…’Waste money’, says activist
… Presidency lists progress
The president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.), inaugurated at least 10 committees and councils in 2022 to push various agendas of his government, the punch has learned.
The committees span various sectors, including education, health, security, the digital economy, and the civil service.
Further analysis revealed that the total cost of running key presidential committees since 2018 came to N14.97bn.
Distributed over the last five years, the government earmarks an average of N2.94bn in presidential committees annually.
Furthermore, the amount allocated to these committees in the 2023 budget proposal now stands at N3.73bn.
In September 2022, the president launched an 11-member presidential committee on the national economy. Buhari said that although the Nigerian economy has maintained an upward trajectory despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, the country’s poor performance in resource mobilization remains a cause for concern.
Hence the need for a committee that, among other things, designs and coordinates systems for stronger internal resource mobilization.
In early August, Buhari inaugurated the Presidential Steering Committee on reviewing the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System, the Treasury Single Account and the Government’s Integrated Financial Management System for irregularities.
The committee is chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Ali Pantami.
On September 6, eight months after the confrontation between the Federal Government and members of the Union of Academic Staff of Universities, the president revealed that he had created a committee to consider ASUU’s demands.
The committee chaired by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, consists of four Pro-Foreign Ministers and four Vice-Foreign Ministers.
Later that month, Buhari launched the National Council on Climate Change in Abuja on Wednesday, shortly before the Federal Executive Council meeting.
Ordering Federation Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami to initiate a new amendment to the Climate Change Act 2021, he said the Council will formulate appropriate policies to achieve green growth and sustainable economic development for Nigeria.
A month earlier, on August 16, 2022, Buhari launched the Nigeria End Malaria Council in line with the African Union Assembly Declaration for the establishment of EMC across the continent.
He also appointed Grupo Dangote President Aliko Dangote as Chairman of the 16-member Council, arguing that the successful implementation of the Council’s agenda will lead to savings for N2tn over the next eight years.
Hosting the Nigerian Senior Civil Servants Association Central Working Committee at Government House on 19 August, Buhari revealed that he had set up a committee chaired by Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed to harmonize salaries across the Public service.
Perhaps the committee with the most members created by the president in 2022 was the 27-person Presidential Council on the Digital Economy and Electronic Government.
Chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Pantami, it is also made up of the Secretary of the Federation’s Government, Boss Mustapha; the Governor of Gombe State, Muhammad Yahaya; the governor of the state of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai; the Governor of the State of Nasarawa, Abdullahi Sule; the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma; Among others.
In July, the President approved the reconstitution of the membership of the governing body of the National Anti-Doping Committee, to extend its administration until 2026.
Its members include Prof. Kenneth Anugweje, Dr. Femi Ayorinde, Emmanuel Omuku, Dr. Godfrey Odigie, Mainasara Ilo, Dr. Akinlotan Olusegun, Omolewa Aduke, a NAFDAC representative and Ms. Fadeke, who is the Director Executive of the Anti-Doping Unit/Secretary.
In February, the President launched the President’s Committee for the Repatriation, Return and Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons in North East Nigeria.
He said the committee will develop a concise three-year action plan to incorporate plans at the national and state levels, providing a clear path for restoring peace and development in the Northeast.
To keep the presidential committees running, the federal government has earmarked as much as N14.97 billion for sitting allowances and other remuneration for committee members since 2018.
In 2018, the Office of the Secretary of Government of the Federation that oversees the functioning of the committees allocated N2.13bn.
These include N1.73bn for Political Officers and Standing Committees, N6m for the organization of the presidential standing committee on private jetties and other investigative activities of the special duties office, N187.95m for the presidential standing committee on inventions and innovations, and N20m for the Presidential Standing Committee on Private Jetties.
Others include N8.06m for the presidential committee on barracks rehabilitation, N200m for the presidential advisory committee, N342.12m for the presidential technical committee on land reforms, and N3m for the organization of the presidential advisory committee on the prerogative of mercy activities.
