The Federal Government has sustained full budgetary allocations to departments and agencies recommended for merger and abolition in the 2013 fiscal year, suggesting that the proposals of the Oronsaye Committee on a manageable Civil Service might have been dumped.
An examination of the 2013 budget proposals submitted to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan showed that the FG made a provision of at least N178.79bn for government bodies recommended for abolition next year. Out of the N178.79bn, the government budgeted N122.28m for recurrent expenditure and N56.51bn for capital expenditure.
The Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of FG Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, headed by a former Head of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, was constituted by Jonathan in August 2011 “to cut the waste and high cost of governance in the country.”
The committee, which submitted its report on April 16, 2012 to the President, proposed the abolition of 38 agencies, merger of another 52 and reversion of 14 agencies to departments in the relevant ministries.
In receiving the over 800-page document, Jonathan had given an assurance to Nigerians that a White Paper committee would be set up immediately would be given two months to deliberate on it and come up with a final submission.
However, on April 18, a White Paper Committee headed by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), was set up to review the recommendations of the Oronsaye Committee.
Members of the panel are 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; Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson; and Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman.
Others are Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Mrs. A. J. Awosika, BPE Director-General, Emeka Eze, Senior Special Assistant Economic Matters to the President, Dr. Ochi C. Achinivu, and a Permanent Secretary in the General Services Office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation, Mr. Femi Olayisade (who is the secretary). The committee was given 60 days to submit its recommendations.
Although the Oronsaye Committee proposed the merger of the major anti-graft agencies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and Code of Conduct Bureau – for the Anti-Corruption Tribunal, the agencies got N9.388bn, N4.47bn and N3.01bn respectively in the 2013 budget proposals.
The Federal Road Safety Corps, which is also recommended for scrapping (with a suggested transference of its responsibilities to the Highway Department of the Federal Ministry of Works and the Police), got an allocation of N30.718bn for the 2013 fiscal year.
Similarly, the National Hajj Commission and the Nigerian Christian Board were allocated funds in the 2013 budget proposals in spite of the recommendations of the committee that the two bodies be scrapped.
“Issues of pilgrimage are individual religious affairs, which could be undertaken without government sponsorship,” said the report in recommending the abolition of the two bodies. While the NHC received N724.46m, its Christian counterpart, the NCPC, got N634m for 2013.
The National Poverty Eradication Programme, the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and the National Directorate of Employment got a vote of N3.34bn, N1.5bn, and N5.4bn respectively. The Oronsaye panel had recommended a merger of NAPEP, NDE and SMEDAN and their functions transferred to a National Agency for Job Creation and Empowerment.
More curious are allocations to agencies, which are commercial and should generate revenue. For instance, N3.4bn was budgeted for the Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd., which is supposed to concentrate on commercial activities relating to space research and development of the National Space Research Development Agency.
The committee, in its report, had advised the government to, among other things, sell off its shares in NigComSat, and restore all activities relating to space development to NASRDA. The Abuja Security and Commodities Exchange Commission, which was established to be self-sustaining and income generating, got a total budget of N278m.
The committee had recommended that the commission should be privatised. Also, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency of Nigeria and the Ministry of Police Affairs, which the committee said should be scrapped, have votes of N34.72bn and N8.5bn respectively.
On Friday, when our correspondent contacted a member of the White Paper Committee, he said that the committee had finished its job several months ago. However, the member was silent on the specific date the committee concluded its work.
The committee member would also not speak on what was preventing government’s implementation of the report and instead referred our correspondent to the Minister of Justice, Mr. Adoke. When contacted, the AGF said the report had been submitted. “The report has since been submitted and is awaiting action,” Adoke said in a text message.
Oronsaye, the deputy chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force led by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, had openly disagreed with the submissions of the panel before Jonathan on Nov. 2, 2012 in Abuja.
The Ribadu panel had discovered widespread irregularities in the oil sector from 2008 to 2011, with the 146-page report detailing the non-payment of $183m in signature bonuses to the FG, among others.