Is Government in Nigeria a family business?

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Governments are organized to allocate resources for a civil society. A great number of Nigerians probably lacks the ability to understand the art of compromise in democracy–and would consider the policy making process highly inefficient, sloppy and with too much input from too many people with a divergence of opinions. The great leader in government understands that the broader the discourse amongst those effected, but my people see the other side; the better the likelihood of good policy and a productive society–even in those instances when the policy benefits those in the minority or dissenting group. No, but they think they do.

From experience, government in Nigeria has been a fat inefficient pig that is ineffectively run by a bunch of corrupt, power hungry crooks. They fail to understand that participation in government is a duty that all citizens should share in a democracy. Once these politicians are elected into offices, since they do not have the time or experience to run for state or federal office and instead of allowing all citizens to participate, they carry it alone, guessing that allowing everybody to participate may deny them access to steal public money. They make the mistake of running lives .No; they should not be running people’s lives. Citizens could be endangered.

Government is meant to regulate businesses, food and drugs, and other necessities for a functional society. If we are to get out of the mess we are into we have to change the way we run the government. To continue doing the same things and expecting different results according to Alfred Einstein is a sigh of insanity. What people who were present at the nigeria4betterrule forum today, were advocating is getting back to being efficient and effective in how the government spends its money. This requires hard, tough decisions that many of us do not like to hear like raising taxes and cutting back on policies and programs that continue to bleed the treasury. To achieve this we need leaders who actually have experience running ordinary businesses.

Running the government by consensus without fiscal responsibility and accountability and robbing Peter to pay Paul is what has gotten us into the predicament we are now in. Former Gov.Ikedi Ohakim did just this and they called it an Irroma scheme. Our government does this everyday with Ecological fund, Excess crude and Constituency Project fund as well as with other programs. The problem is that even if we were to run the government like a business with a P&L statement and a balance sheet, we would soon discover that we are bankrupt and need to file for audit chapters.

It is just easier to kick the can down the road, and maintain the status quo, and stay with the current.”Hope you can believe in” feel good Nigerian politicians until someone asks “are you any better off than you were four years ago”. If not, then there will be a major shift to a “Moses candidate” with a business and financial background who can deliver us from this morass to the new Promised Land.

There are a number of politicians-in-office who were not business people yet ran the government into a balanced budget–one in recent history who put us into a surplus on reserves–cash in the bank. It doesn’t take a CEO to do this. It takes leadership that is able to manage, negotiate, inspire, and unify. And, yes, a leader who will make the tough decisions–the unpopular ones.

Given the experience of the last few years, I am having a difficult time identifying a CEO–especially in the financial sector– that I would tap to run Nigeria government. Even the good ones.

Our financial lack of wellness is a symptom of polarization. The more leadership can help us see what we have in common, the better our financial wellness…in the long run.

We didn’t get into this together but we aren’t getting out of this alone.

Government cannot be run like a business and vise versa. The reason that businesses can run efficiently is that they only do things that *can be run efficiently*. After all, if it cannot be run efficiently, it is not possible to make a profit at it. Since there are many activities that are essential to modern society that is inherently inefficient, government exists to provide services that make those activities happen.

Police services are the quintessential example. Police officers might go for hours without doing anything except driving about being a presence. This, as it turns out, is actually a really important function but one that does not mean much unless it is understood that behind that presence stands the lawful use of deadly force. It is simply not possible organize this activity and the others that police officers provide into an “efficient” fashion and thus make it profitable.

There are simply thousands of other similar “inefficient” functions that government has to provide and the private sector cannot. The simple fact of the matter is that if these services could be provided by the private sector, they would be. The best example of this the photocopier services. Once, not so very long ago, private individuals could not get access to photocopy machines except at certain government offices, such as the ministries. If one wanted to make photocopies of book, one went with a pocket full of coins to the public library. However it did not take long for some insightful entrepreneur to figure out that he could make some money doing the same thing. In very short order certain laws were changed and the entire retail photocopy industry was born.

Nigeria government could never compete in the hamburger business but Tantallizer could not get a man on the moon. Obasanjo; our only soldier civil President led the country from 1999 to 2007 – a period of poor overall national economic performance, decline in unemployment, financial system near-collapse and what is now being called by economists “the lost decade” as well as “the Great Recession.” Observations, and overlapping chronological events does not at all indicate cause-and-effect, yet it is interesting to note that a business background, in this one case, did not seem to correlate with overall national economic healthiness. IBB, ATIKU AND BUHARI who opted out of President Jonathan’s inauguration felt Nigeria government is a family business. Their absence did not change anything. It is a graduate of the same military program would at least beg the question if their military training has prepared them for government leadership.

When is it that health care lost its status as an essential pulbic service in Nigeria? In agreement with your point, healthcare reform is not about giving something to everyone that we cannot afford. It is about correcting a system that has grown out of control because of its own dysfunction and waste, largely driven by costs-turned-into-windfall-profits for insurance and public companies. Through the Sovereign Wealth Fund legislation, this correction is intended to be accomplished through a set of re-structured relationships between the government, the citizens and the Nigerian economy. Part tax, part premium and part rules of the road. It is not a handout but a re-focus of an industry that is no longer centered on the relationship between the physician and the patient. It is the cause of 60% of the personal bankrupties in Nigeria. A shameful and disgraceful performance.

This editorial needs to focus on our individual responsibility to our government as well as focus on ensuring that we get what we pay for. The oil industry is a classic case study at windfall profits and a screwed consumer. I don’t call that success. And I don’t call that a good replacement for a government that should do a better job on ensuring that we get what we pay for—taxes, premiums and rules of fair play for everyone.

When you take care of your neigbour you take care of you


Is this democratic or autocratic?

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