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T H I S D AY • WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 2016

EDITORIAL A TIME FOR SHARED SACRIFICE

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The economic downturn offers a great opportunity to prune the cost of running government

n more than 25 states of the country today, salary arrears are mounting and so are pensions obligations. Basic services are no longer being provided while in a few states workers have taken to begging. With dwindling revenues from the sale of crude oil, no government (whether at the federal or state level) in Nigeria has taken the diversification of the economy beyond rhetoric. And with unrestrained official profligacy, many states and local governments are almost bankrupt while the federal government is finding it difficult to stay afloat. Yet even at a time like this, our public officers still allocate to themselves jumbo travelling allowances or estacodes while our legislators remain the highest paid in the world. Besides, after collecting allowances for vehicles, which are already monetised, federal legislators have also placed orders for the purchase of exotic cars. Perhaps because there is not much lawmaking going on, these same legislators have opted for the business of executing constituency projects and conducting public hearings on all matters, including the investigation of criminal offences and IF THE ORDINARY PEOPLE ON THE STREET the audit/probe of public accounts—jobs MUST SACRIFICE TO meant for the police KEEP THE COUNTRY AFLOAT, THOSE ELECTED and office of the auditor-general. OR APPOINTED TO There are several SERVE THEM CANNOT questions begging for CONTINUE TO LIVE IN answers in Nigeria OBSCENE OPULENCE today about the structure of government. With houses of assembly in all the 36 states, what is the justification for retaining the legislative council in each of the 774 local government councils and the six area councils in the FCT? Does democracy have to sack the treasury to serve the cause of freedom? Can a democratic polity led by an unproductive elite promote development? Where the laws and rules for the appropriation of public funds are made by the same people responsible

Letters to the Editor

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for the high cost of government, who will bring the system to order? But much more importantly, how long can the nation continue to sustain this gruelling rip-off at the expense of the poverty-stricken people of Nigeria? Up till now, no tier of government in the country has taken steps to reduce the expensive cost of running the public service. Over 70 per cent of the budget still goes for servicing our parasitic bureaucracy. No government has reviewed projects that constitute a drain on public treasury. To worsen matters, across the country today, there is no sign that we are going through tough times. Governors travel so regularly to Abuja and other places in private jets paid for from the treasury. Many of them still move around in long convoys while retaining hundreds of idle aides.

S T H I S DAY

EDITOR IJEOMA NWOGWUGWU DEPUTY EDITOR BOlAJI ADEBIYI MANAGING DIRECTOR ENIOlA BEllO DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR KAYODE KOMOlAfE CHAIRMAN EDITORIAL BOARD OlUSEGUN ADENIYI EDITOR NATION’S CAPITAL IYOBOSA UWUGIAREN

T H I S DAY N E W S PA P E R S L I M I T E D

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/CHAIRMAN NDUKA OBAIGBENA GROUP EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS ENIOlA BEllO, KAYODE KOMOlAfE, ISRAEl IWEGBU, EMMANUEl EfENI, IJEOMA NWOGWUGWU GROUP FINANCE DIRECTOR OlUfEMI ABOROWA DIVISIONAL DIRECTORS PETER IWEGBU, fIDElIS ElEMA, MBAYIlAN ANDOAKA, ANTHONY OGEDENGBE DEPUTY DIVISIONAL DIRECTOR OJOGUN VICTOR DANBOYI SNR. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR ERIC OJEH ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS HENRY NWACHOKOR, SAHEED ADEYEMO CONTROLLERS ABIMBOlA TAIWO, UCHENNA DIBIAGWU, NDUKA MOSERI GENERAL MANAGER PATRICK EIMIUHI GROUP HEAD fEMI TOlUfASHE ART DIRECTOR OCHI OGBUAKU II DIRECTOR, PRINTING PRODUCTION CHUKS ONWUDINJO TO SEND EMAIL: first name.surname@thisdaylive.com

ome ministers, senators and other public officers earn double or triple salaries while no state has reduced the scandalous pension package for ex-governors in terms of salaries for life, houses in the state capitals and Abuja, medical, vehicle and other allowances. At the federal level, some officers serve for four or five years and retire at less than 50 years of age in some agencies only to be paid an exit package of between N200 million and N500 million. Our austere president has retained the 11 planes inherited by him. Granted, democracy is expensive everywhere, but it is scandalously more so in our country due largely due to the personal aggrandisement and greed of the average Nigerian political office holder. However, against the background of dwindling oil prices that has in turn made the federal government to hike the price of petrol with the attendant implications for majority of Nigerians, should public officials at the state and federal levels still retain all their privileges? We believe there can be no better time than now to review the structure of government in Nigeria. If the ordinary people on the street must sacrifice to keep the country afloat, those elected or appointed to serve them cannot continue to live in obscene opulence.

