The Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Demeji Bankole recently introduced and argued strongly in the favour of a Bill to introduce an “Office of Government Accountability” on the floor of the House. In his argument Hon. Bankole reminded us of the huge sums of money which was budgeted yearly but which are either embezzled or returned as unspent funds at the end of the year. The new office his Bill seeks to create therefore was an effort at ensuring that there was probity in Government business and that budgetary allocations for Capital projects are monitored and the designated projects delivered yearly.
It is laudable no doubt for Mr. Speaker to be so worried about non delivery of projects, none performance of Budgets and the mismanagement of funds, but he in my opinion has simply advanced a wrong pill for a worrying ailment and it is important he listens to the voice of reason and rethink the steps he is already taking.
The problem with Nigeria has never been policies or the institutions to carry out policies. No, rather our problem has consistently been a long convoluted string of administrative bottlenecks and a murderous bureaucracy that snuffs life out of bright ideas, breeds corruption and ensures the perpetuation of organizational inefficiency.
Creating yet another office, no matter how well intentioned, is only adding to this bureaucracy and invariably adding to the problem. As soon as the gavel sounds and such an office becomes law, the next issue will be who becomes the Director General or whatever name the head of the body will be given. We would haggle over geo-political zones and Federal character and money will change hands. Soon the body itself begins to contribute its own share to the already nauseating national fart.
In any case, doesn’t it amount to an unnecessary duplication of effort to create a different Government Office of Accountability when we already have so many other bodies that are saddled with such responsibilities? We have for example the Budget (due process) Office , the Ministry of Finance, the various committees on Public Accounts and Public Procurements in both the senate and the House all carrying out functions in the area of Budget monitoring. This is in addition to the constitutional duty of each and every member of the National Assembly of carrying out over sight functions on the various organs of the Executive, a responsibility they seem more interested in due to the allowances accruing from it than in sincerely ensuring that things are done the way they should be done.
I wish to state that what we need to save this country are not new laws, but an implementation of the already existing ones or at best their modifications to suit current trends. The continuous passage of laws establishing new Agencies, Commissions and Directorates just for the fun of it is not taking us any where. We are simply shooting ourselves in the foot as we are helping to expand the making appendages of the already indefatigable monster, Corruption.
We need a change of attitude as individuals and then a collective effort to see our institutions function the way they are meant to. If the Due process office, the ministry of finance, the various Project monitoring units of the various MDA’s, the various Legislative committee’s on Public Accounts and indeed the entire legislature functions the way they should, we would have absolutely no need for this new Office of Government Accountability which Mr. Speaker seems so obsessed about.
Let’s get the existing system working. Let’s rid it of the corruption and administrative bureaucracy that has kept it lame. Let’s all imbibe a change of attitude, and there would be genuine change in our polity. Then we wouldn’t need to create and keep creating new institutions. We must learn that it is in making our Institutions solid and functional that we succeed, not in creating new ones.
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo