Anxiety heightens across MDAs
BY BARTH EZE
Palpable fear and tension have gripped staffers of some MDAs, following the 2024 budget presented to the joint National Assembly by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday.
Insiders and those close to the Presidency are suggesting that the President and his team are tinkering on the pressure being mounted on him to implement the report of Stephen Oronsaye adding that the only way to make his budget of ‘Renewed Hope’ effective and workable was to trim-down the workforce.
According to them, the report implementation could be possible if he could muster the courage he used in removing the dreaded fuel subsidy.
Some economists and business analysts have criticised the budget, claiming that it’s not workable with the current inflation in the country.
According to both political and economic analysts, for the budget to actualise its purpose, the president must shade the weight of cost of governance by trimming the workforce.
Tinubu, before assuming the office was said to have concluded plans to implement the Stephen Oronsaye panel reports, on the reform of the civil service, tough decision that the former president, Mohammadu Buhari was afraid to take in reviving the ailing economy.
According to experts, to revive the dying Nigeria economy, a drastic step is required. The experts believed that Tinubu has taken the bold step in removing the controversial fuel subsidy, a once conduit pipe draining the nation’s commonwealth.
The experts are projecting job cuts, introduction of higher taxes, privatisation of public corporations and the sale of some government assets.
According to our source, Tinubu due to pressure, might consider taking the bull by the horn and implement the report.
Another source hinted that Tinubu is afraid to take another anti-people policy even though he considers the report healthy to restore sanity in the economy, which he believes would pay off at the long run.
Recently, there have been calls and pressure on Tinubu to merge some ministries and agencies of the Federal Government as recommended by the Oronsaye panel.
Before coming up with the 2024 Budget, it was gathered that Tinubu discussed the implementation of the report to reposition the country, especially during this trying moments.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari promised to cut the cost of governance, and remove oil subsidy, but lacked the political will to do something about those after eight years on the throne.
It was gathered that Tinubu may streamline some ministries.
According to our source, Nigerians should expect tougher times ahead.
Last week, a member of the House of Representatives, and son of Mallam El-Rufai, Bello El-Rufai, called on President Bola Tinubu to implement the Oronsaye Report on ministries, departments, and agencies in the 2024 budget.
The son of the former governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, made the plea on Thursday during the debate on the 2024 budget.
Recall that the House of Representatives started the debate on the N27.5 trillion budget on Thursday and continued till Friday, as they rushed towards the passage of the budget before December 31, as demanded by President Tinubu.
During the debate, El-Rufai said his comment might be considered troublesome; nevertheless, that Tinubu should go ahead to implement the recommendations of the Oronsaye Report.
It would be recalled that the committee, chaired by Steven Oronsaye, submitted the report on restructuring of MDAs.
But Jonathan and Buhari administrations failed to implement the reports over fear of job loss.
But El-Rufai said if the country wanted to reduce wastage and ensure efficiency, the government must implement the report immediately.
“I would like to cause some trouble with your kind permission. As we discussed the issues around revenue. The federal government has an excellent report.
“If Nigeria wants to consolidate revenue, decrease wastage and ensure efficiency, we must ensure the full implementation of that report, which recommends that some agencies should be merged.
“I believe that would ensure efficiency. As we implement this budget, we must remember the Oronsaye report.” He said.
It was gathered that the House of Representatives is considering his view on the issue and may be part of their recommendation to the presidency while approving the budget.
Recall that Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions, led by ex-Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, had submitted the names of the agencies recommended for abolition
The agencies include; Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO).
The document reads: “The Code of Conduct Tribunal should be renamed Anti-Corruption Tribunal and upgraded to the status of a Court of Superior Records with the responsibility for handling only corruption cases from the proposed merger of EFCC, ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“Extant anti-corruption laws should be repealed, while a new one is enacted to accommodate the consolidation of EFCC, ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“The establishment of strong departments among others, in the proposed consolidated structure is desirable as they would handle the following areas: (i) Prosecution; (ii) Investigation (iii) Prevention (Advocacy); and (iv) Asset declaration/ forfeiture.
“The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) should be made autonomous.”
“Critical stakeholders, particularly the National Council on Education, NCE should make tangible efforts to revamp the falling standard of Education in Nigeria, including the establishment of appropriate structures for the management of quality”
“As education is on the concurrent list, state Governors should be engaged via the National Economic Council of State to drive the process and restore the standard of primary and secondary school Education
“They should also enhance the quality of teachers and infrastructure of primary schools.