TO OUR READERS Letters in response to specific publications in THISDAY should be brief (150-200 words) and straight to the point. Interested readers may send such letters along with their contact details to opinion@thisdaylive.com. We also welcome comments and opinions on topical local, national and international issues provided they are well-written and should also not be longer than (9501000 words). They should be sent to opinion@thisdaylive.com along with the email address and phone numbers of the writer.

INNOSON AS NIGERIA’S BRAND

eveloped countries of the world such as Germany, Sweden, USA, UK and many others are synonymous with the brand of vehicles they manufacture. This method of branding is perhaps the oldest, unacknowledged and unadvertised means of branding, yet it remains the most potent means of showcasing a country and its products. We can easily remember Germany as the source of Mercedes; Ford and Chevrolet are made in the USA; UK manufactures Rolls Royce; Sweden is known for Volvo andJapan is synonymous with Toyota. Today we can be proud to say that Nigeria is known with INNOSON. As the first indigenous automobile manufacturer, it is remarkable that INNOSON delved into an area that if well tapped can indeed be Nigeria’s brand across the globe. It is possible and realisable when we take pride in our own products. It is indeed comforting that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has made the promotion of made in Nigeria products as one of its cardinal objectives. This policy can be put into practical action by patronising INNOSON vehicles, especially now that the budget has been signed into law. There should be a deliberate effort to encourage the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to procure only made in Nigeria vehicles. This patronage will have multiplier effects, as jobs will be created for Nigerian youths, while the elusive technology transfer will be brought to our doorstep. It is pertinent at this juncture to dismiss spurious claims or

allegations by some vested interests against INNOSON, as they tend to set the hand of the clock backwards. As a people, we must abandon petty issues, and join hands with patriotic corporate organisations like INNOSON to move the country forward. Additionally, we owe it as a duty to fully support President Buhari in his administration’s policy of diversification. With the nation’s dwindling oil fortunes, it will be foolhardy to put our eggs in one basket, hence the need to support INNOSON in providing alternative avenues for revenue generation, foreign exchange earnings and job creation. Before they ventured into the sector, we were totally dependent on the importation of foreign vehicles as a nation. Today, the vision has crystallised into the manufacturing of Nigeria’s first indigenous vehicles ranging from buses, trucks, cars, sport utility vehicles and refuse trucks. Needless to say that our over dependence on imported vehicles has led to capital flight, loss of jobs for our teeming youths and backwardness in skills acquisition. As a patriotic Nigerian company, INNOSON has assisted the federal government in the area of skills acquisition for Nigerian youths. This approach has widened the scope of technological know-how in our youths, especially those from the Niger Delta region.It is therefore desirable that all hands should be on deck to support the efforts of INNOSON at repositioning Nigeria’s automobile sector. It is pertinent to note that on account of INNOSON’s innovative ideas, other auto manufacturers who hitherto saw Nigeria as an export

destination have started setting up assembly plants in Nigeria. This move has the potential to create additional jobs for our numerous unemployed youths, and will facilitate the much-awaited technological transfer. So far, both the local, state and federal governments have lent their appreciable support to INNOSON through patronage of their products, but we need to go a step further by ensuring that some disgruntled elements don’t kill the lofty dream of Nigeria to become an automobile manufacturing country. It seems that some vested interests want to return the country back to the era when we totally depended on imported vehicles. As a company that has made Nigeria proud by venturing into an area previously reserved for Europeans and Asians, INNOSON ought to be given necessary incentives to grow and expand as a conglomerate. Such expansion will enable them provide more jobs for Nigerians, ease the transportation problems in the country, and provide an enabling environment for the nation’s technological and economic growth. It is the considered view of most Nigerians that this patriotic company should not be maligned on trumped up charges by any group or individuals bent on executing any hideous or premeditated agenda. INNOSON is the pride of the nation and so far their untiring effort at lifting the image of Nigeria as an automobile – manufacturing country should be supported. Chukwudi Enekwechi, Abuja

Wednesday 25th May 2016  
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