Nigeria: COVID-19 - Job Cuts Loom, As Buhari Falls Back On Oronsaye Report

National Assembly (file photo).

There were widespread fears of imminent job cuts in the public sector yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari, in response to COVID-19 realities, approved implementation of a report submitted by the Stephen Oransaye Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Known as the Oronsaye report, the 800-page report had recommended the abolition and merger of 102 government agencies and parastatals, among others, to drastically cut the cost of governance.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this in an interview on Channels TV said: "The President has approved that this administration should implement the Oransaye report, and that the president's approval had been forwarded to the Head of Service and Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

"It has reviewed the whole of the size of government and has made very significant recommendations in terms of reducing the number of agencies and that would mean merging some agencies.

"This is a report that has been in place for a long time and there hasn't been implementation but the President has approved that this should be implemented and we have conveyed Mr President's approval to the arms of government that are responsible for this and that will be the office of the Secretary of Government and the Head of civil service of the federation."

NLC, SERAP commend move

Yesterday, the move elicited mixed reactions from the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and an NGO, the Social-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects, SERAP.

The NLC, which said it would issue a detailed reaction later, noted that the merger of agencies is welcome if it does not include job losses.

An official of NLC who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Vanguard yesterday, said: "The merger is a welcome development because we do not expect it to lead to job losses. The agencies are not doing the same jobs, there are no duplications of jobs.

"It is just like the Police and Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC. You may argue that traffic control is part of the police jobs but the work of FRSC is far more than just traffic control. The merger also may not lead to marginal reduction in the cost of governance.

"If the government really wants to reduce the cost of governance, there must be a conscious effort targeting at the political structure, the bogus political appointees and their huge pay packages. Do we really need the Senate and the House of Representatives at the same time? This is debatable. What about the bogus political appointees by the President, the governors, the ministers, the commissioners and the rest? These are what are bleeding the economy.

"But when you are merging agencies that are doing different jobs, it has no major effect on cost of governance. We want to see how the merger will unfold, the implications for job security among others. We sincerely believe that the merger is necessary in as much as it does not lead to job losses. Like I said earlier, we will see how it unfolds before we make detailed reaction."

President is right - SERAP

Reacting, Executive Director of SERAP, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, said: "I believe the directive by the President is the right thing to do to ensure accountability. SERAP as an organization has been in the forefront of the campaign for merger of agencies that are mere duplications of others and so become a source of waste of government resources.

"You cannot burn your candle at both ends and expect to make any progress in the management of scarce resources. We are happy that the President has now given a directive to the SGF and HoS to scrap or better still merge some of these agencies."

The Oronsaye committee

The Oronsaye-led committee was mandated on August 18, 2011 to, among others, identify civil service inadequacies. Among others, its terms of reference include"

"To study and review all previous reports and records on the restructuring of Federal Parastatals and advise on whether they were still relevant; examine the enabling Acts of all the Federal Agencies, Parastatals and Commissions and classify them into various sectors; 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 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."

In its report, the committee said then that there were 541 government parastatals, commissions and agencies (statutory and non-statutory) in the country and recommended a reduction in the number of statutory agencies from 263 to 161.

At present, the number of federal agencies has increased and is estimated to be close to 1,000.

The Federal Government set up another committee to present a white paper on the Oronsaye report and the new committee accepted a few and rejected most of the recommendations.

Some agencies that may be affected if the Report and Federal Government's White Paper are implemented include the Federal Civil Service Commission, Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, National Poverty Eradication Programme, Utilities Charges Commission, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET).

Others include the National Teachers Institute, Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, Nigerian Institute for Education Planners and Administrators, Specialty Hospitals, Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Federal Institute for Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Projects Development Institute (PRODA), National Council for Arts and Culture, National Commission for Museums and Monuments; and National Gallery of Arts, Industrial Training Fund.

Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC)

The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i) the Constitution be amended to reflect a change in name and status for the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) to the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC); (ii) an enabling law be enacted to properly delineate the mandate, functions, structure and other processes of the Commission; (iii) the Constitutional provision establishing the Federal Civil Service Commission be amended to provide for a reduction in the number of Commissioners to a minimum of seven or a maximum of 12, one of whom would be Chairman; (iv) that the tenure of the chairman and commissioners of the proposed FPSC be reduced to a three-year non-renewable term to be rotated among the States in each geo-political zone; and, (v) that there be the restoration of centralised appointment, promotion and disciplinary control in the Public Service through the Federal Public Service Commission to ensure standardisation in quality, process and procedure.

The government white paper rejected all the recommendations apart from single tenure, which it said should be five years for the Chairman and members of the Federal Civil Service Commission.

Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission

The Committee recommended that: (i) the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) be abolished and its enabling law repealed; (ii) the enabling law of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NS1WC) be repealed and the functions of the Commission subsumed under the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC); and (iii) the enabling law of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) be amended to accommodate the functions of the FRC as well as those of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC):

Government accepts all the recommendations and directs the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to initiate necessary action for the abolition of the FRC. Government further directs that the RMAFC should perform the functions of the FRC. Government accepts this recommendation on the NSIWC.

Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC)

The Committee recommends that the Fiscal Responsibility Commission be abolished and its enabling law repealed as RMAFC is already empowered by the Constitution to carry out the functions. Government accepts this recommendation and directs the Attorney-General of the Federation and Honourable Minister of Justice to take necessary action.

National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP)

The Committee recommends that: (i) NAPEP be scrapped and its functions transferred to the new body that will emerge from the merger of the NDE and SMEDAN.

Government accepts the recommendation to scrap NAPEP only.

Utilities Charges Commission (UCC)

The Committee recommends that: (i) the Utilities Charges Commission be abolished and its enabling law repealed.

Government accepts this recommendation and directs that the process of repealing the enabling law should be initiated by the OSGF.

Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC)

The Committee recommends as follows that: (i) the National Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) be fully commercialized; and (ii) that the enabling law of NAIC be amended to allow other Insurance Companies to participate in the new Agricultural Insurance Scheme.

Government accepted the recommendations

Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET)

The trio of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) be merged into a new body to be known as the Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA) and their respective enabling laws amended accordingly to reflect the merger.

NigComSat

Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) Limited: The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i) Government sells off its shares in NigComSat; (ii) the functions of NigComSat that relate to space development be reverted to the National Space Research Development Agency (NASRDA); and (iii) that budgetary allocations to the NigComSat cease from the 2013 Fiscal Year.

Government accepts this recommendation and directs that government will retain minority shares. Government accepts this recommendation.

National Teachers Institute

The Committee recommends as follows; (i) that the functions of the Nigerian Institute for Education Planners and Administrators (NIEPA) be merged with those of the National Teachers Institute; (ii) that the enabling law of the NTI be amended to accommodate the expanded functions of the proposed Nigerian Institute for Teachers, Education Planners and Administrators (NITEPA): Government accepts these recommendations.

Nigerian Institute for Education Planners and Administrators (NIEPA)

The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i) the functions of the Nigerian Institute for Education Planners and Administrators (NIEPA) be subsumed under the National Teachers' Institute.

Government white paper accepted recommendation.

Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA)

(i) the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA) be abolished and its functions, along with those of the Technical Aids Corps, transferred to an appropriate Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and (ii) that further funding of the DTCA, as an agency, should cease with effect from the 2013 Fiscal Year.

Government accepts this recommendation only to the effect that DTCA be merged with DTAC.

Specialty Hospitals

National Eye Centre And National Ear Care Centre

(i) the Governing Boards of the National Eye Centre and the National Ear Care Centre be restructured into a single board for the two Centres; (ii)the restructured Board to be made up of a minimum of seven and maximum of nine persons, inclusive of the chairman; (iii) the Federal Ministry of Health work out the modus operandi of a designated secretariat manned by officials as deemed necessary;

Orthopaedic Hospitals

(i) the three Orthopaedic Hospitals to have a single board comprising a maximum of seven persons, inclusive of the chairman; (ii) the Federal Ministry of Health to work out the modus operandi of a designated secretariat manned by officials as deemed necessary. Recommendations were accepted.

Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG)

Budgetary allocation to the COMEG ceases with effect from the 2013 Fiscal Year.

Government accepts this recommendation but with effect from 2014

National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI)

The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i)NASENI be merged with PRODA, FIIRO and NCAM into one research and development agency; (ii) enabling law of NASENI be amended accordingly (iii) direct budgetary allocation for research from the Budget Office ceases with effect from 2013 Fiscal Year.

Government accepts the recommendation on the merger of NASENI and NCAM with the exclusion of FIIRO. However, PRODA should stand alone. Government accepts this recommendation. Government accepts this recommendation but with effect from after the merger.

Federal Institute for Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO)

The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i) FIIRO, NASENI and NCAM be consolidated into one research and development agency.

Government accepts the recommendations on the merger of NASENI and NCAM with the exclusion of FIIRO.

Projects Development Institute (PRODA)

The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i) PRODA be merged with NASENI, FIIRO and NCAM as one research and development agency; (ii) the functions of NCAM be incorporated into those of the proposed consolidated research agency.

Government accepts the recommendation with respect to the merger of NASENI and NCAM, but with the exclusion of FllRO and PRODA. Government accepts this recommendation with respect to

National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC)

The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i) the National Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC), National Commission for Museums and Monuments; National Gallery of Arts: The Committee recommends as follows, that: (ii) a staff audit of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the National Gallery of Art should be carried out; (ii) the merger of both the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the National Gallery of Arts into a single entity to be known as National Commission for Museums, Monuments and Arts;

(iii) the repeal of the laws setting up the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the National Gallery of Art; and

(iv) the enactment of a new law to accommodate the merger.

Government White paper accepted all recommendations

Industrial Training Fund (ITF)

The Committee recommends as follows, that: (i) the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) be self-funding with effect from the 2013 Fiscal Year; (ii) all trainees' stipends in the SIWES be paid by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) with effect from 2013 Fiscal Year. Government accepted both recommendations but with effect from 2014.

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