*…how FG rejected many recommendations
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Faced with a consistently escalating recurrent expenditure in the face of dwindling revenue, the federal government has been seeking ways to cut the huge cost of government for many years. Several committees have been set up by successive administrations towards reducing the number of federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) but to no avail.
In 2011, the then President Goodluck Jonathan set up the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Steve Oronsaye.
Mr. Oronsaye had private sector background, from where he joined the civil service at a very high level and rose rapidly to become the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. His choice was considered apt with the belief that having come from an original private sector, he would look at ways of cutting cost of governing by eliminating wastage through duplicated functions across several government MDAs.
Members of the committee included: Japh CT Nwosu; Rabiu D. Abubakar; Salman Mann; Hamza A. Tahir; Adetunji Adesunkanmi ; and Umar Mohammed (Member/Secretary).
The Oronsaye Committee turned in an 800-page report to President Jonathan after eight weeks of its assignment. It had far-reaching recommendations on MDAs that should be scraped, those to be merged and those to become self-funding, thereby freeing funds for the much-needed capital projects across the country.
Another key recommendation of the committee was to discontinue government funding of professional bodies and councils. Consequently, there is need to amend the Professional Bodies (Special Provisions) Act, 1972 which mandates government to provide financial support of various kinds to such bodies.
Ever since then, there has been a lull in the actions towards the implementation of the recommendations of the report. A key impediment was the fact that most of the affected agencies were creations of legislation. Consequently, the enabling laws had to be repealed before they cease to exist.
In a democracy, such processes could be cumbersome, especially given the fact that the Chief Executive Officers and management staff of the agencies don’t want to let go. The strategy of high-level lobbying, it was learned, was employed by many of the agencies’ managers such that when the government White paper of the Oronsaye report was released, most of the recommendations for scrapping and mergers were rejected government.
The White paper Drafting Committee had Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (Chairman) and many top government functionaries such as: Ms. Ama Pepple, Minister of Land, Housing/Urban Development; Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation; Chief Emeka Wogu, then Minister of Labour and Productivity; Mrs Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology; and Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, Minister/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission.
Others were: Dr A. J. Awosika, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power; Engr. Emeka Eze, Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement; Dr. Ochi C. Achinuvu, Senior Special Assistant, Economic Matters, Office of the COS to the President; and Mr. Femi Olayisade, Permanent Secretary, General Services Office (OSGF) who served as member/secretary.
Some of the agencies with glaring duplicated functions that the Oronsaye committee recommended should be merged were ignored in the government White paper, which was released in 2014.
After many years, it was only in September last year that President Muhammadu Buhari indicated the need to revisit the Oronsaye report with a view to implementing the government White Paper on it.
MDAs to go
Based on the White Paper, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) would be abolished and its enabling law repealed as its functions are being performed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission. A similar fate awaits the Salaries and Wages Income Commission.
The trio of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) were recommended to be merged into a new body to be known as the Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA) and their respective enabling laws amended accordingly to reflect the merger.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) be privatised without further delay. The recommendations were accepted by the government.
NIPC & NEPC
On the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), the Committee recommended that it be merged with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to synergize for management and utilization of resources. The government noted this recommendation.
NAPEP was recommended to be scrapped and its functions transferred to the new body that will emerge from the merger of the NDE and SMEDAN. NAPEP has already been scraped.
Utilities Charges Commission, UCC
The committee recommended that Utilities Charges Commission (UCC) be scrapped. The government accepted the recommendation.
Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine
The Committee recommends that the Passed Bill on the Nigeria Agriculture Quarantine Service should not be assented to by the President. The government accepted the recommendation.
National Commission for Nomadic Education
The Committee recommended that the enabling law of the National Commission for Nomadic Education be repealed and the Commission’s activities taken over by the Universal Basic Education Commission. This is also in line with Government’s earlier decision as contained on the Report of the Ahmed Joda Panel on the Review, Harmonization and rationalisation of Federal Parastatals, Institutions and Agencies. The government noted the recommendation.
