The recent release of appointments into boards and parastatals of the Federal Government would for long stand out as a sore thumb in the gaffes by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The wide condemnations attracted by the list, which included the names of at least six dead people, are clear pointer to the magnitude of the dissatisfaction of Nigerians to the shoddy job done by those who compiled the list.
For two years plus, since he assumed office as the president, Nigerians, mainly of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had waited with berthed breath for the list to be released. The process, which started with the ousted Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, was only completed and released on Friday night.
Ordinarily, Nigerians should have been happy that the president and his men have finally lowered their hands to fill the vacant seats in various boards. But what followed was alarm, aghast and utter embarrassment. Not only were Nigerians shocked that dead men made the list, but there was even the shock of constituting boards for the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe, Kogi State, which was privatised by the same Federal Government about a year ago. There was also duplication of names in the list.
Members of the board of NIOMCO included Aluko Julie Olubukola, C. C. Udenwa, Iro Danfuloti and Mohammed Omeiza Lawal.
NIOMCO was a firm the Federal Government renegotiated the concession agreement with Global Steel Holdings Limited (GSHL). The new agreement was signed at a ceremony presided by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, with Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, signing on behalf of government, while Prammod Mittal, Chairman of GSHL, signed for his company.
Among the dead persons appointed is Christopher Utov, who was appointed a member of Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research. Utov, the proprietor of Fidei Polytechnic, Gboko, died on March 17, 2017.
Others included Donald Ugbaja, who was appointed a member of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC). Ugbaja, a former Deputy Inspector General of Police, died on November 29, 2017. Senator Francis Okpozo, who, incidentally, the Presidency mourned in a statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, the President’s Media Adviser, made the list of appointment. There are also Garba Attahiru, Umar Dange, Magdalene Kumu, Dr. Nabbs Imegwu and Comrade Ahmed Bunza.
The gaffes were so embarrassing that the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, had to apologise for the mix-up. NFF is governed by statues and the board members are elected by congress, not appointed.
Expectedly, the Presidency has offered an explanation on why the mistake came to the fore. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated that the list was compiled in 2015. Shehu further said that nothing was scandalous in the list as those who have died would be replaced.
According to Shehu, “this list is a historical list. It dates back to 2015….
“So, the president constituted a new panel chaired by the vice president. The panel has some governors and some leaders of the party as members. They were asked to go and review the list. The panel did its work and turned in its report early in 2017. The president had his health challenges during that period.”
Much as it is in the duty lines of the president’s men like Shehu to defend government, we find the defence of the mistakes repugnant and even more embarrassing, to say the least.
If we accept that the list was compiled in 2015 as we were being made to believe, what happened to the review by the vice-president and the governors, which was submitted early in 2017? If we excuse the death, which occurred in 2017, what of the Okpozos, who died in 2016?
We believe that much as it is not the president who should review the list personally, there are hundreds of aides and assistants at his, the vice president’s and even the SGF’s office, who should have gone through the list before it was presented to the whole world. The list released smacks of tardiness, carelessness and, at best, incompetence on the part of those who worked on it.
The new SGF, Boss Mustapha, failed in his first major assignment to do a thorough check on the list of appointment.
We therefore expect President Buhari to look critically at the process that produced the list and discipline those involved in this high level embarrassment to his government. The Presidency of the country should not only be seen as organised and coordinated, it must equally show to Nigerians and the world that it is a serious institution that can be trusted by Nigerians.
With the list released, the confidence on the ability of the Presidency is not high among Nigerians. We strongly insist that the Presidency owes Nigerians a more serious apology on the matter. That can only be done when some heads roll for the mistake and embarrassment on this issue.
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