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Cost of governance: Anxiety grips Agencies, as Tinubu orders full implementation of Oronsaye Report

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By Moses Adeniyi

Anxiety has built up in about 38 agencies of the Federal Government to be scraped, while uncertainties lie before others to be merged, as President Bola Tinubu has ordered the full implementation of the Oronsaye report,  a development that would necessitate the merging, subsuming, scraping and relocation of several agencies of government. c c

Disclosing the decision of the President, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, speaking to State House Correspondents after Monday’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja said,  “So in a very bold move today, this administration, under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, consistent again with his courage to take very far-reaching decisions in the interest of Nigeria, has taken a decision to implement the so-called Oronsaye Report.c “c

“Now, what that means is that a number of agencies, commissions, and some departments have actually been scrapped. Some have been modified, and marked while others have been subsumed. Others, of course, have also been moved from some ministries to others where the government feels they will operate better.”c

Special Adviser to Tinubu on Policy Coordination, Mrs Hadiza Bala-Usman disclosed that  the President constituted a committee to implement the mergers, scrapping and relocations within 12 weeks,

The Oronsaye report on public sector reforms which was submitted in 2012, revealed that there are 541 — statutory and non-statutory — Federal Government parastatals, commissions, and agencies.c

The then President, Goodluck Jonathan had set up the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, under the leadership of former Head of Civil Service, Stephen Oronsaye.c

Mr. Oronsaye had a 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.

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 scrapped, those to be merged and those to become self-funding, thereby freeing funds for the much-needed capital projects across the country.c

In 2022, former President Muhammadu Buhari had said  the Oronsaye report was being subjected to rigorous review and scrutiny before presentation because it would lead to some fundamental changes in the structure of the  country’s civil service.

He had assured that the Orosanye White Paper Report will be implemented, after review.

“I have directed that the Orosanye White Paper Report be subjected to immediate review to enable the government take the most appropriate decision on its general recommendation,” the then President had said.

The 800-page Oresanya report recommended that 263 of the statutory agencies be slashed to 161; 38 agencies be scrapped; 52 be merged and 14 be reverted to departments in various ministries.c

The report also recommends that the law establishing the National Salaries and Wages Commission be repealed and its functions taken over by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Responsibility Commission.c c

It submitted that the Federal Government merge the three anti-corruption agencies — the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Another key recommendation of the committee was to discontinue government funding of professional bodies and councils, consequently, the need to amend the Professional Bodies (Special Provisions) Act, 1972 which mandates the government to provide financial support of various kinds to such bodies.

According to the White Paper, agencies to be scrapped include the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) which would be abolished and its enabling law repealed as its functions are being performed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.  The Salaries and Wages Income Commission is also slated for a similar fate.

In Aviation, the trio of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Meteorological 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) was recommended for privatisation without further delay.  The recommendations were accepted by the government.

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), was recommended for a merging with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to synergise for management and utilisation of resources.

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 scrapped.

The committee recommended that the Utilities Charges Commission (UCC) be scrapped.

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 the Government’s earlier decision as contained in the Report of the Ahmed Joda Panel on the Review, Harmonisation and rationalisation of Federal Parastatals, Institutions and Agencies.

NOSDRA & NESREA

On the 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 the government position on this recommendation as it said that it noted it.

Based on the recommendations of the committee, the government had 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).

It recommended the 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). The Government was undecided on this recommendation.

Also that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) become self-funding.

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 of FIIRO.

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 the 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 had 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.

However, many of the recommendations of the committee were rejected by the 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 its duties better.

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 the government, except in respect of the single term of five years.

The committee also recommended that the 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 deaths, 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 dates of 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.

The Committee recommended that the 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.

For the National Emergency Management (NEMA), the committee recommended the merger of NEMA with the National Refugees Commission. This recommendation was also rejected.

DMO

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. Also that the Commission’s personnel be redeployed to the relevant organisations (the Police Service Commission, the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) in the Federal Capital Territory Authority) for due regularisation.

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 the 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 to be merged as a Department under the Centre for Disease Control in the Federal Ministry of Health.  The recommendation was rejected by the government.

The committee recommended that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) be scrapped and the 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 the government.

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.

NITDA

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 the government.

The committee recommended that government shares in the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) Limited be sold to private investors.  The recommendation was accepted but the government would maintain minority shares in the organisation.

NECO & NABTEB

NECO and NABTEB were recommended to be scrapped 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.

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

It recommended the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and the SMEDAN be merged to form a single agency for job and wealth creation.  The recommendation 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.

Also that the National Metallurgical Development Center (NMDC), Jos and the National Metallurgical Training Institute, Onitsha be scrapped.

The government rejected the recommendation but said the ministry should find 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 scrapping, but the government rejected the recommendation.

PTDF & NCDMB merger

The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) was recommended to 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 scrapping of National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN); National Rural Electrification Agency (NREA) were equally rejected by the government.

The committee recommended the 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 scrapped and the functions transferred to the Ministry of Power was rejected by the government.

