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Daily Trust reported last week that about 50 federal agencies are presently being run by acting Chief Executive Officers [CEOs] months or years after their substantive heads either retired or were sacked. This situation does not portray government in good light, coming as it does eight months after President Muhammadu Buhari announced that he will appoint more ministers into his cabinet and also make board appointments. He made this disclosure during the National Executive Committee [NEC] meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on October 31, last year.
Daily Trust of Wednesday, June 27, 2018 reported that 12 out of the 50 agencies without substantive heads are under the federal ministry of education; 11 in the ministry of power, works and housing, two in the ministry of information and culture while the remaining ones are under the Presidency and Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF.
The two federal anti-graft agencies, namely Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have both been led by acting CEOs for more than two years. The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) which is the pioneer federal anti-corruption agency charged with the responsibility of checking corrupt practices in the Nigerian public service has also been without a substantive head.
In the finance sector, National Pension Commission [PenCom] and Fiscal Responsibilities Commission (FRC) are run by acting heads after their chief executives were removed. While PenCom regulates, supervises and ensures effective administration of pension matters in Nigeria, FRC was established to provide prudent management of the nation’s resources, ensure macroeconomic stability of the national economy and to also enhance greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations within the country’s mid-term fiscal policy framework.
Many of these federal agencies that have been without substantive heads are critical actors in the various sectors of the country’s economy including finance, anti-corruption, governance, infrastructural development, agriculture, science and technology. Despite government pledges on ‘ease of doing business’ in the country, Corporate Affairs Commission [CAC] which is the agency responsible for regulating the formation and management of businesses in Nigeria has been without a substantive head. The Federal Character Commission (FCC), a constitutional body established to implement and enforce the federal character principle of fairness and equity in the distribution of public offices among the various federating units in Nigeria has been under an acting chairman for over two years.
Public officers appointed to head agencies on acting capacity have limited financial and administrative powers. Their decisions on many matters require the approval of the supervising minister of the affected agency. This affects the machinery of government as the implementation of time-bound policies and programs is subjected to undue administrative delays. The situation is further worsened if such agencies are left without governing boards.
The boards of many of these agencies have also not been reconstituted. This has operational implications for the day-to-day running of affected agencies because the boards are responsible for setting out broad economic, financial, operational and administrative guidelines including targets for the various agencies. While we urge President Buhari to expedite action on the appointment of substantive chief executives for agencies being run by acting heads, it should be remembered that the laws guiding every appointment must strictly be complied with including (where applicable) placement of adverts in national dailies.
The large number of agencies involved should not be an excuse to by-pass any procedure. We call on both the Senate and the Presidency to amicably resolve the long-standing cold war between them to allow for prompt and smooth running of government machinery. The onus is on President Buhari to initiate measures that will lead to sustainable working relationship between the two arms of government they lead, because as an Executive President he has the largest responsibility to entrench good governance.