Some aggrieved members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday protested in Abuja demanding inclusion in governance and appointments into offices.
The stakeholders under the aegis of APC concerned national stakeholders forum defied the rain and gathered at the Defence headquarters. They displayed placards with various inscriptions to make their demands known.
Part of their demands is that President Muhammadu Buhari should ensure that he appoints from people who worked for him in various capacity during the 2019 general elections as he forms his cabinet.
The stakeholders also said President Buhari should not appoint people who have stayed in government for over 40 years.
They stressed that the nation is in dire need of fresh ideas.
“By now, we expect that a real cabinet and primary appointment independently formed by the President based on merit and constitutional criteria would have been made public.
“This is the time for compensation but now it has gone back to the old ways where a few people take the compensation to themselves and their cronies,” Symeon Chilagorom, who led the protesters said.
The group also decry the delay in President Buhari’s appointment of his new cabinet, alleging that the delay could give some political influencers to handpick their allies for the appointment, leaving behind those who risked their necks to ensure President Buhari’s victory at the 2019 elections.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is demanding the immediate withdrawal of over six dead appointees into the board of agencies and parastatals.
A statement from Deputy Director, Mr Timothy Adewale said the development would suggest “appointments approved by President Muhammadu Buhari were unscreened for competence, merit, equity, aptitude and conflicts of interest.”
According to Adewale, the President must prove himself as truly a change agent by doing things differently from successive governments that apparently handed out board appointments to reward party members, supporters and cronies.
This he noted, was for the Commander-in-Chief not to play partisan politics to the detriment of the nation.
It read in part: “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 anti-corruption obligations, particularly the UN Convention against Corruption. Nigeria has ratified the convention.
“It is absolutely important for Buhari to ensure that the process through which board appointments are made is transparent and merit-based. 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.”
The group’s reaction comes barely 24 hours after the presidency released a list of the appointment made by President to head top agencies of government.
Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in a statement on Saturday indicated that 209 chairmen and 1,258 members were selected, indicating that more appointments were on the way.
Reactions, however, trailed the list when it was observed that no fewer than six members had passed away, some of which include: late Senator Francis Okpozo, Donald Ugbaja, Rev. Christopher Utov, late Alhaji Umar Dange, Kabir Umar, and Ahmed Bunza.
Although the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu was quick to admit that the appearance of dead persons names was a mistake on their part, he however assured that it would be corrected.
Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, has said that people should not be quick to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari over perceived nepotism in appointments and projects allocations but the President must also justify his actions.
Adeniran in a statement on Monday spoke concerning criticisms that have trailed appointments, projects allocations and resource sharing in the country.
“We should not mince words; nepotism is a form of corruption and it contradicts the supposed anti-corruption image of the Buhari-led administration and the so-called change mantra of his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.”
He said that there are adequate reasons for Nigerians to be agitated if the government cannot justify its actions explaining that no part of the country should be discriminated against.
“We believe that the commonwealth of the country should be evenly distributed. We must not trivialize equity. No component part of the country should be discriminated against in project allocations and federal appointments.”
Adeniran said there is constant distrust in political leaders by the people in Nigeria hence the present agitations over project allocations.
“For instance, the present agitations over some projects allocated to the North-eastern part of the country should not have generated so much foray in public discourse were it not for the constant distrust that leaders have instilled in the minds of the people.”
He said for this trust to be gained, President Muhammadu Buhari must defend his actions as it is the responsibility of the President to justify his actions.
“We believe it’s not out of place to allocate more projects to the North-East because of the challenges of that area. It may not sound fair, but we want the President to defend his action. He has a responsibility to justify it convincingly to Nigerians that the allocations are not nepotistic,” Adeniran said.
Amid renewed claims that President Muhammadu Buhari is sectional, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, appeared on Friday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today.
He spoke with Seun Okinbaloye about the accusations, the controversy in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the state of the probe report on the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agencies, and other issues.
One of the major issues on the table for this Presidency is the issue of corruption in the NNPC. We have heard so many sides to this story. What can the Presidency tell us? The Vice President has said he did not sign the contracts, he signed the loans. Did the President sign the contracts?
When the Vice President of the country has spoken, there is hardly anything I will add to it. I will just say let’s work with what the Vice President has told the country.
On the issue of trying to sanitise the NNPC, what are the details of the investigation into the NNPC and the activities surrounding some of the allegations linked to it?
It’s not just the NNPC that is being sanitised or is going to be sanitised. It’s a countrywide exercise. You know that the Buhari administration came with a resolve to clean up so many areas of the country. So, it would be wrong to isolate just the NNPC. The NNPC would be part of the larger cleanup of the country.
How did the President resolve the issues between Dr Maikanti Baru and Dr Ibe Kachikwu?
