From Uche Usim, Abuja
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has listed various ways state governors can both survive the economic recession and become less dependent on Federal Government.
Speaking with Daily Sun at the opening of the World Pension Summit (WPS) summit in Abuja Tuesday, el-Rufai advised his counterparts to immediately flush out ghost workers and ghost pensioners using the biometric verification method.
He also asked them to reduce their aides and other personal staff; improve their tax collection machinery while investing in healthcare and agriculture.
“As governors, we need to focus on cutting costs, reducing the machinery of government and the size so that we can live within our means. We also need to look at our state economies and find a way of not relying heavily on federation account. That means developing agriculture, developing mining, improving our tax collection mechanism so that we generate more revenue from taxes. “We also have to focus on education and healthcare because we’ve a growing population. Nigeria is forecast to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050 with a population of about 450 million people. That is not a bad thing if that population is educated. The challenge is for the state governments that are directly responsible for the provision of social services. So, they need to spend a large part of their annual budget on education and healthcare. That’s what we’re trying to do in Kaduna State”, he stated.
El’Rufai said: “Most state governors have inherited huge bureaucracy, a large number of employees they may not need and all that. Most of these Ministries and Agencies were created when the price of oil was over N100 per barrel. Today, it’s down to N40. So, it’s no longer sustainable to keep that size and number of employees. And they have to start by reducing the number of political appointees, reducing number of ministries by merging some of them, looking at the nominal role and ensure ghost workers are eliminated, etc.
“So, you ask whether you need the number of employees you have and if you don’t, get some to exit and then give them a good package so that they can start their own businesses. Then, you’ll have a size of government you can afford.
Then, you look at the overhead cost, which is the cost of running the government. Look at travelling, the tea and coffee, the estacode, money spent on conferences, workshops, and see ways of cutting them down. I don’t think Nigeria needs a lot of conferences and the problems we have have been debated and solved.