By Nwakaego Alajemba
Statutory entities under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy are either to be fully commercialized or firmly positioned as regulatory bodies or independent businesses with the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the implementation of the Oronsaye Report eight years after it was submitted.
The Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies was set up during the Goodluck Jonathan administration and is commonly referred to as the Oransaye Report as it was chaired by the then Head of Service, Mr. Stephen Oransaye.
The 800-page report by the committee recommended the abolishment and merging of 102 government agencies and parastatals. Specifically, it advised government to abolish 38 federal agencies, merge 52, and the reversion of 14 agencies to departments in relevant ministries.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) will retain its position as an IT regulatory body. The Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) Limited and Nigerian Postal Agency (NIPOST) will be offloaded for commercialisation to attract private investments. Government will retain only minority stake in NigComSat while Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBL) will be further positioned to run like a private business entity servicing IT infrastructural needs of government and non-government organisations.
The Oronsaye Report had recommended that the functions of NITDA be transferred to its overseer-ministry to operate as a department in that ministry. But the government rejected this recommendation and ruled that the NITDA will “continue to remain as an agency under … the enabling law.”
Government accepts recommendations in the Oronsaye Report that it “sells off its shares in NigComSat, retains minority shares, ceases budgetary allocations to the NigComSat and its functions that relate to space development be reverted to the National Space Research Development Agency (NASRDA).
The Committee recommends that NIPOST be fully commercialized and Galaxy Backbone be appropriately restructured to meet its set objectives as a business entity.
The committee inked an end to the funding of professional bodies including the likes of the Computer Professionals’ Registration Council of Nigeria (CPRCN). The government accepted the committee’s recommendation that the funding of the CPRCN, a professional body, should cease.
“There are 541 government parastatals, commissions and agencies (statutory and non-statutory) in the country when the Oronsaye Report was submitted.There are currently close to 1,000. With plunge in oil revenue and a dicey economy, “implementation of the Oronsaye Report was inevitable and only a matter of time, said one Lagos analyst.
“Job loss in the public with private sector is inevitable but necessary. Government needs to free funds, cut waste and save for critical developments,” he added