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Reps echo Falana, declare Oransaye report outdated, call for proper review



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Reactions have continued to trail the decision of the administration of President Bola Tinubu to implement the report of the Oronsaye Committee on merging and scrapping of agencies and departments of the Federal Government with overlapping functions.

While some Nigerians have welcomed the decision as the right step towards cutting cost of governance, the House of Representatives, on Thursday, described the 2012 Oronsaye Report as outdated, calling on President Tinubu to thoroughly review it before going ahead to implement.

The position is similar to the one put forward by human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, who had also declared that the Oronsaye report was outdated and that it would not reduce cost of governance as envisaged, as many more agencies and commissions had been created since after the report was put together.

The House also raised a 23-man committee chaired by House Leader, Julius Ihonvbere, to recommend appropriate measures to mitigate the likely fallout of the Oronsaye Report review.

It will be recalled that the Federal Government, on Monday, announced plans to implement the Oronsaye report, which proposes the merger of ministries, departments and agencies, as a measure to cut the cost of governance.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in 2012 set up the Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of the Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies.

The committee headed by former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye, recommended the scrapping and merging of 220 out of the then existing 541 government agencies.

The trio of Kema Nkemkanma, Olumide Osoba and Gaza Gbefi, while moving a motion of urgent public importance on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, noted that the Oronsonye Report “Recommended the reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161, the abolition of 38 agencies, and the reversion of 14 agencies to departments in ministries and the management audit of 89 agencies capturing biometric features of staff as well as the discontinuation of government funding of professional bodies/councils.”

According to the lawmakers, if implemented, the government would be saving over N862bn between 2012 and 2015 with a breakdown which showed that “About N124.8bn would be reduced from agencies proposed for abolition; about N100.6bn from agencies proposed for mergers; about N6.6bn from professional bodies; N489.9bn from universities; N50.9bn from polytechnics; N32.3bn from colleges of education and N616m from boards of federal medical centres.”

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They, however, argued that the White Paper Committee set up by Jonathan’s administration rejected most of the recommendations, while those accepted were not implemented.

“The House notes that in November 2021, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration inaugurated two committees; one of the committees Chaired by Goni Aji, a retired Head of Civil Service of the Federation, was to review the Orosanye report and the second committee, chaired by Ama Pepple, also a retired Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, was constituted to review agencies created between 2014 and 2021.

“The House also notes that upon submission of their reports, the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in July 2022 set up another committee chaired by Ebele Okeke, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, to produce a White Paper on the reports.”

The lawmakers contended that implementing the Oronsaye Report 12 years after it was made without first reviewing it might not be in the best interest of the nation because by now, the report “ordinarily may be described as outdated, especially because of how dynamic the society, economy, polity, technology and all facets of our national life has been.

“Contrary to the assumption that the full implementation of the report would reduce cost of governance, with the current realities, the full implementation of the report will not substantially reduce the cost of governance as it does not reflect the current situation in the Public Service of the Federation,” the lawmakers said.

They also stressed that a full implementation “Will certainly throw up unintended consequences, implications and outcomes.”

The House, following the adoption of the motion, urged President Tinubu to “comprehensively review the 2012 Orosanye Report, the Goni Aji Report which reviewed Orosanye Report, the White Paper released by the President Jonathan administration, the Ama Pepple White Paper and the Ebele Okeke White Paper in line with current realities, while considering implementable alternatives that are in tune with current realities, and which at the same time would have minimum unintended consequences, impacts, implications and outcomes.”

The House further urged the Federal Government to develop and implement policies “that will reposition the agricultural sector, the solid mineral sector and the informal sectors which will serve as alternatives to those that may be laid off consequentially while at the same time spurring economic growth.”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, who presided over plenary on Thursday, thereafter inaugurated a 23-man committee chaired by House Leader, Julius Ihonvbere, to recommend appropriate measures to mitigate the likely fallout of the review exercise.

“The committee is to study the recommendation of the executive arm of government and advise the House on likely impacts of this restructuring exercise,” the Speaker said.

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