Photograph — The Advocate

In an attempt to cut costs and prevent duplication of roles, the Nigerian Senate is in the process of initiating a merger of federal agencies. The upper chamber of the country’s legislature argues that the number of government parastatals is alarming, causing the government to spend needlessly.

According to the new President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, there are currently more than 600 federal agencies in Nigeria, many of which have outlived their usefulness. Lawan, who was elected in the 2019 general elections, had vowed that under his leadership the lawmakers would work with the executive arm to see how some of the agencies could be merged.

He explained further that some of these agencies were set up to address emerging issues at the time they were established but today, those issues no longer exist. Despite this, such agencies are still being funded and are getting regular budgetary allocations, without adding any value.

Explaining how the Senate would go about merging the agencies, Lawan said the relevant committees of the upper chamber would soon be asked to review the acts that established them.

“There is the urgent need to review the acts that establish the various agencies of the Federal Government,” the Senate President said. “The time has come for our committees to look into acts of all the agencies that we have under their supervision.”

The committees are also expected to conduct an assessment to see which of the agencies are still relevant and see how to make them more effective. “However, when an agency has outlived its usefulness, we should be considering streamlining such an agency,” Lawan added.

Speaking with Punch, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, also said the Senate would start the process by reviewing the laws that established the agencies.

“It is when the Senate looks at the various acts of parliament that created the agencies that we could determine the steps to take,” the lawmaker said.

Over time, there have been a lot of discussions surrounding the need for Nigeria’s government to cut down excess federal agencies in the country. Apart from achieving a more efficient service delivery by streamlining the parastatals, dissolving obsolete ones would help the government avoid unnecessary expenses.

Out of total revenue of N3.96 trillion generated by the government between January and December last year to fund the budget, about N3.1 trillion (or 78 percent) was reportedly spent on non-debt recurrent expenditure – such as wages and salaries of public workers. Thus, the move by the Senate is commendable.

In a similar development meant to reposition the civil service for efficient service delivery, the Nigerian government recently approved mass redeployment of senior government officials across ministries, departments, and agencies. A total of 254 top government officials are reported to be affected in the exercise.

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