Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ministers without portfolios counterproductive, by Edozie Okeiyi

I have watched the ongoing argument on Ministers without Portfolios. I am neither for or against either option. However, there are pertinent questions to ask. First, the proposed Ministers without portfolios, are they going to be paid salaries and allowances? If yes, then it amounts to needless waste of public funds, to pay Ministers, without assigning portfolios to them. Mere attendance of Federal Executive Council Meetings, may not sufficiently justify the wages incurred as a result. If they are going to be paid, then, they should be given portfolios. On the other hand, if the proposed Ministers without Portfolios won’t be paid salaries and allowances, then it would amount to abuse of individuals, to engage their services and time, without paying them. It won’t be fair and ethical to do this. Ministers ought to be paid as may be determined by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission. Therefore, I consider this suggestion of having Ministers without portfolios as more of a window dressing, and ultimately, counterproductive. The major problem with our public sector is corrupt practices. Salaries, though recurrent, only represent marginal expenditure by the government. The Salary of Minister is not mind blowing. The challenge is how much a Minister may accumulate, outside his official wages, through corrupt practices. If all the Ministers are going to be above board, and take only their official wages, without touching public funds, I guarantee you, there won’t be problems. In conclusion, rather than appointing Ministers without portfolios, in order to save funds, the President should rather tighten up all the conduit pipes through which funds are siphoned. Whether you are addressing Civil Servants or Ministers, the issue has never been salaries. The problem has been the porous system that allows officials to easily siphon public funds.

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