From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja for SUN newspaper
Indications emerged last night that the Federal Government may have resolved to scrap some of its agencies in line with the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye-led Presidential Committee on the Rationalization and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies following the completion of study of its White Paper Committee report. Among those scrapped are Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UMTE), National Examination Council (NECO), Public Complaints Commission, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and the Fiscal Mobilization and Allocation Commission among others.
The Oronsaye committee had recommended the abolition of 38 agencies, the merger of 52 and the reversion of 14 to departments in the ministries from which they were carved out, a move the committee argued would save the government more than N862 billion between 2012 and 2015 should its proposal be adopted. A reliable government source confirmed that President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and selected senior aides of the president met twice and eventually took decisions, which included the scrapping of some agencies and merging of others.
Another source revealed that the with the scrapping of the UTME, individual universities in the country would conduct their own admission examinations and admit students while the Joint Matriculation and Examination Board will set and ensure compliance to standards as it acts as the clearing house. The source said JAMB would be modeled along the line of Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS), the central organization through which applications are processed for entry to higher education in the United Kingdom.
According to the source, “individual university will do their own examination and admission. If you want to apply to a university, you do so but in order not to have a situation where one person gets multiple admission, JAMB acts as a clearing house to free up spaces. All the universities are free now to admit students.” Even though details were still being worked out, it was learnt that government’s decision, was informed by the need to promote merit in admission into the nation’s universities because “the idea is to ensure that the best students go to the best universities.”
The source further disclosed that the president had also approved that the West African Examination Council (WAEC) is now expected to take over the functions and vast infrastructure of NECO, which now ceases to exist. The sources confirmed that WAEC would now conduct two external examinations in a year, January and November. The Public Complaints Commission is to be merged with the Human Rights Commission, just as NAPEP would also be scrapped and replaced National Agency for Job Creation and Empowerment.
The Oronsaye-led Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation made far-reaching recommendations, which, it explained, were aimed at helping the government to effect a drastic reduction in the size of its bloated bureaucracy, eliminating duplication of functions and bringing down the cost of governance. The committee submitted its report to the president in April last year.