President Goodluck Jonathan, last year, inaugurated a committee to restructure and rationalise the Federal Government agencies with former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye, as its chairman.
The committee's mandate included, among others, to: study and review all previous reports/records on the restructuring of federal parastatals and advise whether they are still relevant or not;
examine critically the mandates of the existing federal agencies, parastatals and commissions and determine areas of overlap or duplication of functions and make appropriate recommendations.
He gave the committee eight weeks to submit its report. It is now more than six months since that assignment was handed out yet there is no sign of any commitment on the part of President Jonathan to cut down on the waste that the over 420 MDAs has become.
Nobody is even sure as to whether this committee has completed its assignment and what the recommendations are.
This is understandable given the penchant by this administration to establish committees on practically anything in a manner that suggests there is no commitment to addressing the critical issues.
The unfortunate thing is that many of the current parastatals and agencies are sheer duplication as they perform overlapping functions which often resulted in needless power tussle and conflict of interests.
We note that the reason the nation's public service has grown exponentially is that most of them were set up as either task forces or ad-hoc committees to undertake urgent and specific assignments outside the bureaucratic red-tape of the civil service. But no sooner was their job done than they get transformed into permanent agencies. We also have a penchant for creating Commissions to tackle every problem, all no more than mere attempts at providing 'job for the boys'.
For instance, the president currently has on his table bills already passed by the National Assembly which require not only his assents but the creation of agencies like the Climate Change Commission!
Until very recently the National Planning Commission alone had six parastatals under it while the Petroleum Trust Fund, National Agricultural Development Authority and the Education Bank are some of the agencies that have been scrapped.
We believe that more should be given the shock therapy. For example, what are the so-called River Basins Development Authorities doing that still justify their continued existence?
In lending our support to the efforts of Oronsaye last year, we said he was the man well suited for such restructuring as he is not new to such assignments.
Some years ago he initiated a wide-ranging in-service reform which among other things made it mandatory that permanent secretaries and directors must not serve more than eight years in their position.
The reform would also have seen to the mass retirement of many permanent secretaries and directors. Oronsaye was still working on the project before he retired in November 2010 having attained the mandatory age of 60 years.
In endorsing the Civil Service Reform and Rationalisation, we are not unmindful of the social costs of any sweeping retrenchment in the service.
Yet a stroll around the Federal Secretariat Complex Abuja will expose why many people have no business remaining in the service.
Serving officers have turned their offices into trading posts. The ground floors and the parking lots at the secretariat complex are littered with all sorts of merchandise either owned by civil servants or their agents.
Also there are thousands of public servants who are near their graves but have remained in office through repeated fraudulent age declarations.
The cost of maintaining the nation's bloated bureaucracy is rising every year, and it time to trim the number of MDAs and equally downsize the public sector.
We also believe that many of the redundant agencies where civil servants collect wages without offering any services should be done away with.
Money saved from the exercise can be channelled into such critical areas as education, road infrastructure and health.
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