The past four months of President Bola Tinubu in office have witnessed a sequence of appointments amidst high expectations from over 200 million Nigerians seeking solutions to a myriad of challenges stifling the country’s development.
So far, Tinubu has appointed 47 ministers and a number of special advisers, board chairs and heads of agencies to help in driving his “Renewed Hope” agenda.
While many of the president’s appointments have been applauded, some have stirred controversy either as a result of the appointees’ qualifications or the perception people have of them. Daily Trust examines five of such appointments and the differing conversations around them.
OLUKOYEDE’S APPOITNMENT AS EFCC CHAIRMAN
Tinubu on Thursday appointed Ola Olukoyede as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to replace the agency’s former boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who was suspended indefinitely “to allow for proper investigation into his conduct while in office”.
However, Olukoyede’s appointment has generated intense discussions, particularly among legal practitioners who are divided over whether he met the requirements for the position as stipulated by the EFCC Act.
The Act provides that the person to be appointed as EFCC Chairman must have been a serving or retired member of any security or law enforcement agency, have 15 years cognate experience and must not be below the rank of assistant commissioner of police or its equivalent.
Daniel Bwala, an Abuja based lawyer and aide to Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), described the appointment “unlawful and illegal,” noting that “it runs foul of the provisions of Section 2 of the EFCC Act.
“This is the point; there is base line. The base line is that the person must come from security or law enforcement agency of the government, the reference is the government not private sector. The security is one that is covered by the National Security Agency Act which comprises DIA, NIA and SSS. Law enforcement compromises the EFCC, the police, the NSCDC and the rest….He never investigated a single case because he did not come as an operative.
“Attending seminal courses as a private legal practitioner can’t equate 15 years cognate experience contemplated by Section 2 of the Act. He only has a stint as Chief of Staff of Magu, the former acting EFCC Chairman and later became a secretary of the commission, all of which lasted less than 6 years,” Bwala said.
But Monday Ubani, a former Chairman of the Section of Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) of the Nigerian Bar Association, faulted Bwala’s stance, insisting that Olukoyede was qualified for the position.
“A lawyer for 22 years and having worked either five or six years in law enforcement agency has garnered that ‘cognate experience’ we are talking about since the Act itself is not specific. If you look at it, it didn’t mention that you must continually be in a security agency. The man is qualified,” Ubani said.
PROTEST AGAINST NIPOST CEO APPOITNMENT
Also, the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer/Post Master General of Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), Tola Odeyemi, on Friday was greeted by the workers’ rejection.
NIPOST in a now-deleted tweet on X (formerly Twitter) claimed the outgone CEO, Mr Adeyemi Adepoju, had been reinstated, disregarding the announcement made by the president’s spokesperson, Chief Ajuri Ngelale.
On Monday the aggrieved workers shut down the head office of the service in Abuja in protest against Odeyemi’s appointment.
The President of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees, Mr Nehemiah Buba, said the new appointment was against the interest of the workers.
“Under Adeyemi Adepoju, NIPOST was able to clear the debt it owed and that is the reason why we are having smooth process in our service.
“We have seen a situation to crumble this organization for the past three years, and today we are saying no to it. Today we are requesting that the post master general should be allowed to continue the good work he has started,” Buba said.
24-YEAR-OLD FERMA BOSS
Not a few Nigerians raised an eyebrow on Friday when 24-year-old Imam Ibrahim Kashim Imam was appointed as board chairman of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
Imam, a first-class graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Brighton University, United Kingdom, completed the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in August 2022.
While some hailed the president for appointing youthful Imam, others criticised the appointment on the grounds that the son of a popular Borno politician, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, lacked the experience to manage FERMA.
“Appointing a fresh graduate with no work experience to such a high position is absolutely ill-advised,” @Haslawal87 wrote on X.
“This appointment is not worth it. A fresh graduate to oversee the entire FERMA board. Absolutely unworthy,” @kennyNuga added.
But some social media users believed the young man would learn on the job.
“Political expediency should not be a factor in making appointments where experience and even expertise could be called upon,” one of them, @aminsaad, wrote.
DELE ALAKE’S APPOINTMENT AS SOLID MINERALS MINISTER
When President Tinubu, in August, assigned the Ministry of Solid Minerals to his ally and former Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Dele Alake, there were reservations in some quarters that a ministry with potential to revive Nigeria’s economy should have been headed by an expert with cognate experience and not Alake whose career has largely revolved around information management.
Responding to the critics, Alake explained that his sense of responsibility, expertise, and track record informed Tinubu’s decision.
“My portfolio has been the upset of the entire cabinet because given my antecedents, exposure, and experience in the area of perception, information management, and the likes so most people have pigeon whole me for information and so we decided to shock everybody,” he added.
MUSAWA’S NYSC CERTIFICATE
The appointment of Mrs Hannau Musawa as Minister of Arts and Culture while she was still undergoing the mandatory one-year national youth service was also a subject of controversy.
The Director, Press and Public Relations of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Eddy Megwa, descibed Musawa’s occupation of public office while still serving as a breach of the NYSC Act.
He said Musawa was originally mobilised in 2001 for the youth service and deployed to Ebonyi State where she had her orientation programme but later relocated to Kaduna State to continue the programme.
Megwa added that she absconded and did not complete the programme when she got to Kaduna.
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in a statement titled: “A Youth Corps Member is not Competent to be a Minister in Nigeria” said that it was a violation of the law for anybody to accept a ministerial appointment while serving in the NYSC.