In order to ensure clarity of functions and avoid clash of roles, the National Conference Committee on Public Service matters yesterday sought to streamline the roles of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Chief of Staff to the president.
The committee chaired by erstwhile Head of Service, Ebele Okeke, said this would be part of the recommendations the committee would put forward at the next plenary because the roles of the two presidential appointees seem to be clashing and the need to "explicitly streamline the two important offices is desired."
Though some committee members were of the opinion that the office of the Chief of Staff should be scrapped, other committee members emphasised that the office holder had enormous responsibilities, although not well defined as contained in the American presidential system from where it was adopted.
A delegate from Kogi State, Olusola Akanmode, who is a former Deputy Chief of Staff to the then president said it was not surprising that the recommendation was coming up, considering that it had come up earlier in 2005.
He said much of the agitations were coming on the heels of the perception that the office of the chief of staff is duplication, especially at the state level.
"Whereas the conflict snare is not too manifested at the federal level, they are glaring at the state level.
"Whether you are talking of the state or the federal, many of us think that the basic problem is the lack of understanding of the functions of a chief of staff, I drew my own experience from the time I was there.
"The problem is that we adopted the system but we didn't really take time to make sure that the functions and structure in the presidency were well sorted out. We did a lot of trial and error and got it, until the time of President Musa Yar'Adua, when he scrapped the office for some time, because people felt that there was a lot of meddlesomeness on the part of the then chief of staff," he said.
Akanmode said the SGF is so engrossed in the coordination of many ministries and other parastatals that he cannot be called to take care of the activities of the other office, even as the office holder is expected to do so much on behalf of the president.