…The enormous powers of the office
An expose on the powers and influence of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, reveals that the office is as important – if not more – than the office of the vice president!
By Jide Ajani
Pieces of information available to Sunday Vanguard suggest that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may have zoned the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, to the South-West geo-political zone.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that just before the visit of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is now the PDP presidential candidate for next year’s presidential election, to the Abeokuta residence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, there had been a silent contestation for the slot of the vice president. One of either the South East or the South West was expected to get the slot.
In fact, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the visit by leaders of Afenifere to Obasanjo a day before Atiku’s visit was with a view to seeking clarification and possibly assisting in influencing the choice of the Number Two pick.
However, after deliberations and the need to further cement the rapprochement between the Yoruba South West and the Igbo South East, it was agreed that the latter should be given the slot.
Obasanjo, being a seasoned administrator and having served as two-time head of state – both as a military man and a civilian – was said to have explained the sense in not making too much fuzz about the vice presidency.
It was after deliberations that the fears of the Afenifere who had hoped to get Obasanjo’s buy-in, were allayed.
Consequent upon the choice of the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, as Atiku’s running mate, Sunday Vanguard was told at the weekend by a prominent Yoruba leader that it is “now our duty and responsibility to go and explain to our people that the office currently occupied by Professor Yemi Osinbajo represents, while good and beneficial, has not been effectively translated into any form of benefit for the Yoruba nation.
Some of the so called development or infrastructure going on around the South West were already either conceived or had actually been started by the Jonathan administration before the coming of this administration. It is worse because people perceive that there is a cabal that is not aiding the full functionality of that office”, the leader said.
Continuing, he made it clear that “a leader like Atiku who understand politics, economy and democracy, would allow the occupant of that office thrive, just as the occupant of the Office of the SGF, OSGF, which appears to be what we have settled for, would also do a great job in complementing the affairs of government from the Villa.”
For instance, how else would anybody influence policy than when his responsibility is to “ensure the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programmes for the overall development of the country”., a job description for the OSGF.
The responsibilities of the OSGF, are enormous.
Specifically the office undertakes the following responsibilities:
- i) Coordinating policy design and formulation by Ministries, Departments and Agencies for approval by Government;
- ii) Serving as Secretary to the Council of State, the Federal Executive Council and other Constitutional Councils, which are chaired by the President;
iii) Coordinating the activities of Ministries and Government Agencies on the implementation of Government decisions, policies and programmes;
- iv) Dealing with constitutional, political and socio-economic matters as may be referred to the Presidency;
- v) Administrative Tribunals, Commissions and Panels of Enquiry;
- vi) Co-ordinating national security and public safety matters;
vii) National Honours Award
viii) Prerogative of Mercy
- ix) Protocol Matters
- x) Channeling of papers and directives of the President;
- xi) Processing and granting Government approval for Overseas Tours, Intergovernmental Meetings/Conferences, medical check-up/treatment by Public Officers;
xii) Processing requests for Overseas Duty Tours/Conferences including medical check-up/treatment abroad for members of the Judiciary, Chairmen and Members of Statutory Commissions/Bodies for approval by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
xiii) Coordinating the appointments to Headship of Statutory Bodies, Commissions and Agencies by the President;
xiv) Dealing with matters relating to conditions of service of political office holders; xv) Intergovernmental Affairs and relations with State and Local Governments; xvi) Liaison with Secretaries to State Governments;
xvii) Allocation of office accommodation to Political Office Holders.
In being eminently placed to coordinate and handle all these, should the occupier of such an office not be considered a very important and influential individual?
But that is not all that he does.
In terms of the structure of that office, there is more.
In discharging the aforementioned responsibilities, the OSGF is structured into the following Offices, each headed by a Permanent Secretary.
There are six of such offices:
*General Services Office;
*Political Affairs Office;
*Economic Affairs Office;
*Special Services Office;
*Special Duties Office
In addition, there is the supervisory roles that have also been lumped together in that office and the list is legion.
The following Parastatals/Agencies are supervised by the OSGF:
- i) Ecological Fund
- ii) National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP)
iii) National Economic Intelligence Committee
- iv) Presidential Advisory Council
- v) Code of Conduct Tribunal
- vi) Code of Conduct Bureau
vii) Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency
viii) National Hospital
- ix) Federal Road Safety Commission
- x) National Commission for Refugees
- xi) Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS)
xii)Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)
xiii) South-South Health Care Programme
xiv) National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA)
- xv) National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC)
xvi) Ministry of Special Duties
xvii) Secretariat of the Presidential Council (PAC)
xviii) Secretariat of the Presidential Committee on National Identification Systems, Consumer Credit and Outsourcing initiative
xix) Galaxy backbone
- xx) National Identity Management Commission, NIMC
xxi) Christian Pilgrims Commission
xxii) National Hajj Commission
Whereas it should be stated upfront that these responsibilities and functions are not cast on stone, and may vary from administration to administration, it is still pertinent to point out that in influencing policy and coordinating same, the SGF is imbued with enormous powers which naturally sets the tone and direction of any administration in a manner which should affect, positively, the lives of the people of the country.
In agreeing to the arrangement, the South West leaders were made to understand that in giving the vice presidency to the South East, the gesture would be seen as one meant to give gravitas to the push by the PDP to be seen as a unifying party.
The unifying role of the “Afenifere leaders is with a view to helping Nigeria out of this current mess”, the old man concluded.