By Ismaila Uba Misilli
Truth be told, you cannot eat your cake and have it; good governance and high cost of governance are and will remain mutually exclusive as far as Nigeria is concerned.
As global economics have continued to face uncertainties and persistent fluctuations, most financial maestros in Nigeria have advocated the need for governments at all levels to cut the cost of governance to reflect the present day realities.
Many Nigerians and good governance promoters over the years have been advocating for reduction of cost of running government activities in order to make more funds available for development and other impactful programmes that are of great benefit to the citizenry.
Speaking truth to reality, the cost of governance in the country is huge but only a selfless and determined leader with the political will can go beyond lip service to shoot down the high cost of governance for the benefit of the people.
Gov Inuwa promised Gombites CHANGE and as we all know, change anywhere in the world comes with adjustments and costs especially when the resources are either meagre or not quite available in the required proportion. The cost must not all be on the people else it sours good governance after all the verdict of good governance lies with the people.
Knowing this, Gov. Inuwa has over the last few months deprived himself of some comforts and rights that befit the status of Chief Executive Officer of a state all for the comfort of his people; this is true leadership at its best.
With his pedigree as a prudent manager of resources and a strong with zero tolerance for financial recklessness; it is therefore not surprising that the governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammadu InuwaYahaya has taken the bold steps to instil fiscal discipline while reducing cost of governance with a view to executing more life changing programmes and policies in the face of scarce resources and dwindling revenues in the state.
A combination of accountability, transparency and prudence have been judged by many as the best recipe for trust in any democratic milieu and Governor Inuwa Yahaya, whose integrity in this regard has never been in short supply has extended the gesture to his administration by inculcating financial discipline, blocking leakages and avoiding wasteful as well as frivolous spending of state resources.
The exemplary governor is consciously changing the administrative orientation and perception of his appointees towards having the mind-set that public office is a public trust not an avenue to amass wealth or live large.
Some of the fiscal adjustments of Governor Inuwa Yahaya’s administration to reduce cost of governance include;
Changing the tradition of Renovating Government House each time there’s a Change of Administration to Meet the Taste of the New Governor:
The governor, in his characteristic manner of prudence and accountability, feels spending huge funds on unnecessary renovation is uncalled for when Gombe state is battling with huge debts and low Internally Generated Revenue, even though a lot of facilities in the Government House were left neglected and decayed by the immediate past administration.
On coming to power, one of the first steps taken by Governor Yahaya was to recover government properties and assets improperly sold off like perishable goods to Government officials and political appointees by the immediate past administration at the twilight of their tenure.
Many observers see the recovery of assets from previous political appointees as a deliberate move to reduce cost of governance.
Imagine the millions of naira the state government would have used to purchase new vehicles and others, if Governor Inuwa Yahaya fails to take decisive actions to recover some of the disposed property which included SUVs and other exotic vehicles.
Civil Service Reform/Restructuring:
Gombe State Governor has trimmed down Ministries from 27 to 21. This is in line with the administration’s fiscal agenda of reducing overhead cost, avoiding overlap of functions and ensuring sustainability of government businesses, fostering efficiency and effectiveness.
Reduced Cabinet Size:
Another way the governor is reducing cost of governance is through having a compact and not over-bloated cabinet. Governor InuwaYahaya nominated 18 Commissioners, appointed seven Special Advisers and few other aides. So far, the appointees working directly with His Excellency are not up to 50, which is far less than the norm of the immediate past administration in that regard.
Looking at the positions, one will have no iota of doubt that the governor’s appointments are based on the necessity and value addition to his administration, and not the style of making appointments for mere political patronage or reward for ‘loyalty’ against competence.
Usage of Inherited/recovered Vehicles:
The Governor, Deputy Governor and majority of political appointees are still using vehicles inherited from previous administrations.
For instance, Governor Inuwa is still using a 16-year-old (four administrations) convoy left by ex-Governor Danjuma Goje both in Gombe and Abuja. For Governor Inuwa, the financial prudence crusade is a “Top-to-bottom approach” as he is living by example; always marching words with action.
Refurbishment of abandoned fire fighting engines and utility vehicles:
Recently, the state Governor granted approval for the refurbishment of fire fighting engines and utility vehicles abandoned by previous administration for the usage of fire service operations in the state and Office of the deputy governor respectively. It is a known fact that cost of refurbishing the 10 vehicles cannot be compared to purchasing even one new one.
No Charter Flight:
Since his swearing-in as Governor, InuwaYahaya has silently introduced no charter flight policy as he always patronises public airlines like any other private citizens.
This has drastically reduced travel expenses of the governor and his entourage. Apart from that, the governor only travels outside the state when absolutely necessary and in pursuit of life changing partnership and prosperity for the people of Gombe state.
Maintaining Lean Entourage:
The entourage of Governor InuwaYahaya outside the state is usually small and role-based vis-a-vis the trips. Therefore, only people that will carry assigned and relevant functions do accompany His Excellency. No wonder, all the Governor’s trips, especially to Abuja are yielding positive fruits already; after all good deals are struck by professionals.
No Political Jamboree:
The Governor is known for avoiding jamboree during Government events and activities. Recall that the Governor recently marked his 100 days in office but instead of the funfair and elaborate ceremonies associated with the event, as seen in other states and as witnessed during the era of the immediate past administration, Governor Yahaya decided to organize a special prayer session to seek Allah’s continued guidance and blessings. He also hosted a media chat to give account of his stewardship so far.
Although, the style of Governor Inuwa Yahaya has been attracting mixed feelings, especially from the proponents of old order, but in reality this is the best way to go if we want to grow and prosper as a society. People must support the financial cautiousness of His Excellency for us to get the desired change.
We might not get the desired change by sticking with the old order of running government. This approach will help government accrue more funds for development, deliver dividends of democracy and take our dear state to the path of greatness.
Governor Inuwa always has at the back of his mind that, discipline serves as the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Before one or Government starts setting financial goals, there needs to be a determination of where he or the state stands financially. Any good business person or manager of resources applies financial discipline to everything they do. This is the disposition and character of Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya.
The old order is nothing but corruption and insecurity of purpose. It is often said, when you challenge the order or try to fight corruption, it will certainly fight back. In all, one thing is needful; the people must stand by the decisions of Gov. Inuwa because he has shown immeasurable will to fight the order that had impoverished Gombe State to a level whereby the people were relegated to the back door when a microscopic few carted away the wealth of the state in the name of governance.
Gov. Inuwa ‘gida gida’ means well and please don’t be deceived when the corrupt people who are being run out of their political business brings the hands of Esau but the voice of Jacob because in Gov. Inuwa we trust and the old order must CHANGE.
Misilli is Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to Gombe State Governor.