June 4 2014
COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE COST OF GOVERNANCE WORKSHOP FOCUSING ON THE ORONSAYE COMMITTEE REPORT
The Cost of Governance Workshop was convened by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) with the support of the Federal Public Administration Reform Programme (FEPAR) at the Grand Ibro Hotel Abuja on Wednesday June 4 2014. About 30 participants attended the workshop. They included representatives of civil society organisations, sector experts and media practitioners.
The Workshop was convened with the objective of reviewing the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, known as the Oronsaye Committee to determine whether the positions of the White Paper are in accordance with the original mandate of the Oronsaye Committee. It further seeks to proffer new insights on how to reduce the cost of governance in accordance with national and international best practices.
Presentations were made on an overview of the entire White Paper; on specific sectors such as Agriculture, Aviation, Education, Extractives and the Oil and Gas Sector, Fiscal Governance and Taxation, ICT, Science and Technology as well as Trade and Investment.
The expected outputs include enlightening the civil society; identifying entry points and strategies for engaging Executive and Legislative authorities and building up momentum for increased demand for the reduction of the cost of governance at the federal level in Nigeria.
[II] PARTICIPANTS NOTED THE FOLLOWING
A. The Terms of Reference of the Oronsaye Committee was to:
(i)study and review all previous reports and records on the restructuring of Federal Parastatals and advise on whether they were still relevant;
(ii).examine the enabling Acts of all the Federal Agencies, Parastatals and Commissions and classify them into various sectors;
(iii) examine critically, the mandate of the existing Federal Agencies, Parastatals and Commissions and determine areas of overlap or duplication of functions and make appropriate recommendations to either restructure, merge or scrap some to eliminate such overlaps, duplications or redundancies ; and
(iv) advise on any other matter incidental to the foregoing which might be relevant to the desire of Government to prune down the cost of governance.
B. The Principles that guided the Oronsaye Committee work were:
(i)the economic challenges and the need for Government to make more efficient use of its resources to achieve its development objectives and goals;
(ii) the fact that Nigeria had undertaken reforms in the past;
(iii) it was imperative to reform to meet the challenges of a better socio-political and economic society;
(iv) there was no need to create another body to perform the functions of an already existing statutory entity. The fact that an institution was inefficient and ineffective should not warrant the creation of a new one; and
(v) the reform would ensure efficient and effective management of Government structures and functionaries to guarantee better service delivery and good governance.
C. The lack of harmony between the Terms of Reference and Guiding Principles of the Oronsaye Committee and the positions on the White Paper.
D. As is usual in government White Papers, the criteria for accepting, rejecting or noting the various recommendations were not indicated in the White Paper; they are therefore not available to the public.
[III] THE PARTICIPANTS THEREAFTER RECOMMEDNED AS FOLLOWS
(A) In accordance with the Oronsaye Committee Report, the Federal Government should reduce the number of members on each of the governing boards or councils of all agencies, parastatals and commissions to not more than seven and the membership and composition of boards and commissions should be based on merit and competence.
(B) A single 7 member board should be appointed to serve and oversee all the River Basin Development Authorities as against the current practice of one board per River Basin Development Authority.
(C) The Federal Government should expeditiously roll out the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) to cover all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government.
(D) The proliferation and duplication of research institutes and agencies should be redressed through the mergers recommended by the Oronsaye Committee and the establishment of the National Research Development Fund and all research institutes should access competitive research funding from the Fund.
(E) Considering the convergence of their functions, the following agencies should be merged:
- The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC);
- The National Space Research Development Agency (NASRDA) and the Nigerian Communication Satellite Ltd (NigComSat);
- The Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) and the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN);
- The Standards Organisation of Nigeria, the Consumer Protection Council and the Department of Weights and Measures;
- The Nigerian Export Promotion Council and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council;
- The Nigerian Export Processing Zone and the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority.
(F) The liquidation of NITEL should proceed expeditiously while the Federal Government weans NIPOST and allows it to become fully commercialised; to explore possibilities of haulage services and also to use its offices for mobile money services.
(G) The proposed merger of aviation agencies is retrogressive; it is not in accordance with international best practices as it will undermine aviation safety in Nigeria. It should therefore be discontinued.
(H) The proposed scrapping of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and the transfer of its functions to Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission is retrogressive and should be halted.
(I) Considering the secular/multi religious nature of the Nigerian society, the Federal Government should immediately scrap the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission and the National Hajj Commission.
(J) The Federal Government’s continued direct investment in aviation infrastructure is a waste of public resources and should be stopped in favour of funding under public private partnerships.
(K) Since the Oronsaye Committee’s position on the Petroleum and Gas industry will be taken care of through the passage of a progressive Petroleum Industry Bill, the legislative process on this Bill should be expedited.
(L) The Federal Government should conduct staff and management audit in all tertiary institutions including teaching hospitals in the light of the administrative staff outrageously outnumbering the core staff of these institutions.
(M) The continued public funding of the Tafawa Balewa Square Management Board and the Lagos International Trade Fair Management Board after they have been concessioned is a waste of public resources and should be discontinued immediately.
(N) The Federal Government should reduce the size of the federal cabinet through amendment of the Constitution to ensure that federal ministers do not exceed 15 in number and also limit the number of assistants to the President to a reasonable number.
(O) All Bills pending before the National Assembly seeking to set up new agencies of the Federal Government should be reviewed for duplicity or overlap of functions and an evaluation of the cost of implementation.
Participants noted that these recommendations do not cover the entire gamut of the Oronsaye Committee recommendations and the White Paper and therefore called for deeper engagement with the recommendations and with authorities in the Executive and Legislature with a view to drastically reducing the cost of governance.
Eze Onyekpere Edetaen Ojo
Centre for Social Justice Media Rights Agenda