The Presidency has reacted to the controversy generated by the appointment of 209 chairpersons and 1,258 members into the boards of agencies and parastatals announced Friday by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (Media & Publicity) to the President admitted that errors were committed with names of some dead persons found among the appointees but said that “no human undertaking can be free of mistakes”.
Shehu said the errors identified with the list were not enough to describe the exercise as scandalous, insisting that there is no scandal and all errors in the list would be corrected.
The board appointments list generated controversy after names of some dead persons, duplications and appointments of individuals that are no longer in the ruling All Progressives Congress were found among the appointees.
The Presidential spokesman the list has a history which explains the controversy around it.
“In 2015, Mr. President requested all state chapters of the party to submit names of 50 party members for board appointments,” Shehu said.
He said the names where compiled by the national secretariat of the APC and forwarded to the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir Lawal.
“However, complaint arose from some governors who felt they were not carried along in the process. To answer this, the president constituted a committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to review and reflect the interest of the governors,” he added.
Shehu however said action was delayed on the report of the Osinbajo committee as President Muhammadu Buhari took ill.
“The president’s trips for medical attention slowed down completion of the process until when President Buhari decided to revisit the matter recently.
“The current SGF (Boss Mustapha) was only directed to complete that process by releasing the list which he apparently did without altering it,” Shehu explained.
Controversy has trailed the historical appointments made by President Buhari on Friday.
It was the largest single appointments made by the president since assuming office in 2015.
President Buhari had in his October 1 Independence Day speech announced that the long-awaited appointments would be made soon.
A scrutiny of the names, however, shows that at least three of the appointees are deceased.
Francis Okpozo, a second republic senator died in 2016.
He was appointed chairman of the Nigerian Press Council.
Another controversial appointee is Donald Ugbaja, a late former deputy inspector general of police.
The former police chief died a few weeks ago.
Ugbaja was appointed a board member of the Consumer Protection Council.
A third person, Christopher Utov, was appointed board member of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research.
The list of the new appointees also shows duplication of names, with few persons appointed into more than one board.
Sabo Nanono was appointed a member of the board of the National Agency for Science and Engineering, NASENI. He was, however, also appointed chairman of the board of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC.
Kabiru Matazu was appointed chairman of FCT Universal Education Board and also appointed to chair the board of Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta.
Umaymah Abdullahi was named on the board of Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri as well as the Federal Medical Centre, Sokoto.
Also Habiba Umar was appointed on the board of the Federal Medical Centre, Yola and also Federal Medical Centre, Birnin-Kebbi.
A Kano governorship aspirant, Ibrahim El-Amin, popularly known as Little, was appointed board member of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo.
In August, El-Amin decamped from APC to PDP in what was seen as heralding the eventual defection of the former Nigeria’sVice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Another person from Kano and close confidant of Abubakar, Murtala Adhama, was also appointed into the board of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority.
Adhama, though not known to be a party man in Kano politics, is, believed to be among Abubakar’s close strategists.
Another ally of Abubakar that made it into the list is Bashir Ibrahim.
Ibrahim, factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, was appointed member of the board of Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority.
It is unclear if the three men would pick up their appointments, or ignore them considering the new political stance of Abubakar.
However, it is not illegal or inappropriate to appoint opposition politicians into such offices.
A serving minister, Aisha Alhassan, is still holding on to her office, despite her public pledge of loyalty to Abubakar who is expected to be a PDP presidential candidate in 2019.