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By NBF News
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The Federal Government may scrap the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and 35 other agencies any movement from now. This is the recommendation of the Oronsaye's Presidential committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government parastatals, commissions and agencies.

The committee said from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) alone, four agencies, the FRSC, EFCC, ICPC, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, have been created, thereby duplicating functions.

The committee's Chairman, Stephen Oronsaye, while giving insight into the report in his remarks during the presentation held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, recommended the reduction of the existing 263 statutory agencies to 161. Oronsaye was Head of Civil Service of the Federation. The report was submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said in all, the committee recommended the abolition of 38 agencies, merger of 52 and reversion of 14 agencies to departments in the relevant ministries.

The committee, according to him, also recommended the management audit of 89 agencies capturing biometric features of staff as well as the discontinuation of government funding of professional bodies/councils.

In all, Oronsaye said if the committee's report was adopted and agencies reduced in accordance with the recommendation, government would save over N862 billion between this year and 2015.

The breakdown showed that about N124.8 billion would be reduced from agencies proposed for abolition; about N100.6 billion from agencies proposed for mergers; about N6.6 billionn from professional bodies; N489.9 billion from universities; N50.9 billion from polytechnics; N32.3 billion from colleges of education and N616 million from boards of Federal Medical Centres.

The committee described as 'a fundamental breach of acceptable practice of good public sector governance to create a new agency or institution as a response to the seeming failure or poor performance of an existing agency in order to suit political or individual interests', as well as 'misadventure in the public sector at a great cost to government', the setting up of FRSC to take over partially the functions already apportioned by law to the Federal Ministry of Works and the NPF as a result of seeming poor performance and/or to satisfy political and individual interests.

The committee also observed that the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is duplicating the function already assigned by law to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), noting that 'besides being a clear case of latter-day overlapping functions of agencies, the continued existence of NOSDRA is tantamount to paying huge salaries to persons who do nothing, but wait for spills to occur. This is despite the fact that there is a standard operating procedure for oil companies in Nigeria to clean up oil spill whenever it occurs'.

The committee also noted that three agencies: the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the Nomadic Education Commission (NEC), and the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (NCMLA) all perform functions related to the provision of basic education.

'The question then arises as to why they continue to function as separate bodies. Our committee is of the view that the functions of all the other agencies should be taken over by UBEC as there is no economic gain in having the three bodies as separate entities'.

The panel noted that sadly, 12 years after the White Paper on the Ahmed Joda Panel Report on the Review, Harmonization and Rationalization of Federal Government parastatals, institutions and agencies (2000), some parastatals and agencies, which government had decided should either be scrapped, commercialized, privatized or self-funding, were still receiving full government funding, which runs into billions of Naira.

Oronsaye, while submitting the report, regretted that 'the long-standing challenges that beset the Nigerian public sector, including the parastatals, have created a 'single story' of inefficiency, corruption, poor work environment, low morale, ineffectiveness, deceit and low productivity, thereby establishing a perception of a dysfunctional and unproductive public sector. The weaknesses in the 'single story' have sometimes placed the Sector in a situation where it is unable to perform its legitimate functions creditably.

The committee also highlighted the case of the Nigerian broadcasting agencies (the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Voice of Nigeria (VON) which he said the committee believed focus more on structures rather than acquisition of broadcasting software.

He said the world over, countries have made efforts to manage the agencies responsible for their mass media communication by establishing and taking advantage of a single co-ordinating point. Such reforms in the media sector, he added, had been underpinned by the efficient use of resources and collaboration in order to have synergy amongst the operators.

The committee also strongly recommended that a restructured Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR), as proposed in the report, be allowed to co-ordinate and monitor compliance by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with the White Paper that would emerge. By so doing, the challenges of the past would be addressed and the urge to create parastatals would be put under proper check; thus, making the setting up of committees such as ours, largely unnecessary.

The committee proposed four ways, among others, of immediately reducing the cost of governance: Reduction in the number and size of the governing boards of parastatals; linking the budgetary system to deliverables and output; implementation or vacation of some decisions taken on past reports; and removal of all professional bodies/councils from the national budget.

In his remarks, President Jonathan assured that his administration will implement the recommendations as soon as the White Paper committee set up last night submits its report in two months.

While thanking the committee for a good job, he said the report identified the obvious overlaps of functions and redundancy in some MDAs, adding that 'the recommendations must be handled with despatch'.

He said if the trend of duplicating of functions with the setting up of agencies were not checked, 'a time is coming when all government income will go for personnel cost and overheads'.