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Buhari’s board appointments -Tribune Editorial

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As if to confirm his legendarily listless and phlegmatic style of governance, the recent appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari into the boards of federal agencies came quite late in the day. He came into power in 2015 and he has just made the appointments a year before the expiration of his administration. It will be recalled that he also took his time to form his cabinet after he had been sworn in as the president. Sadly, the recent appointments merely reinforced the sense of delusion and disappointment in those observers who thought that the lateness was to ensure due diligence. A cursory look at the appointments simply armed the administration’s critics with enough arsenals to question its credibility as an outfit intent on institutionalising a change from the way things have always been.

For instance, the administration simply snorted at the recommendations of the panel headed by a former Head of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, which had advised the merger of many of the agencies in order to facilitate a neat, tidy and efficient government. It went ahead to appoint people, without the flimsiest recourse to circumspection, into the boards of these organisations. Curiously, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), which the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) had stridently warned should not be put under the control of the government, made the list. The government also appointed directors into private companies, organisations in which it is not supposed to have an interest. It has since become the butt of jokes on the social media.

The appointments clearly belied the view that governance is a serious business, especially in a country gasping for existential breath. They certainly did not come from any expectation of performance from the appointees, some of whom have even been dead for quite a while. The appointments were just a mixed grill of absurdities, showing plainly an administration that is clearly out of its depths. A man serving a 12-year jail term was appointed into a board and the late Senator Okpozo, whose demise the president himself was minded to mourn in a public statement, still managed to get appointed into a federal board, just like a few others who got posthumous appointments. For an administration that claims to be committed to a reduction in the cost of governance, the recent appointments spoke quite eloquently of naivety, the kind that has never been witnessed in the annals of the country. It was an embarrassment in epic proportions which the president’s loyalists would rather embrace even while the rest of the nation condemned them in the strongest terms.

The president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in an obvious but needless snit, claimed that there was nothing extraordinary or scandalous in the list since it had been compiled long before the president’s health challenges. But this lame excuse merely reinforced the arguments of the critics. For instance, was it not possible to review the list before going public with it? The suspicion that the Presidency has been tardy in the execution of its duties was valid after all. The embarrassment was worsened by the defence put up by those whose duty it was to ensure that it never happened in the first place. It ought to be clear to the president’s handlers that his mystique has been violated by these inexplicable lapses, and that the impression of incompetence writ large has been infused into his essence.

The errors should be corrected immediately and the lame excuses should stop forthwith. We do not see any virtue in defending the indefensible. There cannot be any excuse for sloth and tardiness for an administration that prides itself in being a corrective one but which still finds it impossible to do things differently, as simple as that seems.


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