NOSDRA & NESREA
National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and their function performed in the Ministry of Environment. The White paper was not definitive on government position on this recommendation as it said that it noted it.
Stop of professional bodies’ funding
Based on the recommendations of the committee, the government accepted to stop funding many professional bodies. They included: Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN); Computer Professionals Council of Nigeria (CPRCN); Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON); Nigeria Press Council; Architects Registration Council ; Council for Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN); Estate Surveyors’ Registration Board (ESRB); Town Planners Council (TPC); Nigerian Builders Council (NBC; Quantity Surveyors’ Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRB); Nigerian Builders Council (NBC); and Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG).
Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution to be scrapped and its functions to be transferred to the Department of Strategic Studies in the Nigerian Institute for International Affairs (NIIA).
The committee recommended that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) and Petroleum Equalisation Fund be merged with Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF). Government was undecided on this recommendation.
Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to become self-funding
NASENI & NCAM
Based on the committee recommendations, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI); Federal Institute for Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO); and Projects Development Institute (PRODA) should merge. Government accepted the recommendations on the merger of NASENI and NCAM with the exclusion oFFIIRO.
The recommendation that the National Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC) be merged with the National Troupe and the National Theatre into one agency was accepted by government. The merged entity is to be named National Theatre of Nigeria.
An audit of staff of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the National Gallery of Art would be carried out with a view to merging them.
Government accepted the recommendation that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) present practice where the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and others share at source the seven Port Development Surcharge be reviewed; and that it should be self-financing was accepted by government.
Similarly, government agreed that Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) be sustained by its members’ subscription; and budgetary allocation to CRFFN be stopped.
Many of the recommendations of the committee were rejected by government. They included the abolishment of the Federal Character Commission. However, the White Paper rejected the recommendation. It said that the commission should, instead be strengthened to perform it duties better.
Federal Civil Service Commission
The committee recommended a Constitutional amendment to reflect a change in name to Federal Public Service Commission. It recommended further a reduction in the number of commissioners to a minimum of seven or a maximum of 12, one of whom would be Chairman and that the tenure of the chairman and commissioners of the proposed FPSC be reduced to a three-year non-renewable term to be rotated among the states in each geo-political zone. This recommendation was also rejected by government, except in respect of the single term of five years.
The committee also recommended that 1999 Constitution be amended to expunge the registration of births and deaths from among the functions of Local Government councils since the same are contained in the Exclusive List. Government also rejected this recommendation. It said that LGs should continue to register births and death, but that they should render returns to the National Population Commission.
Government, however, accepted the recommendation that the National Identity Management Commission NIMC Act be amended to delete Section 6(i)(b) which deals with the registration of births and deaths in Nigeria and that NIMC should obtain date on births and deaths from the National Population Commission.
EFCC, ICPC and CCB
The Committee recommended as follows, that: the Code of Conduct Tribunal be renamed “Anti Corruption Tribunal” and upgraded to the status of a Court of Superior Records with the responsibility for handling only corruption cases from a proposed merger of lCPC, EFCC and the Code of Conduct Bureau; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Crimes Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau. The government rejected this recommendation.
NCRC & BPE
The Committee recommended that Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) be subsumed in the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for greater synergy and their enabling laws amended accordingly. Government rejected the recommendation.
The committee recommended that the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) (be abolished and its enabling law repealed. It was rejected.
In the Office of the Vice President
The committee recommended the scrapping of the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) and its functions taken over by the National Boundary Commission. The recommendation was rejected by the government.
Similarly, on the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPS), the Committee recommended that the federal government should stop funding the recurrent expenditure of the organization and limit itself to funding only capital projects. It was rejected.
National Emergency Management (NEMA) recommended the merger of NEMA with the National Refugees Commission. This recommendation was also rejected.
Oronsaye committee recommended that the Debt Management Office be removed from the Office of the Vice President and made an ex-Ministerial Department in the Federal Ministry of finance. The recommendation was equally rejected.
