President Mohammadu Buhari has admitted and apologised for the errors made in listing late Senator Francis Okpozu and two others among chairmen and members of boards of government agencies and parastatals.
The President’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu admitted the errors and said “no human undertaking can be free of mistakes”, adding the errors noticed were not enough to describe the exercise as scandalous, insisting that “there is no scandal.”
Shehu noted that the names of dead appointees in the list came about because the list had been compiled by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal for over a year now.
According to him, “the list has a history” which explained 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,” Shehu said.
He 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”.
Shehu 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.
“The current SGF was only directed to complete that process by releasing the list which he apparently did without altering it,” Mallam Shehu explained.
Three names of dead persons were contained in the list. Among them was Senator Francis Okpozo. He was appointed chairman of the Nigerian Press Council.
Okpozo, a Second Republic Senator from Delta state died in December 2016 at the age of 81. President Muhammadu Buhari sent a letter of condolence to the family and eulogised him for championing social justice in the Niger Delta, during his long history of service to the people.
Chief Donald Ugbaja, appointed a member of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), died on the 29th of November, 2017.
Reverend Christopher Utov who was appointed member of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, died in March of 2017.
President Muhammadu Buhari had set up in October 2015 a Presidential Committee headed by the former SGF, Babachir Lawal to recommend people to be appointed to government boards and agencies. Members of the board were drawn from the six geo-political Zones of the Federation.
The members were Alhaji Mai Mala Buni (northeast), Alhaji Zakari Ede (northcentral), Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir (northwest), Chief Hillard Etagbo Eta (south-south), Chief Pius Akinyelure (southwest), Chief Emmanuel Eneukwe (southeast) and Mr. Gideon Sammani, a senior special assistant to the president as secretary
In November 2016, President Buhari removed Babachir from headship of the committee, following some allegations made against Babachir.
Vice President Osinbajo was asked to take over. The chairman of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agencies (NDLEA) Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah was also appointed to head the secretariat of the committee.
Part of Osinbajo’s mandate was to meet all the stakeholders, including the Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman Abdulaziz Yari, APC Governors Forum Chairman Rochas Okorocha and representatives of the governors in each of the six geopolitical zones.