Following the submission of the first set of ministerial nominees to the Senate, indications have emerged that President Bola Tinubu will restructure some of the ministries of the Federal Government by merging some, creating new ones and scrapping others.
The decision to restructure the ministries was in line with the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye report on the restructuring of the civil service as this paper had earlier reported that Tinubu would implement some of the recommendations in the report.
According to findings, the Federal ministries of Education, Youths and Sports Development, Agricultural and Rural Development, Solid Minerals, Works and Housing, Power; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development are some of those being considered for restructuring. The restructuring of some of the ministries will also give birth to new ministries.
Findings by our correspondents on Friday indicated that there were plans underway to unbundle the Ministry of Education into two; the Ministry of Tertiary Education and the Ministry of Basic Education to be in charge of primary and secondary levels of education.
While it is not clear if the President will appoint two ministers to oversee the new ministries, sources in the civil service noted that the decision to create two ministries would improve the quality of service delivery in the two sectors.
The Ministry of Works and Housing will be unbundled with the Ministry of Works to focus on federal roads and highways, while the Ministry of Housing will be restructured and financed to stimulate economic growth.
It was also gathered that the Ministry of Humanitarian, Social Development and Disaster Management would be restructured into the Ministry of Human Development with social development as part of its functions.
Similarly, the Federal Ministry of Transportation will be unbundled to become the Ministry of Railways and Rail Transport and the Ministry of Waterways and Marine Transportation.
The Ministry of Information will now be known as the Ministry of Information and National Orientation, with the National Orientation Agency now playing a huge role in the dissemination of information to the public.
New ministries of Solid Minerals and Iron and Steel Development will also be created.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development may be unbundled with the Rural Development Department being transferred to the Ministry of Human Development.
Sources in the Presidency also told media men that the Ministry of Budgeting and National Planning would be similarly restructured with the budgeting aspect merged with the Ministry of Finance, while national planning would be moved to the new Ministry of Statistics that would be created.
Under the current Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the commerce component may be moved to the Ministry of Trade and Investment, while the industry component will be moved to the new Ministry of Employment and Industry.
The Ministry of Solid Petroleum is to emerge from the current Ministry of Petroleum Resources and will be responsible for bitumen and tar sand, while the Ministry of Interior may be restructured to handle identity, birth and death registration as well as immigration issues. The National Population Commission may be moved to the new Ministry of Statistics, while the Ministry of Labour and Productivity will be renamed the Ministry of Employment and Industry.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, during an interaction with journalists on Thursday following the submission of the list of ministerial nominees hinted at the restructuring of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.
Earlier, a committee set up by the President had recommended a speedy implementation of the Oronsaye report and the merger of some revenue-generating agencies such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency into the Nigerian Revenue Service in order to enable an efficient collection of all direct and indirect taxes, as well as levies on behalf of the Federal Government.
According to submissions made by a sub-committee of the National Economy Council, the policy will be aided by the passage of an Emergency Economic Reform Bill, which will grant the President special powers to drive the economic reform agenda and support the delivery of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
But the Oronsaye report established that there are 541 Federal Government parastatals, commissions and agencies (statutory and non-statutory) and recommended that 263 of the statutory agencies should be reduced to 161, while 38 agencies should be abolished and 52 should be merged.
The panel also recommended that 14 of the agencies should revert to departments in ministries.
The government later set up a White Paper Drafting Committee headed by the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, to study the recommendations and to produce a White Paper on the report.
While it is not quite clear that the Tinubu administration will scrap some ministries and agencies in line with the Oransanye report, experts and analysts are of the opinion that the restructuring process will favour some ministries and push toward steady implementation of government policies.
Experts give opinions
A professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Sherifdeen Tella, said the merger of ministries and creation of new ones depended on the policy direction and priorities of the government.
He also called for the separation of the works and housing ministry, while a ministry of economic development should be created.
Speaking in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, Tella said, “Certainly, the ministries to be merged or created will depend on the government’s priority. For example, the Ministry of Works and Housing should be separated into two ministries or housing can be joined to another relevant ministry.
“The current Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should also be disbanded. The Ministry of Economic Planning should be created, while finance and budget planning can be merged.
“They can merge Trade and Investment into the finance ministry but on the condition of efficiency. If it is unyielding, there is no need for a merger.”
On his part, a professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, Akpan Ekpo, called for the immediate dismantling of the humanitarian ministry and recommended that the education ministry should be separated into higher education and primary and secondary education ministries.
He said the Ministry of Finance and National Planning should be separated and called for the creation of a standalone Ministry of Economic Development.
Ekpo stated, “The government should dismantle the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. There should be a Ministry of Economic Development separate from the Ministry of Finance
“The education ministry should be split into two; a part should be solely for higher education, while another should be created for primary and secondary education.”
A political analyst, Prof Kamilu Fage, urged the President to concentrate on strengthening the ministries for efficient service delivery rather than creating new ones to reward political allies.
