The newly appointed bosses of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) are yet to assume duties almost two weeks after their nominations were confirmed by the Nigerian Senate.
Findings by BusinessDay reveal that the inability of the appointees to assume offices followed delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to transmit the letters of their appointments to the officers.
President Buhari had on December 7, 2020 submitted the names of Hassan Bello (for NDIC) and Ahmed Kuru (for AMCON) to the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, for Senate confirmation.
While Kuru was re-nominated for a second term as managing director and chief executive officer of AMCON, Hassan Bello was nominated to succeed Umaru Ibrahim whose second term as managing director of NDIC ended on December 8, 2020.
Following the delay in the resumption of the two new chief executives, both corporations are functioning skeletally given that the Act establishing the institutions reposes enormous powers on their leaderships.
AMCON and NDIC are not the only agencies of government experiencing a similar situation where their chief executives are either functioning in acting capacity or the board of such agency has not been constituted.
For instance, Victor Chinemerem Muruako was only confirmed last week as the chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) after he has served in acting capacity for more than seven years.
Meanwhile, President Buhari did not submit the full nomination of members of the commission’s board, a constitutional requirement for the chairman’s confirmation.
A top official of the NDIC confirmed that the new managing director has not assumed office because a letter for his resumption has not been transmitted. According to the official, activities have not picked up because the corporation’s management and staff are waiting for the new managing director to resume.
“Yes, we are still waiting for the president to transmit a letter to the new managing director so that he can resume office. Until the president officially writes him, he cannot take up the office,” he said.
Another official in one of the ministries noted that so many agencies of government are operating without a constituted board. The official said the executive has been written series of reminder letters for the boards of these agencies to be constituted without success.
“Currently, we have more than 80 agencies of government operating without a constituted board. This leaves their chief executives working like caretakers. Huge budgetary allocations are made to these agencies annually and only one person is allowed to determine how such huge sums are disbursed. It creates room for corruption and misappropriation. This is failure on the part of government. Nigeria does not lack people to constitute these boards but I don’t know why the president does not want to do the needful,” the official said.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, executive director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), blamed the executive delay on the handlers of the president’s affairs, and wondered whether it could be an avenue to perpetrate corrupt activities.
“It is clear that those people that are responsible for pushing things are not doing their jobs. I don’t understand why the National Assembly will confirm and send back the information to the Presidency and there is a delay. It is not the president who should write the letter, there are people who should write the letter for the president to sign. There should be division of labour,” Rafsanjani said.
He also pointed to a general lack of seriousness and level of impunity in the current administration.
“Officials do these things and get away with them,” he stressed. “This is also undermining what the president is also supposed to be doing.”
Rafsanjani said this is a huge challenge.
“It is something they need to wake up and there is a need for us to continue to remind them of the lack of ethics on the way and manner their work is being done in the country,” he said.
Rafsanjani also referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) where the former chairman was allowed to work in acting capacity even when the Senate refused to confirm his appointment.
Uche Uwaleke, a university don and former commissioner of finance in Imo State, linked the delay to government bureaucracy.
Uwaleke said that since chief executives have been confirmed and only awaiting the letter to enable them to resume duties, the impact would not be much because there are officials acting in their capacities and just waiting for them to assume office. He, however, noted that the impact of the chief executive would only be felt when it has to do with decisions that would require approval limits.
He averred that the delay in transmitting the letters could be related to the volume of files to treat in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) responsible for writing the letters to confirmed appointees.
“For now I wouldn’t say it’s having any significant impact on the organisations. As we speak, there are people acting in their capacity. If it was a case of no chief executive, one can talk about impact,” he said.
The university don also spoke about the non-appointment of full members of board to complement the job of chief executive officers, saying that one of the reasons the government may have for not constituting boards of so many parastatals is the paucity of funds to operate these boards.
According to him, the boards would exert a lot of financial pressure on the government pocket since the board members have to be paid allowances.
Uwaleke further said most members of the board promote corruption in the organisations they were appointed to by concentrating only on getting all the contracts from that agency.