President Goodluck Jonathan
As Adoke Heads White Paper Committee...
By Ahamefula Ogbu in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited are performing duplicated and conflicting functions with other agencies and therefore should either be restructured or scrapped outright.
These are some of the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye Presidential Commit-tee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies which submitted an 800-page report to the Federal Government yesterday.
The committee also recommended the reduction of the 263 statutory commissions, departments and agencies to 161. It wants 38 of the agencies to be scrapped, 52 to be merged and 14 others reverted to departments.
The Oronsaye committee also wants management audit to be conducted on 89 agencies with biometric data capture of staff to reduce the high cost of governance in Nigeria which it observed was the highest in the world.
Responding, President Goodluck Jonathan assured the nation that the report would not be put in the shelf to gather dust as was done in the past.
Jonathan said: “I am particularly glad that your report has identified the obvious overlaps, duplications and redundancies in the mandates and functions of certain agencies and has provided the compass to guide us safely to the next stage.
“Government will waste no time in studying this recommendations and come up with decisions to be implemented for the benefit of us all. This administration believes fervently that the primary responsibility of government is to guard against wastages on the one hand and maximise potentials on the other.
“We are resolutely committed to achieving both objectives. You recall at the inauguration of this committee in August last year, I emphasised the urgency and significance of its assignment, given our avowed commitment to cutting down cost of governance.”
This is on the heels of a 10-member white paper drafting committee set up last night by the Federal Government on the report.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, in a statement, said the constitution of the committee which is to be chaired by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), was approved by Jonathan.
Oronsaye, who warned of dire consequences in the setting up of agencies to handle the same function of a failed one, pointed out that the same duplication of functions were also endemic in the educational sector where the committee recommended that the function of other agencies under education be taken over by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
He said the problem so far had not been lack of reports, as the Allison Ayida Report of 1995 and the Ahmed Joda Report of 1999 all spoke of the same wastage that arise from proliferation of agencies, commissions and agencies, but regretted that billions of naira were still being spent on some of them that do nothing, a pointer that ministers should not be allowed to function as chairmen over government-owned agencies.
“One case that stands out clearly in this regard is that of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), which should not be in existence in its present form. While acknowledging that the body has been quite active, the committee observed that what the FRSC was set up to do is a replication of the mandates of two existing bodies namely: the Highway Department of the Federal Ministry of Works with respect to the maintenance of safety and orderliness on our highways and the role of the Nigeria Police Force in ensuring law and order on our roads.
“The setting up of the FRSC to take over partially the functions already apportioned by law to the Federal Ministry of Works and the Nigeria Police Force as a result of seeming poor performance and/or to satisfy political and individual interests is a typical example of misadventure in the public sector at a great cost to government.
“Meanwhile, on the one hand, other bodies have their mandates intact as the relevant provisions of their enabling laws have not been repealed. On the other hand, the same provisions have been imported into the FRSC Act, making it appear as if the intention of government is to make the FRSC have the same mandate as the bodies referred to.
“Similarly, it was noted that the functions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are the traditional functions of the Nigeria Police.
“The Committee observed that even though the two Commissions were established separately to address corruption, which the Police appeared to have failed to do, successive administrations have ironically continued to appoint the Chairman of the EFCC from the Police Force, while the methodology adopted by the ICPC in conducting investigations as well as the training of its personnel in investigation procedure are carried out by the Police. One wonders if it was really expedient to dismember the Nigeria Police rather than allow it to evolve as a vibrant and effective agency,” he said.
Continuing, Oronsaye said: “In a related situation, the Committee also noted the case where the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) Limited, which was established as the commercial arm of the Nigerian Space Research Development Agency (NASRDA), with a sunset clause, has now expanded its scope and is in rivalry with its parent body. Indeed, only recently, the Nigerian Communications Satellite Corporation Bill was passed by the House of Representatives. Besides duplicating the satellite development functions of NASRDA, the Bill has created further needless duplications as it veers into the statutory functions of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigeria Commu-nications Commission (NCC) in the area of frequency allocation.
“In this austere time, Nigeria cannot afford to sustain the funding of multiple space research institutes, when in fact other more technologically advanced countries of the world, where space research is a priority, have only one. There is also the case of the Nigerian Broadcasting agencies (NTA, FRCN and VON) which the Committee believes focus more on structures rather than acquisition of broadcasting software. The world over, countries have made concerted efforts to manage the agencies responsible for their mass media communication by establishing and taking advantage of a single coordinating point. Such reforms in the media sector have been underpinned by the efficient use of resources and collaboration in order to have synergy amongst the operators.
“In the Environment sector, the Committee observed that the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) was created to perform a function already assigned by law to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). Besides being a clear case of latter-day overlapping functions of agencies, the continued existence of NOSDRA is tantamount to paying huge salaries to persons who do nothing but wait for spills to occur. This is despite the fact that there is a standard operating procedure for oil companies in Nigeria to clean up oil spill whenever it occurs.”
Meanwhile, members of the white paper committee include the Minister of Land and Housing, Ms. Ama Pepple; Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu and Minister, Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson.
Others are the Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. (Mrs) A. J. Awosika; Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Emeka Eze; Senior Special Assistant (Economic Matters), Office of Chief of Staff to the President, Dr. Ochi Achinivu and Permanent Secretary (General Services Office), Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Femi Olayisade.