THE TECHNOCRAT VS THE POLITICIAN – by Kalu Aja31 views
A rather interesting exchange in Uyo by two Ministers from the Niger Delta as regards the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State
The Minister of Transport argues that the proposed university, already being built should not be built at the moment, because the land was overvalued…he argues that the land cost alone can build the whole university….thus EFCC should recover the "extra" land cost and give to his parastatal NIMISA, so they can build the university…
The Minister of Petroleum sees it differently. He makes the case that land values are not the immediate concern nor can be determined by Ministers of the Federal Republic.He the focus should be economic management and the determination that the funds already committed are not allowed to completely waste…in effect if the land was indeed overvalued, what is the sense in abandoning the project and actualizing a loss?
This really is a debate about public finance and continuum in governance…..so lets stay there…
The Minister of the Transports position is that any project found to be overvalued, should be abandoned. …Hence if IBB decided…. that the cost of land to build Abuja, could have bought half of Lagos, he could have decided on his own accord to abandon Abuja FCT …(imagine FGN still in Lagos or Nigeria without Abuja)
The main issue the Minister of Transport raised is the cost of the land itself, is N13b a small or large amount? we dont know, we need to context the amount to the size of the land…from a report in the Vanguard that the "Kurutie take-off site of the university is the Mieka Dive Training Institute, covering an expanse of 6,597 hectares" comes to N1.9m a hectare
Is N1.9m per hectare of land expensive? i dont know, i have seen no valuation of land in that part of Delta State, and neither did the Minister show us any valuation, its remains his opinion that the land is expansive…
So in the rehlm of public finance, can a Minister use his opinion to stop a project? a federal project? that the Federal Government has approved and licensed based on the recommendation of the Nigeria Universities Commission, NUC? a University with an appointed Governing Council, headed by a former Minister and renowned educationist, Prof (Mrs.) Viola Onwuliri, as Pro-chancellor and Chairman of Council and Prof (Mrs.) Ongoebi Otebu as Vice Chancellor set to commence academic activities in the 2015/2016 academic session from its take-off campus at Kurutie?
Does a minister really have such powers?
If a minister believes a project was inflated, is that grounds to stop it? on belief? so what stops a minister in 2019 from scrapping the Lagos to Kano railway because he believes the cost is too high?
Federal Government expenditure decisions are not taken on beliefs
To the other point of continuum of governance, should a project that is overpriced be abandoned? lets assume the university land is overpriced, should we then stop it? if the Rivers monorail is expensive, should the government of Rivers State abandon it?
The Minister of Petroleum was clear, if the project land cost was deemed over-bloated, then there are institutions whose function is to determine the cost and institute actions to recover excess consideration if need be…as he put it, "you dont throw the baby away with the bath water"…aka you dont abandon building Abuja FCT in 1980 because excess land compensation was paid, you deal with the compensation issue separately and build Abuja FCT because the benefit of a new federal capital in 2016 will benefit all Nigerians
This was a debate not between two Ministers but two position, on one side was the technocrat, the other side was a politician…one of the problem is that there are too many politicians in politics in Nigeria.
Build the damm university, its a capital project, it creates jobs, it reduces pressure on other schools, it a center of learning, in 20 years, it will a legacy…
Its our problem, we can fix it…