NIGERIA – Abuja: Barely a week days after the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Dr. Tommy Etim Okon led Central Working Committee of the association to the State House to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari where they had landmark discussion on labour reforms, the Federal Government, yesterday, received a report from the Ebele Okeke Committee that was constituted to draft a White Paper on the Ama Pepple Committee report on new Parastatals, Agencies and Commissions (PAC) created between 2012 and 2021.
Consequent upon the visit, President Buhari directed that the Orosanye White Paper Report be subjected to immediate review to enable government take the most appropriate decision on its general recommendation.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, while receiving the report, described it as “a demonstration of the Federal Government’s commitment to repositioning the Public Service for effective service delivery.”
With the submission of the White Paper report, it is expected that the SGF will now forward the recommendations to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval before implementation.
Mustapha had inaugurated the committee on July 1 in Abuja. Okeke, former head of service, was appointed to chair the committee, which was given a six-week time frame to submit its report.
Submitting the report at the SGF office yesterday, Okeke said in carrying out the assignment, “the committee considered the current economic challenges and requirement for government to utilise resources more efficiently to reduce cost of governance.”
Other factors considered include, “the need to develop diverse sources of revenue for government as well as encourage some agencies of government to be self-funding; the principle of building strong institutions to guarantee service delivery to the populace and the imperative to grow the economy, create employment and stay on the critical path to achieve development objectives.”
Okeke said the committee also carried out a “content analysis of the legal framework setting up the PACs under review and analysis of the budgetary provisions of the PACs for the period under consideration.”
She said the committee “observed that the legal framework/enabling Act of some of the PACs did not clearly define structure, management and oversight,” adding that “most of the laws used agency, commission and board interchangeably.
“For instance, where the organisation is defined as a commission, the provisions of the law did not support the structure of a commission. In this regard, where the committee recommended change in status/name, amendment of the Act/Law is also recommended, accordingly,” she added.
Okeke said the committee also observed that most of the agencies created, especially under education and health, were through bills that emanated from the National Assembly. She, therefore, recommended that “it is important to engage and dialogue with NASS to generate an understanding to streamline the creation of new PACs.”
The committee said some of the recommendations can be considered low-hanging fruits that can be implemented immediately after approval of the White Paper.
Noting that the draft report is made up of three parts, the committee chairman said: “Part I has introduction and purpose; Part II shows the PACs, recommendations and remarks of the review committee, comments and recommendations by this committee for consideration of the Federal Government and Part III is the implementation plan and key performance indicators.”
Responding, Mustapha disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration desires to restructure the public service to ensure efficiency.
He recalled various efforts of government to address the structural issues within the MDAs with the setting up of the Bukar Aji Committee to review the Mohammed Adoke White Paper on the Steve Oronsaye Report on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies and Commission.
The Federal Government had, in November last year, inaugurated sub-committees headed by former heads of service of the federation – Bukar Aji, Ama Pepple and Oladapo Afolabi – on the implementation of the Stephen Oronsaye-led presidential committee, while the Ebele Okeke Committee was to draft a White Paper on the Ama Pepple Committee Report and harmonise the other committee reports.
Mustapha pointed out that the high cost of governance in Nigeria and revenue challenges being experienced in the midst of competing societal demands are of serious concern to the Federal Government, which has therefore made restructuring in the public service indispensable.
Recall that President Buhari had last Friday said the public service remains the engine room of government, and should attract the “best and brightest to fuel policies with fresh ideas.” He had assured that the Orosanye White Paper Report will be implemented, after review.
“I have directed that the Orosanye White Paper Report be subjected to immediate review to enable government take the most appropriate decision on its general recommendation,’’ the President told the Central Working Committee of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) at the State House.
“I am aware that the review is about to be completed. While some may complain about the length of time it has taken thus far, the outcome of the various review teams would lead to some fundamental changes in the structure of our Civil Service and as such it must be subjected to rigorous review and scrutiny before presentation and implementation,’’ he added. President Buhari said the SGF will submit the harmonised White Paper once it has been concluded.