The committee recommended that the 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 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 the 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).

Till recently, many of the agencies recommended for scraping or mergers including  the National Salaries and Wages Commission and RMAFC, ICRC, EFCC, ICPC, the Code of Conduct Bureau,  FRC, FCC, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Nigerian Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Studies (NIHOTOUR), among others have continued to receive budgetary allocations.

Also on the list include the  National Troupe and the National Theatre, National Gallery of Arts, the Nigeria Institute of Leather and Science Technology, the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT),  the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), the National Rural Electrification Agency (NREA),  and the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), Other agencies are the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA); the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA),  the National Metallurgical Development Centre Jos, the National Metallurgical Training Institute Onitsha,  the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences (NIMG) Jos, and the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency.

Others are the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA), the National Productivity Centre,  the Nigerian Copyright Commission, the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN),  the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).

Also are the three Federal Government broadcast stations – the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Voice of Nigeria (VON), recommended to be merged into a body called Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria.

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Ogun Assembly passes Assembly Commission Amendment bill

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The Ogun House of Assembly on Wednesday passed the State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The passage of the bill followed  presentation of the Committee’s report by the Chairman, House Committee on Establishments and Public Service Matters, Mr Babatunde Tella at plenary in Abeokuta.

Tella moved the motion for its adoption, seconded by Mr Adeyanju Adegoke and supported by all the members.

The bill was later read and adopted clause by clause before the Committee of Whole.

The Majority Leader, Mr Yusuf Sheriff, moved the motion for the third reading of the bill, seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Lukmon Adeleye and supported by the Whole House through a unanimous voice vote.

Consequently, the Deputy Clerk of the House, Mrs Funmilayo Adeyemi, took the third reading of the bill before the lawmakers.

The Speaker, Mr Oludaisi Elemide, directed that the clean copy of the bill be forwarded to Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his assent.

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Abuja court gives EFCC go-ahead to arrest ex-Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered that a warrant be issued to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for immediate arrest of former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling on EFCC’s ex-parte motion, held that after listening to the submission of commission’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, and reading the affidavit in support of the motion, including the exhibits and written address, he was inclined to grant the application.

It was earlier reported that a High Court sitting in Lokoja on Wednesday, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello

Justice I.A Jamil, who gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in suit no HCL/68/M/2020, held that infringing on Bello’s “fundamental human rights is null and void.”

The judge, who dismissed the commission’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court, said: “By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant.

“This is a definite order following the earlier interim injunction given.”

However, in a ruling delivered by Justice Nwite on Wednesday, the judge ordered that a warrant be issued to the commission for Bello’s immediate arrest.

He also directed that the former governor be produced before the court on April 18 for arraignment.

“It is hereby ordered as follows:

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned to 18th day of April, 2024 for arraignment,” he declared.

NAN reports that the EFCC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 dated April 16 and filed April 17, sought six orders.

These include “an order granting leave to the complainant/applicant to effect service of the charge together with the proof of evidence on the defendant by substituted means to wit; by pasting the charge at the last known address of the defendant within the jurisdiction of this honourable court being: 9, Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

“An order directing and/or issuing an arrest warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.”

In the alternative, the anti-graft agency sought an order issuing and directing the publishing of a public summons requiring/ commanding the defendant to appear before the court on a named date, among others.

The conflicting orders came after the EFCC had appealed against the initial order, and the appeal was scheduled for hearing on April 22 in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024 between EFCC and Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

The Yahaya Bello Media Office had, in a statement signed by Onogwu Mohammed, alerted the nation to a siege on the former Governor’s Abuja residence.

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Zulum approves N1.3bn scholarship for 997 nursing, midwifery students

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Gov. Babagana Zulum, of Borno has approved the release of N1.3billion as scholarship for 997 nursing and midwifery students from the state.

Zulum stated this on Wednesday while inaugurating the scholarship programme at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, Maiduguri.

He said that out of the 1,080 nominations, 40 from each of the 27 local government areas of the state, 997 qualified to benefit from the scholarship.

He also announced that the 997 beneficiaries of the scholarship would receive automatic employment after graduation.

The governor said that the support was to encourage the students to complete their studies so as to bridge the workforce demand in the state’s healthcare system.

“The government has allocated  N1,305,189,000 for scholarship, with a breakdown of N124,149,000 earmarked for tuition fees, the remaining N1,181,040,000 will be disbursed as monthly stipend of N30,000 to each beneficiary throughout their studies,” Zulum said.

He added that N201 million bursary allowance would be given to 2,010 nursing and midwifery students who did not benefited from the scholarship, and directed that each of them should receive N100,000.

Zulum, who stated that ongoing construction of two colleges of nursing would be completed this year, inaugurated a lecture theatre complex and a 3,000-capacity multipurpose hall at the college.

Earlier, Lawan Wakilbe, the Commissioner for Education, said that the government had approved over N6 billion scholarship, out of which about N2.7 billion was disbursed to students from the state studying in higher institutions across the country.

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