Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir David Lawal has been dismissed from office as chairman of the presidential committee on the reconstitution of federal government boards of parastatals, agencies and commissions by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The report further stated that he will now be replaced by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as chairman.
“The SGF is no longer in charge of that responsibility, for obvious reasons,” one of the sources said. Also, the chairman of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agencies (NDLEA) Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah was also appointed to head the secretariat of the committee at the instance of the vice president, a source said.
The Abdallah-led team now meets frequently at Wuse II, Abuja, it was learned. Another source said the committee “is working vigorously and will soon conclude its work after which it will submit its report to Mr President.”
This comes after allegations of fraud were leveled against the SGF forcing the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to query the him over alleged fraud at the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).
The Senate ad-hoc committee on mounting crisis of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Northeast had accused the SGF of several misdeeds including failing to account for N2.5 billion PINE funds. The SGF had however denied all the allegations.
Buhari had in October, 2015 empowered an eight-member committee, headed by Babachir, to compile names of prospective appointees into federal government boards, parastatals and agencies.Members of the committee included 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.
Following widespread complaints from various quarters on how the Babachir committee was handling the collation of names for the boards’ appointment, Buhari had in November, 2016 mandated Vice President Osinbajo to meet critical stakeholders and sort out the matter once and for all.
It was gathered that Buhari also directed that 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 should be part of the committee.
They were directed to review the names of the prospective appointees collated from the 36 states and FCT which was reportedly done without recourse to governors and other stakeholders of the APC. Sources said Buhari decided to handle the matter at “high level” in order to douse tension.
“The fact is that the SGF committee, to a great extent, forgot the issue at stake. They forgot that the 2015 general election was handled by members of the APC Presidential Campaign Council who should be compensated,” a source at the party’s secretariat, said.
The source lamented that most of them were “flagrantly forgotten and even sitting governors, especially in APC states were not consulted.”
In order to address the lingering issues, the Osinbajo-led committee held their first meeting on November 14, 2015 at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Thereafter, it was gathered that six geopolitical zones nominated a governor to represent them during subsequent brainstorming. The governors reportedly nominated a representative thus: Jibrilla Bindow (northeast), Atiku Bagudu (northwest), Simon Lalong (northcentral), Rochas Okorocha (southeast), Adams Oshiomhole (south-south), and Akinwumi Ambode (southwest).
A source from Bauchi state said in one of the meetings, all the APC governors were given a slot to nominate three people to be appointed chairmen of boards and 20 others as members. This, he said, was besides the slot given to ministers and other top APC members, in addition to those that would be selected by the president himself.
“In our state for instance, the governor had already nominated three people from the three senatorial districts for chairmanship and has also given one slot of membership to all the 20 local government areas in the state,” the source said. But an alleged compromise by the committee was said to have prompted president Buhari to reject the first report submitted by the SGF-led committee at that time.
“Most people of the party felt that they have not been carried along. I know that many of them complain every day. They want board appointments released so that there will be calm. The people from the southeast said they have not been appointed; the people from the northeast and even from the northwest where Mr. President comes from said that they have not been appointed,” he said.
A top government official said last night that the SGF’s committee on the board appointments had finished its job as dictated in the mandate setting it up and has submitted its report.
“I am not denying the protests by some individuals and groups, but the committee of the SGF has completed its assignment and the Vice President’s committee is not a replacement for the SGF’s,” the officials who insisted on not being named said. A committee headed by Osinbajo to review the appointments into the Governing Board of agencies is not an indictment of the SGF.