THE national outrage that greeted President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of some dead people into the boards of some government agencies and parastatals is justified. It is embarrassing that some presidential aides tried to defend this serious error. The explanation that the list was compiled in 2015 is untenable. Instead of boldly defending an indefensible mistake, these government officials should have swallowed their pride, owned up to the faux pas and tendered an unreserved apology to the nation.
All humans are prone to error but the failure to admit it and apologise to the public is unfortunate. It does not portray the sincerity and humility expected of people holding high offices in the land. Government must admit its fault in this error. To admit a fault is not a mark of weakness. It is rather a mark of strength. The lack of focus, rigour and due diligence on the part of those who compiled the list is not expected from the presidency, which is the peak of the nation’s bureaucracy.
The muddling up of these appointments should, therefore, not be triviliased or dismissed with a wave of the hand. Those responsible for the shocking development should be punished to deter such carelessness in future. It is sad that a list that took two and a half years to compile features names of dead people.
As widely reported in the dailies, names of deceased people on the list include Senator Francis Okpozo said to have died in December 2016. He was named the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC). Also on the list is the late Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Donald Ugbaja, who died in November 2017. He was listed as one of the members of the board of Consumer Protection Council (CPC).
The late founder of Fidei Polytechnic, Rev. Christopher Utov, who died in March 2017, was also listed as a board member of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER). Others are the late Alhaji Umar Danje, an APC leader in Sokoto State, who was appointed a board member of the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta, and Ahmed Bunza, a staunch APC supporter who once served as the sole administrator of Jega Local Government Area in Kebbi State, who died on May 22.
Having the names of dead persons on the list of board appointees is untidy. It questions the seriousness and competence of the relevant government officials. It indicates that the list was not vetted and there were no security checks on the appointees before the names were announced. This is, indeed, one of the most untidy things this government has done since it assumed power on May 29, 2015.
It is ironical that the government that is fighting against ghost workers included names of dead people among board appointees. That the boards were not constituted earlier is injurious enough. The messing up of the list with the names of deceased persons compounds the carelessness of the government on this important responsibility.
Beyond the inclusion of the names of dead persons, the government also named boards for a privatised company, the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, Kogi State and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), which usually has its board members elected by its congress. All officials of government should understand that governance is serious business. This list, unfortunately, demonstrates the gross irresponsibility of some officials.
This is, indeed, a dent on the government. It is a classic example of the levity with which government functions are performed. It is a telling mistake. The government should make all those responsible for this grievous error to account for it, apologise to Nigerians for the mistake and ensure that it does not recur.