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Oronsaye report: ‘Implementation ‘ll reduce cost of governance’

By Adekola Afolabi, News Editor

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Eminent personalities in the Nigeria’s project have thrown their weights behind the Federal Government decision to implement the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye panel on the restructuring and rationalisation of Federal agencies, parastatals and commissions.

They explained that the development will enhance efficiency in the Federal service and reduce the huge and heavy cost of governance in the country.

The Federal Government had last week decided to implement the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye panel on the restructuring and rationalisation of Federal agencies, parastatals and commissions, to enhance efficiency in the Federal service and reduce the cost of governance.

The implementation involves merging, subsuming and scrapping agencies with similar functions.

The report was submitted in 2012 to the Jonathan administration. In 2014, the Jonathan government released a white paper on the report. The Buhari administration, after re-examining the white paper, also released a second white paper in August 2022 but did not implement the report.

However, the Tinubu administration has decided to implement the report with a view to reducing high cost of governance.

Reacting to the development in separate interviews with The Hope, rights activist and Constitutional lawyer, Dr Tunji Abayomi; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner in Ondo state, Mr Adekola Olawoye, and a don and legal practitioner, Dr Akin Agunsakin, described the development as a good step in the right direction.

They particularly decried the multiplicity of the Federal Government MDAs performing same functions, saying at the end of the day, 10 civil servants would be performing the job of a person in the name of governance.

The trio equally challenged the Federal Government to look beyond implementing Oronsaye report, but to further block all areas serving as conduit pipe through which public officers are siphoning public funds, in the interest of the nation.

It was also said the Bicameral Legislature being operated in the country is wasteful and unmaintainable and such should be addressed in the interest of the economy and the masses.

While cautioning government against job loss, as it will not be right at this time to throw people into the labour markets, they also revealed that the solution to various challenges confronting the country is True Federalism.

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Dr Tunji Abayomi, said the move is welcome provided it will cut cost of governance in the country, especially at this difficult time.

He particularly called for a constitutional banquet where Nigerians of various ethnic nationalities will decide the nature of government they want, rather than the one being imposed on them.

“The truth is, whether we operate the Parliamentary system or the Presidential system of government, they were all imposed on the peoples of Nigeria. Nigeria is a unique nation where various ethnic groups, ethnic nationalities are permanently located by divine wisdom, in separate geographical zones. Look at Yorubas in South West, Igbos in South East, Tivs in North Central, Kanuris in the the North East, and in the South South you have a number of Urhobos and so forth.

“Now, if you want to build a nation, the proper thing is to sit around the table and agree on the type of government the peoples want. It is not a government that gives a nation a Constitution,  it is a Constitution that gives a nation a government, and the Constitution is about the peoples’ wish. But in our country, the reverse is the case.

“So, there is a crisis of government. Whether you have Parliamentary or Presidential system, the question is what have the peoples of Nigeria chosen? They have not chosen anything. They have always chosen for them. So, Nigeria is in the state of confusion because the foundation of government is erroneous. Even in law, is erroneous.

“In the National Assembly, nobody is bold enough to exercise intelligence and courage to change the whole system to rationality. So, we will continue to struggle through chaos, conflict and cataclysm, unless we do the right thing,” Abayomi stressed.

On his part, Olawoye said the humongous wastages in the system are overbearing and should not be allowed to continue in the interest of the economy of the country.

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“Even down to the States, you will see Ministry of Environment, you will see Ministry of Hygiene, Ministry of Water Resources, and many others ministries performing the same function. The system is over bloated and this is gulping much money than required.

“How many federal and state civil servants do we have? And trillions of naira are being wasted. We can carry it down to the National Assembly too. We have 360 members of the Federal House of Representatives and 109 Senators doing which job?

“This Bicameral Legislature is wasteful and unmaintainable in this country. You see how too much money is being wasted to service them.

“So, if you want to implement Oronsaye report, then we must sit down and see whether we need this over bloated legislature. Let this reflect in all aspects of governance, it should not be only Oronsaye.

“So, I want to suggest we return to Parliamentary system of government. Let’s go to where we have come from. The cost of governance in Nigeria is killing, and at the end of the day there is nothing to show for it. In their four years what bill have they passed? And they will collect salary, wardrobe allowance, money for newspapers, furniture, office, medical allowance, vacation overseas, and others, for what? At the end of the day we masses are suffering.

“It was reported and nobody has debunked it, that each member of the House of Representatives was given N200 million for palliatives in their constituencies, and in the Senate they were given N300 million each. How much was given to the State for palliatives? And where are the palliatives?

“Let’s go to Unicameral legislature and stop being wasteful. Also, I want to suggest that we should make it part-time. Go to your immediate calling, and when the need arises you assemble and attend to the State matters, instead of staying in Abuja for four years without any tangible impacts on their constituents.

“The cost of running government is so huge, and if we continue like this, I don’t know what can happen to our economy in the next few years.

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“We have four Refineries for Christ’s sake and none of them is working, and they have been there for over 30 years. How many years will it take the Federal Government to build new refinery? Dangote, an individual built a refinery, but Federal Government cannot.

“But above all, the solution is true federalism. If we want to practice the Federal system of government let it be true, not this kind of miniature, we were mimicking it. We said we are practising federal system and we still have one police force, unitary educational system, where federal government still controls health system in the country. In America where they practise federalism, they have county (local government police), and they have bylaw, and the states too have theirs.

“I’m afraid, Nigeria is one step forward and eight steps backwards. What we are witnessing now is mis-governance So, the earlier we go back to true federalism the better for the country and advancement of one Nigeria, but if not, I don’t know what will happen.”, Olawoye stressed.

Also, a Don and legal practitioner, Dr. Akin Agunsakin, noted that, “the truth is that Oronsaye report has been waiting for attention for a very long time. I personally expected Buhari led administration to implement the report. But if President Tinubu led administration is willing to implement it and there is a sense of credibility in it, it will be laudable and history will not forget him.

“What’s important is that they must ensure that all affected workers are reabsorbed in other viable MDAs . They must not allow job loss. They must be very careful with the implementation so that the objective will not be defeated.

“But I believe if government is cutting cost, there will be more money to provide infrastructure, electricity, fund education, health and so many other things. So, I think this is a laudable step and President Tinubu should be commended for that”.

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Oronsaye report: ‘Implementation ‘ll reduce cost of governance’

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