By Ebele Orakpo
FORMER Chairman of Lagos State chapter of Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Mr. Ben Omakor has decried the situation where the Federal Government spends over 70 per cent f its resources on recurrent expenditure leaving little or nothing for capital projects which are necessary for job creation.
He made this known in a recent chat with Vanguard in Lagos.
“How on earth will the Federal Government use over 70 per cent of its resources to the extent of going into deficit financing, for the purpose of recurrent expenditure? The real thing that should stimulate employment which is investment in capital projects, is actually so reduced and in some cases those are the budgets that are borrowed externally,” he stated.
Mr Omakor, who is also the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Gestalt IT Limited and Dickson Jones Properties Limited, believes that Nigeria is a poor nation despite being the sixth largest oil producer in the world. He urged the leaders to find a way to motivate the people to work rather than play politics, otherwise, the nation will continue in this vicious cycle of poverty.
“I believe that the leader must sit the people down and tell them the basic truth. One, we are a poor country and the people will need to understand that. The nation has potentials to be rich but it is not rich and as such, you must live like the poor man that you are and manage your resource as a poor man would want to manage the little resource that comes to him. Even with the oil and hydrocarbon deposits which we daily sell out, we are still not rich. And because of that, the nation has no business managing 36 states. It’s too much of a burden on the meager resources,” he said.
Omakor argued that although there is corruption in the land, it should not be entirely blamed for the state the nation finds itself. He named large number of states, the huge number of paid politicians and the culture of waste as the bane of national development.
“Granted there is corruption because anything that happens, we attempt to lay it on the altar of corruption, but one basic truth that the government must address is the fact that we are a poor country and we need a proper management of the resource. We don’t need 36 states. The same madness with which those states were created without any viable reason, should be the same speed with which some of them should be knocked together. We can go back to six or seven regions and then attempt to practise federalism the way it should be practised. If you do that, the central government surprisingly, will have much money. They are just afraid that maybe if they give out a lot, they will have less.
No, no, no! Secondly, we need to manage the number of paid politicians. They are just too many. The nation presently pays over 12,000 legislators. What are they doing? Each of the 36 states has an average of 20 legislators. The National Assembly has over 400 legislators and each of the 774 local governments has a minimum of 10 legislators. Meanwhile, all these people have aides they are taking care of. It’s too much of a burden!” he said.
He said he is not against people being represented “but you look at your purse, the fact that Japan, US, China etc have 300 does not mean that we should have that. By so doing, you will be shocked how much money you will free.”
He noted that the reason given for creation of new states which is to take development to the grassroots, has not been achieved. “When it was four regions, we had a minimum of seven cities that you will call cities _ Port Harcourt, Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Calabar, Enugu and Kano. Presently, we have no more than two main cities in Nigeria _ Lagos and Abuja. And as such, when you say you want to bring development to the grassroots, you actually have not developed the grassroots, you have only provided meal tickets to a whole lot of jobless people who are not adding value to production. And except we attend to these basic questions, we will always have problems of financing infrastructure, production, education and the things that create jobs. Look at our railway system. Where on earth have we seen those kinds of coaches? Coaches that were used in the 1900s,” he stated.
Continuing he said: “Another big problem we have is the culture of waste. If you look at the typical Nigerian, he is a waster. He buys 15 cars because he is a billionaire, but drives just two. He has houses of 28 _ 30 rooms and has just three children who will soon get married, and you wonder what he does with them. If he wants to eat, his food is so large, full of carbohydrates, fats and oil, little vegetable, meanwhile, he is an adult. Look at the clothes he wears, he does not wear according to size. If we can address these, it seems to me that we can free money for development and you can imagine the number of jobs that will be created.”
On the issue of minimum wage, Omakor said: “As much as I’m a human resource person, labour must ask themselves some questions. These people are like the politicians, after all, most of the politicians were retired government workers. What is the average Nigerian public worker worth in production? Nothing! In actual fact, does he really earn his pay? These are the issues they should be addressing. The problem in this nation is that people just don’t want to really work. I know what I go through to earn one kobo and then a public servant sits down there and says he’s going to go on strike for what? What have you contributed today? Ours is an economy you get paid for no work done.”