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Halt implementation of Oronsaye report

No doubt, the overarching need to reform the Nigerian civil service for efficiency is long overdue. Apart from being largely over-bloated, the service, known as…

No doubt, the overarching need to reform the Nigerian civil service for efficiency is long overdue. Apart from being largely over-bloated, the service, known as a hub for administrative dexterity and excellence over the years, is now a shadow of itself.

For the above reason and more, former President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies to streamline the operations of MDAs in 2012. Stephen Oronsaye, the then Head of Service of the Federation, was appointed head of the committee.

Expectedly, the committee’s 800-page report recommended the scrapping of some agencies and merger of 220 out of the then existing 541 government parastatals. It also recommended the reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161, as well as the abolition of 38 agencies, the merger of 52 and the reversion of 14 to departments in ministries.

The federal civil service is the key driver of the overall policy actions of the government. And a productive civil service is the administrative pride of every nation. However, the resurrection of the Oronsanye report as a measure for cutting down the cost of governance does not seem to be the best of decisions. There is every need for cautious optimism on the side of the government before implementation of the committee’s report.

In fact, the government should step down the implementation of the report. More emphasis should be laid on promoting the culture of merit, hard work, discipline, transparency, professionalism and good work ethics to achieve the envisaged results.

One recurring decimal which halted the implementation of the report by previous administrations is the constant feature of job losses.

Any reform, mostly targeted at rationalisation of the staff, serves no better purpose. In fact, the majority of Nigerians saw the Oronsaye committee as one primarily constituted to find reasons to lay off staff in the federal civil service.

The priority of the government at this critical juncture should be to focus on creating jobs and a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

Before moving on with administering this bitter pill which will throw more Nigerians into poverty and misery, it is hoped that this burning issue of job losses will be addressed accordingly.

The private sector is already in troubled waters. According to reports, more than 15 multinational companies have left Nigeria on account of poor ease of doing business and rising cost of production. The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has also reported that about 767 manufacturing companies shut down operations while 335 experienced distress in 2023. This goes with the attendant consequence of job losses. The negative effect this brings to bear on the entire society is better imagined than experienced.

The amount of money the government hopes to save going forward with the report is nothing compared to the pain this implementation will inflict on the society and the discontent it will generate. The uncommon patience of Nigerians should not be taken for granted.

Government, which responsibility it is to find solutions to the economic quagmire, should not stoke the fire of disengaging staff in any guise with its hands. If the government is serious about good governance, fiscal discipline and the onslaught against corruption, it has to begin with the president and other top government officials. Honest and deliberate plans to stem the tide of endemic corruption in the federal civil service should top the agenda of reforms. Lack of discipline, hard work and integrity which have become the bane of the civil service should be reformed.

Almost, if not all the MDAs, were established by acts of the National Assembly. Therefore, it is pertinent to confer with the assembly for legislative actions before the implementation.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, who leads the implementation team, should critically reflect on the general societal dislocation this implementation will throw up and the ripple effects on the citizenry.


Sunday Onyemaechi Eze can be reached via [email protected]

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