FG to merge EFCC, ICPC; to scrap BPE

By The Rainbow

The Federal Government has approved the merging of its two anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.

The merger of the two commissions comes as part of the government's decision to implement the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye-led Presidential Committee on the rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies.

This is contained in the report of the review committee on the White Paper chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, obtained by our correspondent on Monday.

The EFCC was established in 2003 to investigate financial crimes such as Advance Fee Fraud (419) and money laundering. Its establishment by the ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration was seen to be an urgent response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, which had named Nigeria as one of the 23 countries non-cooperative in the international community's efforts to fight money laundering.

The ICPC was also inaugurated by the Obasanjo administration to, among other functions, receive and investigate reports of corruption and prosecute the offender[s]; and to examine, review and enforce the correction of corruption-prone systems and procedures of public bodies with a view to eliminating corruption in public life.

Both agencies were set up by enabling laws.
FEC also approved the scrapping of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the National Poverty Eradication Programme; National Economic Intelligence Committee; Fiscal Responsibility Commission; Utilities Charges Commission and National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission ( NSIWC).

FEC also directed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to initiate the necessary action for the abolition of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission.

Staff of UCC, which will also suffer similar fate, are to be redeployed to the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, provided they are civil servants.

National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, NSIWC, will also cease to exist as the government will repeal its law, while its functions are to be transferred to Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.

National Economic Intelligence Committee, which was meant to be the economic think-thank for the President is also to be scrapped.

The committee adjudged NAPEP to have failed in delivering in its mandate therefore deserved to be scrapped..

According to the source, 'government accepts the scrapping of NAPEP and directs that the functions of NAPEP be merged with National Directorate of Employment, NDE.'

The restructuring and rationalisation of parastatals, commissions and agencies of the Federal Government, it was learnt,  are part of measures to reduce its high recurrent budget profile.

EFCC and ICPC are to be consolidated into one anti-corruption agency.

Government has, therefore, directed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to initiate the necessary action in respect of the proposed merger.

Similarly, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council have been merged 'to synergise for management and utilisation of resources.'

Public Complaints Commission, PCC, is to be merged with the Human Rights Commission, which has the capacity to perform the functions of the PCC.

Government further directed that the PCC Act be removed from the Constitution by amending Sections 153 and 315.

National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, is also to be restructured with a view to developing a framework to cover critical areas of national socio-economic development to which NYSC members would be deployed for their primary assignments.

The government, however, rejected the committe's recommendation that the committee merge National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, with Refugee Commission.

The final report on the recommendations said: 'The government rejects the recommendation that NEMA be merged with National Refugees Commission into one agency to be known as the National Emergency Management and Refugees Commission.'

Government further decided that as from 2015 fiscal year, Council for Registered Engineers, COREN, which is a professional body, will no longer receive budgetary allocations from the federal government.

A similar fate awaits the Surveyors Registration Council, SRC.

It was gathered that the process of scrapping and merging the affected agencies could take several years, especially as the laws establishing them have to be repealed or amended.

The names and number of federal agencies ordered to be scrapped or merged are included in a list already approved by the FEC, a copy of which was obtained by one of our correspondents on Monday.

Reuben Abati, spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, had disclosed on June 12, 2013 that the FEC was considering the scrapping of 220 out of 541 federal parastatals, commissions and agencies.

But the Presidency said on Monday that no final decision had been reached on the implementation of the Oronsaye committee report.

'The report is still at the FEC level and a committee was set up to review the White Paper. There is no final decision yet on the recommendations, anything outside this is mere speculation. Nigerians should wait until government releases the White Paper. They should not rely on speculation,' Abati told journalists in Abuja.

Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, had at the end of the FEC meeting last Wednesday told journalists that the council had concluded its three-week discussions on the draft White Paper on the report of the committee.

Among the agencies to be retained by the government are the Nigeria Police Council, Bureau of Public Procurement, Infrastructural Concessionary and Regulatory Commission, National Sports Commission, National Institute of Sports and Citizen Leadership Training Centre.

Also to be retained are the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, which is to incorporate the Federal Highways Department of the Federal Ministry of Works and transformed into an 'extra-ministerial department', National Boundary Commission, Border Communities Development Agency and National Merit Award.

Othes are the Debt Management Office, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, National Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Management Development and New Partnership for Africa's Development and the National Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS.