…As FG appoints board members for privatised coy
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Victor Ahiuma-Young & Abdulwahab Abdulah
The controversy over the recent board appointments into Federal Government parastatals increased at the weekend with chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC protesting the alleged marginalisation of core members of the party who championed the presidential campaigns of 2015.
The controversy first sparked by revelations of the appointment of eight dead persons into the boards was also not helped with the revelation that the president also made appointments into at least one company that the government let out on concession a year ago.
Yesterday, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) flayed the appointments with the latter urging the government to immediately withdraw all the appointments on the claim that they did not pass through due diligence.
SERAP said since the appointments did not pass through due process, the appointees would themselves not be able to promote the integrity in the running of the boards.
The appointments made last Friday have been ridiculed by the revelation that at least seven dead persons were given appointments into Federal Government boards and parastatals.
However, APC chieftains are peeved with the low patronage given to chief campaigners of the president.
A number of APC chieftains including members of the Presidential Campaign Council, PCC who led the APC campaign are peeved that several members of the council have either been left out or given low level positions in boards.
Several of them across the country are also particularly peeved with the appointment of the deputy director-general of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora into the Abuja Investment and Infrastructure Centre, a position they described as denigrating in comparison with his role in the campaign.
In one case, Dr. Haruna Yerima who reportedly rejected an earlier appointment as director-general of the Nigeria Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER) has now been appointed as a board member of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund.
Party chieftains were doubtful that Dr. Yerima, a onetime steadfast loyalist of President Muhammadu Buhari would accept the new appointment.
In another faux pas, the government appointed board members into the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe, Kogi State, a company the government gave out on concession in August 2016.
Meanwhile, SERAP has urged President Buhari to withdraw the list of appointments to the boards of agencies and parastatals saying that controversies trailing the appointments indicated that the process did not pass through the integrity test of government.
In a statement from SERAP deputy director, Timothy Adewale the organization said: “Appointing at least 8 dead people as board members would seem to suggest that the 1,467 appointments approved by Buhari were unscreened for competence, merit, equity, aptitude and conflicts of interest.
The group argued that going ahead with these appointments would neither advance due process nor “Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to prevent and combat corruption”, but create a lack of trust and confidence among the general public.
According to the organization, “Taking partisan politics out of the appointments to boards of agencies and parastatals is one sure way for Buhari to show that his government is truly one of change, that would do things differently from successive governments that apparently handed out board appointments to reward party members, supporters and cronies.”
NLC through its General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, put the blame for the controversies on the delay on the part of government in making the appointments.
According to him, NLC had expressed serious worries over the long delay in the constitution and inauguration of board of parastatals especially those that concern Labour, saying: “We believe that institutions are made by laws and therefore they should governed by laws. In line with the principle of good governance, the board of institutions should be constituted and inaugurated.”
“Taking these appointments out of the hands of a small elite group and strengthening the civil service systems and allowing them to deal with board appointments and other similar appointments in a professional, efficient and effective way would greatly decrease political influence or bias in the appointment process, and make the operations of these agencies and parastatals less dependent on partisan politics, which would in turn help improve the ability of the government to deliver effective policies and the much-needed good governance, growth and development to Nigerians.”
“Letting the civil service systems get on with board appointments would also assure basic bureaucratic ‘hygiene,’ and help to facilitate the establishment of strong boards that would be better placed to ‘deliver the goods’ to Nigerians in the democratic context. It would ultimately bring about higher effectiveness and improved government legitimacy.”
We had complained severally and expressed serious concerns over the delay in the constitution and inauguration of board of federal parastatals. We have expressed serious concerns especially on those that affect labour. Take for example, the case of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, the board has been constituted, but not inaugurated. It is not good for the system.
On the controversy over reported appointments of some dead persons into the board of some parastatals, the NLC General Secretary, said “when you wait for over two to three years, and you do a lump sum of thousands of names that were compiled earlier this sort of thing is expected. It is obvious that due diligence was not done before the names were released. Good governance required that as institutions governed by laws, their boards should be constituted and inaugurated appropriately.”