By Dr Joe Anuga
The process of governance is not by any means static as the issues requiring the attention of governments are processes that contain innumerable events happening at the same time and continuously creating new outcomes that demand attention. This reality is the basis for the creation of Ministries, Departments and Agencies tasked with specific objectives held together by the areas of focus that they superintend over. These institutions are part of the public bureaucracy whose primary function is to translate government policy into measurable outcomes. These institutions therefore cannot be ignored when the process of governance is being considered as they form the conduit as it were for the concretization of the intentions of people who legitimately hold state power.
The importance of these institutions can however not detract from the fact that they exist to solve problems of concern by the government on behalf of the governed. They are therefore not to be left by decision makers to stray far from the objectives for which they are set up nor should they be allowed to become new problems for the society. The reality however in Nigeria points to the fact that as of September 2022, these MDAs are now clearly a drain on public resources as they replicate each other and in many instances cannot carry out basic functions connected to the objectives behind their creation.
The 2011 Orosonye Report recommended that the government prune down the MDAs from 541 to 161; that it was to abolish 38 agencies; then merge 52 agencies; and finally that the government should revert 14 agencies back to departments in their parent ministries. This was not done and as we move through September 2022, there are now over 800 MDAs in Nigeria.
The reality that the Nigerian state has gone from an economy with one of the best Debt to GDP ratios in the world by 2011 to an economy teetering on the brink of a huge Debt Crises in 2022 belies that fact that there is no option but to reduce the size of the government bureaucracy and the overall cost of government. An important key to get it right with regards to the downsizing of MDAs in Nigeria is to take into cognizance how efficient specific MDAs are.
Those that are able to fulfill the objectives they were set up to meet and in the process generate resources for the government clearly prove that they are efficient. Those that creatively engage with the issues concerning the objectives of their existence to the point that they not only approximate Global Best Practices but also generate solutions that create a framework for investment in either human or material capital also show that they are efficient.
However those that cannot even self-finance their existence and have become salary occupying ventures not only make human capital redundant but reflect a drain on irreplaceable and valuable material resources and must not be allowed to continue. This Joint Media Report is a humble contribution to the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to harness all national resources on behalf of the governed in Nigeria.
Joe Anuga PhD – Baobab People and Economy Magazine