By Chris Ndibe
The Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation (ACUF), has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for giving the nod to implement the Oronsaye Report of 2014 which recommended the pruning of agencies to save cost.
The Board Chairman of ACUF, Dr Chiwuike Uba gave the commendation in a statement made available to newsmen on Monday in Enugu.
Uba, an economist, noted that approval for the “implementation of the Report is a desirable one’’, considering the would-be benefits, especially now that the country was faced with many challenges and financial short flow.
According to him, the challenges included the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, dwindling revenue, rising public debt, over-bloated and non-committed public service, high poverty rate, inflation, debt service obligations, fiscal deficit, and corruption.
Uba, however, expressed concern that it would be difficult to implement most of the recommendations as they had been overtaken by time, especially as the government had created new Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) after the Report was submitted.
He said that the best approach would have been to review the structure of the public service and governance structure, in line with current realities, policy, economic thrust and revenue profile of the government to promote socio-economic growth and sustainability.
“Implementing the report as it is would create both budget and legal issues on agencies created by law.
“In addition to creating biased political considerations in implementation, merger of MDAs would create conflicts occasioned by bureaucracy and hierarchy in the civil service structure.
“Who heads departments and units when MDAs are merged would be an issue to contend with’’.
Uba alleged that in addition to having many MDAs that act as conduit pipes for siphoning funds, the civil service was overstaffed with ghost workers, in spite of government’s efforts to weed the system of such workers.
He added that the incidence of ghost workers contributed immensely to the culture of corruption, cronyism, and foot-dragging.
“Government can channel money to be saved from rationalisation (mergers and scrapping of MDAs and staff retrenchment) to building infrastructure, social sectors, and support to start-ups and existing businesses.
Uba said that internal and external challenges would naturally militate against the execution of Buhari’s approval for the implementation.
“Retrenching of staff comes with huge costs: severance pay, gratuity and pensions, resistance from the labour unions, and even costs associated with movements,’’ he said.
Uba, however, said that there were several options of solution open to the government if the implementation would succeed in the near future.
He recommended: “first, it is important to have another committee comprising technocrats, industry players, and the politicians that will, in consultation with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, review the report in line with the present economic and development thrust of the government.
“This review should be made taking into consideration the current financial and economic realities and projected development and sustainability of the Nigerian economy.
“In addition to the above, the government needs to scrap, without further delay, the MDAs that have little or no impact on Nigeria’s everyday lives.
“Some of these MDAs include the National Space Research and Development Agency, the Defence Space Administration, and Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited which costs Nigerian billions of naira annually.
“I doubt if we still need a bicameral legislature with full-time legislators.
“We also need to embrace and deploy ICT in the management of the country’s overall operations.’’