Of all reactions to the shameful list released by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government on Friday, December 29, 2017, I think the one from Mrs. Anna Okpozo; wife of the late Senator Frank Okpozo who died on December 26, 2016 is perhaps the most comical. It is also one that offers critical lessons of an accident that rabid supporters of our president do not see as something serious.
Mrs. Okpozo, in an interview with The Nation newspaper as reported in the paper’s edition of December 31 last year, asked that President Buhari should replace her husband’s name with a family member. Before you fall off your chair if you’re reading this sitting down, the woman graciously informed us also that her son, Harrison Okpozo, was equally appointed as a member of the Board of National Commission for Museums and Monuments. So to Mama Okpozo, having a son as a board member is not enough, her late husband’s slot must be kept in the family like an heirloom that must be passed from one generation to another. She, however, added a clincher, “He’s gone, the living can forge ahead,” words that one can only hope that our president and his party would put to mind.
Possibly, presidential image handlers felt that a way to take Nigerians’ minds off the intractable fuel scarcity which nearly brought Nigeria to her knees, was releasing a list of board appointments. For those who thought that such appointments should not be the exclusive preserve of APC members and sympathizers, they need to wake up and smell the coffee. If you did not join in preparing a meal nor provided money for condiments, why must you expect to be fed from the resulting meal? Politics is an avenue to reward patronage; our concern should only focus mainly on the quality of those appointed to such boards and that is why we should be worried that dead people featured on the list. As at the last count, about six people have been identified as dead, yet our president believed they are the ones to take Nigeria to the next level.
In 1982, criminologist James Q. Wilson and George Kelling wrote an article titled Broken Window which gave rise to the Broken Window Theory. The theory argues that a broken window left unrepaired will make a building look uncared for or abandoned and soon attract vandals to break all the other windows. That’s the import of what the government did as 2017 ended and just as I lamented two weeks ago that little things unattended to will later boomeranged to serious problems, inattention and slackness in simple matters like cleaning up a list prepared over two years ago is an indication that more serious issues are not getting the required attention in governance matters. By the way, the interview granted by a professor of law and an unofficial spokesman of this government is better left without a response especially considering the fact that he called those who were outraged as “stupid” which say so much about his person than those he decided to call names.
Attempts at pinning the blame on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo too were just ways of pulling the wool over our eyes. My findings showed that truly Osinbajo’s office worked on the list and he actually met some of the appointees but after his office presented the list to Buhari, the president fell sick and the announcement could not be made. By the time the president came back, he gave the list back to Osinbajo who I learnt tidied it up and submitted to Buhari but Aso Rock politics prevented the list form being released immediately. The Young Turks of South West- as they are known- a group of politicians includingsome current and former governors and some ministers, tinkered with the list having been asked to do so by some close associates of President Buhari. The result is what was released wherein dead people names and some who have been appointed to other offices were also appointed to some boards. A former governor in the south west was said to have packed the list with three of his women friends in total disregard of equity and fairness.
The list released last week did not also take care of party interests as I heard that governors had too much leeway allowing them to tinker with it at the detriment of other interests. So, once more, power play between Osinbajo and Buhari teams left the government with a black eye and a rather pathetic end to the year. Hopefully lessons have been learnt and little things will no longer be ignored in governance.
Have a wonderful 2018.