The Presidential Committee on reform of government agencies on Monday recommended the reduction of statutory agencies of government from 263 to 161.
The proposal is contained in an 800-page report submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan by the former Head of Service and Chairman of the Committee, Steve Oronsaye.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes the report as saying that 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,’ Mr. Oronsaye said.
“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.
“The Committee believes that if the cost of governance must be brought down, then both the legislature and judiciary must make spirited efforts at reducing their running costs as well as restructuring and rationalising the agencies under them since the three arms make up the government.’’
The Committee proposed the removal of all professional bodies/Councils from the national budget in order to reduce the high cost of governance.
It also recommended that the budgetary system should be linked to deliverables and output, and urged the government to implement or vacate decisions taken on past reports.
The Chairman of the presidential committee expressed concern that decisions taken by past government Committees on restructuring and rationalisation of government agencies had not been implemented.
“The Committee reached out to all Federal Government Agencies through their respective supervising Ministries or Offices and also employed a representative random sampling technique to visit a select group of parastatals.
“During the interactions with the MDAs, many of them claimed ignorance of the existence of Government White Papers on previous reports with similar focus,” he said.
“Where they did, the decisions were either selectively implemented or not implemented at all, thereby vitiating Government’s efforts at reducing its size.
He lamented that after 12 years of the White Paper on the Ahmed Joda Panel Report on the Review, Harmonisation and Rationalisation of Federal Government
Parastatals, Institutions and Agencies (2000), some parastatals and agencies, which government had decided should either be scrapped, commercialised, privatised or self-funding, are still receiving full government funding, which runs into billions of Naira.
According to Mr. Oronsaye, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, one common feature of some of the previous reports is the relationship between the parastatals and their supervising Ministries/Offices.
“The Allison Ayida Report (1995) referred to the ‘Administrative Guidelines Regulating the Relationship between Parastatals and Government-owned Companies and the Government’ to buttress the point that Ministers should not function as chairmen of Government-owned agencies.
“Similarly, the Ahmed Joda Committee (1999) posited that the challenge of Ministerial interference and bureaucratic control needed to be eliminated in order to restore the effectiveness and efficiency of parastatals in the delivery of service to the public.
“In addition, the Joda Report alluded to the challenge of lack of managerial competence in some of the parastatals as well as the incompetence of some Boards.
“The Report also noted the challenge posed by the large size of the boards of the parastatals, most of which had over 10 members. Today, the story remains the same,’’ he said.
Mr. Oronsaye added that the Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies was mandated to complete its assignment and submit its report within eight weeks after its inauguration on Aug. 18, 2011.
“The sheer volume, ramification and importance of the task necessitated that members worked assiduously seven days a week for eight straight months.
“The product of all those long days and nights is the over 800-page report we are presenting today,” the Committee Chairman said.
“The report contains recommendations unanimously adopted by members after wading through volumes of submissions and enduring lengthy presentations, lively and frank interactions, detailed analyses and robust debates,’’ Mr. Oronsanye said.