FG to Set Up Panel on Implementation of Oronsaye Report

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige

•There’ll be no job losses, says Ngige

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The federal government is to constitute a presidential committee to work out ways to implement the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye Panel on rationalisation of ministries, agencies and parastatals.

However, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has assured the public that the merger and scrapping of MDAs, will not lead to job losses.

President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered that the White Paper on the report, submitted in 2014, be dusted up and implemented as one of the steps to reduce governance cost in the face of plummeting revenue occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 and its attendant effect on global oil price volatility.

The committee, set up by the administration of former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, recommended among other measures, the reduction of statutory agencies of government from 263 to 161.

The committee’s 800-page report had put the number of federal government parastatals, commissions, and agencies (statutory and non-statutory) in the country at 541.

From the committee’s recommendations, the number of statutory agencies should be reduced from the current 263 to 161.

However, the White Paper on the panel report, which the Buhari administration is set to implement, either rejected or merely “noted” for future consideration about 90 per cent of the recommendations.

THISDAY gathered at the weekend that the federal government was working on the next step to appoint an implementation committee to carry out the pruning.

A source at the presidency confided in THISDAY that the implementation of the report would mainly lead to the merging of related offices except where the agency or parastatals are adjudged to have outlived their usefulness or have become unproductive.

“If the agency has outlived its usefulness, it will be scrapped, while others will be merged. But it will be a gradual exercise and an implementation committee will have to be established to study the report and recommend the best approach to adopt,” the source said.

THISDAY had reported that the government’s target for the implementation of the report is October.

The move to revisit the report has already elicited mixed reactions from stakeholders, with groups kicking against it.

The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) had issued a statement condemning it, saying that it would lead to job losses.

ASCSN’s Secretary-General, Mr. Alade Lawal, said the body was shocked that government decided at a time when the world was mourning the death of thousands of people killed by COVID-19 to implement the Oronsaye report.

But reacting to ASCSN’s position, Ngige told THISDAY at the weekend that the picture being painted about the Oronsaye report by the workers’ body was not correct, adding that the intention was to minimise the cost of governance by reducing the running cost of agencies.

Ngige explained that the implementation of the report was not aimed at causing job losses.

Instead, the minister said that the key aim was to cut down on the cost of governance and to promote economic sustainability after COVID-19.

According to him, although there will be apprehension by workers that their jobs may be threatened, the idea is to cut down the running cost of the government agencies where necessary.

“It will not lead to job losses; the idea is to cut down on the cost of governance, running cost of those agencies, not the personnel cost,” he said.

Ngige who is a member of the Presidential Committee on Economic Sustainability explained that even when some staff are affected, an incentive might be provided to cushion the pain.