Now that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has formally ended, it is time for us to show interest in how to handle the reckless injury-time appointments he made. Although a renowned legal luminary Prof Itse Sagay has already used the appropriate words to describe the appointments as ‘morally improper and politically immature’, the posture of some analysts that the appointments be dissolved would be simplistic if not more juvenile. This is because a look at the modus operandi of Jonathan’s government does not in any way suggest that his last minute appointments were worse than those made much earlier.
The exact point in time when appointments were made is therefore virtually irrelevant. Indeed, for the better part of his tenure, Jonathan operated as if a ‘Caretaker-Gestapo’ was in place to act on his behalf. On his last day in office, his officials clapped when he naively said any conceived probe should go beyond his tenure. It was like a thief telling a court that many of his friends were also thieves. Knowing that his predecessors deserved to be probed why didn’t he do it? Indeed, why didn’t he do anything- Chibok, Power, Fuel etc?
Even the appointment of Chief Executives for federal bodies which others did routinely was herculean to the Jonathans. At a point, there were about 13 bodies whose heads acted for years without confirmation. Perhaps, it was a strategy to make them more malleable. One of our colleagues at the NTA acted for more than 2 years before government remembered to replace him. If he was not competent, why was the organization left in seemingly wrong hands for so long?
If he was not incompetent why then was he removed? Apart from the baby of the administration- the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which got 5 successive and substantive Chief Executives every year-that is 5 in 5 years, inexplicable appointments was the order of the day everywhere else. At the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, a publicly acclaimed outstanding Director General, Otunba Segun Runsewe was suddenly replaced. To confuse the public, a government statement which announced the removal deliberately described the position wrongly as Executive Director (ED) while his replacement later came into office appropriately as Director General (DG). Why was a DG appointed to replace an ED? Anyway, it is now clear that effective tourism management is more than being adorned in Nigeria’s green and white colours
Thus, reacting by sacking all new appointees as some people suggest would amount to throwing away the baby with the bath water. What the Buhari administration requires now is a team of management experts to systematically review the structure of government bodies with a view to building lasting institutions. Unsuitable persons, irrespective of when they were appointed ought to be identified and removed. Considering the mischief inherent in some of Jonathan’s last minute appointments, it should surprise no one that many of them would not cross the bar just as we acknowledge that a few can easily stand the test of time.
For instance, the newly appointed boss of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Mrs. Uju Hassan-Baba is a solid technocrat that is likely to add value to her new organization. She is a tested hand who had served previously as Director-General, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Anambra State and Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. She remains in the hearts of many as a pragmatic lady who provided succour for people in legal tangles during her tenure as the boss of the nation’s Legal Aid Council-a body that is yet to meet the high ethical and professional standards she had set. Having headed the panel that reviewed the pioneer status scheme of the NIPC, Mrs. Baba is eminently opportuned to translate the lofty dreams she had earlier articulated for government to take the commission to greater heights
Perhaps a better example of an apt appointment is that of the ‘Solomon of the Police’- DIG Arase who is now the Inspector General of Police (IGP). Arase’s array of academic degrees, his charisma, key appointments and acclaimed excellent intelligence services in the Police over the years are unassailable attributes. As if to confirm that he has always been the ‘police thinker’ Solomon Arase has within one month projected a new and sustainable direction for the force, not just by dismantling the notorious police check points that those before him tried in vain to do, but by evolving an alternative because as he said on national television 4 days ago ‘nature abhors vacuum’ Now, the police will have no excuse for public exploitation any more as Arase has affirmed that he would provide them with work tools and welfare
President Buhari should look out for more of such outstanding Nigerians that God has blessed this nation with and discard the old idea of running the nation with second best teams that are selected only on the basis of prescriptive criteria like sex, religion, state of origin etc. The new posture should aim at enhancing productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in policy making and project execution. The President should therefore bring to bear on governance, the attributes of audacity and civility. In this regard, government should have the courage to remove from office public office-holders who are found wanting; provided, they and the public are told the rationale for the action. In other words, government should penalize only known official misdemeanours.
In addition, never again should people be discourteously removed from office for undisclosed political reasons. Only 3 weeks ago, an elder statesman and former military governor of the old Western Region, Major General Adeyinka Adebayo was forced to angrily react to the uncomplimentary manner he was removed from office as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Ibadan (UI). The 87-year-old war veteran and father of former Ekiti State Governor, Niyi Adebayo was unceremoniously removed from an office he was reportedly pleaded with to accept with less than two years into his four- year tenure. Buhari must go beyond all of these, which belonged to the days of inertia in leadership.