The seeming lack of coordination among different agencies of government as well as key functionaries serving in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari again came to the fore in the wake of the renewed xenophobic attack on foreigners in South Africa, including Nigeria.
The Federal Government, in an apparent show of indignation to the incessant violence against Nigerian nationals in the former apartheid South Africa, had boycotted the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Pretoria, where Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, was expected to lead a delegation, in addition to the recall of the country’s High Commission. But while the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, was making the announcement for the recall, Nigeria’s Consul-General in SA, Godwin Adama, quickly dispelled the news, saying that there was ‘no information on high commissioner’s recall’.
Speaking on Lunchtime Politics, a Channels Television programme, Adama said the High Commissioner was currently waiting to receive an envoy from Nigeria. His words: “We don’t have information on that at all and we know there is a process that information to public servants is rooted.
“And I believe there is none of that because I was just in touch with the High Commissioner a few minutes ago. We are always speaking at very short notices to be able to appraise the situation because we are getting information from the field at every time and we share this information.
“In fact, he is waiting to receive a special envoy that is coming and we are waiting to receive that and there is no information to the contrary.”
To some pundits, the inconsistency was as a result of lack of effective coordination among key government functionaries. And it is another sad reminder of the way and manner some national institutions have been working at cross purposes since the inception of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The most recent case is the Taraba military/police clash over the arrest of a suspected kidnap kingpin – Hamisu Bala Wadume. A special squad from Abuja had gone to Taraba to effect the arrest of Wadume when some soldiers allegedly shot at the team and reportedly killed three of the 10-member crew. In the ensuing encounter, Wadume escaped, sparking a loud public outrage. According to the police account, Wadume was arrested in Jalingo and was being taken to the Jalingo Police Command for questioning before soldiers intercepted the police squad, killed some of the members before setting him free.
Investigation is still ongoing to unravel the circumstances of the killing of the three police officers – Inspector Mark Edaile, Sergeant Usman Danzumi and Sergeant Dahiru Musa, as well as other deceased victims. Already, two panels have been set up to probe the incident. One by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and headed by an Assistant Inspector General of Police and another one by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ). There are fears in some quarters that the reports of the panels might be eventually swept under the carpet.
Nigerians can also not forget in a hurry the controversy that trailed the sudden re-emergence of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, and his reinstatement allegedly ordered by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
Maina had been declared wanted by the EFCC since 2013 for sundry allegations of mismanagement of pension funds. He was, however, reinstated and promoted to the position of Director in the Human Resources Department of the Ministry of Interior. According to a letter signed by Mustapha L. Sulaiman, the reinstatement followed the directive of the AGF, even though it was opposed by the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita.
The letter, dated September 18, 2017, written to the Ministry of Interior, allegedly requested the FCSC to give consequential effect to the judgment that voided the warrant of arrest issued against A.A. Maina which formed the basis for the query and his eventual dismissal. Malami’s letter, therefore, asked that Maina be reinstated from February 21, 2013, the date he was dismissed from the service.
The letter reads in part: “Kindly refer to the Attorney-General of the Federation/ Honourable Minister of Justice letter Ref. No. HAGF/FCSC/2017/ VOL. 1/3 dated 27th April 2017 requesting Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) to give consequential effect to the judgment that voided the warrant of arrest issued against A.A. Maina which formed the basis for the query and his eventual dismissal.
“Further to the aforementioned letter, the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) at its meeting held on 14th June, 2017 deliberated on the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF’s) letter and requested the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) vide letter FC.4029/82/VOL.III/160 of 21st June 2017 to advise the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior to consider the AGF’s letter, the officer’s case and make appropriate recommendation to the Commission.
“The Ministry of Interior’s Senior Staff Committee (SSC) deliberated on the case and recommended that Mr Maina be reinstated into the service as Deputy Director, SGL. 16. The Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) vide letter Ref. No. HCSF/LU/ COR/ FCSC/749/III/ 135 dated 14th August 2017 forwarded the recommendations of the Senior Staff Committee (SSC) of the Ministry of Interior to the FCSC for further necessary action.
“The FCSC also approved for the officer to sit for the next promotion examination to the Post of Director (Administration), SGL. 17.”
The presidency piqued by the public opprobrium that greeted the controversy eventually ordered for Maina’s dismissal. As some analysts say, President Buhari must have developed an enormously huge shock absorber for him to have been able to contain some of these embarrassing movements.
