The supposedly Federal Government’s end-of-the-year gift to the beneficiaries became a source of controversy on Saturday, as names of dead persons featured in the list of reconstituted board of federal agencies.
No fewer than six of such names appeared on the list, with one of them passing on about two months ago, a development that triggered public outrage.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had, on Friday, released a list of 209 chairmen and 1,258 members of boards of government parastatals and agencies.
Curiously, the list has also split the ranks of some groups, whose members are among the beneficiaries with some contemplating whether or not to accept the appointments.
Among the list of appointments to board members was the name of a Catholic priest, the late Reverend Father Chris Utov, from Benue State, who died on March 17, 2017.
Utov was the proprietor of a private institution, Fidel Polytechnic, Gboko.
Before his death, he was a member of the state Christian Pilgrims Board.
Other dead beneficiaries included Senator Francis Akposo, who was listed for the chairmanship of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), but had died since December 26, 2016.
A former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Chief Donald Ughaja, who died on November 29, 2017, was also listed for the federal board appointment.
Garba Attahiru from Kaduna State, who was chairman of Kaduna South Local Government Council, but had died sometime last year, also featured on the list.
A retired banker and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Sokoto State, Umar Danger, who was said to have died about six months ago, was also listed. Another deceased beneficiary was Kabir Umar said to be from Bauchi State.
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lashed out at the APC-led administration, describing the development as “an unpardonable national embarrassment.”
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party declared that the development had further confirmed PDP’s position that the APC administration was “completely confused, disorganised and grossly incompetent.”
He added that Nigerians “can now see the level of recklessness and shoddiness inherent in the management of the nation under the APC.”
The party noted that the situation had exposed why the nation’s economy had been in a shambles under the APC and wondered how “a government which could not tidy up a routine issue of board appointment for over two years could successfully take on complex issues of governance.”
According to the party, “Nigerians can now see why the nation’s economy has been in a shambles in the last two years. When we say that this government is completely inept, some Nigerians did not know to which level, but now they do.
“This inability to tidy up a simple issue of list of 209 appointees has completely exposed the extent the APC’s government is bereft of simple organisational skills to manage a country like Nigeria, which is in dire need of development.
“How on earth can a government that cannot compile a common list handle intricate issues of national planning and budgeting; issues of health, education, aviation, agriculture, infrastructure and management of the huge civil service?
“How can they possibly initiate and successfully implement national and international instruments for national development in today’s competitive world?
“This also explains why nothing has been working under the APC administration. Furthermore, the mix up in the list also exposes the corruption in the APC government.
“The fact is that the government of our dear country has been in wrong hands in the last two years and the situation will continue to worsen unless the nation is rescued from them in 2019.
“We urged Nigerians to disregard the lame excuses by the APC government and hold them responsible for the woes that have befallen the country under their inept and undesirable regime since assumption office,” he said.
However, the Presidency, explained the reasons names of dead people appeared on the list.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, gave the history of the list, saying that it was prepared before President Muhammadu Buhari took ill and was released by the SGF, without any alteration.
He said the president requested the submission of 50 names each by the state chapters of the APC in 2015, which were later complied by the national secretariat of the party.
Subsequently, he revealed, the names were submitted to the then SGF, Babachir Lawal.
He added: “However, complaint arose from some governors who felt they were not carried along in the process. To answer this, the president constituted a committee under the vice-president to review and reflect the interest of the governors.”
The presidential aide noted that action on the report submitted to the president by the committee headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, was delayed because of President Buhari’s illness and his subsequent medical vacation abroad.
“The president’s trips for medical attention slowed down completion of the process,” he said.
The presidential spokesman said the president only decided to revisit the matter recently and, therefore, directed the new SGF to release the list.
“The current SGF was only directed to complete that process by releasing the list which he apparently did without altering it,” he stated.
The Presidency maintained that the appearance of dead persons names was a mistake which would be corrected.
The president approved the constitution of the Governing Boards of Agencies and Parastatals, under some Ministries, as well as the appointment of eminently qualified Nigerians to fill the Board positions.
A statement issued by SGF, in Abuja on Friday said the president considered the approval for the constitution of the boards, as well as the appointments as they were “very necessary, so as to provide a proper governance and oversight structure for government agencies and parastatals.”
The statement added: “The constitution of the boards with the appointments, is a demonstration of this government’s efforts aimed at building strong institutions of governance, and by extension, improving the quality of policy formulation and supervision.
“While these appointments represent a substantial number of hitherto pending board appointments, some more appointments are still being processed and will be released in due course.
“The appointments take immediate effect and Honourable Ministers are advised to inaugurate the boards after letters of appointment have been issued.”