Public administration reform and strategic plan for Nigeria (2)
FURTHERMORE, lack of engagement with critical stakeholders of the society is political suicide. There is the need to engage with critical sectors such as civil society, labour and the private sector. Moreover, poor co-ordination of government activities and poor monitoring and evaluation can lead to failure of a government.
The APC has come to power to implement a change agenda. Nigerians are anxiously waiting for that change. It is necessary to carefully craft the change agenda in the four key areas of economy, politics, social and technological in a comprehensive strategic plan. The economic agenda should address the issues of structures and institutions of economic management; diversification of the economy; inclusive growth; promotion of transparency and accountability and promotion of pro-poor policies (Policies that will lead to good macroeconomic environment, improve access to financial services, improve governance and increase access of the poor to basic infrastructures and social services). The political agenda should address the building of institutions and mechanisms; review of the 1999 Constitution; institutions of horizontal accountability; reform of the Electoral system; building of democratic culture; regulation of party financing and campaign finance and reform of INEC. There should also be a social agenda because over the years the social fabric of the Nigerian society has been destroyed. A lot of people become wealthy overnight without questions about the sources of the wealth. People who embezzle public funds are rewarded by their communities with chieftaincy titles. There is brazen display of wealth in the midst of widespread poverty. The extended family system is being destroyed. The get rich quick syndrome has caught up with a great number of the population. The social agenda should focus on re-orientation on social values; re-orientation on work ethics and corporate social responsibility and investment. The technological agenda should focus on building of technology infrastructure and use of technology to promote transparency and accountability.
The only way to do this is to produce a new strategic plan for the country. The new strategic plan should incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDN). It will also be a process to engage Nigerians in the change process. There is also the need to train the elected party officials on party philosophy and programmes. In addition, the regime must have an immediate plan for co-ordination among the three tiers of government and amongst the government agencies. In the past, some form of co-ordination only took place in the economic sector. There is the need to divide the whole governance structures into four coordinating units: Finance and Economy; Social Services; Infrastructure, Science and Technology and Governance. Luckily, the public service has already been divided along those four lines. Finance and Economy will encompass Finance, Industry, Trade and Investment, Budget Office, Office of Accountant General, Office of Auditor General. Social services will include Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Education, Health, Sports, Women Affairs and Social Development, Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Police, Youth. Infrastructure, Science and Technology will be made up of Communication, Science and Technology, Environment, Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Power, Water, Transport, Niger Delta, Petroleum and Agriculture. Governance will include the State House, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Head of Service (HOS), Defence, Foreign Affairs, Information, Interior, Justice, Labour and Productivity.
The development of a strategic plan for the country will serve a lot of useful purposes. It will help to craft a clear vision and mission for the new administration. The process should be participatory so that it will ensure ownership of the strategy by citizens of the country. The strategy should integrate the nation’s major goals, policies and action into a cohesive whole. It will help to marshal and allocate the country’s resources and create a sense of politics, purpose and priorities. In addition, it will also help the country to define the best future for its citizens and provide the strategic direction to reach that future. Furthermore, it will provide guidance on what needs to be done to change and reposition the country. Finally, it will provide a monitoring and evaluation framework for measurement of performance.
As Ministers are screened and approved by Senate, it is important to immediately start the process of formulating a strategic plan for the country that will incorporate comprehensive Public Administration Reform. In this regard, it is important for the government to sequence its actions. Part of the reasons why there is a lot of opposition to the ministerial nominees is the timing. It is probable that if this same list of nominees was released a week after inauguration, it would have been hailed by Nigerians. The response to the list was influenced by three main factors. First, the period of wait afforded political gladiators a lot of opportunity to lobby for their candidates. In the process, efforts were made to discredit other possible candidates. Secondly, the narratives before the announcement gave the impression that the list will contain names completely different from those who we already know. Thirdly, the waiting game until the very last day of September 2015 reached an anti-climax. The fact that the list did not get to the Senate before the close of business did not help matters. Going forward, the government of President Buhari must learn to sequence its actions in a strategic manner. For instance, it should not wait till the end of screening before releasing the names of Special Advisers to the President and the Economic Team. The government should not any longer before outlining the process of development of Strategic Plan for the country. It should not wait any longer before giving an indication of how the economic team will look like. Finally, government should not wait any longer before giving an outline of the comprehensive Public Administration Reform that the government will embark upon.
Nigerians desire change. Nigerians voted for change. The PMB administration has promised change. It is now time to concretise the change in a national strategic plan and comprehensive reform of Public Administration and other institutions in Nigeria.
•Igbuzor, PhD, is Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development Centre.
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