A case for fiscal responsibility in governance

As it is globally acknowledged, the primary responsibility of government is to make life more abundant to those that are being led. Apart from the issue of security which is considered as very germane, those saddled with the responsibility of leading others must at all times ensure that they are prudent in the management and allocation of resources that have been placed at their disposal.

This presupposes that government officials must always mobilise and allocate both human and natural resources in a manner that would enhance the living condition of the people they serve progressively and sustainably.

As the economists would always argue, resources are usually scarce at any given point in time, efforts must be geared towards making sure that resourse allocation must be tailored to the needs of the people for whom they are meant to serve.

In furtherance to this, government as a form of ritual come up with an expenditure and earnings projections profile that encapsulates its fiscal and monetary policies within a given financial year. 

The document (budget) contains estimates of revenues that would accrue to the government within that fiscal year from all its revenue sources as well as how those in authority hope to allocate and deploy them to the various areas or sectors of the economy.

It also contains detailed framework with regards to timeline and the expected benefits to be derived from such fiscal efforts by the people from the government.

Though such documents are usually vetted by the legislature which is statutorily saddled with such responsibility, the document when passed becomes a law of the federation which must be strictly adhered to by the operators in the executive arm of government.

A critical appraisal of the Nigerian environment has shown that the ritual of budgeting has not in any been impactful to the people owing to several man made or institutional impediments that have continued to dog its path. 

It has however become the norm for the people to see their president visit the National Assembly annually to read his economic and budgetary intentions to members of the legislative arm and at the end of the day, nothing comes out of it to improve their lots.

To ensure that the budget meets its expected end, lots of things must be put in place to achieve this goal in Nigeria. Many of such entails institutional reforms as well as attitudinal approach in the governmental structure.

It must be noted that the progress and machinery of government is intricate and delicate hence the operators must ensure that, at all times, the people of the given territory where they operate must be carried along in the task of administering them.

Hence the budget should necessarily flow from the bottom to the top and the only way that can be would be to ensure the input of the populace in the design and operations of the budget document. When this is done, it would be easy for the people to take ownership of the document and its implementation.

Aside this, it is incumbent on government to prioritise its spendings without necessarily plunging the country or the government to undue debts. In doing this, some elements of budgetary provisions should be tinkered with to align with the objectives of serving the people.

All over the world, the emphasise now is to ensure that governmental structure becomes very lean with a view to freeing resources to meet the yearnings and expectations of the people. Added to this is the need for the federal government to make deliberate efforts at cutting down wastages by reducing the perks and privileges of officials.

A situation whereby officials will be living ostentatiously while the vast majority live in penury and want should be contained. Salaries and other benefits that officials enjoy must and should be reviewed in a manner that suggests that government is gradually being made to serve the people.

This is to make sure that those in the officialdom are not in any way insulated from the current reality that the common Nigerian faces on a daily basis. Those in government must and should be made to feel the pains of the average Nigerian and this will in turn help in their policy formulation and implementation process.

To make sure that the objective of a prosperous country is attained, the elite in government must cause to happen, the necessary changes in the system just as they must also make some personal sacrifices as patriots.

All aforementioned bring to the fore the office of the minister of finance and its control of the national economy. It takes a good sound and articulate mind to navigate through decades long quagmire with the will to effect change and foster a better economic mentality that is peculiar to our nation.

Nonetheless, it is the will to serve that makes change happen for which we can if so inclined give some kudos to the present minister of finance for being maverick enough to ride the storm.

For us to enjoy appropriate returns from managers of our economy, we should allow for the element of free hand to project and implement futuristic aptitude they may possess without the hurdles of ‘shout them down’ from those that know next to nothing of immediate challenges.

Without eulogising the incumbent minister of finance in a tough terrain of global economic hiccups, we should bide time and have the chance to chastise if he fails hoping we are positive thinkers that wish the best for our nation, Nigeria.

Bakare writes from Abuja via [email protected]