AS the Jonathan Administration increasingly relies on committees and task forces to run its affairs, Nigerians have decried what they describe as a ‘cost-escalating’ trend that makes governance in the country more expensive still. At the last count, nearly 20 committees have been set up by the administration to perform one assignment or the other, many of them with overlapping functions.
For instance, the Aig-Imokhuede Presidential Committee on Subsidy Regime performed basically the same function as the Ribadu Committee on the same matter.
Of even greater worry to citizens is the cost of maintaining these committees and taskforces. A member of one of the numerous committees set up by the present administration, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that immediately the government inaugurates any committee, members are expected to avail government, in most cases the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), of their account details for the payment of their allowances and other entitlements electronically.
According to the member: “Each member of the committee gets N40, 000 as sitting allowance, N50, 000 for accommodation and a return business class ticket.
“Even members of such committees living in their private houses in Abuja are entitled to such allowances.
“This is apart from money for other logistics, like writing of the recommendations and binding them for submission.”
He continued: “Some members of the committee, who do not want to collect the allowances, do not submit their account details, but most members do submit.
“So, on the average, government spends millions of naira on each committee, from the day of inauguration to the day they submit their report.
“Most times, government appoints its stooges into such committees to ensure that it gets details of the activities of the committees and know how their reports could be influenced, even before such are compiled and submitted to the government. In some cases, they appoint politicians into such committees to keep them relevant ’
“But where government cannot not influence the outcome of the committees’ reports before they are submitted, it resorts to setting up another committee to tailor the recommendations to the whims and caprices of those in government.
“That is the reason many committees’ reports have not seen the light of the day.”
The Guardian investigation revealed that unlike the allowances of other committee members, which are taken care of by the office of the SGF, those of Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Nuhu Ribadu and Kalu Idika Kalu Committees were footed by the Ministry of Petroleum.
It was gathered that Ribadu refused to collect any allowances from the ministry in the course of his committee’s assignment.
Meanwhile, Jos-based constitutional lawyer and former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Plateau State chapter, Mr. Lawrence Anyia has said that the staggering cost of running these committees is quite discouraging, as government must pay allowances to the members, who do not come cheap.
“If you put the staggering cost and the time it takes for these committees to work together, we would have even succeeded in wasting tax payers’ money, irrespective of result achieved at the end of the day.
“So, the sooner we think about re-arranging the spate of these committees, the better for all of us,” Anyia said.
But former Minister of Transport and member of the Justice Alfa Belgore’s Committee on the Review of Recommendations of the 1995 and 2005 Constitutional Conferences, Chief Ebenezer Babatope said committees set up by government have produced good results, because they are made up of knowledgeable Nigerians, who have paid their dues in their careers.
“It is wrong for anybody to say that government is setting up committees to create jobs for the boys.
“It depends on the mandate given to the committees and those who made up the committees, as no member will like to do a shoddy job.
“Nigerians should encourage committees set up by government to work for the people. There is no need for worry on the cost implication, but the people should always urge government to implement the recommendations of the committees,” Babatope stated.
|< Prev||Next >|