THURSDAY COLUMN BY SAFIYA ADAMU
On Monday the 12th of July at a function organized by an upcoming magazine themed in the oil and gas sector -‘The Valuechain’, two agencies from two key ministries of the economy were invited to deliver lectures on, and discuss the thematic issue, “Enhancing effective synergy between NIMASA and the oil and gas sector. Having effective synergy between different agencies of the national economy cannot be over emphasized. The idea of synergizing is core to effective and efficient management of resources for the common good. However, it would seem that the opposite happens between quite a number of agencies that should ordinarily be working together.
Synergizing between agencies requires quite a lot beyond paper works, it requires policy pronouncements, implementation framework, appraisal mechanisms, and much more. It would also require wide stakeholders consultations, comparative researches including review of existing policies and structures.
In the presentation by the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) he emphasized the need for the Agency and the oil and gas sector to work together towards achieving their common goal of efficiency, increasing revenue and safety in the shipping of oil, gas and other petroleum products for the common good of the country. He went to show how much NIMASA is putting in to ensure that the waters are safe for those who ply them and revenue to government is not lost. The Department of Petroleum resources also talked on the efforts of the department towards realizing efficiency in the transportation of products and produce from its sector.
Essentially, they both agreed on certain measures both agencies have taken to ensure that the Nigerian people are in consideration. It was all together a good show but the big question is what next? And so what? These are questions that need to be answered because our typical situation is such that presentations are left at the venue where they were presented or at best on shelves archives in the back rooms of structures hardly visited. The calls for more synergy between the two agencies were amplified by the Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum resources who represented Vice President Prof Yemi Osibanjo on the occasion. I guess it is a good thing when policy makers and top government officials are present at occasions where gaps in governance are identified, a kind of good omen or kind of up the beat on confidence. However these presence do not quite answer the earlier questions of and so what? Or what next? The answers to these questions and more lie with heads of these agencies and their supervising ministries.
Creating synergy between different agencies and across sectors help cut costs in operations, human capital and equipment. It also enables knowledge incubation and sharing, and it is a dynamic way of deploying technology optimally. So why aren’t the government rolling out policies that ensure synergy? Unfortunately what we see on our climes is a strong tendency for individualism coupled with persons’ urges to want to personalize offices. The result is duplication and duplication and duplication of efforts, assets and platforms with little to show but monies down the drain.
At this stage and times where financial resources are getting more and more scarce
It would not be out of place to call on Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to begin to think it and act it. It is a vital characteristic of the global village. Like the Director General of NIMASA pointed out, there are four factors that must be considered by all toward achieving an effective synergy and these are: collaboration, cooperation, coordination, and communication, which dubbed the 4Cs.
Of course a very weak factor in the public service is effective communication which absence triggers the flight of all the others. Communication is only effective to the extent it delivers on the message as intended. So that the personnel entrusted with implementing policies must necessarily understand that message themselves beyond parroting it. They must be able to interpret and translate the policy properly as to situate the goals and objectives into proper perspectives. This is absolutely necessary for efficiency and impact. Then we may then begin to see the Ministries of Environment, Works, Housing, working together to make for functional location and situation of infrastructure.
The bottom line is governance; delivery of services and goods to the citizens efficiently while attaining the expected impact. This is what will help cut costs of overhead costs, enable ease of doing business, and ensure optimal utilization of resources. Especially if we are able to put in place required mechanisms that would give support and ensure results.