by Alexander O. Onukwue
Among the 1,258 persons whose names were published as new boards chairpersons and members are Honourable Garba Attahiru, Senator Francis Okpozo, a former deputy IGP Donald Ugbaja and the Reverend Christopher Utov.
There is just one problem: these four men are dead. Hon Attahiru died in May 2016, Rev Utov died in March this year, Mr Ugbaja in November and Senator Okpozo died on the 16th of December. The President did send a condolence message to his family just three days ago on Wednesday.
The list of appointees was already generating comments and criticisms after it was published on Friday, with many describing it as the moulding of a large collection pot by the APC for the next electioneering season. In the two years of the Buhari administration, there have never been so many appointments declared at once and there has hardly been any list with so many politicians in it. Disgraced former Patricia Etteh, sacked former Governor of Ekiti Segun Oni and a recent kidnap victim, Ayo Arise.
The only explanation that would make sense is that the list had been prepared at a time when these men were still alive, but without rechecking to be sure everyone on the list was fit and proper is a sign of the mediocrity that has been exhibited by the administration since its inception and especially in 2017.
How do we expect a Presidency which was unaware of the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina into the civil service, and which did could not prevent the President’s office from falling to the ruins of rats, to perform due diligence on a list of 1258 persons?
The list contains a duplication of names in more than one agency. For instance, Sabo Nanono was appointed a member of the board of the National Agency for Science and Engineering (NASENI), but was also listed on the board of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). Habiba Umar is on the board of the Federal Medical Centre Yola as wells as the FMC in Birnin-Kebbi. These may well have been intentional but given the motive of rewarding party loyalists behind the announcement of the appointments, it would seem counter-intuitive that the duplications are not another set of flaws.
There may not have been anything wrong with the names on this list but coming from an administration that has prided itself on cutting down on the cost of governance, this is self-incriminating. Nigerians know what usually accompanies the constitution of boards in the country, namely the procurement of features and accessories befitting to the chairpersons and board members, and the aides and relatives they bring along. That’s just the financial cost of governance; the bureaucratic in-fighting and frictions due to decisions on awarding contracts will only get worse when career politicians are placed to monitor and superintend over the affairs of public administrators. Never was it known that politicians had the same goals as public administrators, especially as we approach elections season.
Something was definitely amiss with a government that took six months to appoint its Ministers, but that was forgiven as the stage fright of a gazing first-time performer facing an audience famed for heckling. As Odigie Oyegun put it recently, Change does not happen with the pace of a light bulb coming on when the switch is operated. Depending on that excuse, the government has given itself liberty to run like a slow country. But after two years, the story has not changed.
Rats, the Ikoyi money, Maina, Dead appointees, all in one year. These are not coincidences, it is a pattern.
There is an art and science to excellence in leadership and administration but the Presidency is fussing over the acts and scenes of the President’s softer side.