The House of Representatives has commenced the process of scrapping and merging ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government, with its Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Duplication of Functions of Agencies of the Federal Government commencing the move to reduce the cost of governance and ensure efficiency.
The committee has consequently asked the MDAs to justify why they should remain in existence and as individual entities.
At its inaugural investigative hearing in Abuja yesterday, the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, the National Council for Arts and Culture, the National Gallery of Art and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation appeared before the committee.
The Director-General, NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe, while being grilled by the committee, called for more powers to regulate reality programmes such as the Big Brother Nigeria. He also recalled how he went after popular cross-dresser, Idris Okuneye, popular known as Bobrisky.
A member of the committee, Alex Egbonna, had expressed concerns that the BBN, an annual show organised by South African-based MultiChoice, owners of cable television service provider, DSTV, was showing nudity and other contents alien to the Nigerian culture.
Runsewe, in his response, called for more regulatory powers. He said, “I am the first person who took Big Brother Nigeria to NBC to report them. I took it up and Big Brother (organisers) tried to reach me and I told them that if the culture in other parts of the world is to be naked – nudity- they should not bring it to Nigeria because our culture is rich and it respects integrity of our country.”
The lawmakers, however, noted that the issues raised against the previous editions were still with the recently concluded 2022 edition. “That is the problem with Nigeria: You start something, you don’t end it. But they were still naked even in the last event. That thing you started – taking them to wherever you took them to – has not ended. That is what I’m saying. They are still doing the same thing. They should have learnt. There is no solution to what you started and that is the Nigerian factor,” Egbonna insisted.
The lawmakers also decried poor monitoring and regulation of hotels and hospitality in the country. They also asked about the disappearance of carnivals across the states.
However, Runsewe stated that “no state in this country today can regulate hotels to the level of grading and classification.” He pointed out that to grade hotels with stars, the government must invest a seed capital but “no state is ready to give that money.”
Chairman of the committee, Victor Danzaria, in his address of welcome, stated that the lawmakers were out to determine which MDAs should be recommended for scrapping for merger.
He said, “We have agencies, some doing the job of the other. Some are intervening agencies, their lifespans have expired but they are still there and the government is still maintaining them by budgetary allocation. It is a waste for this country. We are looking at areas where we (can) shrink governance but increase productivity.
“This committee also has a mandate of assessing, ascertaining and doing a root-cause analysis of regular bickering among some established agencies. We found out that some of these agencies have duplication of functions. The National Assembly makes enabling laws for all these agencies. We are looking at your mandates: what are you supposed to deliver for this country? And when there is bickering between agencies, there is overlap, there is also duplication of functions. This committee was set up to look at your mandates and enabling Acts. Are you executing them? Are you effectively helping the government to deliver good governance in this country?
“The other mandate of this committee is to establish areas of mergers, synergy and justification of existence of these agencies. Like I said, duplication of functions and overlapping could be there. But are they coming in the form of synergy? Do we look at merger of these agencies to enable the government to fund these organisations effectively? Every year, the President asks the National Assembly for permission to obtain loans to maintain these agencies. So, it is our responsibility in this National Assembly to make sure that the enabling Acts of all those agencies are there and that is why they exist.
The committee is to conduct a “root-cause analysis” of the regular bickering among some established bodies under the Federal Government.
Also, the committee was to establish “areas of mergers, synergies and justification of the existence of some established agencies, departments, boards, parastatals and corporations, which are no longer needed in the country,” and report back to the House within six weeks for further legislative action.
The move is based on a motion moved by the Majority Whip, Mohammed Monguno, titled ‘Need to Investigate the Duplication of Functions of Agencies of the Federal Government.’