The state of the economy today is akin to the recession the country witnessed in the late 80s, and this is regrettable. This state of affair points to an absence of planning and vision on the part of the successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999.This newspaper is of the view that what went wrong was not the absence of resources-both human and material-to drive the necessary growth and developnment, but a vacuity of ”thinking” to fashion pragmatic home- grown solutions to nagging economic challenges that the nation has been beset with for more than a decade.
Paradoxically, it the state governors that are a large part of the economic challenges, and who are responsible for the sorry state of the economy in their states are the ones crying wolf and asking for bailouts from the central government.
As a newspaper, we are against handouts and bailouts in any form for these states. Many of them acquired a nauseating debt profile, ran their states accounts aground on frivolities driven by greed, political patronage and sheer mismanagement, to such an extent that it is now difficult to pay salaries or meet basic requirements and commitments to governance. It would seem most states have given standing orders to banks to deduct at source from any funds accruable to them as a means of offsetting their huge indebtedness to these banks.
The governance structure across the states is pathetic, and it is no hyperbolic statement to say that we have had state governments that were not really there to run credible governments. It is public knowlege that some of them take the state machinery to their cronies, and it will be virtually difficult for the country to move forward with this kind of perfidious attitude to accountability and governance. The government at Abuja is merely a symbol of our federalism and this newspaper is of the view that the importance of the states in the federation cannot be overemphasized. It is the states that matter but they have been allowed to run adrift by their chief executives no thanks to their high level of mismanagement, cronyism, clientele culture, impunity and greed.
Many of them owe salaries running into six months, and for a state such as Osun its workforce is one of the largest in the country, a fact which makes it at odds with its economy. As for oil-producing states such as Akwa Ibom and Delta with huge financial war chest accruing from huge monthly allocations, the pathetic state of their finances could only be attributed to mismanagement and the lack of right-thinking of their governing elites.
As a newspaper , we strongly encourage them to be inward-looking instead of going to Abuja cap-in-hand looking for bail-outs. They should re-strategise on how to build small-scale businesses , generate more income through realistic drive for IGR, and soft rationalisation of ministries, departments and agencies in their states.
Government at the centre has a role to play in driving efficiency and financial accounting that can up the ante of qualitative governance at the state level through a prudent transfer of more resources and responsibilities to the states.Across all levels, there’s a need for an honest dialogue that will cut across the civil society, labour, student union, market women and workers on the need to work out all of the processes that will make the lean resources serve the basic needs that will be satisfactory to labour and government, which inevitably will touch on the rationalisation of staff with reasonable severance packages to be paid across an agreed space of time.
All of these processes must involve a lot of fiscal discipline, on the part of government and these governors must be ready to take the bull by the horns by cutting cost in terms of their perks of office, number of aides and special assistants; contract the bogus size of ministries and reduce by half their own salaries and allowances and those of other political appointees. This will stimulate patriotism on the part of workers to make their own sacrifices.