He also said there was a need for a reduction in the cost of governance in view of the current economic realities.
Fage said, “One of our major problems in Nigeria is the high cost of governance. We have so many duplicated ministries, which is why the previous government had the Oronsaye committee that came out with the proposal for a merger.
“On the splitting of ministries, you have to be careful not to overstretch issues. We should consider the economic condition of the country and be weary of performance so that we don’t have so many ministries just to pay political supporters. What the President should do is to arrange things in such a way that we will have functional organisations.”
Supporting Fage’s view, a political analyst, Ezenwa Nwagwu, noted that previous mergers of the MDAs by past administrations had not translated into effective service delivery to Nigerians
He said, “It is not about splitting or merging ministries. This is not the first time such a thing is happening. The question is what did we get when past governments did merger and splitting of ministries?
“What the President needs to concentrate on is service delivery outcomes by matching service delivery with resources. If it does not translate to efficient service delivery, it is a waste of time whether you merge or continue with what you have.”
An educationist and National Coordinator, Concerned Parents and Educators Initiative, Mrs Kemi Koleowo, stated that the move to split the Ministry of Education into two was laudable.
She said, “For a long tie, I think the Ministry of Education has become too large for one person to run. We need to separate primary and secondary education from tertiary education to give the desired attention for them to move forward. For a long time, they have been short-changed. When you have a community that is large and not properly attended to, you’ll realise that developments will not get to the grassroots that they are meant to get to.
“In this case, this is a laudable development that they want to put in place. For quite some time, basic education in Nigeria has been bastardised, which is the foundation to prepare students to get into tertiary institutions. This is long overdue and a welcome development.”
Speaking on the development, the Executive Director, Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Faith Nwadishi, stated that for years, the body had advocated for a reduction in the cost of governance, adding that the move to create new ministries was wrong.
She noted, “When we advocated for cutting the cost of governance, the past administration tried to do this by merging some ministries. For example, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning were two different ministries in the past and many other ministries like that. Due to this, we have seen that with the merger of some of these ministries in the past, we didn’t get full efficiency. What I would have loved to see before the creation or separation of ministries is that there should have been a study to show that these ministries are inefficient due to being merged, thus, the need to create new ministries because a state of emergency has been declared on a particular ministry.”
Nwadishi stated that the creation of new ministries would call for the need to open offices for more political associates, ministers and junior ministers, who would head them and that was against the plan to cut the cost of governance.
Niger’s new ministries
The Niger State Head of Service, Salisu Abubakar, has explained why Governor Mohammed Bago recently increased the number of ministries from 23 to 30.
Abubakar said it was aimed at recruiting more people into the civil service and also absorbing casual workers, some of whom he noted had been in that position for 20 years.
The HoS made this known while speaking at the handing and taking over ceremony of the new permanent secretaries of the ministries of Work and Infrastructural Development, Hassan Etsu, and Power and Renewable Energy, Lucky Barau.
He said over the years he had been calling for the recruitment of more people and the absorption of casual workers into the civil service, and was happy that the governor created the opportunity.
Abubakar stated, “We have 30 ministries now from 23. It’s part of what gives me joy because it is expanding opportunities for civil servants. Before now, I was opportune to be in a position to advise the previous government to do recruitment. And anytime we move for recruitment, they will ask us to show them the source of funding. I’m just telling you the reason why salaries were moved to the Head of Service and later it was moved to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“When we made that submission that there’s a need for recruitment in the service, they said we should show them where to get the money for it. When we did the exercise, they said we should identify the BVN against salaries, but what happened at the end of the day, only 100 related officers were employed, while 3,000 political appointees were employed; that was what happened. Then the second time I was in tertiary, there was a need for recruitment in tertiary and they said we must show evidence where that money will come from. That was how salary now moved from Head of Service to meet us in tertiary. We did the same exercise; we did a lot of savings and yet civil servants were not employed.
“So, with the coming of the new sheriff, we presented all these issues to him and he said if we want posterity to judge us right actually, we must recruit because as it is now, the service that is supposed to be a pyramid is now becoming an inverted pyramid.
“Now, we don’t have officers on level 6, level 7, level 8, level 9, even level 10 are very few. We are trying to do a census on how to get this thing right and we said the best way to go about it is to create newer ministries, which our boss approved. Now, we have the Ministry of Energy and Power; we have the Ministry of Primary Healthcare, Ministry of Nomadic and Pastoral Affairs, Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management and we have the Ministry for Small, Medium and Vocational Skills Development and Entrepreneurship.
“The essence of these ministries is to create space for new recruitment. We have 434 directors in the ministries. Now, if you take a census of 30 ministries with a minimum of six directors in each ministry, 212 deputy directors and 24 assistant directors in each ministry, that is how we will move so that the pyramid will keep on expanding below. So, you can see that opportunities are being created.”
The HoS gave an assurance that with the support of the staff members of the ministries, the days of casual workers were over.