In 2019, OSGF earmarked N2.5bn for committees.
These include N1.73bn for Political Officers and Standing Committees, N6.6m for the presidential standing committee on private jetties and other investigative activities of the special duties office and N168.62m for the presidential standing committee on inventions and innovations and N20m for the chairman standing committee on private piers.
Others include N6.52 million for the establishment of the presidential committee on e-government, N8.06 million for the presidential advisory committee, and N69.62 million for the presidential technical committee on land reforms. N3m for the organization of the presidential standing committee on private jetties and other investigative activities of the office of special duties and N2m for the organization of the presidential advisory committee on the prerogative of leniency and N500m to lead the presidential advice favorable to business environment.
In 2020, OSGF earmarked N1.84bn for committee management. The breakdown is as follows: 1.19 billion naira for political officials and standing committees, 30.98 million naira for the presidential standing committee on private jetties and other investigative activities of the special duties office, and 70.72 million naira for the Presidential Standing Committee on Inventions and Innovations.
Others include N6.52m for the establishment of the presidential committee on e-government, N5.51m for the presidential advisory committee, N47.63m for the presidential technical committee on land reforms, N3m for the organization of the presidential advisory committee on the prerogative of mercy, and N500m to run the presidential advice for business conducive environment.
In 2021, OSGF earmarked N5.01bn for committees.
A breakdown by the punch revealed that N1.92bn were allocated for Political Officers and Standing Committees, N58.49m for the presidential standing committee on private jetties and other special duties office investigative activities, N164.94m for the presidential standing committee on inventions and innovations and N50m for the Presidential Standing Committee on Private Jetties.
Others include N6.52 million for the establishment of the presidential committee on e-government, N5.51 million for the presidential advisory committee, N162.31 million for the presidential technical committee on land reforms, N3.01 million for the organization of the presidential advisory committee on the prerogative of mercy and N1bn to lead the pro-business environment presidential council.
In 2022, the OSGF budgeted $3.22 billion for committees. These include N1.93bn allocated for political officials and standing committees, N50m for the presidential standing committee on private jetties and N100m for the presidential standing committee on inventions and innovations.
Others are N8.06m for the presidential advisory committee, N142.97m for the presidential technical committee on land reforms, N2m for the presidential advisory committee on the prerogative of leniency, and N1bn to lead the presidential council on conducive business environment.
In 2023, the Presidency budgeted N3.730 million for Political Officers and Standing Committees, the Presidential Standing Committee on Private Jetties and the Presidential Standing Committee on Inventions and Innovations.
The rest include the Presidential Advisory Committee, the Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reforms, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Leniency, and the Presidential Council on Business Enabling Environment.
But in an interview with our correspondent, a sociopolitical activist and leader of the Concerned Nigerians advocacy group, described the spending as “wasted money.”
Citing the committee established by the president in December 2020 to review an investigation into a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, Adeyanju said the committees are ineffective in carrying out their mandate.
He said: “It is food for children. This is political patronage because none of the committees he has created since he took office have led to anything significant. Whether it is to improve the economy, improve social values or issues related to even politics, none of them have been able to come up with anything substantial.
“There is always this change of policy. I will give you an example of the committee created to investigate the former president of the EFCC. You will find that even the committee itself when the report came in, there was a somersault in the politics of the various branches of government.
“It was like the committee didn’t understand their Terms of Reference. So that’s money down the drain on a committee and various other committees like that.”
When contacted by our correspondent, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu did not comment on the matter.
However, in its seven-year scorecard for the Buhari regime, the Presidency argued that the Presidential Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee has helped anti-corruption agencies come up with clearer strategies to obtain the forfeiture of assets suspected of having been acquired. fraudulently, mainly from state coffers, before prosecuting the alleged culprits.
Citing the regime’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said: “The Economic Sustainability Committee chaired by Vice President Osinbajo produced an Economic Sustainability Plan which is credited with helping Nigeria emerge from the Covid-induced recession faster. than expected.”