The Presidency rose yesterday in its own defence over the inclusion of the names of some dead persons as chairmen or members of newly constituted boards and parastatals.
It said it was all a mistake which would be rectified in due course.
No fewer than three of the appointees -Chief Frank Okpozo, Mr. Donald Ugbaja and Christopher Utov – were already dead when the list of 209 chairmen and 1258 board members were released by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, on Friday night.
Okpozo was named as Chairman of the Nigerian Press Council; Ugbaja, a retired deputy Inspector General of Police, was listed as a member of the Consumers Protection Council while Utov was included as a board member of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER).
The development sparked heavy criticism of government especially on social media.
Speaking to reporters yesterday on the issue, the Senior Special Assistant to the on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said that the list was prepared before President Muhammadu Buhari took ill and was released by the SGF without any alteration.
The President, he said, had requested 50 names from each of the state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.
The nominations were harmonized by the national secretariat of the party which then submitted the list to the immediate past SGF, Babachir Lawal.
Shehu said: “However, complaints arose from some governors who felt they were not carried along in the process.
“To answer this, the president constituted a committee under the vice president to review and reflect the interest of the governors.”
He said that the report submitted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was delayed because of President Buhari’s illness and his subsequent medical vacation abroad.
“The president’s trips for medical attention slowed down completion of the process,” he said.
The president only decided to revisit the matter recently and therefore directed the new SGF to release the list, he said.
“The current SGF was only directed to complete that process by releasing the list which he apparently did without altering it.
“The new SGF did what he was asked to do. There is nothing scandalous or extraordinary about what has happened.”
The SGF in a statement attached to the list of the appointees said the constitution of the boards was “very necessary, so as to provide a proper governance and oversight structure for government agencies and parastatals.”
He added: “The constitution of the boards with the appointments is a demonstration of this government’s efforts aimed at building strong institutions of governance, and by extension, improving the quality of policy formulation and supervision.
“While these appointments represent a substantial number of hitherto pending board appointments, some more appointments are still being processed and will be released in due course.
“The appointments take immediate effect and Ministers are advised to inaugurate the boards after letters of appointment have been issued.”
But some Nigerians were not amused by the inclusion of the names of some dead persons on the list.
They took to Twitter and Facebook to register their disappointment and embarrassment.
One @royaltyuso writing on his Twitter handle said government officials “will soon say the appointments were strategic and that’s because non-living people do not loot. Femi Adesina will term it posthumous appointment. And that it was rightly placed.”
O’Seun Ogunseitan, writing on his Facebook wall said: “The error conclusively gives an idea of why very few good things are happening in the country, the way we want it.
“The indications are that most of the Board appointees were never consulted, before the appointments and that the federal government did not even try to find out how the appointees plan to change the state of things in the country.”