I was in a particular office at the federal secretariat a few years ago to solve a problem and just like in a normal public office, spent the whole day there as
things moved only in a slow motion. One lady secretary was only busy discussing and moving from one office to the other. At times, she entertained visitors
interested in purchasing the items that she was selling.
At about 1pm, she left to pick her children from school. She returned at a few minutes after 3 o’clock. A few minutes later, one of the staff gave her one
document to type and immediately the secretary flared up, rambling and ranting that she was already tired and asking why the work should not wait till the
following day. I certainly know of civil servants who go to work only once in a while.
I once lived in the same compound with a couple, both of whom are staff of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Except that we lived in the same compound,
one would have thought that they were still in the labour market. They hardly ever go to the office. Still within the same compound was another tenant who
returned from foreign posting in Sierra Leone late in 2006. Until he left the house late in 2009, the man was yet to be given any schedule. Every month end
however, he went to the bank to cash his salary. He even applied for and got an upward salary adjustment. Such examples abound especially in Abuja.
On the other hand, I know of some civil servants who never leave office until 7pm most days. If you visit their offices by 6pm, there is still frenzy as if the
day is just starting. They work hard as if it is the private sector they serve.
In the local governments, the story is the same. The honest truth is that there is hardly any work done in our council offices except shortly before and after
monthly allocations arrive from Abuja through the state capitals.
Take the Abuja Municipal Area Council for instance. Aside the huge monthly allocation from the Federation Account and FCT Administration, the council also
collects daily toll from thousands of commercial vehicles in addition to blockading roads and extorting money from company vehicles in the name of signage and
commodity fees. Despite this, I am yet to see roads being tarred or fixed or boreholes being sunk or primary schools being constructed or renovated by the
Surely, any concerned individual may be frustrated enough to suggest the scrapping of the councils and reducing the size of civil and public servants
significantly so that efforts will be concentrated on states and money saved from salaries and allowances to pursue developmental goals. However, the problems
and solutions with and to public accounts and governance in Nigeria go beyond this simplistic approach.
Discipline and reorientation away from ethnicity, nepotism, fraud, corruption and selfishness are some of the ways to solve the challenges.
In Nigeria, people hardly think about themselves or the personal wrongs that they wreak when proffering solutions. Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
has been accused of lopsidedness in appointments and employment since he got to the bank. Although some of them are glaring, the bank has continued to issue
denials and excuses and not made attempts to correct them. Others have complained about a house allegedly purchased by the bank for the governor. The National
Assembly accused the CBN of refusing to submit its budget for scrutiny. All we have heard from the CBN is that the nature of its work is such that its annual
spending cannot be predetermined like other public offices. Excuses!
At the budget defence session recently, members of the National Assembly lamented the wage structure for staff of Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory
Agency (PPPRA) indicating it spends N5.2 billion annually on less than 250 staff. Members of staff of the agency and its management also share the 15 kobo it
collects on every litre of petrol among them. Considering that Nigerians are said to use about 35 million litres of petrol daily, this extra amount is certainly
Recently, the Nuhu Ribadu Committee, which probed how much Nigeria is being owed from the petroleum industry, announced that the country may have lost $29
billion due to what appeared to be lower-than-usual prices for gas sales to NLNG, whose shareholders include Shell, Total, ENI and state oil firm NNPC; more
than $6 billion per year due to crude theft; $4.6 billion due to price discrepancies in domestic crude sales; $3.03 billion in unpaid royalties; $947 million
from gas produced from a Shell offshore field; $560 million in unpaid signature bonuses among others.
Also, an ad-hoc committee set up by the house of Representatives early in the year to probe infraction in the fuel subsidy regime reported that
N1,067,040,456,171.31( N1.06 trillion) was stolen from treasury in 2011 alone. And ditto for the management of the Police Pension Scheme. A permanent secretary
kept N2 billion in the roof of his house as part of the trillions stolen by various officials including some Heads of Service.
At the National Assembly, members of the Senate are said to earn an extra N65 million or so every quarter in addition to their legitimate income, while members
of the House of Reps are alleged to collect in the neighbourhood of N45 million! There other forms of security vote amounting to over N5 billion per annum by
In mid 2012, the House of Reps commenced the probe of an illegal diversion of N155 billion public funds to Malabu Oil and Gas.
In the past few years, it has become the pastime of many state governments to construct airports, purchase aircrafts and generally embark on projects that have
little relevance to the improvement in the welfare of their citizens. A current national controversy involve the plan by President Goodluck Jonathan to spend
over N2 billion on the construction of another banquet hall within the Presidential Villa.
Certainly, money being wasted on these while elephant projects could well be devoted to improving the quality of lives of Nigerians.