From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A pressure group, Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), has condemned the proposed establishment of 376 new agencies and institutions by the Senate Ahmed Lawan-led Senate.
HURIWA said the proposal, which is coming despite moves by the Federal Government to restructure the public service in line with the Steve Oronsaye Committee Report on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies and Commission, is a clear demonstration of the fact that the Senator Ahmed Lawan led Senate is parasitic and indeed ranks as the worst in the political annals of Nigeria.”
HURIWA predicated its assessment on some media reports on the subject matter.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group condemned the current session of the National Assembly for misusing and mismanagement of their legislative powers to sabotage the economic well-being of Nigeria in violation of the widely accepted recommendations for restructuring and merging of non-profitable federal agencies as made by a committee headed by a former Head of Service of the Federation Mr Steve Oronsaye.
HURIWA observed that the Oronsaye report recommended the scrapping or merging of some ministries, departments and agencies in order to reduce the cost of governance. A white paper committee set up by the Federal Government to review the parastatals, agencies and commissions created since 2014 submitted a draft report in August.
Besides, HURIWA recalled that the Federal Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari had also in November last year, inaugurated sub-committees headed by former heads of service of the federation, Bukar Aji, Ama Pepple and Oladapo Afolabi, on the implementation of the Oronsaye Report, while the Ebele Okeke Committee was to draft a White Paper on the Ama Pepple Committee Report and harmonise the other committee reports.
Also, HURIWA recalled that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had said that the Federal Government would soon conclude the process of restructuring the public service.
HURIWA however carpeted the Senate of the Federal Republic in the current dispensation under a very weak Senate President for masterminding the passage of a total of 1,070 bills, including 376 establishment bills for the creation of various institutions and agencies in spite of the economic challenges facing the country. Some of these establishment bills have been passed while others have progressively moved to committee levels in defiance of the recommendations of the Oronsaye report.
HURIWA cited a media report that stated that the establishment bills include: the Federal University of Education Kontagora (Est. etc.) Bill, 2019 which was sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi. The bill was read for the third time in December 2019.
Also, the Federal College of Education Illo Establishment Bill, 2019, sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Yahaya was first read in January 2019 and passed for third reading in December 2019 amongst hundreds of other institutions.
Commenting on this reckless creation and multiplication of agencies and institutions even amidst financial constraints, HURIWA said the current national Assembly is populated by merchants and legislative traders who simply bought their way to the federal parliament just to sponsor bills for the creation of institutions and agencies so that they can have dominant control of such entities in the area of contracts, procurements and staffing for their own selfish and pecuniary benefits.
HURIWA also questioned why new Federal tertiary institutions are being proposed when those in existence are not only grossly underfunded but the lecturers are not paid commensurate to their workloads thereby occasioning frequent and intermittent industrial actions in those public schools. The President is being urged by HURIWA not to accede to at least ninety-five per cent of these bills whenever they are presented for his signature which may happen imminently given that the current 9th session of the National Assembly will be winding up soon to prepare for the 2023 election.