Former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsanye
•To merge EFCC, ICPC
•Retains NYSC, NEMA, FRSC
•Presidency: No decision made on parastatals yet
Kunle Aderinokun in Lagos and Muhammad Bello in Abuja
The federal government is in the process of considering the report of the draft White Paper on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, which has recommended the scrapping of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), National Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and 217 federal government parastatals, commissions and agencies.
Other key parastatals recommended in the draft white paper for either consolidation or scrapping are the Public Complaints Commission (PCC), which shall be merged with Human Rights Commission; merger of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and the axing of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Utilities Charges Commission (UCC), Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), and National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC).
But in a swift move to allay concerns that the death knell had been sounded on the agencies, the presidency last night denied that a final decision had been taken by the federal government on their axing or mergers, stating that the report was speculative and lacked any iota of truth.
The recommendations on the parastatals is the fall out of the review committee chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan on the draft White Paper of the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies.
The consideration of the draft report came amid the controversy that trailed some of the recommendations of the presidential committee headed by the former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsanye, as contained in white paper submitted to FEC.
The committee set up in late 2011 had recommended that 220 of the 541 parastatals, commissions and agencies be scrapped while 321 be retained, as part of measures to reduce the rising cost of governance.
A white paper committee was thereafter established to review the recommendations of the presidential committee.
The Federal Executive Council, according to sources in the presidency, has in the last three weeks been reviewing the report, and a final decision would soon be taken on the parastatals.
On top of the list of the parastatals and agencies recommended for axing is the BPE. According to the report obtained by THISDAY, “The federal government has directed that a ‘sunset clause’ be introduced to the bureau to conclude its assignment and wound down.”
The report also recommended the scrapping of NAPEP, which the government accepted and directed that the functions of NAPEP be merged with National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
In the same vein, the NSIWC is to be abolished and its law repealed while its functions are to be transferred to Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Also recommended for abolition is FRC established by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007. The federal government directed the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to initiate necessary action for the abolition of the commission.
In the case of the UCC, the government accepted the recommendation scrapping the commission and the repeal of its Act. It further approved the redeployment of staff of the commission to the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, provided they are civil servants.
In addition, the government ratified the presidential committee’s recommendation that the EFCC and ICPC should be consolidated into one anti-corruption agency.
In approving the merger, the government directed the attorney general to initiate necessary action in respect of the proposed merger.
The federal government also accepted the committee’s recommendation for proper investigation into the allegations made by the National Boundaries Commission (NBC) against the Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF) over the funding of two non-existent boundary demarcations.
This is in addition to investigations into the alleged illegal extension of Nigeria’s maritime boundary from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles at the cost of $12 million without due consultations.
For the military that has been withdrawn from the contributory pension scheme under the regulation of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), the government, in the report, directed that it should be reversed.
Despite the clamour in certain sections of the country for the scrapping of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the government resolved to let the agency be and restructure it with a view to developing a framework to cover critical areas of national socio-economic development to which corps members would be deployed for their primary assignments.
It has also directed that the Nation Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) currently domiciled in the presidency be relocated to the Ministry of Trade and Investment and merged with the NEPC to synergise for management and utilisation of resources.
For the Police Service Commission (PSC), the government directed that the law establishing the commission be amended so that the Minister of Police Affairs can head the PSC.
The government further directed that the law establishing the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) be amended to conform with FIFA’s directive that its name be altered that the association be renamed a federation.
The government also accepted the committee’s recommendation that the Council for Registered Engineers (COREN) and Surveyors Registration Council (SRC) should no longer receive budgetary allocations from the 2015 fiscal year.
With respect to the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and Federal Highways Department, both institutions are to be transformed into an extra-ministerial department of the Ministry of Works.
Accordingly, FERMA’s enabling law will be amended to reflect the changing status.
The government also directed that the Border Communities Agency (BCA) be relocated to the presidency with its own line budget and that it
should be strengthened.
On the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the government rejected the recommendation that it should be merged with the National Refugees Commission (NRC); it also rejected the recommendation that the Act setting up the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) be repealed.
Also saved from extinction were the National Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) and the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NHCN).
The presidential committee had recommended that both commissions be abolished and their functions transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
However, a presidency source said yesterday that no decision had been taken on the report.
The official, who said the federal government was yet to come out with the final position on the recommendations of the Oransaye report, said: “The report is still at the FEC level and a committee was set up to review the draft white paper. There is no final decision yet on the recommendations, anything outside this is mere speculation.”
FEC last Wednesday had concluded deliberations on the white paper but did not give details of what decisions were taken.
But the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku told the press that the council’s decision on the white paper included the need to align some research institutes or agencies with universities, while the river basin authorities across the country would be commercialised with the involvement of the private sector.
He said it was very clear that major decisions would be taken in many of the key sectors to reduce the number of agencies, particularly those that perform duplicating tasks and whose functions have overlap.
He, however, declined to mention the agencies that would be scrapped or merged to streamline the public sector, stating that the details of the final decisions on the white paper report would soon be released.