Joda’s recommendations: Buhari to save billions for slashing ministries to 19


Ahmed Joda

IF President Muhammadu Buhari finally implements the recommendation of Ahmed Joda-led Transition Committee which prescribes the appointment of 19 senior ministers and 17 ministers of state, the government would have saved more than N1 billion in the next four years.

In keeping with austerity measures anticipated by Buhari government, the 800-page report recommended that Buhari should enlist a total of 36 ministers comprising 19 senior ministers and 17 ministers of state in fulfillment of the constitutional requirement of one minister per state.

Nigeria’s constitution requires the President to appoint at least one minister each from the 36 states of the federation. Traditionally, additional six ministers are appointed from each of the six geo-political zones.

Compared to the previous administrations starting from 1999 which appointed 42 ministers, most of them senior ministers, Buhari government will prune down the number by 14 per cent, and save more than N1billion in four years if Joda’s proposal is adopted.

According to the remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders as prepared by Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) as from 2007 till date, the total salaries of 42 ministers in four years is N5.4 billion, with a senior minister drawing not less than N129 million in four years while a minister for state will earn N124 million within the same period.

This amount does not include the allocation of N30, 000 per night for duty tour and $900 (N207000) estacode per night as well as medical allowance for each minister.

With 36 ministers proposed by Joda’s led committee, however, the new government instead will need to pay N4.5 billion in salaries and allowances and save more than 16 per cent of the budget for minister salaries.

According to the World Bank report of 2013, it cost about $7000 to build a classroom in Africa; with N1 billion therefore, Nigeria could construct 621 new classrooms for students – an average of 17 classrooms per state. The same amount can procure more 600, 000 bags of 25kg fertilizers for farmers.

The Joda Transition Committee submitted its report to Buhari on June 12. The report states: “There is no direct relationship between the number of ministries and efficacy of service delivery. The U.S. with a population of 316 million and with GDP of $17,328 trillion (30 times Nigeria’s GDP) has 15 ministries. India has 24 ministries, while the UK has 17.

“The current structure of the FGN with 28 ministries and 542 agencies (50 of which have no enabling laws) [results in] very high cost of governance. The portfolios of ministries are not responsive to all the major critical national challenges such as family and child affairs; religious affairs; vulnerable and elderly group affairs as well as the North-eastern crisis.

“There is an apparent conflict between the desire of reducing the cost of governance through cabinet downsize and the constitutional requirement of a cabinet-level ministerial appointment from each of the 36 states of the federation.”

If Joda’s recommendation is adopted most of the ministries will be reconstituted except the ministries of industry, trade and investment; education; defence; FCT; finance; labour and productivity; justice; foreign affairs and national planning.

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