4 April 2013

Nigeria: As Oronsaye Report Takes Off


With the scrapping of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UMTE), National Examinations Council (NECO), Public Complaints Commission (PCC) and National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), among others and merging them with related institutions, the Federal Government may have commenced the implementation of the Steve Oronsaye report that recommended the streamlining of agencies and parastatals to cut the cost of government. The committee clearly favoured a leaner government. We agree because as the report noted, most of the agencies and parastatals were mere duplicates and shelters of corruption. A good example is the West African Examination Council and NECO; or the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board and the universities.

Some of them were actually directorates of ministries which assumed bureaucratic lives of their own.

The Nigerian public is increasingly justifiably worried at what it perceives as the profligate disposition of officialdom. There are, therefore, valid calls for the reduction of the cost of running government. So, the bureaucracy is a convenient take off point. Curiously, it is only the executive arm of government that is making effort to respond to this felt need. The legislature is busy expanding its own bureaucracy as if in competition with the executive arm. We hope that the weight shedding will also be extended to that arm of government.

We are enamoured by the fact that, in theory, this cost cutting measure will lead to a preservation of valuable resource. To this extent, therefore, we agree with Oronsaye's report that it is time to put a cap on the excess baggage in the bloated bureaucracy already.

But we are worried that, even if this scrapping and merger of agencies result in the saving of costs, what are the guarantees that they will reflect on efficiency and effectiveness in government operations? Will the average Nigerian have the feel of this policy and its anticipated effect on national policy implementation? Is this policy sufficiently well thought out in the best interest of the nation or is this another red herring, a brain wave of sorts that will ultimately lead to nowhere?

Another point that bothers us as government takes off on this trajectory is the fear that it may lead to mass sack of staff that will worsen and add to the already bludgeoning unemployment market. In our opinion, if this is likely, then the first to go are the political, non career staff who are merely occupying space without contributing much to the process. Still, we argue that this policy must be handled with utmost tact especially as it affects career public servants.Anything to the contrary will be counter-productive and further present the government as bread snatcher.

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