The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), some outgoing ministers and governors have embarked on last-minute appointments, investigations by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.
Our correspondents also observed that Buhari and his ministers awarded contracts worth over N3.7tn in the dying embers of his regime.
The appointments and contracts were awarded between March 20, 2023 and May 14, 2023 after the conduct of the presidential and governorship elections, which produced Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as President-elect and a total of 28 governors out of which 16 newly elected governors will take over from their predecessors, who will complete their constitutionally approved second term in office.
However, some of the outgoing governors made last-minute appointments in the period under review.
On May 17, 2023, Buhari appointed Paul Harris Ogbole (SAN), a former member of the Board of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and ex-Chairman, Otukpo Local Government Council of Benue State, as a member of the Council for Legal Education for a period of four years.
On May 11, the President approved the appointment of a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Garba Baba-Umar, as a Senior Security Adviser on International Police Cooperation and Counter-terrorism in the Office of the Minister of Police Affairs. According to a statement issued by the Presidency, the appointment was made to enable “Umar complete his nationally beneficial tenure as an executive member of the INTERPOL.”
Two days after, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, announced the appointment of a Benue monarch as the Pro-chancellor of the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa state.
Earlier on May 5, 2Buhari re-appointed the members of the Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.
On May 3, the President, in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, asked the Senate to confirm the appointment of 12 nominees of the governing board of the North East Development Commission.
The day before, Buhari re-appointed Abike Dabiri-Erewa as the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission. The President also asked the Senate for the confirmation of six federal commissioners for the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission on the same date.
The Minister of Environment, Muhammed Abdullahi, also announced the appointment of a new coordinator for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project on May 2.
A month earlier, Buhari through the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, appointed a new director for the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.
He also re-appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the National Lottery Trust Fund, Bello Maigari, and the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr Gambo Aliyu, on March 24, while a new DG for the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency was appointed on March 21.
In Kaduna State, the outgoing governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who will be succeeded by his party man, Uba Sani, appointed 15 new judges on April 25. The judges included seven state high court judges, five Sharia Court of Appeal judges, and three Customary Court of Appeal judges.
In Benue State, the outgoing governor, Samuel Ortom of the Peoples Democratic Party, who will be succeeded by Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia of the APC, swore in a new Chief Judge for the state on April 11. The governor also appointed five new permanent secretaries.
In Sokoto State, the outgoing governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who lost to the APC, swore in 23 permanent secretaries and 15 director-generals for state-owned agencies on May 2.
Earlier on April 14, the governor had appointed 23 caretaker chairmen for the local government councils in the state.
In Cross River State, the outgoing governor, Ben Ayade who will be succeeded by his party man, Bassey Otu, appointed five new permanent secretaries into the state public service on May 4.
In Abia State, the outgoing governor, Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP, whose party man lost to the candidate of the Labour Party, Alex Otti, appointed a new rector for the Abia State College of Health on April 14.
The outgoing governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, approved the appointment of a provost for the state College of Health Technology on April 5, 2023.
In Kano State, the outgoing governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, appointed a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, as the pro-chancellor and the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Moshood Balogun, as the chancellor of the state-owned Sa’adatu Rimi University of Education. The Olubadan had earlier decorated Ganduje and his wife, Hafsat, with chieftaincy titles.
The appointments by Ganduje were announced on April 3, 2023.
In Katsina State, the outgoing governor, Aminu Masari of the APC, on May 8, appointed a new manager for the state-owned football club, Katsina United.
The governor also appointed a new vice-chancellor for the state-owned university on May 10, 2023.
The outgoing governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, appointed a total of 149 new village heads on April 30. According to him, the new village heads were appointed to work alongside the incoming administration for stability in the state.
In Taraba State, the outgoing governor, Darius Ishaku, appointed a new caretaker chairman for one of the local government areas in the state. The appointment took effect on April 11.
N3.7tn contracts awarded
Analyses by our correspondents revealed that over N3.7tn worth of contracts were awarded between March 20 and May 14, 2023.
During the Federal Executive Council meeting held on March 23, the sum of N453.90bn was approved for the acquisition of rolling stock, operation, and maintenance equipment for the Kano-Maradi standard gauge rail line under construction.
The FEC also approved N5,157,265,770 for the construction of 192 flats for officers and men of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency and $984.7m for the procurement of maintenance equipment for the Nigerian Railway Corporation on the same date.
During the FEC meeting held on March 29, 2023, various contracts worth N210bn were approved for provisions of various infrastructure, including free Internet services at 20 of the nation’s airports, 43 higher institutions and 20 markets across the country. A breakdown of the contracts showed that N95.98bn was for various road projects, while N59. 78bn was approved for the continuation of the ongoing Ogoni clean-up.
The FEC also approved N41.4bn for the construction of a center of excellence for environmental restoration in the Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The minister added that the council also approved N18.3bn for the construction of a specialist hospital for the people of Ogoni in Rivers State.
