The Federal Government and other stakeholders on Thursday urged the National Assembly to abandon ongoing plans for the creation of more institutions given the current economic reality in Nigeria and its inability to meet the enormous cost of governance and the impact of the economic downturn.
The proposed bill comes at a time when the current administration is working out how to implement the Presidential Committee on Government Agency Reform, led by Orosonye’s report, recommending the reduction of statutory government agencies by 263 to 161.
Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, gave the charge in Abuja, during the public hearing on the Bill which seeks to establish the National Youth Development Commission, held at the instigation of the House Committee on Youths.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ismail Abubakar also urged the National Assembly to enact laws that would strengthen existing institutions and adequate funding rather than creating new ones.
Other stakeholders, who spoke against the bill, pointed out that there was no justification for this new agency as the action duplicates somersault functions and policy.
While noting that the functions of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) conflict with the proposed Commission, he therefore noted that the proposed Commission “is completely at odds with the current administration’s policy direction of cutting spending public administration in favor of development projects.”
The minister maintained that it “will not be healthy for the ministry and the NYSC (one of the parastatals under the same ministry) in particular and the nation at this time due to the economic reality in Nigeria today coupled with the inability of the Federal Government to meet the huge cost of governance in Nigeria currently due to the downturn or the economic situation.
“As a result, this ministry is of the opinion that setting up a new organization at a time when the government is considering reducing the cost of governance by restructuring and rationalizing institutions will be counterproductive. In other words, creating another body or organization to take over the functions and responsibilities of the already existing statutory bodies will not be the best way forward, given the number of resources that would be needed for the Commission to get off the ground. .
“Creation of a new one: In any case, what must be done in the circumstances is to strengthen the existing department for better service delivery and or high performance, as the case may be.
Similarly, the Advocates of Social Justice for All observed in their memoranda that “the proposed bill, if passed as presently constituted or worded, would automatically remove the duties and responsibilities at least three departments of the Federal Ministry for Youth Development and Sports. The said Directorates are the Network and Social Mobilization Directorate; Department of Education and Youth Development and Department of Business Development and Promotion.
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The Agency maintained that “the high cost of governance in Nigeria, which has become a disconcerting phenomenon and has been widely recognized by many both inside and outside the corridors of power, is again holding our attention for one compelling reason: state actors at all levels in Nigeria do not seem to understand the importance of reducing the cost of governance at this time.
“The suffocating impact of the high cost of governance on our national life has made it take on a dimension of national emergency. With this high cost of maintaining bureaucracy, the country’s economic fortunes were recently declared uncertain, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgrading the economy’s growth outlook for 2018 and 2019.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, for his part, recently pledged, as always, to reduce the cost of governance in the country. The president has promised to shine a spotlight on the cost of governance and root out the possible corruption that exists anywhere.
“Appropriate governance structure is a major issue that needs to be addressed to reduce the high cost of governance in Nigeria. Attitudinal, the government must convince the public that it is serious about reducing the cost of governance by changing the way it incurs overhead.
“While this applies to all three branches of government, it is especially true for the executive branch, “which controls about 90% of all government spending. In this time of economic emergency, why are we advocating for a reduction in the cost of governance, while the government is creating new ministries and thus increasing recurrent expenditure?
“The National Assembly is not left behind in this regard with the constant push for the creation of more government agencies, even without resorting to their functionality or relevance to address the myriad challenges in the country.”
Speaking earlier, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who noted that young Nigerians constitute a significant majority of the country’s population, argued that “all government actions and policy priorities must ensure that our young people can dream big dreams and achieve big ambitions.
This includes ensuring that they have access to quality education and training to develop the skills needed in the modern economy.
In a bid to address the challenges faced by young people, he stressed the need for the government to “explore ways to ensure young people have access to capital to innovate and start businesses across all economic sectors. This combination of quality education and access to capital can make all the difference in the lives of millions of young people in our country.
“The bill we have come here to consider this morning is an effort by a member of the House of Representatives, the Hon. Simon Karu, to advance policy recommendations to establish a coordinating framework for a national strategy to promote the social, economic and political advancement of our nation’s youth. Like all such bills, this is a proposal that will be improved by careful consideration and informed debate as it progresses through the legislative process in the National Assembly.
“The purpose of this public hearing is to gather the opinions of stakeholders from across the country so that from the agglomeration of these multiple viewpoints, we can shape a legislative approach that serves the best interests of our country. Therefore, all of us here today have a lot of work to do. I encourage you to do this well by ensuring that your contributions are informed and thoughtful, taking into account all the challenges we face in our country today as well as the opportunities that abound,” he noted. .