The issues are still unravelling. Just yesterday we had a new perspective on the issue from the Vice President. The issue is still unravelling but I can assure you that at the end of the day it is going to be permanently and amicably sorted.
Some of the unresolved issues as regarding allegations of corruption remain big issues. Don’t forget, this is a government that says it wants to fight corruption. How is the Presidency hoping to rid itself of all of those allegations?
You have seen a rapprochement between the Minister of State for Petroleum and the GMD of NNPC. It’s just one step, many others will be taken because it is very important that as long as they continue to serve the country, serve the President in these capacities, then they must learn to work together. The issues are going to be resolved; you can rest assured of that.
You didn’t answer my question about how the Presidency resolved the issue between these two men. Was there any moment when the two men were called into the Presidency to sheath their swords?
It’s in the public domain. There have been engagements and it’s all part of a process. That process will be completed and everything will be normal.
Let me take you on one of the statements you released today about what you called deliberate twisting of President Buhari’s commendable interface with the World Bank President. Clarify this issue for us. At the meeting between the World Bank chief and the President, did the President ask the World Bank chief to focus on the northern region of the country in terms of development?
Well, it has been explained; right from the very first week that the President got into office. His first trip was to the G7 in Germany and what did he put on the table? ‘Help us to rebuild the North East. The North East has been devastated, it has been degraded by insurgency which had been there since 2009′. In 2015 when he went to the G7 meeting he said, ‘Help us, the place needs to be rebuilt’. They asked him, ‘Is it funds?’ He said he didn’t want funds so that the funds will not end up being misappropriated. He would rather that those countries send in technical expertise, send materials and help in the rebuilding of infrastructure. And then (during) the first trip to Washington, there was a meeting with World Bank and he said the same thing; ‘Help us to rebuild the North East’. And (during) all the engagements the President has had both in the country and outside it with multilateral agencies, with other governments, he has always said, ‘Help us to rebuild the North East’. Now, if you look at the transcript of the encounter between the World Bank President and the media, which now has been released and is online, the question specifically was ‘What is the World Bank doing to help Nigeria rebuild the North East? And it was the answer of the World Bank President that some sections of the media and particularly online media twisted and they used it to try to brand the President as sectional, which was uncharitable, which was unconscionable, which was downright mischievous and wicked. So, we had to issue that statement clarifying the position.
A lot of people have this perception that the President is sectional in his treatment of some issues. What is the Presidency doing to rectify this issue?
The fact that you called it perception does not mean it is 100 percent reality. It’s a perception. But then we know that perception matters. One thing we must realise is that the President has a pan-Nigerian mandate. The way the country is structured, the way our Constitution is structured, no President can emerge without winning a pan-Nigerian mandate. That was what the President won. So, it’s not easy for you to then accuse the President and sustain it that he is sectional. No, it’s not possible. If he was sectional, he would not be elected in the first place.
Is the President aware of some of the statements made by Nigerians, some of those who voted him into office, that he is sectional in some of his dealings?
If they say those things, it does not necessarily make them right. That could be allegations, that could be conjecture but it does not necessarily make them right.
But is the Presidency making efforts to correct those notions? If you have four children and one or two of them believe that you love one above the other, wouldn’t you, as a father for example, make efforts to show that you love your four children in the same manner?
Making an effort to show (that you love them equally) will not be the right thing. I think it is better to just continue to do what is proper and that is what the President is doing. He will continue to do what is fair and what is just and what is equitable.
Do you think that Mr President has been fair to all the regions in terms of appointments so far?
As much as possible and he defended that in his meeting with the South-East stakeholders today. Let me give you an example he (Buhari) cited. When the stakeholders raised the issue of appointments, they first talked about the security agencies and he told them that was an area to be careful with because, there, competence, (and) seniority are very important. If you undermine those, you could be undermining the whole security architecture itself. Then when they talked about other positions, he pointed out to them that of the five South-Eastern states four of the ministers are full ministers but in the North, core northern states – Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, he mentioned all the seven states, they had ministers of state. Even his own state, Katsina, has a minister of state. Kaduna has a minister of state, Sokoto has a minister of state. These are states that you will think will have full ministers. But from the South East, four of the five ministers are full ministers.
One other area where some Nigerians are of the opinion that the Presidency may have a bias in handling is the fight against corruption. For example, the SGF probe report has been with the President for several weeks – submitted by the Vice President. The question is when will that report be made public and the decision of the President made public?
As soon as possible, as soon as practicable, as soon as the President is done with that report. Like I have said a number of times, the President is a very meticulous person. He would not punish anybody unjustly. The report came in six volumes. Of course, there is an executive summary, but knowing this President, he would read that report page after page and when he is done with studying it, he will come out with his pronouncement.