A FORMULA FOR AN ECONOMY (9): WASTE | S. O. K. Shillings Esq.

Waste here refers to all actions and omissions that are negative and opposite to productivity; a big burden and negative reading in the GDP which must be eradicated.

For a developing nation (since Aeon), a political system that involves budgeting 300 billion naira annually on elections and another 50 billion naira on presidential elections in which formidable political parties spend half a trillion is a waste.

Still, on the political system, I reiterate that the country is over-governed particularly with the proliferation of states and local governments. The US budget is over 200 times that of Nigeria. We have 7 governors in the average land area where the US has a governor. We do not need more than 6 second-tier governments and a maximum of 50 local governments under each of them. 

Boards of establishments and parastatals have 17 members each including those with less than 17 staffers. Mergers should be considered.

The government is a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. How can you run a budget of 29% capital expenditure and 40% recurrent expenditure and expect growth? 40 paid to build 29 of which a minimum of 10 will be stolen while 27% is spent on servicing debt that only the creditors know the amount. Among the items of the capital budget is the renovation of the national assembly building and you wonder why we are still on roads and electricity.

How do we ration maintaining 4 refineries that are not producing anything, paying humongous salaries to their workers, and spending huge amounts on the importation of petroleum products? Where is the development in keeping and maintaining unproductive iron ore companies? We hope on Renewed Hope.

It is doubtful if any Air Force officer has fired a shot against an enemy in the last 50 years. The navy fights no war, yet we employ Tompolo to provide security for our oil, the mainstay of the economy. These are institutional waste. I cannot understand why they must exist in the way they are other than that the US threatened that we must buy ammunition to sustain 'democracy' and we want to belong.

Still on oil, we simply waste that gift of nature with failure of accountability especially with batter arrangements where the other parties enter the wells and take what they like without due process.

Why do we employ so many people permanently in INEC and even the armed forces for jobs that occur intermittently while some vital areas like the teaching and justice sector suffer neglect? Soldiers should receive civil intervention training while retired judges should be engaged in election tribunals.

Spending public funds on frivolities like pilgrimages is a misappropriation that should be criminalized but in the absence of spending policy, all tiers of government have added unbudgeted poverty alleviation palliatives to the concurrent list.

Doles are earnings without work and do not count in GDP. A subsidy, in the final analysis, is a payment to the producer with a dependency value on the subsidised.

There are so many white elephants and abandoned government projects for which a lot of money has been expended, like Governor Amosun's bridge at Lusada. In some instances, the government even incurred unnecessary costs like the millions of dollars in contractual failure damages incurred by Lagos State on the mirage '4th Mainland Bridge' (the biggest political fraud in Africa) on two occasions without a takeoff. You may ask the federal government what happened to the National Carrier and the money expended on it.

So much waste arises from judgments of court forfeitures when the items are not sold on time. So is the case of other forfeitures by law enforcement agencies. Governments must be proactive in preserving public property; delay in preservation of land causing mass demolition is wasteful.

From SSCE Government, we learnt that the legislature makes laws while the executive executes. Then, where do we put constituency projects/allowances other than institutional abuse, corruption, and waste?

The Emefiele Naira recolouration project suffered monumental failure due to a lack of street science. Money expended on it and the multiplier financial losses incurred by citizens is a colossal waste.

With so much water, we import fish and with so much land, we import foods; waste of nature.

The UK conducts elections on Thursdays and workers go to work. The holidays, even in the judiciary, are getting too much. Reducing workdays is a negative subsidy palliative. Additional pay is it. We are perpetually threatened with worker strikes with ASUU deserving of Guinness Book record.

Some cultures adopted are meaningless. When you renew your driving license, do you acquire new driving skills?

The worst waste is that when public officers are accused of stealing, they do not deny and they do not go to jail. They either join the ruling party or someone intervenes for them; and, the money is never paid back to coffers. Of all corruptions, the loss of $16 billion budgeted for energy with nothing to show for it ranks as the worst waste.

You may fill in the gaps. However, it is noteworthy that there is a need for a strong public expenditure policy and reprisals for misappropriation to reduce waste until the culture of honourable resignation for failure creeps into our system.

Doomsday is here, compatriots. It does not require prayers because believers cannot continue in sins and expect bounties. It demands hard decisions that we are too weak and unwilling to take. A poor man, nay, a nation, does not indulge in waste. An anathema to the rich!

S. O. K. Shillings Esq.

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