The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, recently announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval to the implementation of the Oransaye report with its recommendations which include merger and abolition of several agencies and parastatals of the federal government.
The implementation of the report to a certain degree will need the approval of the National Assembly as some of the agencies are a creation of the law by the federal parliament.
However, over the years and most recently, the position of the National Assembly appears to be in opposite of the Oronsaye report. Members of the National Assembly had sponsored several bills which ultimately will lead to creation of more commissions, agencies, schools and institutions.
Highlights of the Oransaye Report
Former President, Goodluck Jonathan, on the 18th of August, 2011 set up a presidential committee Chaired by the former Head of Service, Steven Oransaye with 6 others as members. The Presidential committee had a term of reference of reviewing all previous reports and records on restructuring of the federal parastatals, examine the enabling acts of all the federal agencies, parastatal and commission and to determine areas of duplication of functions and make appropriate recommendations to either restructure, merge or scrap some to eliminate overlap. The code of Conduct Tribunal was to be named Anti-Corruption Tribunal.
Some of the major recommendations include, the consolidation of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as one agency.
The committee also recommended abolition of the Federal Character Commission and also Fiscal Responsibility Commission to be scraped with its functions taken over by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Also, the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) are to be abolished with the government restricting itself to providing consular services and vaccines. The implication is that government will stop sponsoring religious pilgrimage.
In the education sector, the National Examination Council (NECO) and National Business and Technical Board (NABTEB) are to be repealed, with West African Examination being the only body charged with such functions. While the government should disengage from funding the National Open University (NOUN). Also, the Federal Radio Corporation, Voice of Nigeria and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) are to be merged under the Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria (FBCN)
National Assembly and Oransaye report in opposite directions:
Following an investigation on bills presently in the House of Representatives, out of 586 investigated by this reporter, 129 are establishment bills, while 39 bills out of 100 bills investigated are establishment bills.
Some of the notable ones are the Peace Corps bill, Southeast Development commission, North Central Development commission, South West Development Commission, South South Development Commission and so on and so forth.
In 2018, the President rejected the Peace Corps bill. Buhari in a letter to the Senate and the House on the 18th of February, 2018 said that the reason for rejecting the bill was due to “cost and duplication of functions.”
DAILY POST in a phone interview with Dickson Akoh, the commandant of the organization agreed that passing the bill at a time of COVID-19 with dire economic consequence will be hard, but remains optimistic about it.
“Our only concern is that when the President rejected the bill in 2018, he talked about scarcity of funds, and with COVID-19, the nation is staring at depression, but we are not in a hurry, but we are optimistic,” he stated.
Adding that “The Oransaye report talks about existing agencies and duplication, but this is about security. If you listen to the speech by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday at the platform programme, he talked about job creation, which is what Peace Corps is all about.”
He also claimed that Peace Corps members are stationed at most checkpoints with police and other security agents for the COVID-19 restriction (this claim has not been verified by DAILY POST).
The minority leader of the House, Toby Okechukwu also speaking on the matter said the House of Representatives will treat the report whenever it is presented to the House on the need basis. He, however, said that if the action could lead to job loss, the implementation should be post COVID-19.
“Bills are supposed to respond to the need of the society, that is why you repeal some laws and re-enact new ones, when you deal with societal changes,
‘When the report comes to the parliament, we will do a reality check, based on the quality of the criteria used. We cannot respond ignorantly. The report will be on need to do basis. When it comes, we will make an assessment of it. There are new things you should create and there are new things that should go.
“There are establishments that need to be defunct. Well, if you are responding to a COVID-19 economy, it is not timely, it should be a post-COVID-19 action. Let us deal with what we have now. If you close some agencies, and it leads to job loss, it will have some consequences on Nigerians. It is an action that should come later on, it should be done with proper care and due diligence. A report that is close to 10 years should be properly scrutinized to be sure if it speaks to issues as they were then.”
As things stand, the conversation on the implementation of the report is between the National Assembly and the executive, but based on the bills in the National Assembly, it’s safe to say there is yet to be a point of convergence. But the reality of COVID-19 could change that.
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