NIGERIA'S DEAD-WEIGHT LOSSES
It is ironic to prefer a government employment and detest government services. Apparently, I want to work with the National Oil Company, but I definitely don’t want my child attending a government primary or secondary school. That shows the gulf between the effective allocations of resources. I have had the opportunity to meet with High school principals of government secondary schools in a race to raise funds for the tuition of their wards in privately owned institutions, let alone lecturers in public Universities sponsoring their wards in private institutions. Ironic I’d say again, but not so much in a country like mine, with its distinct peculiarities, or so we believe, we are the same in genes and composition the planet over, zilch scientific distinction whatsoever.
Focusing on the issue at hand, a deadweight loss (also known as excess burden or allocative inefficiency) in economics is a loss of economic efficiency that can occur when equilibrium for a good or service is not achieved or is not achievable. The federal government has been breeding a cycle of inefficiency for too long. The wage bill of the federal government entities is not in any way proportional to the output in terms of efficiency. N125BN to the Nigerian senate in the recently approved budget is a glaring example. I have had the opportunity to work both in the public and private sector, for the public sector, a high paying one and the modestly paid one and I can assure you the level of efficiency is equally the same, I currently ply my trade in the private sector where the level of efficiency is inversely proportional to the wages. It is understandable to pay regulators at par with whom they regulate, but has this approach deterred corruption in the sectors where this is practiced? You can read about the $9.5MN found in Uncle’s safe house and the Port Harcourt scented dollars found at the Ikoyi residence.
Eradicating inefficiency in the general sense is an aimless objective. An entity is bound to be inefficient when there is a lack of clear vision and desired end. Privately held organizations do better in this regard because of the clear and defined goals along with effective leadership. The desire to make profit drives efficiency to its maximum. Banks, Investment firms and most general businesses are in business to break even and eventually surpass operating income. The same cannot be said for government entities especially those with wage bills directly sourced from federation accounts. Allowances are doled out irrespective of the achievements, revenue targets are left unmet and in few instances, embezzled upon realization. In recent times, the government has been serving as a source of negative externality in the development of the nation. The vested interests of both the Senate and House of Representatives have somewhat caused an air of polarity among the populace. The President is away once again, for another ‘x’ period of time, a repeat of the six-week stint earlier in the year, but under different and uncertain circumstances. The first departure gave way to an acting president, while the second spell gave way to a coordinator-cum-acting president, a technicality interpreted by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is however glaring enough to see the difference under both guises of the power handed over to the Vice President, the first was swift and execution of duties were flawless, expedient and efficient, I think we can almost predict how the second absence will pan out or I may be totally wrong.
Apart from the inefficiencies perpetually bred at the government agencies including but not limited to early work closures, absenteeism and bold, brazen corruption, the execution of duties, especially those agencies with customer satisfaction mandates have totally conflicting objectives from the set goals. Processes are made longer than it should be; creating unnecessary bottlenecks that you will almost always have to pay your way out of.
A quick experience, as to how difficult it was to get my Nigerian Passport re-issued, after several calls to various authorities in the South West, I finally made the short trip to Akure, Ondo State, not only did I spend eight hours before I could get my Bio-metrics done, I was also forced to pick up the booklet with 64-pages, which I had no need for whatsoever, as regards the pricing, I wouldn’t bother to elaborate on how much of un-receipted extortion I was subjected to. The Nigerian Immigration Service refused to take the blame, pointing to the Central government as the culpable party in the passport booklet scarcity saga. The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria is another entity that is passively existent, in two days; I witnessed three brawls, several flight cancellations and numerous unruly behaviors, as heavy as the local and international operators are taxed, and leading to large amount of revenue, FAAN (Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria) is almost nonexistent in the daily handling of the airport and supervisory/ regulatory status bestowed upon them.
Again, listing all of these repetitive challenges becomes a boring overkill. We are continually plagued by the same challenges we have been facing for half a century. I am of a more recent generation, but those belonging to the last four to five decades have not entirely left a legacy behind. They have been a deadweight in terms of contribution, production and efficiency that adds to the bottom line of development, earning regulars with little input to overall development.
When the solution to a challenge seems too easy, it is probably because it is actually easy. In a country where there is an existing agency for everything, we continue to constitute committees to solve the same problems the agencies were created to solve. Duplicity of functions becomes commonplace. It is necessary to collapse numerous entities into a more compact and accountable, resourceful entity. NNPC has numerous Parastatals, with job functions mirroring one another, it will amaze you that these Parastatals also have their headquarters and different branches of operations, talk about overkill and revenue drain. The enormous cost of auditing numerous irrelevant entities is contributing to the overhead and re-current expenditures.
Rapid fire approach, as well as many fire brigade palliative measures has been employed to solve many of Nigeria’s challenges. Most of our solutions are usually short term. We have failed to break the cycle of decadence, I am not middle-aged yet but I have been exposed to so many irregularities, that am beginning to find it difficult to recognize the light at the end of the tunnel for the hope it stands for. Investing heavily in Education, I mean the education of the very young and unborn, and this has been proven to work because it’s been done before, the Peoples Republic of China spent majority of their resources on educating and re-orientating the younger generation and the payoff is outstanding and glaring for all to see, the rapid rate of development, infrastructure wise and technologically are payoffs of sound education.
I will keep penning down these thoughts until I don’t have to anymore.
Follow me on twitter @chasingpulitzer to read more about economic development, politics and socio-political commentary. My next article will broach on the subject of economic versus environmental justice and role of morals.