Stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are angry over the failure of President Goodluck Jonathan to constitute boards of parastatals and agencies of the Federal Government 17 months after the boards were dissolved.
The angst of party members is further fueled by allegations that the failure to reconstitute the boards is at the instance of some senior Presidency officials who are benefiting from the vacuum.
In the absence of the boards, senior officials in the Presidency are alleged to be wielding influence over government agencies and boards drawing and dispensing patronage and contracts at will.
Reacting to the development, yesterday, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN described the absence of the boards as a further reflection of what it described as the lacklustre attitude of the Jonathan administration to governance. The party which spoke through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also faulted what it described as the administration’s failure to appoint substantive heads for a number of federal agencies.
The PDP in a riposte said the boards would be announced this week even as it reassured that the process was delayed for the purpose of ensuring due diligence in the reconstitution. The party said that the PDP was mindful of empowering its people legitimately through board appointments unlike its opponents who restrict patronages to a handful.
Boards dissolved since 2011
The boards of Federal Government parastatals were dissolved by President Jonathan on October 19, 2011 few months after his election as president. It was expected at that time that the boards would be reconstituted shortly as a committee for the composition of the boards headed by Vice-President Namadi Sambo was immediately constituted.
When he inaugurated the Sambo committee on October 19, 2011, the president had urged the team to act quickly apparently in realization of the need of paying patronage to party chieftains who helped him in his successful election bid.
“We are formally inaugurating this committee headed by the vice president, one of the most powerful committees because most senior people from the executive, the legislature and the party (Peoples Democratic Party) are members. We believe that you will do this work very quickly,” the president had said.
Though the Sambo committee has not formally submitted the report of its activities, presidency sources disclosed, yesterday, that the committee may have completed its assignments as the committee is no longer meeting.
One Presidency source disclosed that the administration has been selectively picking from the report of the Sambo committee in the recent appointments that were made into some selected boards notably, the governing councils of some federal universities, the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA and that of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
Party chieftains are, however, enraged that more than 17 months after the president dissolved the former boards that he is yet to formally re-constitute most of the boards and thereby depriving party members the expected patronage.
One member of the PDP NEC lamenting the fate of party chieftains cited the case of a senior presidency official who was alleged to have used a family member to win some contracts across the country.
“You can imagine in this case that they won a contract to pull down, redesign and rebuild the airports but in the case of (name withheld) they refused to pull it down but only rehabilitated it but collected the full cost of pulling down and rebuilding.”
Members confront Tukur
The outcry over the issue was a topical feature during the recent reconciliation tour embarked upon by the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. At the Northwest Zone reconciliatory meeting in Kaduna, party chieftains were reported to have complained about the issue.
“We told Tukur that it was discouraging for party stakeholders who worked for the party to be sidelined at a time like this and he was told that it has taken too long and that it has never been like this under a democratic setting.”
Tukur was reported to have only muttered that the issue was receiving attention and would be resolved soon.
Besides the rage of the party men, it is feared that the absence of the boards constituting a barrier to the smooth operations of many of the government agencies.
“Many of these boards have strict rules on approval limits meaning that in the absence of the boards that the agencies are handicapped in the discharge of their duties and it is a matter that has worsened the implementation of the capital budget of the Federal Government,” a business expert told Vanguard yesterday.
Reacting to the development yesterday, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the national publicity secretary of the ACN said it was a reflection of the lacklustre attitude of the PDP controlled federal administration.
“Clearly, the inability of this government to reconstitute the boards of the several agencies is a further testimony to the lacklustre leadership style of the government.”
Reacting yesterday, Chief Olisa Metuh the national publicity secretary of the PDP said:
“I can assure you that the boards would be announced this week.
Among the choice boards yet to be inaugurated are the boards of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the refineries and other agencies in the petroleum sector, the board of the National Pension Commission among a handful of others.
Also yet to be reconstituted are the boards of federal polytechnics, colleges of education, Federal Government owned hospitals, agencies in the tourism sector and federal ministry of health, among others.
Among the boards in the tourism sector yet to be inaugurated are those of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, National Orientation Agency, NOA; National Theatre; National Institute for Cultural Orientation; Centre for Black and African Arts Civilisation, CBAAC, National Museum and the National Arts Gallery.