Office of the SGF
In the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), it was recommended that the road safety functions of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) should revert to the highways department of the Federal Ministry of Works.
That the Commission’s personnel be redeployed to the relevant organizations (the Police Service Commission, the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) in the Federal Capital Territory Authority) for due regularization. It added that in line with best practice, the Police, who have the core responsibilities of security should provide the functions of the commission, especially highways patrol and duties relating to road traffic accidents and the removal of the wreckage of vehicles from the highways. The government rejected the recommendation.
For National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (NACA) it recommended that the Act be repealed and it be merged with the division currently handling HIV/AIDS in the Public Health Department be merged as a Department under the Centre for Disease Control in the Federal Ministry of Health. The recommendation was rejected by government.
The committee recommended that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) be scraped and government restrict itself to only providing consular service and vaccination of intending pilgrims. The recommendation was rejected.
In the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, it was recommended that the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN) be merged with the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON). The recommendation was rejected.
The proposed merger of Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) Service Compact with all Nigerians (SERVICOM) was equally rejected by governemnt.
The committee recommended that all the Research Institutes in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development be funded from the proposed National Research Development Fund to be set up by government
NCC & NBC merger
Nigerian Communications Commission, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission and the regulatory functions of the Nigerian Postal Services were recommended by the committee to be merged. It recommended that a new body: Communications Regulatory Authority of Nigerian (CRAN) be created to carry out their functions. However, the government rejected the recommendation.
The committee recommended that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) functions be transferred to the Ministry of Technology as a Department. It was rejected by government.
The committee recommended that government shares in the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) Limited be sold to private investors. The recommendation was accepted but that government would maintain minority shares in the organization.
NECO & NABTEB
NECO and NABTEB were recommended to be scraped and their functions reverted to the West African Examinations Council. The government rejected the recommendation.
The committee recommended that the National Board for Technical Education and National Commission for Colleges of Education be subsumed under the National Universities Commission. It said that a new Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) be established to take all their functions. Government rejected the recommendations.
NTA, FRCN & VON merger
The committee recommended that the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Voice of Nigeria (VON) should be merged. The government rejected it.
NDE & SMEDAN
National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and the SMEDAN be merged to form a single agency for job and wealth creation. The recommended was rejected in the White paper.
In the mining sector, the committee recommended that the Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) be merged with the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA) for greater efficiency and coordinated service delivery. This recommendation was also rejected.
National Metallurgical Development Center (NMDC), Jos and the National Metallurgical Training Institute, Onitsha be scraped. The government rejected the recommendation but said the ministry should out ways to commercialise those agencies in order to remove them from government funding.
Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences (NIMG), Jos was also recommended for scraping, but the government rejected the recommendation.
PTDF & NCDMB merger
The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) be subsumed under the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to ensure synergy and establish a one-stop shop for training and placement of competent Nigerians in the oil and gas sector. The recommendation was rejected in the White paper.
The committee’s recommendation for the scraping of National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN); National Rural Electrification Agency (NREA) were equally rejected by government.
Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC); National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA); Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) be scrapped. The government rejected all those recommendations.
Nigerian Institute for Leather Science Technology (NILEST) and National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) were to be merged based on the committee recommendations. The government rejected it.
Similarly, the recommendation that the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) be scraped and the functions transferred to the Ministry of Power was rejected by government.
The committee recommended that Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) be reverted to the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority. The government rejected it. Instead, it directed that Onne OGFZA to be renamed Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority.
The committee recommended that Industrial Training Fund (lTF) and Nigerian Financial Reporting Council (NFRC) be self-funding. Government rejected the recommendation.
In the transport sector, the recommendation that government should stop funding the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron was rejected.
Government rejected the recommendation to merge the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) along with the Federal Highways Department of the Federal Ministry of Works, and be transformed into an extra-ministerial Department.
Government also rejected the recommendation to discontinue funding of the Nigerian Law School Council of Legal Education and Nigerian Law School (CLE &NLS);