghost workers and fraudulently retained personnel. Implementing a robust digital identity management system will prevent future fraud.

Secondly, recruitment and promotion within the civil service must prioritise merit, competence, and integrity over political connections or seniority. This shift will attract and retain capable personnel essential for efficient public service delivery.

Lastly, both civil servants and the public must shift their mindset regarding the role of government jobs, moving away from personal enrichment towards a commitment to public service and national development.

As President Tinubu rightly emphasised, the civil service is crucial for effective governance and public trust. A dysfunctional civil service not only impedes governance but also erodes trust in government institutions.

Nigeria’s future hinges on transforming its civil service from a hotbed of corruption and inefficiency into a driver of national development. The scandal of absentee civil servants drawing salaries abroad is a wake-up call demanding comprehensive reform addressing root causes rather than just symptoms.

Nigeria must confront its civil service crisis boldly and resolutely, committing to lasting change. Only then can it aspire to a civil service truly deserving of global recognition for performance and integrity, rather than mere rhetoric.

Nigeria’s civil service is at a crossroads. The recent revelations of civil servants drawing salaries while living abroad have exposed a deep-seated culture of corruption and negligence.

The truth is that Nigeria’s civil service has become a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy that serves more as a welfare scheme than a productive arm of government.

To truly reform the civil service, Nigeria must take bold and decisive steps. First and foremost, there must be a comprehensive audit of the entire civil service to weed out ghost workers, absentee staff, and those who have fraudulently remained on the payroll.

This should be followed by the implementation of a robust digital identity management system to prevent future occurrences of such fraud.

Secondly, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the recruitment and promotion processes within the civil service.

Merit, competence, and integrity should be the primary criteria for both entry and advancement, rather than political connections or seniority. This will help attract and retain the calibre of talent needed to drive efficiency and innovation in public service delivery.

Lastly, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the mindset of both civil servants and the general public regarding the role and importance of the civil service. The notion that government jobs are opportunities for personal enrichment must be decisively challenged and replaced with an ethos of public service and national development.

Nigeria’s future as a prosperous, well-governed nation depends on its ability to transform its civil service from a den of corruption and inefficiency into a true engine of national development.

The scandal of civil servants drawing salaries from abroad is a wake-up call that Nigeria can ill afford to ignore. It is time for a comprehensive overhaul of the civil service, one that addresses not just the symptoms but the root causes of its dysfunction.

Only then can Nigeria hope to build a civil service truly worthy of being called “the best in the world” – not in empty boast, but in actual performance and integrity.

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