The outspoken economist, who has repeatedly complained about the cost of governance in the country, said with the fiscal crisis the country is facing and looking at where Nigeria is headed post-COVID-19 crisis, it had become imperative for Nigeria to ask fundamental questions about the structure of its federation.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by Emmanuel Chapel, with the theme, ‘Mitigation of the economic impact of COVID-19 and the path to recovery’, Sanusi said when he was the CBN governor and the price of oil was over $100 per barrel, the government at the time spent 80 per cent of its revenue on salaries and overheads. “Now, I’m sure that with the shortfall in revenues and where oil price is, after debt service, we probably have to borrow to pay salaries. We have got to look at that structure,” he added.
He stated further, “If you have a company and you have extremely high overheads and you need a high contribution margin to break even, you would be looking at how to reduce cost. So, we have a constitution that says we should have a president and a vice-president, we must have a minister from every state of the federation, whether or not it’s 36 ministries; we should have 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives.
“It also said we should have 36 governors, 36 deputy governors, each state with its House of Assembly and comprising many legislators, 774 local government chairmen, councillors, the personal assistants and special assistants (at all levels), staff members and vehicles.
“With these, you are already set up to be bankrupt. This is something I have been talking about for years. We need to ask ourselves; the structure that we have, does it leave us any option rather than to remain unsustainable over time? This is the kind of conversation we need to have as a country.
“Do we need a bicameral legislature; do we need close to 500 legislators in Abuja; do we need the hundreds of state legislators; what are they doing; do we need all these local government chairmen and councillors or do we need to look at that structure?”
At the event anchored by the founder/CEO, BFA Foundation, Olu Verheijen, Sanusi also said even if it wouldn’t reduce cost, government could increase productivity by redeploying personnel from the civil service where many people do administrative works to areas like education and health care.