President Goodluck Jonathan
Determined to improve the level of performance at the level of governance, President Goodluck Jonathan, last week, devised what has come to be known as performance contract with his ministers. But will this be of any significant consequence? Muhammad Bello,in Abuja, asks
Over the years, there had been intense pressure on successive administrations in the country to neutralise corruption and make the business of governance a transparent and accountable enterprise. But this had met with a lot of stumbling blocks from those within the system who have elevated the menace to the realm of an enduring mega money spinner.
The so-called establishmentarians are said to believe in the notion championed by some conventional economists of dubious persuasion that corruption breeds efficiency. Thus, they coined various clichés and phrases to institutionalise the malevolent scheme of fleecing the government and people of the country to such a level that nothing works unless there are quid pro quo considerations aimed at facilitating the delivery of service or projects.
Unfortunately, these had negatively impacted on the image of the country, especially in the international arena. Many top global players who have genuine business interests in the country have refused to come close while the few who did merely took advantage of the situation to feather their own nests. Despite this, the need to rid the polity of corruption had become inevitable.
Having reached a deafening crescendo, President Goodluck Jonathan, last week, embraced a major policy initiative in this direction. Although, there are a number of such efforts, many of them are sheer duplication of responsibilities and of course, waste of resources in the resolve to curtail corruption.
Jonathan, therefore, decided that the key factors in combating the problem are the prominent executors of government projects and services and the fixing of cornerstones that would make review of what is being done by government easy.
Consequently, the Jonathan government adopted and promoted the global concepts of ‘participation’ and ‘monitoring’ as the standards for benchmarking budgets and reviewing performance. And like all efforts made by government to tackle corruption, the Performance Contracting System (PCS) soon met with silent resistance, possibly aimed at quashing it before it was born.
The President who noticed this went ahead last week to affirm a second bond between him and members of his cabinets including permanent secretaries and some other key government officials. Ab initio, all the signatories to the PCS bond had in conforming with the requirement of the Oath Act of 1990 sworn an Oath of Secrecy to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” to faithfully execute their offices, serve the country and conceal from any person not qualified by law to know what is brought under his consideration.
Under the PCS oath, which is intended to upgrade contract performance by improving quality and accelerated delivery of services to the citizenry through enhanced productivity, and accountability to identify the key benefits to be delivered to the citizens; the results of such benefits and the physical projects that would be put in place to make the realisation of the goals possible.
Before signing the contract performance, there were speculations over its purpose and directions. There were even insinuations that the PCS proposed by the federal government lacks focus and direction and was only made to witch-hunt some powerful people within the system.
But Jonathan was quick to dispel the ill-informed notions. According to him, the bond will focus on people-oriented representation at all levels of government in the country in order to engender accountability, productivity, transparency and focused adherence to service delivery to all manner of people in the country.
The bulk of those that will facilitate its smooth operation, the president observed, will include himself and all senior civil servants, advisers and other ancillary staff attached to these office holders.
Specifically, these include ministers, their permanent secretaries and other Directors in the respective ministries and parastatals. The President noted that his administration had no intention to witch-hunt anyone for any reason, and criticised all the side-talks about the exercise and dismissed them as having no basis at all. Instead, he explained that government’s intention is to upgrade the quality and quantity of service that Nigerians get from the entire government machinery.
The purpose of this, he pointed out, will be to improve physical infrastructure, human capital, the real sector and good governance for Nigerians by the year 2015.
“It is my earnest expectation that this process will provide the missing link between planning and budgetary allocation to MDAs by providing a basis for performance-based budgeting that will tie their allocation to their capacity to deliver on the agreed mandate based on clear, concrete and objective results for the citizens of Nigeria. It will also strongly support evidence-based decision making, by policy makers and implementers.”
Jonathan explained that “at the heart of our objective is the Nigerian citizen with whom we have a pact. Let me therefore reiterate this Administration’s commitment to delivering on those promises of a better present and a greater future.
“We have set for ourselves, a tough task and there is no going back. Nigerians expect a better deal from Government and that is what they shall get under my watch. And that is what each and every one of you must see as your primary goal.”
The MDAs, under the general arrangement is meant to develop detailed and documented strategies and operational plans to guide the implementation of the KPIs in the next three years.
These notwithstanding, some Nigerians are still skeptical about the viability of this undertaking. For instance, Mallam Mukhtar Abba Sayyadi, said both the PCS and the KPIs are bogus terms made up by the government to overwhelm Nigerians with grammar while there is no concrete effort to really perform effectively in the key sectors that affect human lives.
That, however, does not change the fact that an initiative designed to enhance performance level has been introduced by the Jonathan administration even as everyone looks ahead for a much anticipated result.
“You can imagine the agony we go through everyday without steady supply of electricity, portable water, roads and other indignities. Yet everyday government comes up with some fancy ideas which it cannot itself explain very well to the satisfaction of the citizenry,” Sayyadi said.
Another Nigerian Obi Ezenwa, was more optimistic. According to him, “no effort is small or too much. If the government feels that a lawful contractual bond that will make government officials work well is not producing the desired result, then it reserves the right to come up with something workable and acceptable.”
The consensus among broad level of stakeholders contacted is that the Federal Government, no matter what it deems fit, must solve the myriads of problems bedeviling Nigerians.
The citizens believe that the currency they expended on putting the government in place must never be squandered.