Disquiet Over Tinubu’s Appointments

By Mod2   1 week ago   60
Politics - Top Stories

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There is a growing feeling of unease in the polity over recent appointments by President Bola Tinubu, seen to favour his friends and political associates, at the detriment of ‘competence’, which he vowed to be the key criterion in the recruitment of his lieutenants.

Barely one month after he was declared the winner of the 2023 presidential election, President Tinubu declared in a statement that neither religion nor ethnicity or other such considerations would determine appointments into his government.

“As your incoming president, I accept the task before me. There has been talk of a government of national unity. My aim is higher than that. I seek a government of national competence.

In selecting my government, I shall not be weighed down by considerations extraneous to ability and performance. The day for political gamesmanship is long gone. I shall assemble competent men, women and young people across Nigeria to build a safer, more prosperous and just Nigeria.

“There shall be young people. Women shall be prominent. Whether your faith leads you to pray in a church or mosque will not determine your place in government, character and competence will.


“To secure our nation and make it prosperous must be our top priorities. We cannot sacrifice these goals to political expediency. The whims of politics must take a backseat to the imperatives of governance,” the president said emphatically ahead of his swearing-in, while countering certain calls on him to form a government of national unity.

Contrary to that solemn promise, however, some Nigerians are raising great concerns about the tendency of the president towards the appointment of friends, family and associates to positions of authority, in some cases, without proper regard to their qualifications.

Aside from the suggested disregard for competence, some party leaders and foot soldiers who worked for the victory of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), are also raising voices of concern about being “left out” in the series of appointments President Tinubu has made so far.

Some politicians, analysts and ordinary Nigerians said the expectations the President Tinubu administration would have learned from the mistakes of his predecessors are being dashed with different rounds of appointments. Allegations of lopsidedness, which were raised against former President Muhammadu Buhari, have resurfaced.

Some names that have come up when the allegation of cronyism against the president is discussed include the appointment of his daughter’s husband, Oyetunde Ojo as the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). Mr Tinubu’s daughter, Folashade Tinubu Ojo, is the Iyaloja of Lagos.

Also mentioned is the appointment of the daughter of Chief Bisi Akande, Temitope Ilori, as the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), as well as the appointment of Umar Abdullahi Ganduje as the Executive Director, Technical Services, Rural Electrification Agency (REA). Umar is the son of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the national chairman of the APC.

Other appointments that have raised eyebrows in recent times include that of Olufemi Akinyelure as Head of Project Management Unit, Nigeria Electrification Project. Olufemi is the son of Chief Pius Akinyelure, who Tinubu earlier appointed as the non-executive board chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).

The president also appointed Muhammad Abu Ibrahim, the son of his political associate, Senator Abu Ibrahim, as the Executive Secretary of the National Agricultural Development Fund (NADF).

Aside from this, observers have also raised questions over the vetting process adopted in some of the appointments, which the president had to withdraw after backlash. Such include the withdrawal of the nomination of Imam Kashim Ibrahim Imam, 24, as the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) after Nigerians raised concerns over his age. Also included is the withdrawal of the nomination of Dr Maryam Shettima (Shetty), 44, as a minister, with the APC national chairman, Ganduje, explaining that the president was ‘misled’ into nominating her.


APC members worried, promises of patronage yet to be fulfilled

Top APC stalwarts and foot soldiers have expressed grave concerns over the president’s various appointments. The party stakeholders are reported to be unhappy with Tinubu’s style of appointment since he became president, with many of them worrying why only a few individuals have been benefitting the most from the appointments already made, while others worry over why he was yet to make a wholesome appointment into boards of agencies and parastatals.

Credible sources familiar with the development also lamented the delay in fulfilling promises of political patronage at the centre.

According to a senior party leader who asked not to be named, the president’s 2027 ambition might be in jeopardy since he is now seen as a man perceived to be running a “one-man show” in Abuja and does not care about party members from states he got votes from.

“Most of those who showed unwavering loyalty to him with the hope that their supporters would be rewarded with federal appointments are disappointed,” the source said.

Another source familiar with the workings around the presidency said, “The president had asked governors to submit names for chief executive officers of agencies, which they did, but he failed to act on those names till date.

