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House of Reps set up 23-man panel, demand review

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The House of Representatives, during a pliminary session on Thursday, branded the 2012 Steve Oronsaye Report as outdated and urged President Bola Tinubu to thoroughly evaluate it before implementing it.

As a result, the House formed a 23-man committee, chaired by House Leader Julius Ihonvbere, to recommend suitable actions to alleviate the anticipated consequences of the Oronsaye Report assessment.

The Federal Government revealed plans on Monday to implement the Oronsaye report, which suggests merging ministries, departments, and organisations to save governance costs.

In 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan established the Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of the Federal Government’s Parastatals, Commissions, and Agencies.

The group, led by former Head of the Federation’s Civil Service, Steve Oronsaye, suggested the dissolution and merger of 220 of the 541 government entities that existed at the time.

On Thursday, Kama Nkemkanma, Olumide Osoba, and Gaza Gbefi moved a resolution of urgent public significance on the floor of the House of Representatives, citing the Oronsonye Report.

“Recommended the reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161, the abolition of 38 agencies, 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 and councils.”

The lawmakers stated that if adopted, the government will save more than N862 billion between 2012 and 2015, with a breakdown showing 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.”

They stated, however, that the White Paper Committee formed by Jonathan’s administration rejected the majority of the proposals, while those accepted were not followed.

“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 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 stated that implementing the Oronsaye Report 12 years after it was made without first assessing it may 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 society, economy, politics, technology, and all facets of our national life have been.”

“Contrary to the assumption that the full implementation of the report would reduce the 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, stressing that a full implementation “will certainly throw up unintended consequences, implications, and outcomes.”

After the adoption of the motion, the House called on President Tinubu to “comprehensively review the 2012 Orosanye Report, the Goni Aji Report, which reviewed the 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 also 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 who may be laid off consequentially while simultaneously spurring economic growth.”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, presided over plenary on Thursday and established a 23-member committee chaired by House Leader Julius Ihonvbere to recommend appropriate measures to alleviate the anticipated consequences of the review exercise.

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

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