Board appointments: An endless waiting game

THE board appointments into Federal Government-owned agencies and parastatals that ought to have been fully effected within three months after this administration came to power are being made piecemeal and in a fashion that is inconsistent with the norms of governance elsewhere. As usual, the presidency had, last December, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari would make appointments into all boards by January 2017. This was confirmed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu. Although a similar promise was made on December 28, 2015, one year after, most Federal Government agencies are still without boards. Shehu explained that the delay was because of an issue of interest to members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), adding, “The process will be fully back on track at the beginning of the New Year.” Here we are in March.

Recently, the chairman of Stanbic Bank Plc., Atedo Peterside (MON), in his presentation at the 14th Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja, lamented the absence of boards in place to regulate the affairs of federal agencies and financial institutions, which are expected to stimulate fiscal policies and revive the ailing economy. “The Federal Government should immediately appoint directors to the boards of every regulatory agency. Keeping a Lone Wolf at the head of a regulatory agency is dangerous and therefore detrimental to business confidence. The important lesson from the recent Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria imbroglio is that a single rogue regulator can hold the entire system to ransom, help destroy business confidence and hamper economic growth. This only became possible because the checks and balances which our laws envisaged, through the appointment of Boards, Council members or Commissioners, were not in place.”

Competing interests from geo-political zones are said to be slowing down the President’s assent to the list prepared for the various boards. Initially, President Buhari had, last October, instituted the Babachir Lawal-led committee to collate names from all the states of the federation, look at the credentials of the nominees and then advise the president on where they should be placed. The committee however identified the current economic recession, security clearance and federal character balancing as some of the reasons for the delay in constituting the boards.

How long it will take to finally release the remaining list of appointments and how fairly the few juicy ones will be evenly distributed are not yet known. On why President Buhari has not been so decisive on the remaining appointments, a presidency official said the conflict of interests had to be resolved to avoid embarrassment and further division within the APC family. The delay has led to grumbling within the ruling party across the country. Supporters and chieftains of the APC, who worked for the success of the party during the 2015 general elections, lamented that they had laboured in vain, having successfully wrestled power from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The party’s stakeholders deserve to be compensated after working so hard to install this government but it appears they have not only been left in the cold but have also been left to suffer the excruciating economic downturn as many of them claimed that they invested their resources in the campaign activities that eventually ousted the PDP from power. APC members have accused their party leaders at all levels of not doing enough to compensate them. “They are weak. It seems they don’t have the guts to tell the President of the dangers of leaving the APC faithful redundant,” Yunusa Aliyu from Kano was quoted to have said.

I think the problem with this issue of board appointments lies squarely with the President. The excuses for delay are not tenable if, almost two years into this administration, an integral thing like board appointments is yet to be fully put in place. The reason for this lackluster style of governance is because Mr. President does not know or trust people enough for such appointments. Buhari failed to build network of contacts across the Niger. He scarcely knows good people beyond his base in the North. He did not socialize. He distanced himself from the elite and was equally not seen amongst the masses he claims to represent either. So, it is difficult for him to easily identify people he can trust to help actualize his vision or dreams for the nation.

Unfortunately, this was the same reason it took him seven months to come up with those he could have appointed as ministers in less than two weeks after taking the oath of office. He was said to have rejected the list earlier submitted by the SGF-led committee on the grounds that most of the nominees “have skeletons in their cupboards.” Ostensibly looking for saints as ministers, he ended up with some of those whose activities in public offices were known as gravely corrupt.

Now that President Buhari is back to office with a renewed vigor after 49 days of medical retreat, he should put machinery in place to fast-track the process and do something about this long overdue appointments.   Enough of this endless game of waiting!

  • West, a media consultant, writes in via [email protected]