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Anxiety as Buhari yet to announce key appointments

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President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to announce key appointments, especially those that do not require National Assembly approval, three weeks after his inauguration for a second term.

Daily Trust newspaper reported today that retired senior civil servants, politicians and technocrats say the delay in announcing key appointments could create a big image issue for the administration.

President Buhari had before his inauguration for second term on May 29, 2019, dissolved his cabinet and directed ministers and other aides to hand over on May 28.

However, close aides to the president, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff (CoS) Abba Kyari, and media aides Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, have remained in office, even though no formal announcement was made regarding their reappointments.

Many aides working with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, including his media aide Laolu Akande and others, have also continued to man their offices.

“The delay is creating apprehension in the polity,” a former civil servant with ample knowledge of bureaucracy said. “It has also widened the room for speculations and mutual suspicions among politicians in different parts of the country,” he added.

Efforts by the Daily Trust to hear from some of the aides whether they had been reappointed were not successful.

Delay not good for the government

A retired federal permanent secretary said besides announcing names of fresh aides or reappointment of those he worked in his first tenure, President Buhari should have transmitted the list of his ministerial nominees to the senate, even before they went on break.

“Strictly speaking, there are key appointments that ought to have been made by now like the SGF, Chief of Staff, media aide and all those that do not require approval of the Senate, even if it is just to indicate that those appointments have been made.

“People who are exercising responsibilities should either be reappointed or their replacement announced. It is very important even if it is just a statement announcing their reappointment or their sack,” he said.

He added that, by now, the appointments that required Senate screening and confirmation should have been sent to the parliament for legislative action in line with the provision of the Nigerian Constitution.

“Four months (from the day he was re-elected) is long enough to enable him assemble a team that would help him implement his policies and programmes.

The delay is not good for the government. “Whatever that is holding back the consideration of appointees should be immediately sorted out because Nigerians are worried and they are expressing reservations.

“There is a big image issue that is becoming major liability for this government and it should be immediately addressed.

Lethargy and indecision are not good for the government,” he said. Another former permanent secretary said he was not surprised by the delay.

“In 2015, they said they could not make vital appointments because the PDP government led by President Goodluck Jonathan did not make proper handover.

“I don’t think they could give that reason anymore…The appointments would give signal that ‘this is second term’ even if it means bringing back those that were asked to handover on May 28.

“It has been a tradition in the past and Nigerians always look forward to hearing key appointments soon after a new government is formed, such appointments give hope, they give an insight into the direction the government. But with silence, people tend to speculate,” he said.

Another source who went memory lane said “(then president Olusegun) Obasanjo announced these appointments after his swearing in on May 29, 1999. The outgoing SGF, Gidado Idris handed over to Chief Ekaette after that.

“In 2003, Obasanjo announced the reappointment of SGF, COS, NSA and even HOSF immediately after his swearing in.

“In 2007, Yar’adua drafted Kingibe in the process of taking over showing clearly that Kingibe would be the next SGF even before swearing in.

“In 2011, Jonathan did the same by indicating that Anyim (Pius Anyim) would take over from Yayale (Ahmed) before swearing in.

In both the cases of Kingibe and Anyim, their appointments were only formally announced after swearing in of the president.

“In 2015, there was a vacuum as Anyim coming from PDP had to immediately vacate the office (of SGF) which was not occupied until after the appointment of Babachir (Lawan),” he said.

However, the source added that “There are no hard and fast rules in the case of same president, same party announcing these appointments or not. It will be assumed that until appointments are formally announced, the outgoing may be held in transition or announced as continuing as the president may deem fit.”

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