ISSUES AND PROBLEMS OF MONETIZATION
POLICY IN NIGERIAN PUBLIC SERVICE
This research titled, “Issues and Problems of Monetization Policy in Nigerian Public Service: A Study of Ebonyi State House of Assembly 2003-2016 was carried out with the following objectives: to find out the implication of monetization policy in the Nigerian economy, to find out why corruption has persisted in the Nigerian public service despite the introduction of monetization policy; so as to know the benefits that will be accrue from the policy in Ebonyi State House of Assembly. The work was built on Elite Theory which assumes that government’s policy like monetization is the preference of the governing Elites. The population of the study as at 2016, comprises of all the 24 honourable members, senior and junior staff of the six (6) departments in Ebonyi State House of Assembly. The sample size for the study is the entire population (382) as the figure is simple enough that it does not require reduction. Two (2) sources of data were used, viz: primary and secondary sources.
The instrument for data collection included the use of questionnaire through face-to-face as its method of data collection. The researcher finds out that monetization policy is a good policy capable of resuscitating the decayed and inefficient public service in Ebonyi State House of Assembly if well implemented. The implications of the above findings is, even if the policy of monetization is well implemented, it is likely to be more beneficial to the political class than the public servants. From the above implications, the researcher recommended thus: government should come out with the policy that will favour all the cadres in civil service since they are citizen of the same state; Ebonyi State House of Assembly should implement the policy, since it was meant to minimize waste and expenditure and stop fearing that it is costly to run; and government should use the money from the laid-off workers to move the economy forward.
1.1 Background to the Study
Right from the colonial period till the present time, it has been the aim of government to check or minimize waste and maintain discipline in the use of public property. Consequently, a number of steps and programmes like the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) by the Idiagbor-Buhari’s regime, Mass Mobilization for Social Re-orientation (MAMSER) of the Babangida’s regime, Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) by Babangida’s regime and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) were adopted by the three tiers of government with the aim of enlightening the public about how to care and safeguard public properties such as NITEL equipment, power holding company of Nigeria installations, office equipments and even the liquid cash which belongs to the government (Ojeme, 2004).
In spite of all these measures, there are still indiscriminate waste of public funds/ properties on daily basis. However, neither outcry nor prosecution and punishment of erring public servants have abated this ugly scenario. Government business was run with every amount of ignoring that the order of the day has been failed contracts, abandoned projects; unexecuted contracts’ even after payment of mobilization fee, kick-back, ten percent syndrome, bribery and corruption, grafts and gifts, appreciation and so on. At this point, government became so helpless that it seemed to be the proverbial mosquito on the private part that an attempt to kill it, will destroy the manhood and living it, will bite the man to death. President Olusegun Obasanjo (2001) once said:History will forgive you for taking a wrong decision, but history will not forgive you for not taking a decision at all.
Therefore, following the return of civilian administration on 29th may, 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo in his inaugural speech had this to say:The rampant corruption in the public service and the cynical contempt for integrity that pervade every level of our society and the bureaucratic bottleneck will be stamped out. The public office must be encouraged to believe once again that integrity pays herself respect must be filled rewarded through better pay and benefits both while in service and in retirement but is not going to be business as such.The practice and norms in every federal and state establishments which Ebonyi state House of Assembly is one, before now, were to provide accommodation and furnished it including paying the domestic servants, gardeners, private messengers, security men, drivers and allocating as many as five to a particular officer.
These became drain on the government purse to the extent that officers allocated cars to friends, relations and members of their families and even attaching personal aids to them, all at the expense of the government. An officer who goes on weekend or private care may always goes with all his personal aids, sometimes, having advance party while the government pays all the allowances, fueling even the cars that accompany him.Newly bought vehicles from the factory were soon regarded as unserviceable while their counterparts in private hands are being used even for commercial purposes. Drivers were known to be removing new parts and replacing them with old obsolete ones; sometimes, already knocked down engine. Fuel in government cars were siphoned while receipts were written by the drivers at will, including fake ones, huge medical bills, out of pocket/situation expenses and so on. The only thing needed is to show papers (receipts) and refund is paid. Even some government establishments have fuel depots and workshops.
At this point, one can imagine what that means considering the corrupt nature of the society and the mentality that what belongs to government is a national cake meant to be cut as one desires and opportune. Irked by all these excesses and wastes, the federal government passed into laws, which gave birth to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Budget Unit in the Presidency otherwise known as the Due Process Office among other related bodies just to bring sanity and orderliness in the conduct of government business. However, on the coming on board of monetization policy of president Obasanjo, all entitlements of public servants are to be paid in cash.
From the above explanation, one can happily say that, monetization policy is the conversion into cash all benefits accruable to political office holders and federal civil servants and proposed civil service reforms. It can also be seen as a policy which aimed at government giving you money in place of benefits you have hitherto enjoyed. Monetization policy is a strategy which the government uses to quantify in monetary terms those fringe benefits which the employers, probably the government used to provide for its workers as part of their conditions of service.
ISSUES AND PROBLEMS OF MONETIZATION POLICY
IN NIGERIAN PUBLIC SERVICE
However, the monetization policy which was introduced by President Olusegun Obasanjo on June 11, 2003, is one of the most recent measures to reduce the cost of governance, facilitate budgeting and budgetary control; minimized waste and abuse of public property etc. The implementation impacts of monetization policy are likely to be catastrophic. The cushioning measures of the government to alleviate the adverse effects of the monetization policy are questionable, insufficient, cosmetic and superficial in nature.
Inevitably, monetization policy is likely to be more beneficial to the political class; compound societal problems, hence, will impact negatively on the productivity of the workers. It is the contention of this work or paper, that the sustainability of monetization policy in the next four or five years, depends on the ability of the country (Nigeria) to foot the cost, availability of the political will and popular acceptability of the effect of monetization policy etc.
Anumudu (2003), observed that the policy, if well implemented would certainly cause inflation in the country. According to him, monetization will make cash available to public office holders.
Amam (2004), in his own view, observed that the problem would be its implementation and continuity. He expressed fear that the policy like every other policies in Nigeria might suffer the problem of bad implementation and continuity, he added that, it might not survive beyond the government that initiated it.
However, it is worthy to note that after the introduction of monetization policy, there was a reduction of reckless use of public properties among Ebonyi state House of Assembly members. After monetization, those fringe benefits that were usually provided to them, were turned into cash and paid to the members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly inform of allowances.
To them (Honourable members), it is a best policy for it will make them to shade off dependency and prepare for life after their tenure in office. According to the Ebonyi State House of Assembly members, if this monetization policy was not introduced, it would have forcefully made them to embarked on perpetual dependency and because of this, the Ebonyi state House of Assembly members embrace monetization policy because it is for their own good.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Successive governments at various levels (Federal, State and Local) have consistently complained of waste of both human and material resources, corruption and low morale in the public service. The civil servants in the other hand accused the government of paying lip-service to their plight as salaries are not regular, pension and gratuity not paid promptly, allowances not taken care of and total absence of welfare scheme. It has got to the point that public servants became burden to the government that it is referred to as being over bloated while the issue of ghost worker syndrome re-occurs too frequently; right sizing and down sizing as an option for training the workforce was adopted by the government.
In spite of the measures adopted by the government to improve the welfare of the workers and protect and preserve government property; corruption is still increasing and unabated in the public service, and prompted this research. To address this, the researcher posed the following questions to guide the study:
- What are the implications of monetization policy in the Nigerian economy?
- Why has corruption persisted in the Nigerian public service despite the introduction of monetization policy?
- What are the prevalent problems that militate against good implementation of monetization policy?
- What are the benefits of monetization policy in Ebonyi state House of Assembly?