Opinion: Committees everywhere – When will Jonathan stop?

 

by Adebola Rayo

A lot of time is wasted on these things, one is tempted to think time wasting is the entire point…

In the past few weeks, President Jonathan’s government has set up several committees (panels and boards included) to do several things. There was the committee set up to review existing versions of the Petroleum Industry Bill and harmonise them, and there was the committee set up to resolve fuel subsidy removal issues with stakeholders. There was also the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme board, and then of course the panel set up to look into the escape of Boko Haram suspect, Kabiru Sokoto, and yet another committee to oversee the reorganisation of the Nigeria Police Force. This list is not exhaustive… unfortunately.

Nigeria has had more than its fair share of committees. There is a pattern; something happens in the country and when the masses cry out, instead of taking decisive action to deal with the problem, the government sets up a committee, commission, panel or whatever they choose to call it.

Usually, these committees have the mandate to conduct fresh inquiries and also look into the reports and recommendations of the 5 or so previous committees set up with exactly the same mandate. Then, the committee must sit for months, perusing document after document, calling witnesses and deliberating. Deliberations are very important. Then, they come up with recommendations.

 Let us face it, recommendations are just recommendations and there is no obligation on the government’s part to adopt them. Even when adopted, on paper of course, there is no obligation to implement them, as years have shown us. In fact, if the report from the commission or committee is ‘delicate’, Nigerians know that such will never see the light of day and most likely, the commission members will carry the details of their report with them to the grave.

A lot of time is wasted on these things, one is tempted to think time wasting is the entire point; drag deliberations out, pretend we are really looking into the matter and then Nigerians, with their penchant for forgetting, will lose interest in whatever issue it is. Besides the time wasted, is money. When Jonathan said he was going to cut down on government spending, one expected that frivolous things like committees would be part of that cut-down, however, the number of committees have only been on a steady increase since that announcement.

If it was dependent on the amount of talk or the number of committees set up, Nigeria would be paradise; we love to talk but talk is cheap as they say. When will we start to do? Why can’t decisions be taken without committees that only tell what the entire public knows already? However, if the government feels that it cannot do without setting up all of these committees, the least they can do is ensure that they not only adopt their recommendations, they implement them for the good of the nation.

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