• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

The Resurrection of the Oronsaye Report

When will it be our Turn President Tinubu?

“The government is too big; we need a limited government,” says Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate of Nigeria, in an interview monitored on Arise TV recently.

“They want the Nigerian working class to pay for fiscal reforms through their nose , while they keep subsidising their own wealthy life- styles funded by tax payers money .If at all any subsidy has to go , it should be the subsidy that funds the opulence of the ruling elites” Tosin Adetola

Politician’ habits unchanged as Nigerians bear the pains of reforms, reports the authoritative Business Day.

The paper gave the example of the security aides of Godswill Obot Akpabio Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District in the Upper Chamber of Nigeria’s National Assembly and the exotic power bikes and cars in his convoy.

A few days earlier the press and social media was awash with report of the President of the Republic Bola Ahmed Tinubu visit to Lagos and his convoy of over 100 vehicles. It seems the economic state of emergency is applicable only to the Nigerians on the street. Our leaders are not showing a proper appreciation of the challenges the economy is facing. They are preaching austerity and they are living big and flaunting it. The government is yet to show us its grand plan to prune expenses and chore up revenue.

According to the Financial Times of London, Bola Ahmed Tinubu surprised observers with changes to the Central Bank, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the removal of subsidies. The concern however is that these reforms are one-sided and necessary cuts are not happening on the side of the bureaucracy of government.

The Big Bureaucracy:

In 1970, the Federal Government expanded the scope of the operations of the public service from core policy implementation to active participation in all sectors of the economy through the establishment of agencies, parastatals, and commissions.

The additional bodies were to be the drivers of the socioeconomic objectives of the Federal Government. Some of them were set up on an ad hoc basis to address specific challenges.

Over the years, the bodies transmuted into permanent institutions with overlapping functions in some cases, and successive administrations had further created more bodies without regard to their efficacy in the attainment of the socio-economic agenda of the Federal Government, leading to an escalation in cost of governance.

Rather than drive development, the public service became a multi-headed corrupt leviathan sucking much-needed billions of dollars out of the nation’s treasury and stalling development. For example the job of the police is duplicated in the roles of the Federal Road Safety Corp, Nigeria Civil Defense Corp and many state own civil service organisations like LASTMA in Lagos and TRACE in Ogun.

Shed the weight says Stephen Oronsaye :

In 2011 President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan set up the Presidential Commission on Restructuring and Rationalisation of the Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies under the leadership of Stephen Oronsaye. Most of the reports’ content was rejected because of its “objective” content.

Read also: Tribunal admits in evidence Channels TV interview of INEC’s chair in Obi petition

Highlights of the Stephen Oronsaye Report:

– 929 MDAs currently in the Federal Government budgeting structure

– The report identified 541 Parastatals, Commissions and FG Agencies.

– Recommends 38 Federal Agencies to be abolished – Public Complaints Commission, National Poverty Eradication Programme, Utilities Charges Commission, National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, National Intelligence Committee etc.

– 14 agencies to be fused into ministries where they were created from e.g Debt Management Office to the Federal Ministry of Finance

– Public Health Department back to the Federal Ministry of Health

– National Information Technology Development Agency to be fused into the Ministry Communication Technology

– Reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161

– 52 institutions to be merged: NTA, FRCN & VON into the Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria (FBCN)

– NCC & NBC into Communication Regulatory Authority of Nigeria (CRAN);

– CCB , EFCC & ICPC to be merged into the Anti Corruption Commission.

With the harsh realities of the economy the Oronsaye Report must be revisited for implementation. One is not surprised that civil servants are not in support of the report because it would prune the civil service and make it leaner , focused and result -oriented.. In addition it would lead to demotions for people at the top and close down avenues for corruption for many. This is not how the civil service would like to play.

The Security Challenge Remains:

Meanwhile the Financial Times says President Tinubu faces another pressing problem: security. An attack by unidentified assailants in the central Plateau state killed at least 21 people this week in a stark reminder of the challenges.

Deteriorating security has fed into food inflation as many farmers have been driven off their farms by violence resulting from a long-running battle with nomadic herders over fertile land. This has dented hopes of increasing local production to make Nigeria less reliant on imports.The naira is getting bashed in the process and the efforts of government blighted by the reality of the turbulence.

Conclusion:

PBAT and team should and must practice what they preach. We must declare a state of emergency on the economy and all stakeholders must do all within our powers to make the around time for the recovery of the economy a very short one or Africa biggest economy would languish in the doldrums for a long time.

 

Michael Umogun is a Chartered Marketer with interest in public policy