Matters arising from implementation of Oronsaye report

Oronsaye report: Tinubu may stop Army varsity, NDA merger – Zulum

Since news broke about the Federal Executive Council’s approval of the implementation of Steve Oronsaye report on the merger and acquisition of Ministries Department and Agencies on Monday, February 26, 2024, I have granted several media interviews on the subject matter. The approval for implementation is a welcome but belated decision. It should have been one of the first things President Bola Tinubu would do shortly after his inauguration. Furthermore, it is not going to be far-reaching enough to reduce the rising cost of governance in Nigeria.


According to this newspaper report in yesterday’s edition, 12 years after it received the Stephen Oronsaye report, the Federal Government, on Monday, approved the implementation of some of its recommendations to reduce the cost of governance. Consequently, 29 government agencies will be merged even as eight parastatals will be subsumed into eight other agencies. More so, four agencies have been relocated to four various ministries, while one was earmarked for scrapping. The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, revealed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.


Submitted in 2012, the Oronsaye report on public sector reforms revealed that there were 541 – statutory and non-statutory – Federal Government parastatals, commissions and agencies. A year earlier, then President Goodluck Jonathan had set up the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, under the leadership of former Head of Civil Service, Stephen Oronsaye. The 800-page report recommended that 263 of the statutory agencies be slashed to 161; 38 agencies be scrapped; 52 be merged and 14 be reverted to departments in various ministries.


A PUNCH analysis revealed that the Nigerian government could save over N241bn if the report is duly implemented. The minister, who explained that the move would not lead to job losses and redundancies in the affected agencies, said it was meant to reduce the cost of governance and free up monies for reinvestment into the developmental projects.

“The Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate has been scrapped. The National Senior Secondary School Education Commission is also being looked at with the aim to modify some of its processes and a final decision on that will be taken,” he explained. Minister Idris said the goal of Monday’s move is to “fine-tune and to restructure government operations as a whole…and to reduce the cost of governance because some of these agencies are performing very similar functions, so the government thought it wise that there is the need – since this committee had already been set up, white paper already been produced – to take a bold decision to visit that.”


In a May 7, 2023, report, weeks before President Tinubu took the oath of office, sources told The PUNCH correspondents that the incoming President would merge some ministries and agencies of the Federal Government as recommended by the Oronsaye panel and would take tough decisions on other issues going by meetings with his core loyalists. The President’s Special Adviser on Policy Coordination, Hadiza Bala-Usman, announced the agencies to be merged to include the National Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS to be merged with the Centre for Disease Control in the Federal Ministry of Health.


The National Emergency Management Agency is to be merged with the National Commission for Refugee Migration and Internally Displaced Persons; the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa is to be merged with the Directorate of Technical Aid and to function as a department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission will be merged with the Bureau for Public Enterprises; the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission to be integrated into the Nigerian Export Promotion Council as the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure will now be one with the National Centre for Agriculture Mechanisation and Project Development Institute.

Also, the National Biotechnology Development Agency will be amalgamated with the National Centre for Genetic Resource and Biotechnology, the National Institute for Leather Science Technology with the National Institute for Chemical Technology and the Nomadic Education Commission with the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult Education and Non-Formal Education. The Federal Radio Corporation will be merged with the Voice of Nigeria; the National Commission for Museum and Monuments with the National Gallery of Arts; the National Theatre with the National Troupe of Nigeria and the National Metrological Development Centre with the National Metrological Training Institute.


In a similar vein, the Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State, will now function as a faculty within the Nigerian Defence Academy while the Air Force Institute of Technology will become a faculty of the Nigerian Defence Academy. According to Bala-Usman, the Service Compact with Nigeria, popularly known as SERVICOM, has been subsumed to function as a department under the Bureau for Public Service Reform; the Border Communities Development Agency becomes a department at the National Boundary Commission while the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission was subsumed into the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission.


The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution was subsumed under the Institute for International Affairs; the Public Complaints Commission under the National Human Rights Commission; the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis into the Institute for Veterinary Research; the National Medicine Development Agency under the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development and the National Intelligence Agency Pension Commission under the Nigerian Pension Commission.

She announced that the Niger Delta Power Holding Company has been relocated to the Ministry of Power; the National Agricultural Land Development Agency to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security; the National Blood Service Commission has been converted into an agency and relocated to the Federal Ministry of Health even as the Nigerian Diaspora Commission becomes an agency at the Federal Ministry of Finance.


The Presidential aide revealed that Tinubu constituted a committee to midwife the necessary restructuring and legislative amendments needed to ensure full actualisation of the approvals granted. She said inter alia, “He tasked this committee with an immediate term of reference to proceed and ensure all of these are done within a period of 12 weeks. The committee membership comprises the Secretary to the Government of Federation, who will chair the committee; the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, member; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, member; the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning, member; the Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reform, member; the Special Adviser to the President on Policy and Coordination is a member; the two Senior Special Assistants to the President on National Assembly are members; and the Cabinet Affairs Office will serve as secretariat.”

To my mind, this is the right thing to have been done immediately after the inauguration of the new president last year. Assuming it was done then, the 2024 federal budget would have been streamlined to the new Ministries, Department and Agencies. As already pointed out, there will be a need to tinker with the Acts of Parliament setting up many of the MDAs.


Though the Minister of Information said there will be no job losses, it is doubtful if there won’t be any. For instance, there won’t be two Director Generals, Directors and many other positions in the merged agencies. Therefore, the Federal Government should get money ready to pay the pension and gratuities of staff that will be negatively affected.

There is no information as to which of the white papers is being implemented. Is it that of 2014 under former President Jonathan or the 2022 one under former President Muhammadu Buhari? I just hope that thorough work will be done by the new committee saddled with the implementation.


I dare say that implementing Oronsaye’s report will not substantially reduce the cost of governance. There is a need to alter Section 147 (3) of the Constitution to reduce the number of ministers to not more than 18. We do not need 48 ministers. There is also a need to reduce the number of senators, House of Representatives and state Houses of Assembly members. In addition, it is imperative to block revenue leakages, tackle corruption and have a value-for-money budget.


Jide Ojo

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