A former Managing Director of the defunct Diamond Bank, Mr Alex Otti, has said the cost of governance in Nigeria is too high and unsustainable.
Otti who was the 2019 governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Abia State called for the restructuring of the country to streamline and tame the costs of governance.
He made the call in paper titled ‘Massive government, miserable populace: Cost of governance as economic growth decelerator’, presented at the 10th anniversary lecture of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State.
Otti noted in the paper obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday that the government spent over 70 per cent of the budget on recurrent expenditure and less than 30 per cent on capital expenditure.
According to him, the cost of governance is a drain on the nation’s scare resources as well as unsustainable given the country’s economic predicament.
He said the country’s brand of democracy was more expensive than even the countries it was copied from.
Otti pointed out that Nigerian senators earned about $450,000 per annum, over two and half times the $174,000 per annum that their counterparts earned in the United States of America.
He said, “From information available to the public, our federal legislators are amongst the highest paid in the world. Specifically, a study shows that they are the second to the highest earning worldwide.
“Meanwhile, there are three senators per state and one for Abuja, totalling 109. The 109 senators have a combined staff of 829 aides on payroll and a retinue of support staff who are also paid by the National Assembly.”
Otti also noted that the average House of Representative member in Nigeria earned $224,000 more than their counterpart in the United States, adding that the Presidency gulped a large chunk of annual revenue as well.
According to him, the budget allocations to the National Assembly, between N125bn and N150bn annually, are over 15 per cent of the annual combined budgets for education and health for 200 million Nigerians.
He said, “Looking at our peculiar circumstances, where close to half of our population lives in poverty and in the face of the pandemic that has grounded the world economy, ours included, this amount becomes an issue that deserves closer scrutiny and calls for immediate redress.
“Furthermore, spending on social services and infrastructure, which affects most of the people, continues to decline, while that of the legislators remains at high level. While the number of legislators remains steady at 469, the general population of Nigeria keeps growing and about six Nigerians drop into poverty every minute.
“We advocate drastic reductionist actions to control costs and be able to carry out the required spending on critical infrastructure for the populace to grow and also enhance internally generated revenue.”
He also urged that the Presidency be cut down by about 40 per cent, using the same logic introduced by the Oronsaye report and for the National Assembly to be reduced to 117 people.https://1bd289213049da7f0de2df74621e076f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Otti added that operating a bicameral legislature was wasteful, asked that people employed into government positions must be qualified and that only sitting allowances should be paid to members.