Amid growing public concern over the structure and membership of the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, indications have emerged that the President may operate with just 19 ministries.
The Ahmed Joda-led Transition Committee has recommended a “small government” which entails pruning the number of ministers from 42 to 19, The Cable newspaper reported Friday, quoting the 800-page document submitted by the committee.
Mr. Joda submitted the report to Mr. Buhari last Friday.
The president is expected to implement key recommendations of the report, especially those proposing lean cabinet structure as a way of cutting recurrent expenditure and freeing up funds for capital projects.
According to The Cable, the committee recommended that Mr. Buhari should have only 19 senior ministers, while 17 (junior) ministers of state should be appointed, bringing the total to 36 in line with constitutional provision of one minister per state.
Most of the existing ministries are to be merged, while only nine are not recommended for pruning, the report said.
The nine ministries unaffected by the recommendation of the committee are: industry, trade and investment; education, defence, FCT, finance, labour and productivity, justice, foreign affairs and national planning.
The Joda committee recommended that ministries of mines and steel development, petroleum resources and power should become one ministry to be named “ministry of energy”, while environment, land and urban development as well as works and housing should be merged and known as works, housing and environment instead of being three separate ministries.
Also the ministries of aviation and transport are to become ministry of transport taking charge of aviation, rail, water and transport systems.
“There is no direct relationship between the number of ministries and efficacy of service delivery. The US with a population of 316 million and with GDP of $17,328 trillion (30 times Nigeria’s GDP) has 15 ministries. India has 24 ministries, while the UK has 17,” the committee was quoted as saying.
“The current structure of the FGN with 28 ministries and 542 agencies (50 of which have no enabling laws) [results in] very high cost of governance. The portfolios of ministries are not responsive to all the major critical national challenges such as family and child affairs; religious affairs; vulnerable and elderly group affairs as well as the North-eastern crisis.
“[There is an] apparent conflict between the desire of reducing the cost of governance through cabinet downsize and the constitutional requirement of a cabinet-level ministerial appointment from each of the 36 states of the federation,” the newspaper quoted the committee’s report as saying.