Palpable fear has enveloped Nigeria’s federal civil service following plans by the federal government to implement the report of the presidential committee on the restructuring and rationalisation of government parastatals, commissions and agencies.
The committee which was chaired by a former head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Stephen Osagiede Oronsaye, had on April 16, 2012 submitted its report, which among others recommended a reduction in the number of federal agencies from 263 to 161 to reduce cost of governance in the country.
11 years after, the federal government yesterday inaugurated a white paper committee to review parastatals, agencies, and commissions created since 2014, as part of the process leading to the implementation of the Oronsaye committee.
The government had in November 2021 inaugurated two sub-committees on the implementation of the whitepaper on the restructuring of ministries, departments, and agencies to reduce the cost of governance, chaired by former heads of service of the federation — Bukar Aji, Amal Pepple, and Oladapo Afolabi.
The second committee was to review new parastatals, agencies, and commissions created after the submission of the report on restructuring.
It was gathered that there was apprehension among civil servants over impending job loss following plans to scrap some redundant federal agencies and parastatals.
It was also observed that after news of the inauguration of the white paper committee broke, some of the civil servants were seen in groups at the premises of the federal ministries discussing the development, with most of them wearing a sad look.
Confirming plans to scrap some of the redundant agencies, secretary to government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said the federal government had been concerned with increasing costs of governance, especially with revenue challenges in the country, which led to a number of efforts to address the situation.
Speaking during the inauguration of the white paper committee in Abuja yesterday, the SGF said, “One of such efforts was the constitution of the Committee on the restructuring and rationalization of federal government parastatals, commissions and agencies on the 18th of August 2011, chaired by the former head of service, Mr. Steve Oransaye.
“The committee submitted its report on the 16th of April 2012, with various recommendations, such as abolition, reduction, merger, and reversion of some of the agencies to departments in ministries. Subsequently, the white paper on the report was issued in March of 2014, followed by an implementation committee that was inaugurated in May 2014.
“However, the white paper rejecting most of the recommendations merely noted an equally greater number. Again, even those accepted were not implemented.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you will all agree with me that the inability to implement the report of the Committee on restructuring and rationalization of the federal government, parastatals, agencies, and commissions is costing the government highly. This cost grows higher, and the situation is further worsened by the fact that new agencies are being created on a daily basis.
“In an effort to address this challenge, the federal government in November 2021, integrated two committees. One of the committees was to review the Steve Oronsaye’s report and its white paper chaired by Gonji Bukar Aji, a retired head of civil service of the Federation, the second committee was constituted to review new agencies created from 2014 to date which was chaired by Ms Ama Pepple, another former head of civil service of the Federation.
“After the submission of the Ama Pepple chaired committee report, there is a need to constitute a white paper for the committee to consider its recommendation by the government, hence the inauguration today of this committee.”
Mustapha said the white paper committee headed by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Ebele Okeke, has six weeks to submit report so the process of implementation can begin after approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He urged the committee to work to deliver the report in six weeks.
He said, “I look forward to working with you on delivering this assignment. I noticed that we did not put a time limit, but I would ask that probably we have this report turned in as quickly as possible within a period of six weeks.
“If you can do that we would appreciate it. So that will begin the processes of the implementation of this report. If not, as you are sitting and preparing a white paper, you will hear that one other committee or another agency has sprung up.’’
On her part, chairperson of the committee, Okeke, commended the federal government for always inviting retired permanent secretaries and former head of service to give back to the country that has trained and given them so much.
She regretted that the ‘’Oransaye’s report, which was 11 years old today, is yet to be implemented.’’
Recall that the committee on the restructuring and rationalisation of federal government parastatals, commissions and agencies which was constituted on August 18, 2011, had submitted its report on April 16, 2012.
The report of the Oronsaye committee recommended that of the 541 statutory and non-statutory federal government parastatals, agencies and commissions, 263 statutory agencies should be reduced to 161, 38 agencies should be abolished, 52 agencies should be merged, and 14 should revert back to departments in ministries.
Subsequently, the white paper on the report was issued and published in March 2014 and was followed by the white paper implementation Committee inaugurated in May 2014.