The rejection of ambassadorial appointments by two nominees, and the controversy around another nomination last week, call into question the way the Buhari administration operates.
Two nominees Usman Bugaje, from the President’s home state of Katsina, said his ‘hands are full’, and Pauline Tallen said she cannot accept the posting, to take care of her ailing husband.
This is not the first time that an appointment made by this administration has been turned down. In February, Najatu Mohammed said she was not consulted before her name was announced as chairperson of the Federal University in Dutse, and thus declined.
There is also the fiasco around the appointment of MIT professor, Akintunde Akinwande, as chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission, a position that has been vacant for over a year. Initial reports said he had rejected the appointment because he was not consulted. Now, Akinwande says he did not show up for the Senate screening because he had to take leave from his employers at MIT.
There is a common thread through all these events: one of a Presidency that does not do its due diligence before making appointments. An executive branch that does things thoroughly, would have reached out to prospective nominees for any position to ascertain their availability and answer any questions they have, before making those nominations public.
It should have been obvious to the administration, for instance, that Bugaje and Tallen who are both very influential in Katsina and Plateau state respectively, would not want to be shipped out of the country, far from their power base, and risk being left out of the running for other more substantial appointments.
In the case of Professor Akinwande, his nomination was announced in July, long enough to determine what it would take to secure his services.
Clearly, that was not done. No formal notification of his nomination was sent to him, and neither did he get any formal invitation to the senate screening so he could seek permission from his current employer to return to Nigeria.
The result is an avoidable embarrassment to the Presidency and a further delay in constituting the board of the key regulator in Nigeria’s electricity industry.
There will be many more important appointments made by the President, and it will be beneficial to ensure those nominated can accept those positions, to avoid unwanted headlines and the perception of incompetence.
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