SERAP, Ezekwesili, others react to Buhari’s controversial board appointments

Oby Ezekwesili
Oby Ezekwesili [Photo: Daily Trust]

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has expressed disappointment at the board appointments recently made by President Muhammadu Buhari which contained names of dead persons and duplication of names. The group also urged the president to withdraw the list in order to remove a clear and recognisable danger to the integrity of these bodies.

SERAP also admonished the president to allow the civil service systems carry out the appointments.

The appointments of 209 board chairpersons and 1,258 board members were announced on Friday. PREMIUM TIMES reported some of the controversies surrounding the appointments such as the inclusion of dead persons and the duplication of same names on different boards.

Among the dead persons appointed is Christopher Utov who was appointed a member of Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research. Mr. Utov, the proprietor of Fidei Polytechnic, Gboko, died on March 17.

Others include Donald Ugbaja who was appointed a member of the Consumer Protection Council, CPC. Mr. Ugbaja, a former deputy inspector general of police, died on November 29, 2017.

The presidency on Saturday tried to explain the inclusion of the dead persons, saying the list was compiled in 2015.

In a statement signed by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP said appointing at least eight dead people as board members would seem to suggest that the 1,467 appointments approved by the president were unscreened for competence and merit.

“Going ahead with these appointments would neither advance due process nor Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to prevent and combat corruption. It would create a lack of trust and confidence among the general public.

“Withdrawing the appointments and directing and allowing the civil service systems to follow due process to reappoint chairpersons and members to the boards of these agencies and parastatals would bring the government’s practices and operations into conformity with Nigeria’s international anticorruption obligations, particularly the UN Convention against Corruption. Nigeria has ratified the convention.”

The organisation further urged Mr. Buhari to ensure that appointments are transparent and based on merit, adding that a merit-appointment system would produce a better qualified board, and ultimately improve the governance architecture and access of Nigerians to essential public services.

“It should be the practice of this government to make board appointments on the basis of ability, and not because of political influence or connection,” it said.

Similarly, a former minister of education and leader of Bring Back Our Girls movement, Oby Ezekwesili, has expressed her reaction to the controversial board appointments.

Ms. Ezekwesili, in a series of tweets on her verified Twitter handle, expressed disappointment at the presidency for releasing such list as well as defending the errors contained in the list.

“Some “mistakes” are simply indefensible. Who is that defending that a significant # (2, 3 or 4? Which? ) of dead people are on an appointment list of the FG .@AsoRock that the President, @MBuhari signed off on? Haba. This is the height of what Feyi calls, “anyhowness”. #Tragic,” she stated.

While urging the presidency to show penitence in its activities, she said, “There is a Golden Rule in Strategic Communication of Policy where you are advised to “own the fiasco….eat the humble pie….. show penitence….. ride the storm…. avoid any braggadocio….just pray the media & public show mercy & move on.”

Below are reactions of other Nigerians to the presidency’s goof.

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