The President Special Adviser on Performance, monitoring and Evaluation Professor S. Monye granted audience to the team of Ndokwa Reporters at his Country home at Onicha Ugbo during the last Moslem Holiday. Professor Monye Spoke on his job, the economy, the ASUU demands and much more.
NR: What is your Job with the President? What is the function of an Adviser to the president on Implementation, Evaluation and Monitoring?
Prof Monye: My job is actually one of Performance/monitoring. And when we talk of monitoring, we are talking of a situation where we have 600 projects, 365 days in a year. So my function as an adviser to the President is to look at the performance of the various ministries and departments. As you know Mr. President had established certain parameters to monitor and evaluate the performances of projects. The President had established a base performance contract, with his ministers, departments and Agencies.
The whole idea is that in a given year, a certain deliverable will be achieved; this deliverable could range from equipment delivery to welfare of the people as indicated by educational standard, input on health care delivery or some established parameter. For instance it could be that at the end of 2014 the second Niger Bridge had been completed or at the end of 2013, the Lagos-Ore road could have been fixed or certain kilometer had been fixed. That is the standard, be as it may be, you will not wait for one year to know that if the work is progressing or not, with this you could set up an indicator that could be called mile stones. Every thing that needs to be achieved would be indicated. Every three month, we are to achieve A, B, C, D. if we miss it, it means we are not on track, but if we stick to it and deliver on it, it means we are on track. It is not the end of the year you evaluate the project, but at periodic intervals. These are some of the parameter we use to monitor a minister or departments.
In the Ministry of works, there are several hundreds of jobs that you can track one by one, it is not easy tracking of jobs one by one, there is the cumulative tracking of this jobs that determine the performance of a minister, and not because a particular road project had not being completed, the minister had failed. There are a lot of benchmarks in testing a minister. So for me, if we go using the Niger Delta area as a base mark, we would not have fair judgment.
NR: So from your personal view, are you saying that the government of President Jonathan is meeting up with its transformation agenda?
Prof Monye: In articulating this transformation agenda, the same things is indentified as necessary deliverable for us as a country to move forward. Before noe we had set for ourselves for what was called vision 20-20-20 target, which says that by the year 2020 Nigeria would had become one of the top twenty economy nations which means that before the year 2020 we supposed to have achieved that, but again what happened before then, we need to do a lot of things that should take us to that promised land.
One of these things that should be done is that we remain a stable economy, we remain in an economy that grows in healthy manner, and we maintain certain financial discipline. We maintain an economy where inflation is going down, because if you don’t maintain the level of inflation, the value of money will be reduced, so we also need to maintain an economy that shows stability. If you look at what has happened in the last four years, particularly last year, you see that we had achieved a certain level of stability. Stability in the rate of inflation to the extent it started to come down, to the extent that we now have a stable exchange rate, of Naira to a Dollar over the last two years. We have also achieved an economic of physical discipline. And today Nigeria has the third fastest growing economy in the whole world, only after China, India.
Again Nigeria had become a very strong investment destination to the extent that you can access the confident of the international community in our economy. The way you access this, Is that if you float an international bond, and the way the international community will accept your bond, means they have confident in your economy, but if such bond is not internationally accepted then there is no confidence in that economy. These are some of the parameters to access the economy. In all these, we had achieved globally set stability and growth that had been certified by all know international Grading agencies. These are agencies that cannot be said are paid to get certification, such as Fitch, standard and Hutch or Moody.
Point number two, is that he, the President set for himself to improve on Agriculture. To the extent that will have achieved self-sufficiency in certain Areas of our agriculture production. Annually we import three million metric tons of rice. The President had said, we got to stop such importation within certain period. Currently we have achieved about 15 percent of that. For instance if you go to the north (Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara), you will see the quantum of rice being produced is over whelming
Beyond been self sufficient, the ministry of agriculture had come out with what is called value chain performance, where you move from production, processing, marketing and export. To the extent that we had imported a lot of rice milling machines to take care of our rice processing, that is a lot of reform going on.
Similarly, the president had establish what is known as agriculture transformation Agenda, where you have people like Bill Gate, Kofi Annan as members, if this world renown leaders are saying that Nigeria economy is now at a certain level of stability, it help you and I to have certain respect because of our economy.
If you ask me, we have attracted in the past few years more investment than any other African country. But again, are we where we ought to be? The answer is no.
Investment is in two ways, one is our own people who have money, who are working in our country and other nationals who bring in the money to invest. For instance one of our own Alhaji Aluko Dankote has invested a lot in cement industry, that for the first time we have self sufficiently in cement.
In the Aviation’s sector we are having a renewal in our airports the airports are wearing new looks.
