By Patience Danjuma
The Presidency yesterday reacted to the controversy generated by its appointment on Friday evening of 1,468 Nigerians into the boards of agencies and parastatals.
The list generated controversy after names of some dead persons were found among the appointees.
It was discovered that Francis Okpozo, Donald Ugbaja, Christopher Utov and Kabir Umar have all died long before the list was released on Friday.
Okpozo, who was a Senator in the second republic, was appointed chairman of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) while Ugbaja, a retired deputy inspector-general of police, was appointed member of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC).
Utov, a former proprietor of Fidei Polytechnic, Gboko, passed away in March 2017. He was appointed a member of the board of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research.
Umar, a former emir of Katagum in Bauchi state, died on December 9. He was picked to join the board of the Federal Medical Centre, Azare, also in Bauchi. However, his son and successor is also Kabir Umar.
There were also duplications and appointments of individuals that are no longer in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Presidency however downplayed the matter on Saturday as, according to a spokesman of the president, there was nothing scandalous about the list.
“The list has a history, which explains the controversy around it.
“In 2015, Mr. President requested all state chapters of the party to submit names of 50 party members for board appointments,” says presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu.
Shehu said the names where compiled by the national secretariat of the APC and forwarded to the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.
“However, complaint arose from some governors who felt they were not carried along in the process. To answer this, the President constituted a committee under the Vice President to review and reflect the interest of the governors,” he said.
Shehu however said action was delayed on the report of the committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as President Muhammadu Buhari took ill.
“The president’s trips for medical attention slowed down completion of the process,” he said.
“The current SGF was only directed to complete that process by releasing the list which he apparently did without altering it,” Shehu explained.
Shehu admitted that errors were committed but added that “no human undertaking can be free of mistakes”.
He said the errors identified with the list were not enough to describe the exercise as scandalous, insisting “there is no scandal”.