The administration’s lack of coordination literally became a sort of derisive joke when in December 2017; President Buhari released the list of his new appointees into the various boards of federal parastatals and agencies and was found to contain about six dead people. The list of dead included: Sen. Francis Okpozo, who was named Chairman, Nigerian Press Council (NPC); Deputy Inspector General of Police and elder statesman, Donald Ugbaja (retd), appointed member of Consumer Protection Council; Rev Fr Christopher Utov, appointed a member of the board of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Umar Dange Sokoto, former emir of Katagum in Bauchi State, who died on December 9th, was picked to join the board of the Federal Medical Centre, Azare, Garba Attahiru Kaduna; Dr. Nabbs Igbokwe from Rivers State, Comrade Ahmed Bunza (Kebbi State) and Miss Magdalene Kumu from Taraba.
The then National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie Oyegun, who was privy to the original list drawn immediately after the 2015 general elections to reward party faithful for their loyalty and hard work for the presidential victory, claimed that he was not carried along to see the final draft. He explained: “We have followed the issue of board appointments and I think that issue has raised a lot of controversies already. The only thing I want to add is that it is pretty obvious that the party was not involved in the final stages of the compilation of that list. Yes, we sent at the initial stage and I am talking of a period of two years ago. We demanded for every state to make 50 nominations which were sent to the committee in charge of the list for the purpose. They completed the initial exercise that time, but since then a lot has happened. People have changed parties, people have died, we have three new governors that were not there when the list was compiled. Therefore, it was clear that there was obvious need for us to look at the final outcome of the exercise. But we were not fortunate to participate in that final stage, otherwise it is quite clear such would not have occurred.”
Oyegun’s successor, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole and the Minister for Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, went practically berserk, as the former threatened to suspend the latter for failure to constitute the board of Federal agencies’ and parastatals under his ministry. Oshiomhole had said: “If the Minister refuses we will suspend him from the party. We must return to internal discipline. For me it is the height of mischief for any Minister, you cannot purport to be an Honourable Minister and you act dishonourably. Nobody is greater than the party.
“If the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party.
“They have taken undue advantage of the President’s fatherly disposition. When we expel the Minister, we will prevail on the President that he can’t keep in his cabinet people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been Ministers.
“There are no independent candidates in our system. No Minister is above the party. It is absolutely illegal for a Minister in a democracy to prey on the powers of the board. The laws establishing those institutions are clear. The boards have procedures to follow.”
Ngige, responding in a statement by his Director of Press, Samuel Olowookere, said those that said he had not inaugurated the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) because he was awarding contracts were ignorant of the Procurement Act.
It read in part: “The attention of the Hon. Minister of labour and productivity, Sen. Dr. Chris Ngige has been drawn to media reports that his office appropriated the powers of the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) in the award of contracts, hence the delay in inaugurating the board of the agency.
“Such a blatant falsehood is either on account of fertile ignorance or outright mischief or both by the originator as well as the peddlers. It is, therefore, imperative that the provisions of the Procurement Act 2010 which is clear and unambiguous on the process for the award of contracts be re-emphasized.
“For clarity purpose, the Ministerial Tenders Board (MTB) for the award of contracts in any ministry is made up of the Permanent Secretary as chairman and his Directors, while in the parastatals, the Parastatals Tenders Board consists of the Chief Executive Officer (Director General or Managing Director) and his Directors.”
Kachikwu/Baru row also became a popular soap opera before the president intervened to resolve the issue of allegation of insubordination and corruption the former Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, levelled against the erstwhile Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Kachallah Baru.
In a memo written to the president which was leaked to the media, Kachikwu had accused the GMD of awarding a $25 billion worth of contract without following due process, in addition to making major appointments and deployments without consulting with either the minister or the NNPC Board. He also accused him of insubordination and making changes in NNPC without consulting him.
Baru described the allegation as baseless and unfounded. In a statement issued by the Corporation’s Spokesman, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, the GMD said: “What is required is the processing and approval of contracts by the NNPC Tenders Board, the president in his executive capacity or Minister of Petroleum, or the Federal Executive Council (FEC), as the case may be.”
According to the statement, there are some cases “where all that is required is the approval of the NNPC Tenders Board while, in other cases, based on the threshold, the award must be submitted for presidential approval. Likewise, in some instances, it is FEC approval that is required.
In addition, the corporation debunked Kachikwu’s allegation that $10 billion Crude Term Contract and $5 billion Direct Sales and Direct Purchase contracts were awarded. It took the intervention of the president to resolve the open face-off.
The list is inexhaustible. And in most cases, these are motivated by ego-tripping and narrow self exclusivity, rather than genuine disagreement based on democratic principles. In the present circumstance where important national institutions like the army and police have seemingly become partisan in an open contention for power, analysts say, the peace and stability of the nation may be imperiled.