By Makpa Malla
In 2009, while addressing the parliament of Ghana during his visit to the West African nation, the former president of the United States, Barack Obama, said “…Africa doesn’t need strong men; it needs strong institutions.” It is without doubt that successful and peak performing governments are those run through abiding systems and viable institutions.
Economic prosperity and civic obedience can only be ensured through strong, functional and predictable institutions.
Actions and outcomes of government should be easily predictable by pundits and ordinary citizens alike because of the existence of deliberately laid down frameworks for the formation, control and implementation of public policies.
Loosely explained, institutions and systems are those formal and informal rules, norms and practices that organise social, political and economic relations in any society; communities, sub-nationals (states) or a whole nation-state.
Simply put, they are laws, and the organized frameworks for ensuring these laws are fully adhered to by all. It entails the Rule of Law and the Rulership by Law. It is supremacy of the law over and above all and equality before the law whatever your standing in society. Our society and all its ramifications are created and sustained by Law: the political system, the economic system, the health system, the education system, traditional institutions, local government system, justice delivery, the Civil service etc; are creations of laws and the extent of their functions defined by these laws.
Leadership ought to be an intentional and well informed venture with just a minimal number of acts left to inevitable spontaneity. A great leader would always be that one at the helm of affairs who is deliberate enough to initiate and sustain processes leading up to the entrenchment of rock-solid systems that would be larger and stronger than any group or person despite their power of demagoguery and larger-than-life image.
We see this play out recently as Donald Trump’s huge public image and inordinate demagoguery was tamed by viable institutions and systems way beyond him. This tells us the inestimable value of functional institutions to tame the tides of looming crisis at any given time and in any given society, especially, societies like ours that are generally weakened and in dire need of strengthening.
Nasarawa State has been blessed with a Chief Executive in the person of His Excellency Engr Abdullahi A Sule who’s action-matched-rhetorics have over the past one and a half years pointed and still point to one direction; a firm resolve to establish, strengthen and invigorate In a sustainable manner viable institutions and systems that would be stronger than any one individual or group, as the surest path to good governance and economic prosperity for all.
Shortly after taking his oath of office, Engr Sule moved swiftly at reforming, repositioning and strengthening the State’s Civil service, and institution best described as the fulcrum of government because it is the one responsible for the daily implementation of government’s policies and lubricating the wheels of service delivery.
Pundits have argued that the sizes of governments at different levels across the country are over-bloated, which has been responsible for the unduly and increasingly enlarged recurrent expenditure of governments with the consequent negative impact on progressively reduced capital expenditures. Recurrent expenditure impacts a few persons positively while capital expenditure ordinarily impacts majority of the population.
Reforms brought in through the recommendations proffered by the Committee on Civil Service Reforms constituted by His Excellency in 2019 saw the readjustement and realignment of some ministries and departments. The positive impact of these readjustements can best be seen in the government’s budget for the present year 2021, with capital expenditure climbing pretty higher, something of a novel kind in the State.
What this entails is that more cash has been freed and channeled to programs and projects of wider and more direct impact on the population.
Indeed, Nasarawa State needs strongly viable institutions to be able to deliver sustainable and enduring legacies of sound and functional governance to the people and time and time again, H.E. Engr Sule never minced words in highlighting this need, without a tinge of equivocation. In this area, Engr Sule can safely be scored pretty high.
The pathway to attaining strong institutions or what I would love to refer to as ‘S.I.’, always begins with the enactment of legal instruments followed by establishing standards for their implementation all towards ensuring fluidity in the discharge of governmental responsibilities. This administration has been up and active on this score.
The State’s legislature has been bombarded with a plethora of very critical Executive bills over year ranging from bills on probity in public procurement to health systems strengthening; from ensuring ease of doing business to investment promotion; from involvement of the traditional institution in matters of security to uplifting educational standards; from forging a path towards accountability at the local government level to enhancing strongly effective justice delivery at various segments and in various needs of the Judiciary; from engaging young persons in the public sphere to empowering and promoting sports. The list is endless.
In these regards, we have witnessed in the last months, some teeth-biting measures upheld by the administration in cautioning key personnel at local governments on matters bothering on financial prudence.
The indefinite suspension of DFAs oending investigation, the ongoing enquiry into the activities of council chairmen and the state government’s intervention in settling certain financial responsibilities which are autonomously those of the LGs such as local government pensions; are cases in point.
It is no longer news that the education sector sector gulped the largest sectoral allocation in the State’s 2021 budget with an amount way beyond the United Nation’s recommended minimum benchmark of 26% of a total budget. This is so telling on the value Engr. Sule places on education and human capacity enhancement. Feelers have it that a Medical University and a Federal College education for the state are both very close to the edge of the pipeline.
The establishment and take off of the Nasarawa Investment Development Agency, the Nasarawa State Bureau of Public Procurement and the State’s infectious diseases Centre in addition to strengthening already existing public institutions lay credence to the positive policy direction of this government.
The recently reformed style of appointmenting Permanent Secretaries via rigorous screaming to bring out the cream from amongst them, arguably the engine room of their various ministries and departments and the prompt payment of workers’ emoluments further presents the government as well informed and focused on strengthening the entire gamut of the civil service and having a welfarist posture with regards to the welfare of workers.
Alot more is left to be said about the positive and people-centric actions of the Engr Sule led administration in ensuring a systemically functional and vigorous state for all. It is without doubt that the strides of His Excellency so far holds true the timeless and invaluable saying that; ‘it is impossible to foretell the future but each step of the way ultimately heads up to the future we desire, whether good or bad.’ This is what it means to be a visionary and progressively, Engr Abdullahi A. Sule continues to express to all that he is a visionary leader.
Malla writes in from Wamba, Nasarawa State.