Nigeria: Senate's Move to Merge 700 Agencies

2 October 2019

In a move to reduce the cost of governance, the Senate hinted last week of plans to merge over 700 agencies the upper legislative chamber described as redundant and drain pipes on the treasury. The Senate said that after the merger of the moribund agencies, vibrant ones would be created to drive the machinery of government and meet the yearnings of the people.

After the debate on the 9th Senate Legislative Agenda Report, the chairman of the National Assembly, who is also the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, declared that hundreds of federal agencies which do not add value to the people would be scrapped. Lawan said that the present economic realities in the country demand that the redundant agencies be scrapped to save funds. This newspaper commend the move by the Senate as we observe that there are many agencies of government duplicating duties which does not agur well for the country's finances.

Regrettably, with the new minimum wage, personell cost is now projected to enlarge to N2.29 trillion.Out of the N3.96trn actual revenue generated by the Federal Government between January and December 2018 to finance the budget, about N3.1trn was spent on recurrent expenditure.No country in the world can move forward with such baggage.We spend so much of our resources on payment of salaries to the detriment of human and capital projects and development.This is simply not acceptable and we cannot continue like this.

This newspaper recalls that the former Head of Service and chairman of the Presidential Committee on reform of government agencies, Steve Oronsaye in 2012 recommended the reduction of statutory agencies of government from 263 to 161.According to the report, the average cost of governance in Nigeria is believed to rank among the highest in the world.

"There are 541 government parastatals, commissions and agencies (statutory and non-statutory) in the country.

Going by the recommendations of the committee, the figure of statutory agencies is being proposed for reduction to 161 from the current figure of 263," Oronsaye said.

Also, this was coming on the heels of a White Paper on the Ahmed Joda Panel Report on the Review, Harmonisation and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Institutions and Agencies (2000), that took a second look at some parastatals and agencies, which government had decided should either be scrapped, commercialised, privatised or self-funding.

Sadly, like most of the committee reports in Nigeria, like the Oronsaye and Ahmed Joda report on restructuring of government agencies are gathering dust on the shelves as no government has shown the political will to implement the recommendations of both reports.

This newspaper also believes the number of statutory agencies have since increased from 263 it was in 2012. We also observe that most agencies were created as "job for the boys" and not necessarily to fill or solve a particular need of government.

It is in the light of the above that we welcome the latest move by the lawmakers to streamline the number of agencies in view of the present economic realities.

For instance, we are of the opinion that we don't need the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). What are we two doing with two anti-corruption agencies when they can be merged to serve a single purpose.

Also, the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) and Vehicle Inspectorate (VIO) perform similar duties.

We strongly aver that they should be scrapped to one single entity.

Furthermore, we call on the Senate to revisit the Oronsaye and Joda report which, in the opinion of this newspaper, did a thorough job to make their job easier.

We also call on the Senate to expedite action on the proposed move for a speedy assent by the executive as this will go a long way to prune down the cost of governance.

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