“Instead, he has gone ahead to appoint his people into those agencies, including those that governors nominated party members to fill and CVs attached to them. Look at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and other agencies recently announced. Certain names were pencilled earlier, but when the announcements were made, different names emerged.”

Another source who pleaded anonymity told this paper that the idea of governors submitting names was to correct the alleged infractions noticed in ministerial positions and other previous appointments by those people the president trusted.

“It is now evident to those governors and other stakeholders that the president has dumped the list he asked them to submit as it is now obvious that he is running a one-man government with his kinsmen from Lagos and Osun,” he lamented.

According to the source, it is important that, as things stand, President Tinubu learn from the mistakes of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

“2027 is at hand, and we are patiently waiting to see who the president will run to. Nigerians don’t forget easily. Jonathan’s treatment may befall Tinubu in 2027 if he doesn’t quickly address this lopsidedness and cronyism. The governors are angry and disappointed. The president needs to do the right thing,” he added.

Another stalwart of the APC said most of them were crying out, not only because the appointments were favouring the president’s close friends and associates alone, but even those that are not members of the party have been benefitting more from the government.

The stakeholders complained about the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike getting about eight federal appointments already for his Rivers Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members while most APC stakeholders have been excluded.

It was gathered that in the list the president commissioned to be compiled and approved, the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) was listed for Kebbi but was later given to Rivers through Wike. Dr Dakorinama Alabo George, who was announced as the new director-general of the agency on March 14, was in charge of the multiple construction projects executed by Wike for the eight years he was the governor of Rivers State.

Aside from this, some of the leaders of the APC in the FCT recently held a protest to challenge the recent appointments by Wike, which they said favoured PDP members from Rivers above them.

About eight months ago, some stakeholders of the APC in the South West geopolitical zone asked President Tinubu to be wary of a seeming hijack of all appointments meant for the zone by Lagos politicians in the party.

The stakeholders, under the aegis of South West APC Support Groups (SASG), alleged that states in the zone were being sidelined in the appointment of presidential aides announced, as only the ‘Lagos boys’ were snatching the slots.

In a statement signed by its national coordinator, Otunba Dele Fulani, the SASG expressed worry that the trend might be extended to ministerial and board appointments for ministries, departments and agencies if not addressed immediately.

In the statement titled, “Dangers of ‘Lagosizing’ South West,” the South West stakeholders cited the case of the 20 aides that were in the earliest appointments by the president, saying at least 13 of them are Lagos-based politicians.


‘Nothing abnormal in president’s appointments’

Reacting, Bayo Onanuga, the president’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, told Daily Trust Saturday that there was nothing unusual in the appointments made by the president so far, insisting that as long as those appointed have the needed competence, Nigerians should not make mountains out of molehills.

He said that all over the world, leaders are known to appoint people they know and trust enough to add value to their administration, citing examples of President John F. Kennedy and President Donald Trump, both of the United States.

“This is not abnormal. It is done everywhere in the world. In the United States, President Kennedy appointed his younger brother as attorney-general; recently, President Donald Trump appointed his son-in-law; and even this week in Kano State, alluding to Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf’s appointment of the elder son of his political godfather and the leader of the Kwankwasiyya Movement, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, as a commissioner in his cabinet.”

“If they are qualified, I don’t see any issue. The emphasis should be on their qualifications,” he added.

On the allegation that APC stalwarts and foot soldiers are being left out of the appointments, and that the presidential approved list had been hijacked, Onanuga said, “No information on that.”

He, however, added that more appointments were on the way, stressing that there are over 7,000 federal positions to be filled by appointments and less than 1,000 have been announced.

“Many appointments will still be made in due course,” he said, adding that there was absolutely no reason to create an issue where there is none.


Like Buhari, like Tinubu?

It would be recalled that similar concerns were raised during the Buhari administration, with Nigerians accusing the then president and his close associates of cronyism.

Among many other such appointments that favoured friends, family and associates, people cited the choice of Muhammad, the son of Buhari’s friend, Malam Musa Bello from Adamawa State, as the minister of FCT; the appointment of Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, son of the former president’s ally, when he (Buhari) chaired the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), as Managing Director of the REA; and the selection of his brother-in-law, Dr Mahmood Halilu Ahmed, as Managing Director of the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc.

[NewsNaira]


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May this situation serve as an opportunity for constructive engagement and collaboration towards shared goals.


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