On April 5, two contracts worth N15.3bn for the supply and installation of information and communication technology components and digital assistance devices for the 2023 population census were approved. There was also the approval of N3.3bn to build a new training facility for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
An e-Customs modernization project worth at least N142.24bn was awarded by the FEC on April 20 amid reports of an existing court order restraining it from proceeding with the project.
On the same date, it was revealed that a total of N11.93bn was okayed for Customs aircraft and zonal offices, while the Ministry of Education obtained the sum of N2.8bn for the construction of senate buildings and the purchase of ambulances. The FEC also approved the sum of N1.86tn for the linkage of roads in 11 states of the federation.
Similarly, on April 20, 2023, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning presented a couple of memos for which approvals were obtained. The first one was for the award of a contract for the procurement of a Cessna Caravan aircraft EX208B by the Nigeria Customs Service in the sum of N3.45bn inclusive of 7.5 percent Value Added Tax with a delivery period of 12 months.
The ministry further disclosed that the sum of N45.9bn was approved as augmentation for the cost of contracts for the construction of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation’s head office buildings in Abuja and Lagos, including its training institute in Lagos.
On May 10, 2023, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu announced that the sum of N449.9m had been approved for the engagement of consultants for the development of master plans for 17 airports, while N3.4bn was approved for the construction of the Abuja airport’s runway.
The FEC also approved a fresh sum of N129.8bn for various projects in the Ministry of Niger Delta, particularly the mandate of the United Nations Environment Programme on the Ogoni clean-up on May 11.
On May 13, the sum of N647.7bn was announced by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission for two power plants in the country.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Transportation, Adewole Adegoroye, on May 18, 2023, noted that FEC approved three port development projects for Ondo, Lagos, and Delta states.
Adegoroye, who spoke excitedly about the three memoranda approved for his ministry by the council, said the approvals were for the expansion and development of the Snake Island Seaport in Lagos, Ondo Multipurpose Port in Ilaje, and the Burutu Seaport project in Burutu, Delta State.
According to him, the projects would be executed through concession to private investors for 45, 50, and 40 years, respectively, at no cost to the Federal Government.
He explained that while the investors would be investing $974,185,203.66 in the Snake Island Port project, those for the Ondo Multipurpose Port project would be spending $1,480,465,253 and $1,285,005,818.40 on the Burutu Port.
CSOs and analysts speak
Speaking with our correspondents in Abuja, political analysts and civil society organisations flayed the move by outgoing executives to award last-minute contracts and make new appointments.
A political analyst, Dr. Busari Dauda, noted that the approved amount would only add to the challenges to be faced by the incoming government, adding that it was wicked to allocate such amounts at this last minute.
He said, “I think the current government is deliberately building up obstacles for the government that is coming in. Remember that the Federal Government had promised to remove oil subsidy in June and implement an increment in the salaries for lecturers and medical doctors after it would have handed over to the incoming administration.
“Why are they putting all the challenges on the new government that is coming in? It is somewhat wicked to begin to approve projects for a government that is coming in with a lot of baggage.
“It is likely that those projects will be stalled because if you don’t have an idea of what you are doing and you call me to carry it on, I would have to rethink before doing anything, so it’s likely that the projects are stalled.”
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, queried why the government waited till the last minute before approving the projects, noting that the analysis had proved the laziness and lack of seriousness in the current administration.
He stated, “This analysis has exposed the laziness and lack of seriousness of the Buhari administration.
“They had more than seven years in power to do innovative programs and projects that can bring about growth and development, and alleviate poverty and secure the country, but that was not done and suddenly there is a rush to start projects and considering the way and manner Nigerians operate, the new administration will likely abandon some of the projects, which will lead to wastage.
“The Buhari administration is encouraging public waste. A sustainable project should not be done at the last minute and without a proper plan. I think the approval is just to fund the pockets of some people.”
However, another political analyst, Jide Ojo, did not see any wrong in the approvals, stating that projects would be completed if genuine since governance is a continuum.
Ojo said, “Foremost, governance is a continuum and if it is for approval of the budget, there are still about 35 days to the end of this administration and a lot can still be done.
“I believe that nothing is wrong with the projects and amount approved, but whether FEC is mandated to award contracts every Wednesday legally is what I think is debatable.
“If the contracts are not inflated or used to siphon public funds out of the government treasury and are going to be applied, nothing is wrong with that.”
Another analyst, Olaseni Shalom, described the appointments as “political compensation.”
He said, “Those appointments are nothing short of political compensation for loyalists and apparently had nothing to do with competence. This also shows that we run a big government where we have more than necessary offices just to put more pressure on the government and the cost of running the government despite the economic hardship in the country.
“I would have advised the incoming administration to reduce the cost of government, but it is most unlikely as political appointments and offices are mainly for rewards and compensation for political loyalists rather than for the effective management of the government.”