By Cecilia Ologunangba
A former Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr Shamsudden Usman, says formulation of policies with effective monitoring and evaluation are solutions to achieving economic development and not pumping of money.
Usman said this on Tuesday in Lagos while addressing participants at the workshop on “Strategic Planning, Plan Formulation and Effective Linkage to Budgeting Process’’.
He was reacting to questions on inconsistency in government policies, the importance of statistics in planning, leadership of the ministries as well as cadre of planning officers.
Usman spoke on “The Critical Role for the Directors of Planning, Research and Statistics in the Government’s Economic Programme.’’
He said if money was a solution to the problem in the power sector, given the billions spent on it, by now, the problem would have been solved.
“If you are in power ministry, you can go back and check the files and say to the minister of power, it is not money that we need but good policies.
“Right from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, we have spent somewhere in the region of 15 billion dollars on power; we have not reached 6,000 megawatts that is in the Seven Point Agenda.
“It is back to the issue of monitoring and evaluation framework, unless you are measuring, you are not doing well; you cannot achieve anything without measuring,’’ he said.
The former minister also gave examples of the defunct NITEL and education sectors where policies had transformed the sectors.
“Is it pumping money into NITEL that solved the problem. No! We moved from half of a million lines to 150 million lines.
“Yes, it is not working perfectly as it should but it is working.
“Also, one of the key performance indicators for Minister of Education then was the percentage of WAEC candidate that made 5 credits and above,’’ he said.
Usman said that indicator for the minister that time was very powerful measure.
“If the minister is monitoring that way, his attention will shift from establishing more federal colleges and look for whom to partner with to achieve results.
Usman further said that the key performance indicators set for ministers that time was the number of policy initiatives and those implemented.
“We measured how many policies initiated and how many got to National Economic Council (NEC) for approval.
“My quarrel with NEC that time was that, it was turned into a glorified Tender Board, every time we met, 99 per cent of our meeting was to approve contracts which is against the law.’’
The former minister, however, said that the focus of the government had been on expenditure, saying that the method had led the country astray.
“The problem with those figures when I was a Minister of Finance, every international body has already agreed that a certain amount of money should be spent on a sector.
“This is a kind of research you can do at Planning, Research and Statistics, if you are in ministry of finance.’’
On cadre of planning officers, he said that National Planning Commission used to be an autonomous agency that could hire and fire without a reference to the Civil Service Commission.
Usman said that the commission was now a ministry, so clearly that it didn’t have control over its staffing, discipline, and posting under the civil service.
“The law that established the National Planning Commission is still there; nobody has addressed that; the law is there, it has not been abrogated.
“So, if you look at it from legalistic point of view there are some issues there,’’ Usman said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three-day workshop is organised by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and facilitated by the Centre for Management Development (CMD).
It was organised to build the capacity of planning and budgeting skills of 450 PRS directors and senior officers from 50 Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
CMD is an agency under the ministry of budget and national planning with the mandate to provide services in the areas of management, administration and research. (NAN)