Monday March 08, 2021 4:34 AM

“Enough is enough, Buhari’s lopsided appointments should stop,”- Groups, individuals lament

Some groups and individuals have lamented lopsided appointments under the Buhari administration.

Many groups, associations and individuals are of the opinion that major appointments are skewed in favour of a particular section of the country. This has generated controversy.

The alleged lopsidedness has attracted condemnation by the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN); Ohanaeze Ndigbo, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF).

These groups have been lamenting government’s insensitivity to the federal character principle.

In 2015, an Abuja-based lawyer, Dim-Udebuani Marcel, had sued President Muhammadu Buhari for “favouring a section of the country against others in the appointments he made.”

The recent nomination of Diana Okonta as a non-Executive Director at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation amidsuspicion that the outgoing Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Umaru Ibrahim, was plotting a comeback after 31 years in service, has been criticised in the agency.

The NDIC is an independent agency of the Federal Government set up to protect depositors and guarantee the settlement of insured funds, when a deposit-taking financial institution can no longer repay their deposits, thereby helping to maintain financial system stability.

Aggrieved members of staff in the agency are alleging a plot by the out-going Managing Director/Chief Executive to seek extension of his tenure.

Many believe he has served meritoriously. But, others in the agency also debunked the rumour, saying that the chief executive is being blackmailed.

Sources said despite the fact that Ibrahim, an indigene of Kano State, is due for retirement later in the year, he harbours an ambition to return to the NDIC Board after spending over 31 years in the corporation.

Ibrahim is a competent technocrat. He holds a Bachelor’s degree (1974) and Master in Public Administration (1977) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

He worked in the Kano State public service for 10 years, rose to the position of Permanent Secretary and joined NDIC in 1989 as a Deputy Director in charge of Finance and Technical Supports. Therefore, he possesses the requisite qualification.

But, the concern of critics is that the agency is fast becoming a fiefdom of sorts.

Ibrahim joined the NDIC in May 1989 as a Deputy Director and Head in charge of Financial and Technical Support Department, which was one of the key operational departments of the corporation. He rose to the position of a Director in charge of the Administration Department in 1991.

Between 1992 and 2007, he headed other departments, including the Human Resource and Corporate Development Departments.

Between September 1995 and September 1996, he was appointed Executive Director (Finance and Administration) in the defunct First African Trust Bank.

He was later appointed as the Executive Director of the Corporation in charge of Corporate Services, where his responsibilities included General Administration, Human Resource Management, Information Technology and Finance functions.

In December 2009, Ibrahim was appointed the Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation, following the expiration of the term of the erstwhile MD/CEO. He was appointed Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer on December 8, 2010.

Ibrahim posesses enviable technical and management expertise obtained at courses attended in some prestigious institutions, both at the national and international levels.

These include which were the ESSEC Graduate Business School, France; Templeton College of Oxford University, UK and International Centre for Banking and Financial Services, Manchester University.

Others were Royal Institute of Public Administration, London; International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland; INSEAD France, ROSS School of Business, University of Michigan USA, University of Cranfield UK and the highly prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.

After completing his first five-year tenure, President Buhari, in January 2016, asked him to stay back and continue managing the corporation in acting capacity.

He later asked the Senate to confirm his reappointment as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NDIC in a letter to former Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Saraki quoted the president as saying the reappointment of Ibrahim was in accordance with Section 5, Subsection 4 and Section 8, Subsection 3 of the NDIC Act.

Following the nomination of two persons-Diana Okonta and Ya’ana Yaro-as NDIC non-Executive Directors recently by the president, there were reactions. Okonta represents the Southsouth while Yaro represents the Northeast.

Okonta retired in December 2019 as Finance Director from the same Corporation.

Critics alleged that her appointment was influenced by Ibrahim to replace Festus Keyamo (SAN), following his appointment as Minister of State.

They said the searchlight should be beamed on the appointment of Okonta, who joined NDIC from Leventis as Manager.

She was a Principal Manager at the Insurance Surveillance Department of NDIC in 2009 and earned promotions thrice over a period of five years to become Director of Finance in 2012.

Her superiors, including Ayoola Abiola, Abiodun Longe and Peter Ngadda, did not enjoy the same privilege.

Sources said while Okonta enjoyed promotions because she was highly favoured, and had privileges of attending many courses, other colleagues were sidelined and never had those privileges.

“Okonta served as Director of Finance for seven years and retired in December 2019. Less than six months after her retirement, she was nominated as a Non-Executive Director to fill the slot of the Southssouth. This is despite the fact that she is entitled to her full benefits upon retirement.

However, another source said the non-executive director has only become a subject of envy by detractors because of her profile. She is competent and eminently qualified for any responsible position, added the source.

A critic, Jesse Udegbe, said while President Buhari meant well, there is a need for him to look into Okonta’s appointment.

He said: “Irrespective of whatever good intentions the duo of Ibrahim and Okonta may have for NDIC, nobody should be able to perpetuate himself or herself in the agency.”

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