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After boards’ dissolution: Unease in FG agencies as managements fear sack

Chief executives of some federal government departments and agencies are living in anxiety since the dissolution of their boards by President Bola Tinubu, Daily Trust…

Chief executives of some federal government departments and agencies are living in anxiety since the dissolution of their boards by President Bola Tinubu, Daily Trust reports. 

It was gathered that many of them are just waiting for a presidential directive sacking them even though there are some who are optimistic of being retained on the grounds that they are in the good books of the present government and that of former President Muhammadu Buhari. 

A visit by our correspondents to some government agencies and parastatals in Abuja and Lagos revealed an aura of suspense.

Recall that boards of many agencies were dissolved by Tinubu on June 19, in the exercise of his constitutional powers. 

Sources said the move was to allow the president and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to bring their loyalists on board. Checks confirmed that the management of most of the agencies are in a dilemma over their anticipated dissolution. 

Most of the CEOs and those close to them were not in a good mood as witnessed by our correspondents. 

One of them said the suspense was distracting them from their work while another said he wanted to be relieved after almost eight years in his position. 

But another CEO who is perceived to be close to President Tinubu since his days as Lagos State governor, confided in Daily Trust that they were aware of the impending sack but that some of them were hopeful of being retained. 

 

Our bosses in dilemma 

Two of the aides of the CEO of one of the government agencies told Daily Trust that their bosses have lost their composure and that it was difficult to relate with them as before. 

When asked why it was difficult for the bosses to resign knowing they may soon be sacked, one of the aides said, “Our boss is even expecting that her closeness to Asiwaju could make her retain her position or be re-appointed into another agency. 

“It will be suicidal to just leave your job because you cannot tell what will happen next…It’s better to wait and see how it goes,” he said.

The other aide, a lady, said it is not common for people in political positions to quit with ease.

“Don’t be surprised if the new president will only reappoint board members and allow the existing management teams of the agencies to exhaust their terms. Buhari did the same in many agencies even though he changed their board members also. So, any chief executive that just leaves may be, has something to hide,” she said.  

 

Situation in maritime sector 

Heads of agencies in the maritime sector are not left out as some are now held down by fear over their expected sack. 

Agencies in the maritime sector that are affected are the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NCS), Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders (CRFF). 

Though none of the heads of the agencies and institutions could be reached on the phone for their reactions, a visit to some of them showed that work has slowed down considerably as those appointed outside the civil service are said to be winding down their operations.

Currently, there is a kind of suspense at the headquarters of NIMASA on Burna Road, Apapa, it was learnt. 

“I think the slow pace of work has to do with the anxiety created by the recent dissolution of the boards,” a staff said. 

“Other political appointees are also not too sure of their fate,” he said. 

A staff of the NPA told our correspondent that there is a serious fear as no one is sure of what is going to happen next. 

“We don’t even know if our jobs are secure. We have been told that there will be possible downsizing of the workforce beside the change of the management,” the staff said. 

Dr Bolaji Akinola, consultant maritime expert and Chief Executive Officer of Ships & Port, said though he has not seen any visible slowdown in the operations in the maritime agencies, but that doesn’t presuppose that it may not exist. 

He said he had cause to interact with MD/CEOs of agencies on a daily basis and that the day to day running of the affairs of the MDAs lies squarely on the management team, even though the CEO provides direction. 

Also, Chief Okey Ibeke, Principal Consultant at Blue-Water Maritime Resources Limited, is of the views that “The coming in of the new administration has reignited fear in the minds of the heads of agencies. This has slowed down operations considerably. Some of them are now in Abuja seeking reappointment. 

“While traveling to Abuja on Sunday, I flew in the same aircraft with one of the heads of the agency. He is still in Abuja,” he said. 

 

Aviation sector too 

The situation is the same among chief executives of aviation agencies. 

A highly placed source told our correspondent yesterday that there has been an uneasy calm in the industry after the dissolution of the boards of agencies. 

“This is why you see that there has been a lull in all the agencies in recent times. Everybody is still looking at the body language of the president and the direction of his government.

“But I can tell you they are all doing everything possible to retain their jobs despite very strong opposition from stakeholders to the last minute restructuring carried out by the immediate past administration,” the source said.

 

Appointment seekers intensify lobby 

Sources close to the presidency and around the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) said both sacked board members as well as some management members of the agencies in Abuja and Lagos are making frantic moves to be retained. 

Similarly, people who served as members of the APC presidential campaign council are also “showing their faces” around the corridors of power and the APC secretariat in order not to be forgotten. 

“I can assure you the lobby is not just for boards or management of agencies,” a source around the presidency said. 

“Even though the president is not around, people, especially those who can find their way to the villa, are coming to meet with those that matter. 

“Serving and former ministers, top businessmen and even some traditional rulers are making frantic efforts to get appointments for themselves or those they want to support,” he said. 

The situation is the same at the SGF office and the APC secretariat.

It was learnt that ahead of the official announcement of the ministerial-nominees by Tinubu, those looking for ministerial positions are also visiting houses of powerful members of the National Assembly. 

According to the new amendment to the 1999 Constitution, the president and governors must submit names of persons nominated as ministers or commissioners within 60 days of taking the Oath of Office for confirmation by the Senate or state House of Assembly.

With barely five weeks left before the expiration of the new constitutional mandate, President Tinubu is expected to forward names of ministerial-nominees to the Senate for confirmation. 

The Senate, currently on a three-week break, is expected to reconvene in the first week of July, ahead of the screening of ministerial-nominees. 

 

Tinubu should prioritise competence’ 

Speaking on the development, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere, said that for the boards to meet their strategic objectives, their composition needs to reflect merit, competence, innovation, character and deep knowledge of the sector in which they operate. 

Onyekpere said that the composition of such boards could not be a ‘job for the boys’ if public corporations are to deliver on their mandates. 

“There should be a public notice of the intention to appoint persons to these boards. The names of prospective appointees should be published so that anyone that has information regarding the unsuitability of nominees for public office will be requested to submit the same to a committee of persons of impeccable character and integrity who will review the petitions and make recommendations to Mr. President. 

“The federal government should set deliverables with milestones and targets and a verifying monitoring and evaluation plan for the boards. Their performances should also be reviewed annually to ensure that their leadership is on target while dead woods are weeded out,” he said.

 

By Abbas Jimoh (Abuja) Eugene Agha & Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos)

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