AS part of measures to reduce the cost of governance, the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari may retain only 19 ministries from the present 31.
Consequently, most of the candidates being considered for the federal executive council (FEC) will end up as ministers of state, after all.
Besides, the president-elect is said to be considering the feasibility of announcing his Chief of Staff, Principal Secretary and a handful of Special Advisers before Friday so that there can be some semi-official interface between the outgoing government and the incoming one in the context of handing over of tangible assets in the State House.
The Guardian was told last night that there is one mind in all policy advisory committee members that the number of the ministries should be pruned to about twenty as part of over-all strategy to reduce high cost of governance in Abuja.
It was learned that the cost-of-governance-reduction strategy is not by intuition or a flash in the pan as various advisory committees of the new governing Party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) have been considering the new deal for some time.
Besides, The Guardian confirmed that President-elect, Buhari, is fully persuaded too that he would not be able to deliver on promises without shedding the weight of the federal bureaucracy and indeed the number of ministries and agencies of government that consume the more than 70 per cent of the federal budget through the recurrent expenditure instrument.
The Guardian was told too that the Stephen Oronsaye’s report of 2012, a comprehensive blueprint on the fundamentals of reduction of cost of governance has become handy for the technocrats crafting working papers for the in-coming administration.
It was gathered too that the former Head of Service, Oronsaye, has been consulted on the report details that the outgoing administration has failed to implement.
Specifically, Ahmed Joda, chairman of the transition committee of the APC has collected a copy of the Oronsaye panel report from the former Principal Secretary/Permanent Secretary State House, (Oronsaye) himself. The former Permanent Secretary, Finance confirmed the development on telephone last night.
In the same vein, a retired federal permanent secretary, who was pioneer director-general the federal government’s reform bureau, has just completed a book in which a cost-of-governance reduction strategy too is a major chapter. Specifically, the book on the expediency of radical reform of the civil service recommends 18 ministries, among other features that the advisers of the APC and the president-elect are said to have adopted. The book, which will be publicly presented in June this year is said to have raised some dust on so many other issues including the tenure policy that Oronsaye’s regime as head of service adopted; the office of the First Lady and even the controversial designation of “Coordinating Minister for the Economy”.
Meanwhile, The Guardian gathered from well-placed sources close to the president elect’s men that the expediency of getting some vital information pieces from the outgoing president’s men may compel him to name a few personal aides ahead of inauguration. Sources said to us last night that the president-elect is concerned about paucity of information about certain issues that need to be physically inspected before taking over, although the handing over notes were submitted on Monday to the Ahmed Joda’s transition committee by the outgoing vice president, Namadi Sambo.
Concerns have been raised about how the Buhari’s imminent administration can implement a constitutional provision that stipulates a minister per state (36 states & Abuja) within the context of reducing ministries to less than 20. But legal experts have noted that the constitution does not state that there should be 36 ministries to cover the 36 ministerial nominees.
As an insider put it to this newspaper last night: “In the APC’s administration that Buhari will run from Friday, there will be more ministers of state. According to a reform agenda that the Yar’Adua’s government put in place, all ministers are equal: ministers are ministers and their remuneration package should be uniform. The Obasanjo’s administration had on the eve of departure in 2007 reduced federal ministries to19. But the Yar’Adua’s administration reversed the policy and returned to the status quo.
In the new deal being considered, there may be the following structure as examples of merger of ministries:
1. Ministry of Interior (to include Police Affairs)
2. Ministry of Transportation (to include Works, Aviation, Railways, Waterways/Transport
3. Agriculture & Water Resources, etc.
4. Ministry of Information, Youth Development & Culture
5. Ministry of Trade, Investment & Tourism, etc.
Niger Delta Ministry may be replaced with Ministry for Regional Development. Women Affairs, Special Duties may be scrapped.