It is very clear to every Nigerian that this is not the time to run a big government and any reform that could reduce the cost of governance at the same time retain government’s effectiveness would be encouraged.
Perhaps, speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila had this in mind when a few months ago, he barred members from sponsoring fresh establishment bill, to avoid creating new agencies which will only increase governments’ recurrent expenditure.
Unfortunately, the number of establishment bills that had commenced the legislative process before Gbajabiamila’s declaration would.be enough to do the damage the speaker is trying to avoid.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan set up a Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions, and Agencies. The committee is headed by Mr Steve Oronsaye, a former head of the civil service.
The Oronsaye report is not the crux of this discussion, however, at the public hearing of the House on 5 bills relating to regulations of the media and motion pictures, references were directly or indirectly made to the Oronsaye report of 2012.
The committee turned in its report after eight weeks of its assignment. The report has far-reaching recommendations on MDAs that should be scraped, those to be merged and those to become self-funding, thereby freeing funds for the much-needed capital projects across the country.
Similar positions were canvassed by stakeholders at the public hearing, and it leaves one to wonder how much waste goes into duplicity functions in government offices.
Practitioners in the film industry who stated their position on a bill seeking to repeal the National Film and Videos Censors Board (NFVCB) Act 2004 and enact the National Film and video censorship and classification and exhibition regulatory commission, said the Board should be taken back to the ministry of information and culture and made a department. This is essential because the stakeholders felt that the board most times deviate from its mandate of censorship of movie contents to control the entire industry, including enforcement of copyright which is exclusively the function of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), another agency of the federal government.
In the same vein, the argument over the need to regulate social media contents through an amendment to the (NBC) advanced by the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, would have been easier if the NBC and the National Communications Commission (NCC) had been merged as suggested by the Oransaye Committee. This would mean that regulation of all kinds of communication, either on the land or in the sea would be under the purview of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Nigerian (CRAN) suggested by the Committee.
The argument in some quarters that government should not control internet content would not even arise, it’s just like saying air transport cannot be regulated, every jurisdiction has their aviation regulations which has to be complied with by operators in the sector.
I don’t have enough space to delve into the issue of tariff regulation by the NBC as it overlaps with the function of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and the complaints of multiple taxation advertising practitioners are subjected to by different agencies. All the positions canvassed by stakeholders at the public hearing would have been handled by the Oronsaye Committee, if the 800-pages document is deeply consulted, we must not like the name of the committee, but the content is, to say the least very resourceful.