BY OJO OMOTUNDE
Immediate selection and appointment of security chiefs, presidential aides, cabinet members, diplomats, heads and members of boards of parastatals and filling of sundry vacancies become the major priority of every new democratically-elected president to kick-start the beginning of his administration. This task becomes imperative because the president needs men and women of sterling qualities who identify with his inspiration to drive his envisaged policies both domestic and foreign. Thus any delay in making such quick appointments gives a cause for concern within bureaucratic, military, diplomatic, political and business circles and the international community at large.
From bureaucrats who translate the president’s vision into actionable programmes, policies and actions, the military and security forces who contend with security challenges, diplomats who oil the machinery of bilateral and multilateral relations, the political class which thrives on patronage, the business class that invests in the economy and the expectant citizenry all eagerly await such appointments to gauge and determine the policy direction of the new administration. We have seen examples in the new democratically-elected governments of Donald Trump of the US and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron and our next door neighbour Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.
Nigerians and indeed members of the international community have become wary and unsure of the policy direction of this administration as a result of the unavoidable delay in appointments. Notwithstanding Mr president’s ailment, if he had made all the political appointments early enough, Nigerians would have long before now started enjoying fully the benefits of democracy dividends and who knows the economic recession would have since been nipped in the bud.
It is regrettable that two years and half way into his administration, several appointments critical to the attainment of the change mantra are yet to be made while the few that were made, the appointees’ names are yet to be submitted to the Senate for confirmation while some are still hanging before the Senate.
The drama surrounding the Senate screening of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFFC, the controversial assumption of office of the newly appointed but unconfirmed D-G Lottery Regulatory Commission Mr. Adolphus Joe Ekpe, D-G of the Lottery Commission, Dr. Aliyu Dikko, the new PenCom D-G and board members of the Agency and a host of others are quite embarrassing and unsettling as they are indicative of an unhealthy relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. Furthermore, the two new ministers designate who were recently cleared and confirmed by the Senate are yet to be assigned portfolio and inaugurated even with Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as the Acting President exercising full presidential powers. The situation is the same with the recently cleared and confirmed non-career ambassadorial nominees still awaiting postings to their various missions abroad. Ditto with the chairman of NERC Prof. James Momoh whose name is yet to be submitted to the Senate. Another example is the reappointment of Engr. Elias Mbam as the chairman, Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), whose name is yet to be forwarded to the Senate for screening almost one year after the announcement of his reappointment.
This is why members of the civil society, the media and the academia as well as concerned citizens have been voicing their fears and consternation at the inertia of government especially at this critical juncture of the nation’s development. This unnecessary delay is giving rise to avoidable criticism and dangerous speculations. The implication of non-conclusion of these appointments has led to the inability of these departments and agencies of government to carry out their statutory functions effectively. Consequently, these agencies are not able to key in into the policies and programmes under the change mantra of the present administration. Some policy matters cannot be handled in the absence of substantive chief executives and board members.
It is high time this government got its acts right by doing the needful so as to soothe frayed nerves and oil the machinery of government for quick delivery of democracy dividends. To this end, the Senate is enjoined to expedite action on the screening of all outstanding nominees submitted by the President while the Presidency should without further delay submit all outstanding nominees to the Senate for necessary legislative actions. In the same vein, those that have been screened and confirmed by the Senate should be made to assume duty as soon as possible. This certainly would reduce the tension in the polity and help to lubricate the engine of government.
– Omotunde is an Abuja-based public affairs analyst