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 reports.
Retired senior civil servants, politicians and technocrats, who spoke to Daily Trust yesterday, said 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.”
Some lawyers, who spoke to Daily Trust, gave different perspectives.
Abeny Mohammed (SAN) said special advisers were personal, and if the president wanted to continue with them, there wouldn’t be any problem because their appointment does not require National Assembly approval.
Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq. stated that by the provision of Section 151(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), aides such as special advisers to the president were appointed at the pleasure of the president and should cease when the president ceased to hold office.
He said since the president, who had been re-elected and inaugurated for a second term did not relieve the aides of their appointments, it showed he was still pleased with them in their respective offices.
“More so, the appointment of a special adviser by the president is only made by the president at his discretion and pleasure without the confirmation or approval or recommendation of any other person,” he said.
But Mike Enahoro Eba Esq. disagrees that the aides of the president could continue to function without fresh appointment based on the provisions of Section 171 (2) Paragraph E of the 1999 Constitution.
“For them to function in that capacity there must be fresh appointment. The president won election, why didn’t he just continue without taking fresh oath of office? So, these guys cannot continue to sit there under the previous mandate they were appointed,” Enahoro-Eba said. “Their stay is dependent on the president and if he is under obligation to take fresh oath after his tenure ended on May 29, then they cannot be there in perpetuity,” he added.