…Says ruling party will hit ground running this year
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has exonerated the ruling party from the embarrassing list of dead persons included as chairmen and members of Board of parastals and agencies.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has in defence of the error explained that President Buhari had requested for the submission of 50 names each by the state chapters of the APC in 2015, which were later compiled by the national secretariat of the party.
Subsequently, he revealed, the names were submitted to the then SGF, Babachir Lawal but following complaints from some governors who felt they were not carried along in the process, the president constituted a committee under Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo to review and reflect the interest of the governors.
The dead are Senator Francis Okpozo, who passed on at 81 in 2016. He was named Chairman, Nigerian Press Council (NPC); Deputy Inspector General of Police and elder statesman, Donald Ugbaja (retd), appointed member of Consumer Protection Council and the founder of Fidei Polytechnic, Very Rev Fr Christopher Utov appointed a member of the board of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research. Fr. Utov was until his death this year, the proprietor of Fidei Polytechnic in Gboko, Benue State, the first private polytechnic in northern Nigeria. He died on March 17, 2017 in India after battling with an undisclosed disease and was buried on April 13, this year, in Gboko.
Umar Dange Sokoto, former Emir of Katagum in Bauchi state, who died on December 9, was picked to join the board of the Federal Medical Centre, Azare, also in Bauchi.
Also dead but appointed are Garba Attahiru Kaduna; Dr. Nabbs Igbokwe of Rivers State, Comrade Ahmed Bunza from Kebbi State and Miss Magdalene Kumu from Taraba.
But stating the side of the party when he hosted APC correspondents in his house in Abuja yesterday, the party boss had argued that the federal government would have saved itself the embarrassment if it had involved the party in the final compilation of the list.
Oyegun, in his opening remarks said: “We have followed the issue of board appointments and I think that issue has raised a lot of controversy 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 names 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 are not fortunate to participate on that final stage otherwise it is quite clear such would not have occurred. It is my sincere hope that we will be fully involved in the review that has to now take place and any other exercise moving forward from this date,” he noted.
The ruling party chairman equally pointed out that considering the fact that this year will be build up to the 2019 general election, the party will hit ground running, stressing: “I will resume on Monday and we are going to hit ground running. We all know that this year is obviously going to be an active year for elections.”