Oronsaye Report: Poor Implementation may Cause Assets Loss, Damages’

Stephen Osagiede Oronsaye
Stephen Osagiede Oronsaye

Oronsaye Report: Poor Implementation may Cause Assets Loss, Damages’

A former Director-General of Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Joe Abah has warned that the process for merging government agencies is complex and has resource implications.

The legal practitioner stated this in an essay titled ‘Practical Steps for Effective Implementation of the Oronsaye Report,’ and published by AgoraPolicy.

Abah, who wrote in response to the recent directive by President Bola Tinubu for the implementation of the Oronsaye report, warned that on the need to ensure that things are done properly so that the effect of the medicine does not end up being worse than the ailment.

According to him, while the merger of ministries is very common in the public sector because ministries are not set up by law and can be reconfigured at will by the president, the merger of agencies, on the other hand, is not very common, particularly as most agencies are set up by enabling legislative acts.

Abah argued that mergers are complex restructuring processes that require time, expertise and planning, noting that although the government has announced a 10-member implementation committee for this initiative, that body can only look at things superficially.

He said, “The announcement by the Federal Government that the Federal Executive Council had decided to implement aspects of the Oronsaye Report is welcome. However, the process for merging government agencies is complex and has resource implications.

“If any progress at all is to be made in the 12 weeks that the committee has been allotted for its assignment, it will be important to put in place a merger committee for each agency that is to be merged.

“That merger committee will develop a plan for the merger, with a realistic timeframe and budget for implementation. It will be able to get into the details of what is required and then report to the 10-member committee for policy decisions.”

In his recommendation, Abah said that it was important to immediately carry out an independent inventory of assets in each agency to be merged. This, he said, would eliminate the significant risk of asset flight.

Similar to an audit of assets, Abah said it was important to carry out a staff audit in each agency to be merged, as not all agencies are on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System through which salaries are paid.

He also posited that there is a need to review the mandates of all agencies to be merged and develop a consolidated mandate for the new agency that will emerge from the merger.

Abah also cautioned that merging two or more organisations that were set up by law into one will require repealing existing acts and putting in place a new establishment act.

He added, “We have dwelt more extensively on the pre-implementation tasks because they are the most important and complex but are the ones that are most often ignored.

“There are many other tasks that are worth mentioning but these can happen as the merger is being done or even when it is completed.”

On February, 26, 2024, the Federal Government announced that President Bola Tinubu had ordered the implementation of the Oronsaye Panel Report.

The Special Adviser to the President on Policy and Coordination, Hadiza Bala-Usman said the move was geared towards reducing the cost of governance and ensuring that the administration has streamlined efficiency across the governance value chain.

She then went on to announce that two organisations will be scrapped; 30 agencies will be merged with each other; nine agencies will be subsumed under existing agencies; and four agencies will be relocated from their current ministries to different ministries.

The Oronsaye report is a brainchild of the ‘Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies,’ inaugurated on August 18, 2011 to, amongst other responsibilities, study and review all previous reports/records on the restructuring of Federal Government parastatals and advise on whether they are still relevant.

A Nigerian accountant and former Head of the Civil Service, Stephen Oronsaye spearheaded the findings which ultimated culminated in what is known today as the ‘Oronsaye report.’

The committee submitted its report in April 2012. In summary, the committee identified 541 government agencies, parastatals and commissions and recommended the reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161.

It further recommended the abolition of 38 agencies, the merger of 52 agencies and the reversal of 14 departments to ministries. Additionally, it called for the management audit of 89 agencies and the discontinuation of funding to several organisations.