President Bola Tinubu’s fast-paced policy implementation and recent actions have put heads of agencies on their toes, with uncertainty gripping many, BusinessDay has learnt.
This was observed in their attitudes to work and service delivery even as ministerial heads are yet to be appointed.
BusinessDay understands that the development followed the President’s recent approval to dissolve the governing boards of all federal government parastatals, agencies, institutions, and government-owned companies, except those in the Third Schedule, Part 1, Section 153 (i) of the 1999 Constitution, while he retired all the service chiefs, advisers, and the Comptroller-General of Customs.
Some of the parastatals exempted include the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Council of State, the Federal Character Commission, the Federal Civil Service Commission, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Similarly, some agencies are yet to know their fate, considering the president’s campaign promises on the merger of agencies as well as recommendations by policy advisers to the president.
According to Tinubu’s manifesto, his administration will reform the civil service to fight corruption, reduce bureaucracy, streamline agencies and decrease inefficiency and waste while weeding out ghost workers.
“The various federal agencies meant to promote home ownership are too small and fragmented; to address the housing deficit, we will ensure greater cohesion and efficiency by merging these agencies into a new, more competent body; this new entity will inherit the functions of existing housing authorities and shall be adequately capitalised by the Federal Government,” it said.
Similarly, the president’s policy advisory council, in a report prepared by the council from the Energy & Natural Resources subcommittees, advised the government to consider merging regulatory agencies in the sector like the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) into a single regulator or place all midstream activities under the NUPRC before December 2024.
“Mandate NNPC and NUPRC, NMDPRA to close out outstanding divestments and contract issues for project delivery clarity while NNPCL is stripped of policy-making roles and keep NCDMB within its Act mandate,” it said.
Another council recommended the merger of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency into the Nigerian Revenue Service.
Temitope Musowo, a public affairs analyst, told BusinessDay that over the years, officials and civil servants would normally improve their attitude to work and service delivery when a new administration takes over, because they do not know what to expect from the new head.
“The moment they observe the body language of the president and possibly see that he does not really care about the attitude to work, everybody will relax and go back to their normal life,” he said.
Musowo said the fact that the government has also taken punitive measures against some heads of agencies could have also caused them to panic as “they see that the government would not be taking nonsense from anybody”.
The president’s fast move on governance is also reflected in the policies implemented after some days in office such as the removal of fuel subsidy and the unification of the country’s foreign exchange rates.
The president also halted the implementation of some of the tax changes made by his predecessor, after he signed four Executive Orders, postponing the enforcement of taxes on telecommunication services and alcoholic beverages, suspending the green tax, including the single use plastics tax and the import adjustment levy on certain categories of vehicles.
The president was also swift in appointing his team members and also heads of some agencies.
Some of the appointees include former speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila as the chief of staff, and Ibrahim Hadejia, a former deputy governor of Jigawa State as the deputy chief of staff. Also appointed was the former governor of Benue State, George Akume, as the secretary to the government of the federation.
Other appointees include Dele Alake as special adviser, special duties, communications and strategy; Yau Darazo as special adviser, political and intergovernmental affairs; Wale Edun as special adviser, monetary policies; Olu Verheijen as special adviser, energy; and Zachaeus Adedeji as special adviser, revenue.
Others are Nuhu Ribadu as national security adviser; John Ugochukwu Uwajumogu as special adviser, industry, trade and investment, and Salma Ibrahim Anas as special adviser, health.
Tinubu, who had hinted on reforming both the security doctrine and its architecture to defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability, has also appointed new service chiefs.
Maj. Gen. C.G Musa replaced Lucky Irabor as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Faruk Yahaya, was replaced by Maj. Gen T. A Lagbaja as the Chief of Army Staff. Also, Awwal Gambo, was replaced by Rear Admiral E. A Ogalla as Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Isiaka Amao, was replaced by H.B Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff (CAS) retired as Chief of Air Staff, Alkali Usman was replaced by Kayode Egbetokun as Ag Inspector-General of Police and EPA Undiandeye is now the Chief of Defense Intelligence.
Speaking to BusinessDay, Eze Onyekpere, executive director, Centre for Social Justice, commended Tinubu for the reforms so far introduced, while stressing the need for effective implementation.
“For the service chiefs, let’s hope that the new ones perform well as expected. We are yet to feel their impact. We have seen some reforms that the president has introduced but nothing concrete has happened. While we expect to see more, the most important is implementation,” he said.