There’s increased chatter and heightened expectations among players in the creative industry following reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the merger of some parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Information and Culture.
A report had stated that in compliance with the Oronsaye Report, the President approved the mergers of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the National Theatre and National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM).
He was also said to have greenlighted the merger of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Voice of Nigeria (VON).
There has however been no official confirmation of the supposed mergers, especially as the viral report contradicts original recommendations contained in the Whitepaper.
The original recommendation, for instance, didn’t include a union of the NOA, NT and NCMM. It also didn’t endorse the mergers of NTA, FRCN and VON.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had given indications of Government’s intention to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy by saving cost through revisiting the Oronsaye Report in an interview.
She had said:” The Oronsaye Report reviewed the size of Government and made significant recommendations in terms of trimming; reducing the numbers of agencies, and that would mean merging some agencies.
“This is a report that has been in place for a long time but hasn’t been implemented. But the President has approved that it should be implemented. We have conveyed Mr President’s approval to the arms of Government responsible for this.”
The Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, chaired by the then Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye, had submitted its report in 2012 during the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The 660-page document had recommended a lean government through mergers and outright scrapping of about 102 agencies.
A “White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies” was then submitted to the administration in 2014.
But the recommendations were never implemented as a result of the then looming 2015 general elections.
The Buhari administration didn’t touch it during its first term in office but has is considering it as a result of the economic disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The White paper made wide-ranging recommendations concerning the creative industry. These include the merger of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) with the National Theatre and National Troupe. Government, however, rejected the union of the trio, saying NCAC should stand alone while the others are merged.
The report also recommended the merger of the NCMM and NGA National Commission for Museums, Monuments and Art which Government accepted. It rejected folding National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) into the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). Government concurred with the report’s submission that NTDC should be fully commercialised but insisted that NIHOTOUR would function as a regulatory body.
The Government further rejected the suggested merger of NOA and NICO while endorsing the continuous funding of the Centre for Black African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC).
Though the Oronsaye Report recommended the mergers of the NTA, FRCN and VON into the Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria (FBCN), Government rejected it. It similarly discountenanced that of the NCC and NBC into the Communications Regulatory Authority of Nigeria (CRAN).
The Government accepted that the Nigerian Film Corporation be fully commercialised and that the National Film and Video Censors Board be transferred to a department and reduced to a zonal representation.
But despite the expectations, the mergers won’t be happening soon because of the legal requirements.
The National Assembly would need to amend or repeal some of the laws establishing concerned parastatals before the FG can implement the policy.
Special Adviser to the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, told TCN he hadn’t heard anything official about the mergers when contacted.
Though industry players are expectant, they might need to wait until the Buhari government indicates the direction it wants to go with the mergers.