“The first nine years of a child’s education should be free and fully funded by the Government.
“Teaching should be professionalised, particularly at the primary education level.
“Fresh graduates of Colleges of Education should mandatorily undergo a defined period of internship and be recertified at periodic intervals of three years thereafter.
“All practising teachers in primary and secondary schools and equivalent should undergo in service training to enable them to obtain licenses to continue to practice.
“Teachers in privately owned primary and secondary schools should pass a qualifying examination before they are recertified to practice.
“Funds appropriated for the management and development of schools should be allocated directly to respective schools, rather than being warehoused at the Federal Ministry of Education, UBEC and SUBEB, under the Federal Ministry of Education, UBEC and SUBEB.
“There is need for the restoration of a strong, aggressive, focused and professionalised Inspectorate Division in the Federal Ministry of Education to facilitate the improvement and maintenance of standards in service delivery.
“For the recommendations to have a meaningful impact, the Education sector requires decisive and courageous leadership at every level of the Educational chain for the surgical transformation of the sector.
“The NUC-the apex body in the tertiary Education sub-sector should subsume NBTE and NCCE to form a new agency known as the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).”
The report recommended the abolition of 38 agencies, merger of 52 and reversal of 14 to departments in ministries, a comprehensive list of those to be abolished was not made known to the public because a few ones mentioned (like EFCC, ICPC) generated controversy.
Some of those on the list are: the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), National Salaries and Wages Commission; Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission; Infrastructure Concessionary and Regulatory Commission; EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau; Fiscal Responsibility Commission; National Board for Technical Education; National Commission for Colleges of Education; Federal Character Commission; Gurara Water Management Authority (GWMA); Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC); National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA); Commercial Law Department; and Centre for Automotive Design and Development (CADD).
Others are: Standards Organisation of Nigeria; Consumer Protection Council (CPC); National Orientation Agency (NOA); National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO); Nigerian Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Studies (NIHOTOUR); National Troupe and the National Theatre; National Gallery of Arts; Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN); Nigeria Leather Science Technology; National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT); National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA); Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI); FIIRO, NASENI, NCAM; National Rural Electrification Agency (NREA); National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN).
Also affected are the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA); Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR); National Economic Recovery Fund (NERFUND); National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA); Nigerian Institute for Education Planners and Administrators; National Metallurgical Development Centre Jos, National Metallurgical Training Institute Onitsha, Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences (NIMG) Jos; Nigerian Geological Survey; National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA); National Productivity Centre; Nigerian Copyright Commission; NTA, FRCN, Voice of Nigeria; National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Roll-Back Malaria, Epidemiology and Surveillance, Occupational and Environmental Health, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response.
However, a political-economic expert, Marvelous Onyendu said Tinubu may have succeeded with the removal of the oil subsidy, but that implementation of the Oronsaye reports was going to be hard nut for him to crack because of invested interest.
He said the North and West, who dominated the civil service, are going to be affected more than any other zone in the country adding that it’s going to be handled carefully.
According to him, how can Tinubu implement the report when security, job creation, poverty reduction topped his priorities when he presented his N27.5tr 2024 Budget of Renewed Hope?
President Tinubu said the nation’s internal security architecture will be overhauled to enhance law enforcement capabilities with a view to safeguarding lives, property, and investments across the country.
“To improve the effectiveness of our budget performance, the government will focus on ensuring value for money, greater transparency, and accountability. In this regard, we will work more closely with development partners and the private sector, while debt service is projected to be 8.25 trillion naira and capital expenditure is 8.7 trillion naira. Nigeria remains committed to meeting its debt obligations. Projected debt service is 45% of the expected total revenue.
“The budget deficit is projected at 9.18 trillion naira in 2024 or 3.88 percent of GDP. This is lower than the 13.78 trillion naira deficit recorded in 2023, which represented 6.11 percent of GDP. The deficit will be financed by new borrowings totaling 7.83 trillion naira, 298.49 billion naira from Privatization Proceeds, and 1.05 trillion naira draws down on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific development projects.” He said.
President Tinubu said his administration remains committed to broad-based and shared economic prosperity, adding: “We are reviewing social investment programmes to enhance their implementation and effectiveness. In particular, the National Social Safety Net project will be expanded to provide targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households.”