The size of government in a country undergoing crisis of economic transition is crucial to the prospects of success or failure. At different times, countries in advanced economic had to choose between big government and small government determining their economic transitions or development.
The role or size of government guide most decisions on transforming the economy. Some countries may prefer big government, thereby, increasing the role of government in the economic development process. Thus, development passes through the state.
Some others opt for small government, enhancing the role of private sector in the economic development process while the government takes the back seat. But the economy must be open market competition and not government regulation.
More so, the size of government in relation to units and levels of government could be the determining factor in deciding economic transition of most countries.
Since the debate on restructuring of the Nigerian federal system, while there appears to be consensus among stakeholders in the polity on the need for restructuring, there has been no consensus on the mode of restructuring to implement.
Joining the debate, the Emir of Kano, Mallam Sanusi Lamido; a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), advocated for a reduction in the cost of governance in the restructuring of the country.
In a keynote address, entitled: ‘Prosperity and Peace’ at the centenary event of Union Bank, tagged: ‘The next 100: A call to action (2017-2117), in Lagos, The Emir articulated the imperative of reducing the size of government from the federal to the local government, arguing that huge funds is expended in maintaining public servants to the detriment of economic and social development of Nigeria.
The Emir had stated: “We have a constitution that says we must have a governor and a deputy governor and a state government assembly in every state. We have President and Vice President.
“We have 109 senators, over 300 members of the House of Representatives. We have over 774 local government chairmen, and in each local government we have 10 councilors and a speaker. Yet, you are surprised that we spend 80 to 90 percent of our budget on public servants.
“How do you reduce cost of governance without discussing restructuring? Do we need 40, 30 legislators in every state? Do we need huge number of legislators in Abuja? Must we have them request for more.”
Sanusi had lamented: “We don’t have education, we don’t have public health. We see the numbers, infant mortality, maternal death and child death; yet, the state and the local governments, which are supposed to provide education and health care do not care about the life of a commoner.”
The Emir further noted the wrong indicators often adopted in evaluating both government performance and development in Nigeria. He repudiated the process where human development index or the standard of living of citizens is not considered in evaluating development in Nigeria.
“It is not all about GDP, inflation, government revenue; it is all about bringing development to the grassroots. In the Central Bank, we used to look at GDP growth, rate of inflation, the reserve of the federation, and I mention prosperity in prospect.
“Until we begin to think of economics not in terms of GDP, inflation rate but in terms of human needs, we will not be able to have peace,” Emir Sanusi declared.