In communication, Tele density is up to 70 percent. An average Nigerian has two GSM handsets. An average Nigerian village has telecom mast and recharge cards are also sold in those places.
On transportation, for the first time in twenty five years you see trains move from Lagos to Kano, a lot of resource is being poured into the railway. These are things that never worked for 20, 25, or 30 years.
What Nigerians should know is that we are not saying this is what the government should do, but we are saying this is what the government had done, and that is what is contain in our midterm report. This is the way we access the performance of this present administration.
NR: In other word what the government is saying is that what has being achieved and not what they will achieve?
Prof. Monye: Yes, let me say something on that.
This is the first time in the history of Nigeria, where a president is sworn in and he said this is what I will do, judge me by what I will do. And after two years, he said this I had achieved .This never happened before. For the first time in the history of Nigeria ministers are made to sign performance contract with the President.
NR: Is this working?
Prof. Monye: Yes and that is what I am telling you. And this is applicable to all government ministries and departments even on foreign missions. What we are telling ministries and departments is tell us what you want to do. After all, if you go to school or university, from year one they give you syllabus. At the end of the year you are accessed. This is what we are doing. But journalists access Minister or Ministries or government on what they think, we are saying don’t judge me by what you think but on certain level of performance indices. But these are early days. In tenure of four years, the president had done two and half years; this simply means you reserve your best judgment for another 15 months.
NR: With all these achievements and investments why are will still having so many unemployed?
Prof. Monye:Thank you for assessment of our investments upward growth that is not commensurable with job growth. Permit me to use this table like a basket before us. If you put water what will happen. It will leak out and for me to put water and hold it, I have to seal this leakage it will take time for me to seal, and it will not be acknowledged, but it will not overflow to the point that it will get out of hand. What you see the government doing or correcting is the massive leakages that had been going on in the system for too long. Why this is going on, it will take time to see the effect. Recently, I went to inspect a Water Dam in Ogwashi-Uku, where they said it has taken 23 years to do the base work and after doing the base work within four months the work will be completed. That is the kind of thing the government is doing. It is very difficult to correct a defect, but easy to pull down. What we are saying, globally we are been acknowledge by agencies that cannot toil with their reputations.
NR: What is the government doing about the educational sector especially the universities that are now on strike?
Prof. Monye: Now you have Nurses, Lecturers, and all sorts of professionals. It is very difficult to tell people the truth. As at the last check, ASUU demanded for the payment of an excess of one trillion. We do get the impression that there is money in this country. Take for instance between January 2013 and June 2013, the federal government received their own share of the federal allocation from oil, custom duties and the sum of 600 billion for capital expenditure. That is a lot of money, but when you divide this amount with N257 to a pound you will get about 2.4 million pounds. 2.4 million pounds is less than the budget of a local government in Britain. This is what we have as a nation called Nigeria. So when these types of demand for commensurable actions are being made, we should not forget that our capital expenditure is less than that of a local government in Britain. This amount of 2.4 billion is not only for education, but also for other sectors of the economy, like Aviation, Second Niger Bridge, health, Shagamu-Ore road, Onitsha-Enugu, Kano-Maiduguri, and Abuja-Kano.
Now you are saying to government, leave these other entire areas, and put the money on overhead that is salary. And if this is done, this country will come to a stand still. People must negotiate for a good pay based on our own resource availability rather than based on counterparts who have a different economic resources.
NR: Are they aware of this Analysis?
Pro.Monye: It is not a secret, it is everywhere on paper.
NR: You were once one of them
Prof. Monye: Yes, that was yesterday, but today I understand the situation better. I was at the order side, but today I am inside. The billions we see do not go anywhere.
NR: Why is the light situation not improving?
Prof. Monye: The issue of light is a complex one. Complex in the sense that as a member of the Presidential Action Committee on power, I can say much of it and its complexity. First of all before this set of power reform, the cost of producing a unit was more than the profit return of a unit. Every year the action taken was to maintain the previous year’s level and not to increase.
So part of the reform is to maintain a level of tariff that can commensurate the rate of investments. Thus the present administration had blocked the leakages of spending more and gaining less.
Again this administration had invested massively on generation. As you know there are three major components involved in power production. Which are generation, transportation and distribution. We have succeeded massively in generation, every state now have an IPP Projects. We have successfully privatized the area of distribution, and because of the companies know that they will have to sell electrically and make money they will have to work to succeed. And because of the viability of the sector, all the DISCO units had been taking over by private investors this is unlike roads. Light project must be hundred percent completed before it works. So a lot of resources are been put in place to achieve this and the people need to be patient.