LEGAL IDEAS FORUM

THEY SAY IT WAS A MISTAKE:A NEW DIMENSION OF ERROR

Reactions from the public have continued to trail, following the release of the list of appointments into the governing boards of agencies and parastatals. These reactions which exude bitterness at the unpardonable situation is because certain persons who could no longer contribute anything to the progress and development of the nation, were appointed. These persons are not persons handicapped or deprived of the knowhow to work effectively in their respective offices, rather these persons are dead and no longer existent.
The list of appointment into the governing boards of agencies and patastatals was released on Friday 29th Dec. 2017 and consisted of 209 chairmen and 1258 members, of which 8 persons are said to be late.
Here are the names of late persons whose names found way to the list of appointees:

1. Rev Christopher Utova.
2. Chief Donal Ugbaja.
3. Umar Dange.
4. Garba  Attahiru.
5. Senator Francis Okpozo.
6. Dr. Nabbs Igbokwe.
7. Ahmed Bunza.
8. Miss Magdalene Kumu.

This article is geared towards highlightening the areas of concern for which the public are vexed.

The first issue of concern is, what sort of mistake could this be, to the extent of appointing dead persons, as members and chairmen of certain governing boards of agencies and parastatals.

The public has not left this question unanswered as they poured out their most plausible but satirical reasoning behind such gross mistake of national  embarrassment and mockery. A Nigerian illustrated this thus: *why would dead persons be appointed when many of us are alive, intelligent, energetic and capable, must we go to the cemetery in order to gain qualifications, so as to be given this opportunity given to dead men*
Another citizen is of the opinion that the government is just busy sharing positions to former friends, and not even ensuring that they are alive.  The Sun newspaper puts it thus: ” of the long list of appointees are major executives of APC and other friends of the party “

The government is advised to take necessary steps to make preliminary investigations and verifications before any appointment to positions/offices of governance is made, irrespective of how trivial or peripheral the organization, association, agency, or parastatal may be.

The preliminary verification is for the purpose of ascertaining if the appointees are real and existent, capable, available and willing to serve, so as to avoid the error of appointing nonexistent, unwilling, unavailable and incapable persons to offices they aren’t ready to occupy.

The wife of Senator Francis Okpozo while reacting to the appointment of her late husband as chairman of Nigeria Press   council, said ‘an error must have been made to have published the list without first consulting’.
Mistakes of this nature can stir up the notion that there are government sponsored ghost workers, initiated and caused by the appointment of nonexistent persons to governmental offices and then this becomes a dent on the country’s image of fighting corruption which the incumbent government has sternly and strenuously stood for.

The second issue of concern is the flimsy excuse given by the presidency for the appointment of dead persons.

The presidential spokes person Garba  Shehu, while giving reasons for the Inclusion of the names of dead persons in the list of appointees, traced the history of the list and said that the list was compiled over two years ago. “Names were submitted to SGF upon request by the president, but due to some complaints and delays, it was only released in 2017″. He said ” the list was compiled like over two years ago and obviously, people would have died, nobody could stop that from happening “.

With all due respect, this excuse is flimsy and holds no water. The government is the highest office in the nation and as such, many facilities are both in its possession, disposal and they are not far-fetched. For the spokesperson to say that the list was compiled two years ago, does it mean that the government cannot inquire and verify the appointees especially after the space of two long years? Isn’t the space of two years long enough to necessitate the review of appointments made but yet to be published?

It is saddening that government failed to make use of machineries which facilitate consultations for verifying these appointees, infrastructures, means of obtaining information, coupled with the level of technological advancement through which relevant information can be easily gotten.

Some of these appointees are long dead, yet the government took no notice of them thus resulting in this despicable mistake. Senator Francis Okpozo who passed on the 26 Dec. 2016, was named chairman Nigeria Press Council; Rev. Christopher Utova died in March 17 2017 but was appointed a member of the Board of the Nigeria Institute of Social and Economic Research; Umar Dange, former Emir of Katagun in Bauchi State, who died on Dec 9th was appointed a member of the Federal Medical Centre Azare.  The space of time between the dates of death and appointment is enough to put the government on notice of their demise, had the government made use of relevant channels for verification to know if they are still alive, capable, willing, available for service.

At this point, i call on the government to employ every good means to bring about good governance to it’s people, eschew unwarranted mistakes which only depict unseriousness, recklessness and incompetence. To restrain from toying with the minds of the governed. To desist from making flimsy excuses for shoddiness, negligence etc, so that the electorate would not loss faith in the elected, but continue to trust in their government.

Obi Ekene Raphael.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State.

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For knowledge and Justice

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