Home Financial responsibility Why reducing governance costs has remained elusive since 2012 — Nigeria — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Why reducing governance costs has remained elusive since 2012 — Nigeria — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

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Lack of synergy between NASS and the executive undermines its implementation
• Legislature creates more than 200 additional agencies and commissions
• FG undecided, insincere – Legislator
• Non-implementation of the report hampers governance costs — SGF

Reducing Nigeria’s enormous cost of governance in the face of dwindling economic fortunes may remain a mirage or, at best, mere platitudes, passing through the antennae at the seat of power in Abuja and its corridors across the country.

For some time now, sustained campaigns for cost-cutting measures in governance at all levels have been led by concerned Nigerians, consisting mainly of economists, financial analysts, public sector stakeholders and commentators. .

Following unsuccessful attempts by successive administrations to reduce the number of federal government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) as a cost-cutting measure, former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 established the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Streamlining parastatals of the federal government, commissions and Agencies, under the chairmanship of Steve Oronsaye.

The Oronsaye committee submitted an 800-page report on April 16, 2012, which recommended the abolition and merger of 102 government and parastatal agencies, while some were listed as self-funded.

The committee revealed a high level of competition between several overlapping agencies, which had not only created resentment among government agencies, but also led to unnecessary waste of public spending.

The committee also recommended, among other things, the cessation of government funding of professional orders and councils. The measures consisted mainly of free funds for much-needed capital projects across the country.

Oronsaye’s report was met with mixed feelings as the dismissal was imminent, but many felt that despite the implications on agencies and individuals who might be affected by the exercise (if implemented ), the public service would be strengthened and made more productive.

Following the submission of the white paper on the report in March 2014, an implementation committee was set up two months later. Eight years later, the government, rather than reducing, harmonizing or merging certain agencies as recommended in the report, decided to create others.

Ten years later, there has been a lull in actions to implement the report’s recommendations.

Some commentators have identified a major impediment to the implementation of the report as being that most of the agencies involved were legislative creations. They said the enabling laws must be repealed before the agencies cease to exist.

However, and unfortunately, the actions and, in some cases, the inaction of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the members of the National Assembly do not indicate any commitment to reduce unnecessary public expenditure or even to implement the report recommendations. Rather, what has happened over the past 10 years is the issuance of directives and the establishment of new committees to write a white paper or to review the entire report.

Specifically, among a number of non-motion back and forths by the government since 2012 was the establishment of the Bukar Aji committee to review Mohammed Adoke’s white paper on the Steve Oronsaye report. There had been the Amal Pepple Committee to review new parastatal agencies, agencies and commissions (PACs) created between 2012 and October 2021; just as there had been the Ebele Okeke committee to write a white paper on the report of the Amal Pepple committee on the new parastatals, agencies and commissions created between 2012 and 2021.

Findings from The Guardian revealed that in complete disregard of the recommendations contained in the Oronsaye Committee report, no less than 250 additional agencies, commissions and parastatals were created through new bills in the National Assembly.

Some of the bills creating these agencies have either been passed and assented to by the President or have reached very advanced stages of legislative processing, raising questions about the FG’s commitment to implementing the Oronsaye report.

The National Assembly, however, has also proven guilty of increasing the overall cost of governance. Audits revealed that between 2015 and 2019, some 213 of the 311 bills introduced in the 8th Senate were bills to create more federal agencies and commissions! However, only 80 of these bills received presidential assent. Duplicating the functions of existing agencies was also a key reason the president vetoed 53 National Assembly bills between 2017 and 2019.

More telling is that of the 742 bills tabled in both chambers of the National Assembly between June 2019 and June 2021, more than 262 are establishment bills, that is, bills aiming to create one or the other agency. In addition, some of the bills have been introduced to seek legal recognition of already existing federal agencies.

The bills, many of which have been passed and approved by the President, include the National Commission for the Coordination and Control of the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Creation), 2022; the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill; North Central Development Commission (East, etc.) Bill 2019; Electoral Offenses Commission (Est., etc.) Bill, 2019; North West (Eastern, etc.) Development Commission Bill 2019; National Sports Commission (Est., etc.) Bill 2019; and Social Intervention Programs Agency (Est., etc.) Bill, 2019.

Also included are the National Food Reserves Agency (Est., etc.) Bill 2019; Police Academy (Est., etc.) Bill 2019; North Central Development Commission Bill (East, etc.), 2019; and South West (Eastern, etc.) Development Commission Bill, 2019.

Others are the South East Development Commission Bill 2019 (East, etc.); Fiscal Responsibility Commission (Est., etc.) Bill, 2019; National Road Fund (Est., etc.) Bill, 2019; National Assembly Office of Budget and Research (Est., etc.) Bill, 2019; National Commission for the Eradication of Childhood Destitution (Est., etc.) Bill, 2019; Dormant Accounts Funds Management (Est., etc.) Bill, 2019; and the Constituency Development Fund (Eastern etc.) Bill, 2019.

Bills, which seek to create a new agency or institution, make up a significant percentage of the total bills sponsored in a particular assembly.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the lack of synergy between the National Assembly and the executive of the government is a key factor in the delay in the implementation of the Oronsaye report.

While the president criticizes the National Assembly for ignoring the Oronsaye report and continues to produce legislation creating more agencies, the parliament says it has received no communication from the executive regarding serious action on the Oronsaye report .

A senior National Assembly official blasted criticism of the lawmaker over the delay in implementing the report.

“For example, the presidency knows that in order to effect meaningful change and reduce the number of agencies and commissions, it is necessary to take serious legislative action, in particular to repeal the laws that created the existing agencies. Has the executive sent a communication to the National Assembly in this regard? The answer is no! So why blame the National Assembly? It may interest you to note that some of the legislative bills to create more agencies and commissions are executive bills.

Among the most important recommendations in the report are the merger of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) in a single agency; abolition of the Budget Responsibility Commission (FRC) and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), whose functions will be consolidated under the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Taxation Commission (RMAFC).

In addition, the Oronsaye committee recommended that laws supporting educational agencies such as the National Examinations Council (NECO) and the National Business and Technical Council (NABTEB) be repealed to give the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) the functions of both.

In broadcasting, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Voice of Nigeria and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) will be consolidated under the Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria (FBCN).

Just last week, a new drafting committee of the white paper on the review of new parastatals, agencies and commissions (PACs) which was created following the report of the Oronsaye group proposed engagement and dialogue with the National Assembly to generate understanding to streamline the creation of new agencies and commissions.

The chairperson of the committee, Ms. Ebele Okeke, former head of the civil service of the Federation, made the suggestion when the committee presented the draft white paper on the review of new parastatals, agencies and commissions to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.

The committee made observations almost similar to those of the Oronsaye report. According to Okeke, the law establishing certain agencies was rather ambiguous in its structure, management and supervision. He blamed the indiscriminate use of agency, commission and board interchangeably.

He also noted that most of the agencies that have been created, especially under the Ministries of Education and Health, have been through bills from the National Assembly.

She said her committee had also discovered that the legal framework and enabling law for some of the PACs was ambiguous about their structure, management and oversight, as most laws used agency, commission and council interchangeably.

Mustapha, while receiving the Okeke Committee report, admitted that the creation of new agencies will further increase government expenditure.

He noted that the federal government’s failure to implement Oronsaye’s report has serious implications for the cost of running government.