FG kicks against proposed establishment of Youth Development Commission
•laments high cost of governance
Federal Government and other stakeholders on Thursday urged National Assembly to jettison ongoing plans for the establishment of more institutions in view of the present economic reality in Nigeria and coupled with its inability to cope with the huge cost of governance and impact of economic downturn.
The proposed bill is coming at a time when the present administration is working out modalities to implement the Presidential Committee on reform of government agencies headed by Orosonye’s report recommended the reduction of statutory agencies of government from 263 to 161.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare gave the charge in Abuja, during the public hearing on the bill which seeks to establish the National Youth Development Commission, held at the instance of the House Committee on Youths.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Ismail Abubakar also urged the National Assembly to enact laws that would strengthen the existing institutions and adequate funding rather than creating new ones.
Other stakeholders, who spoke against the bill, observed that there was no justification for this new agency as the action duplicates functions and policy summersault.
While noting that the functions of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are in conflict with the proposed Commission, hence noted that the proposed Commission “is completely at variance with the present administration‘s policy thrust of cutting expenditures on public Administration in favour of development projects.”
The Minister maintained that it “will not be healthy for the Ministry and the NYSC (one of the Parastatals of the same Ministry) in particular and the Nation at the moment owing to the economic reality in Nigeria today coupled with the inability of Federal Government to cope with the huge cost of governance in Nigeria presently because of the economic downturn or situation.
“Accordingly, this Ministry is of the view that the establishment of a new organization at this time when the government is planning to reduce the cost of governance through restructuring and rationalisation of establishments will be counter-productive. In other words, creating another body or organization to perform the functions and responsibilities of already existing statutory bodies will not be the best way to go, considering the number of resources that would be required for the Commission to take off.
“Creation of a new one: In any case, what should be done in the circumstance is to strengthen the existing department for better service delivery and or high performance, as the case may be.
In the same vein, The Advocates of Social Justice for All in its memoranda observed that the “proposed Bill, if passed into law as presently constituted or formulated, would automatically take away the functions and responsibilities of at least three Departments in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. The said Departments are Network and Social Mobilization Department; Education and Youth Development Department and Enterprises Development and Promotion Department.”
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The Agency maintained that “high cost of governance in Nigeria, which has become a disconcerting phenomenon and has been widely acknowledged by many both within and outside the corridors of power, is engaging our attention again for one inescapable reason: state actors at all levels in Nigeria do not seem to understand the importance of cutting the cost of governance at this time.
“The suffocating impact of the high cost of governance on our national life has made it assume a national emergency dimension. With this high cost of maintaining the bureaucracy, the country’s economic fortunes have recently been pronounced as uncertain, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgrading the growth prospects of the economy for 2018 and 2019.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, on his part, recently vowed, as always, to reduce the cost of governance in the country. The President promised to beam the searchlight on the cost of governance and weed out possible corruption that exists anywhere.
“The appropriate governance structure is one major issue that needs to be addressed in reducing the high cost of governance in Nigeria. Attitudinally, the government needs to convince the public that it is serious in reducing the cost of governance by changing its ways of incurring overheads.
“Though this applies to the three arms of government, it is particularly so for the executive branch, ‘which controls about 90% of all public expenditures. In this time of economic emergency, why are we advocating for a reduction in the cost of governance, yet the government is creating new ministries and thus increasing the recurrent expenditure?
“The National Assembly is not left out in this regard with the constant push for the establishment of more government agencies even without recourse to their functionality or relevance in addressing the myriads of challenges in the country.”
Speaking earlier, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who noted that Nigerian youths make up a significant majority of the country’s population argued that “all governing actions and policy priorities must ensure that our young people can dream big dreams and achieve grand ambitions.
This includes ensuring that they have access to quality education and training to develop the skills required in the modern economy.
In the bid to address the challenges facing the youth population, he stressed the need for government to “explore avenues for ensuring that young people have access to capital to innovate and build enterprises in every economic sector. That combination of quality education and access to capital can make all the difference in the lives of millions of young people in our country.
“The Bill we have come here to consider this morning is an effort by a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Simon Karu, to advance policy recommendations to establish a framework for coordinating a national strategy for promoting the social, economic and political advancement of our nation’s youth. Like all such Bills, it is a proposal that will be improved through thorough consideration and informed debate as it makes its way through the legislative process in the National Assembly.
“The purpose of this Public Hearing is to sample the opinions of stakeholders from across the country so that from the agglomeration of these multiple views, we might fashion a legislative approach that serves the best interests of our country. Therefore, all of us here today have a lot of work to do. I encourage you to do it well by ensuring that the contributions you make are informed and considerate, taking into account all the challenges we face in our country today as well as the opportunities that abound,” he noted.