Lawyers query Buhari on AMCON board jobs
How politics, others influence frequent changes at NNPC
RECENT appointments into the boards of some Federal Government agencies, including those of the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by President Muhammadu Buhari have come under scathing criticisms by some eminent lawyers.
Majority of those who spoke to The Guardian on the issue, described Buhari’s actions as ‘illegal and worrisome.’ Meanwhile, lack of stable organizational goals, unstable tenures and political interference have been identified as factors that have contributed to the appointment of 17 Group Managing Directors (GMDs) for the NNPC within its 38 years of existence.
Lagos based human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said the President appears not to be ready to benefit from legal advice, following those appointments.
He said: “I have been very disturbed with some recent appointments made by the Buhari, especially in relation to the chairperson of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the board of the NNPC and indeed that of AMCON.
It has become very worrisome that, the President would seem not to be eager to benefit from legal advice and guidance from genuine legal minds, given his own orientation as a former military man. “On August 19, 2015, the President purported to appoint some persons into the board of AMCON, in clear violation of the relevant statute, setting up the agency.
Specifically, section 10(1) (C) of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act 2010 provides thus: ‘The board shall consist of the following members to be appointed by the President subject to confirmation of the Senate: three executive directors who shall be nominated by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) in consultation with the Minister.”
He disclosed that because of the violation of the AMCON Act by the President, he would file a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos challenging the appointments.
He will be praying the court for a declaration that the President cannot appoint anyone as Executive Director of AMCON without complying with Section 10(1)C of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act 2010.
According to him, there has been continued violation of Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates that: “there shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.”
He noted that also in section 148, it is stated that the President shall have constant and regular meetings with ministers which is yet to begin due to the fact that the cabinet is not in place. “This is a serious cause for concern, such that almost three months into his tenure, the President has preferred to be a lone ranger, without any minister appointed.’’
Adegboruwa expressed worry that Nigeria has no minister in charge of Finance, “save that the President has sought to usurp the functions of all the persons in charge of the so-called juicy portfolios, contrary to the Constitution.”
He maintained that the office of a Minister is guaranteed by the Constitution and the President cannot on his own decide to govern Nigeria as a dictator, without scant regard for the supreme law of the land, which is the Constitution. “I am currently studying the NNPC Act, to determine the validity of the recent appointments made thereunder, whether there is substantial compliance with the law.
This is to give notice therefore, that I shall, by the grace of God, contest in court, resist through civil campaigns and challenge, through due process, every attempt by those in authority, to govern us in any and manner that is contrary to law,” he declared.
Another human rights activist, Festus Keyamo stated that Section 10 of the AMCON Act, 2010 mandates its appointments to Senate confirmation.
According to him, the section provides for the composition and tenure of the Board of AMCON. “The section provides under subsection (1)(b) that “the board shall consist of the following members to be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate, (b) a Managing Director who shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation nominated by the CBN. “This provision subjects the President’s appointment of the MD of AMCON to Senate’s approval,” he stated.
He also said that Section 3 of the NNPC Act, Cap N123, LFN 2004 provides for the appointment of a Managing Director of NNPC. But a senior advocate of Nigeria, Dr Abiodun Layonu, said though the errors have been committed, the President would definitely subject the appointees to Senate confirmation.
He explained that sometimes, the urgency of filling vacancies would warrant appointments before confirmation. According to him, the most important thing is that those appointments cannot be nullified because they are in acting capacity until they are confirmed by the Senate.
He said the blame for the error should go to the President’s aides. Sharing similar view with Layonu, another lawyer, Chijioke Ndubuisi, said the tenure of the managing director of AMCON has expired, therefore necessitating the appointment of a new one.
He said that the President can still send names to the Senate for confirmation after the appointments have been made. He added that all the appointments are in acting capacity, including that of the INEC.
Frequent changes at NNPC The list of the appointees indicates that almost each successive administration appoints a group that will drive its interests and does not hesitate to discard any of the NNPC management that fails to fulfil this seeming clandestine desire.
Historically, 11 different governments have produced 17 GMDs in 38 years from 1977 to 2015. The roll call include: Festus Marinho (July 1977 – April 1980), Odiligi Lolomari (Apr. 1980 – Aug. 1981), Lawrence Amu (Oct 1981 – Nov. 1985), Mr. Aret Adams (Nov. 1985 – Apr. 1990), Dr. Thomas John (Apr. 1990 – Jun 1990), Edmund Daukoru (Jun. 1992 – Oct. 1993), Chamberlin Oyibo (Nov. 1993 – Aug 1995), Dalhatu Bayero (Aug. 1995 – May 1999), Dr. Jackson Gaius Obaseki (May 1999 – Nov. 2003), Others include: Dr Funsho Kupolokun (Nov. 2003 – Sept. 2007), Abubakar Yar’Adua (Sept. 2007 – Jan 2009), Mohammed Sanusi Bakindo (Jan. 2009 – 2010), Shehu Ladan (Apr. 2010 – May 2010), Austen Oniwon (2010 – 2012), Andrew Yakubu (2012 – 2014), Joseph Dawha (August 2014 – August 2015) and Dr Emmanuel Kachikwu who is presently heading the Corporation.
With an average of a new GMD in every two years and two months within 38 years, 26 months is certainly not enough a period to deliver the implementation of coherent policy direction and fossilisation of organisational goals.
Hence, there has never been enough time for most of the GMDs to crystallise their ideas before they are removed .
The processes start all over again and perhaps a new set of ideas begin altogether which often left the employees in a permanent state of instability.