As outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan continues to make new appointments with less than 25 days to the inauguration date, opinions have differed on the propriety or otherwise of his action. While the All Progressives Congress sees it as a booby trap, the PDP thinks differently. OLUSESAN LAOYE and YUSUF MOHAMMED
The last minute appointments and sacking of some top government functionaries by President Goodluck Jonathan few days to his exit as the President, is now causing uneasiness in the polity. However, President-elect Gen MuhammaduBuhari has remained silent over the issue even though sources confirmed that he is not happy with the developments.
While the appointment and removal of chief executives of federal government’s parastatals and agencies was viewed as long overdue by some people, others, especially those in the All Progressives Congress (APC) that is about to form the next government viewed it as a booby trap and a way of creating problems for the incoming administration. Some also say the appointments are highly provocative in nature.
It is also believed that President Jonathan is trying to heat up the polity and bring confusion in the system with the new appointment being made in the twilight of his regime. It was further argued that the appointments should not have taken place at this time he is counting days before the May 29 hand over date. This according to observers smacks of sinister motive.
Although it was said that some of the appointments were long overdue but the argument was that why has President Jonathan not deemed it fit to make the appointments since they have been vacant since, or those he has indicting reports against their continued stay in office the report should have been handed over to the incoming administration to act upon it. Hallmark gathered that some of positions have been vacant for almost a year.
The sudden sacking of the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba few days after the elections and less than three years to his retirement baffled Nigerians as no one could fathom the reason behind his sudden dismissal.
What also complicated the matter was the appointment of the new IGP, Solomon Arase when it is known that the incoming government would like to choose those it would like to work with.
The controversial appointments and recent sacking made by President Jonathan are that of the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, given to the former Governor of Anambra state, Chief Peter Obi. The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), MallamHabibAbdullahi was fired and replaced by Sanusi Ado Bayero. No reason was given for the removal. There were also new appointments for the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and National Health Insurance Scheme.
On the 1st of May, 2015, the Federal Government appointed Chairman of Governing Councils for 12 new Federal Universities and four new Federal Polytechnics. Some of those appointed are former governor of Ogun State, OtunbaGbenga Daniel as the Pro-Chancellor of Federal University Kashere, Gombe State; co-founder of Newswatch Magazine and a former Pro-Chancellor of ABU Zaria, AlhajiYakubu Mohammed was appointed as the Pro-Chancellor of Federal University, BirninKebbi, Kebbi State and former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. IshayaBamaiyi was appointed as the Pro-Chancellor of Federal Polytechnic for Oil and Gas, Bonny, Rivers State.
It should be noted however, that the incoming administration will not be able to remove some of the new appointees by Jonathan because some of them occupy tenured positions.
Although the Presidency has said that the sacking and new appointments were done in good faith because the President will be in charge till May 29 when a new government would take over, he has the right to keep the affairs of the nation going.
The Presidential spokesperson, Ruben Abati described those casting aspersions on Jonathan over the new appointments as not being fair to him. He said since they were done in good faith the incoming government has nothing to fear.
What is however worrying the leaders of the APC and the President-elect, Buhari is that way and manner the new appointments were made, especially the appointment of partisan candidates to be in the new government.
Watchers agreed that it would be difficult for Buhari for instance to remove the late Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero’s son as MD of NPA. And since his hands are tied on that, it will amount to double standard if the President-elect should now turn around to remove the acting IGP, Arase who is from Niger Delta or Peter Obi from South East.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who has warned Jonathan not to make last minute appointment in order not to create a problem for the incoming government of the APC, argued that Jonathan was not sincere about his recent appointments and sacking of the captains of some sensitive government parastatals and agencies. He said that Jonathan though still in charge till May 29, should have allowed the status quo to remain and leave Buhari to decide on what to do with the offices he filled less than a month to his exit.
He further said that Jonathan was only trying to lay a booby trap for Buhari but was sure that the APC government would be up to the task and capable of handling the situation so that it would not cause confusion and heat up the polity as expected by the opposition.
According to Hon. James Falake who was the coordinator of Buhari campaign in Lagos, “Jonathan is the President until May 29, 2015. If the incoming President feels the appointments are not justified, he will take the appropriate action. There is no cause for alarm.”
AdemolaSodiq, who is the Lagos APC legal adviser, is of the opinion that the President should desist from making last minute appointments. He told Hallmark that, “It is morally wrong for the outgoing President to engage in last minute appointments which I term ‘settle the loyal boy’s efforts’.”
“It is an attempt to foist a faith accompli on the incoming government. Where the appointments are tenured ones, succeeding government can’t tamper with them. But Jonathan would be surprised how those he put there would change loyalty in favour of the new government,” he said.
In his reaction, a member of the PDP and chieftain of the party in the South-West, Senator LekanBalogun said as far as he was concerned, Jonathan has the right to continue ruling without leaving a vacuum in governance while, the government of Buhari too has the right to determine who would work with him. He cautioned that all the appointments made now by Jonathan should be taken on their merit and the ability of the appointees to deliver, adding that “the incoming government should not throw merit and capability overboard because the appointments were made by the PDP government.”