Friday, June 14, 2024

Osinbajo Has Chaired Several Committees, But Hardly Is Any Yielding Results.

With the strike action of the National Association of Resident Doctors now stretching into one month and the looming threat of intensified industrial action by the parent Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), as well as the Joint Health Services Union (JOHESU), President Buhari has announced the setting up of a committee on health reforms. Now, with the health sector lying comatose, many Nigerians will agree that this is long overdue. Interestingly, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has also been announced as the head of the committee.


As much as reforms are desperately needed to address the various problems in the sector, many Nigerians do not see any hope for visible change. This is due to a number of reasons. The first is that Nigerians are used to committees being set up without any implementation of the proposed recommendations that emanate from the deliberations of such committees. The second reason is that the Vice President has been put in charge of so many committees in the past and there has been no tangible results to show.


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is a very busy man and his aides seem to point this out with relative ease. They say he is the most hardworking VP in Nigeria’s history. Curiously enough, his hard work largely revolves around activities surrounding the many committees he heads – committees which never make much of a difference, even though they are set up by the President.


Here’s a rundown of the several committees that are headed or have been headed by Vice President Osinbajo. He was named head of a “power sector reform coordination group” set up by the president in 2020. He was named Chairman of the National Steering Committee on National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) in June 2021. In October 2020, during the #EndSARS protests, the National Economic Council set up a high-powered committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to interface with aggrieved Nigerian youths. In May 2019, the Vice President chaired the “Presidential Task Force Committee to end the Apapa gridlock.” In January 2018, a “10-member working committee on the herdsmen/farmers conflicts” in the country headed by the Vice President was set up. Then, there is also the Economic Sustainability Committee set up in 2020 headed by the Vice President.


The question now arises: What has been the impact of the various committees on the problems they were set up to solve? Where are the reports, recommendations, and results of these committees? A closer look at the current status if the issues that these committees were set up to address will reveal that things have gotten much worse than they were before.


For instance, herdsmen and farmers are still at it and their war has exacerbated the food crisis ravaging the nation. The Apapa gridlock has not disappeared and it is still constituting an economic nuisance to Lagos. The committee that interfaced with the youths in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests can be regarded as non-existent because young people are still being indiscriminately harassed and arrested by police officers.


The Vice President’s team credits the Economic Sustainability Committee for the feat of Nigeria exiting a second recession in the tenure of this present administration. But when you consider the World Bank’s assertion that millions of Nigerians have slipped into poverty, and the realization that inflation is still high, is it really much of a credit?


It may not sound fair to lay all the blame at the foot of the VP, since some would argue that the Buhari administration has not delivered on its campaign promises. In hindsight, given the many inefficiencies and incompetence of this administration, the VP was seen as the bright light of this administration, the poster boy of the government, the professor of law that would bring the star quality to this administration. So, why are his committees not bringing the change Nigerians so earnestly desire?


Perhaps, the underperformance and incompetence that has plagued the administration rubbed off on him. Or maybe the recommendations of the committees he chairs are repeatedly ignored? If that is the case, one would question why he keeps taking on these committees when his work would be ignored or discarded. Is it blind faith or a grasp at relevance in an administration that constantly undermines him?


How does it help the VP that the committees he leads never seem to bring about tangible change in the sectors they are targeted at? What does all of this say of him and how does this play out in his future political aspirations? Maybe this time around, the Vice President’s committee on the health sector will find a solution to the mass migration of Nigeria’s medical doctors. Maybe this time the committee headed by the Vice President will bring some much-needed reform to the dilapidating health sector. Maybe the star quality will finally be seen, but don’t hold your breath!

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