I changed the title of this article midway, from “Presidential Pardons and Appointments – What is our benchmark?”, to its present title, which I consider more appropriate, as the President is not alone in this.  He is not alone in appointing or pardoning his kith and kin.  We simply do not have benchmarks for appointments in Nigeria, and this cuts across Parties, whether ACN or PDP, CPC, APC, ASPIRIN, CODEINE or PHENSIC.

It is a general malaise plaguing the country that appointments are based, not usually on merit (I don’t mean paper qualifications), but on who you know, or ‘man know man’, or based on family ties or patronage.  Many examples abound all over the country.  There is the case of a sole proprietor of a Political party, who single-handedly decides who becomes Governor or Commissioner or elected representative.  This same sole proprietor has no qualms in also selecting his kith and kin, including his wife, children and in-Laws into the Government or the National Assembly.  These types of appointments are known as NEPOTISM!  And NEPOTISM is a form of corruption, and a product of a corrupt mind!

There is also the case of a Governor in the Southwest who has a penchant for appointing children of famous people into his Government as Commissioners and advisers.  These appointments were never based on records of THEIR OWN PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS, but on their parent’s achievements.  These are appointments based on patronage.

Another bizarre one was the appointment of the President’s wife as a Perm Secretary, without QUALIFICATIONS.  By this, I mean, a thoroughbred, on the job EXPERIENCE!  I am not afraid to expose or say these things, and hope someone from the Northern region would equally expose similar cases, as I have done about the few examples that I know of.

The President is equally guilty of this, albeit, to a lesser extent or degree, by his appointment of Mrs Bianca Onoh Ojukwu as Ambassador of Spain.  I have written about this before, and explained my concerns about the appointment.  I did not believe she had the requisite experience or had the basic minimum, which should include speaking Spanish.   I doubt the British Government would appoint a person as Ambassador that is not even fluent in the Language of the host country, as a minimum requirement.  Imagine if the British High Commissioner to Nigeria needs an interpreter to communicate.   What is the point?  It would involve unnecessary extra cost to hire interpreters.  Of what use is it to appoint a person an Ambassador of a country, who can’t even read their newspapers or understand their news? 

My concern is not personal.  I don’t know her at all.  However, I am not sure that she has ever been in a position where she had to manage or supervise more than 10 people before, in a work environment, how much more, an Embassy, with numerous aides and staff, including career diplomats.  I stand to be corrected if I am wrong.  Maybe I wouldn’t have minded much, if she was posted to head a mission, like Gambia, or another small country, before being posted to a major European country like Spain.  I have no issue also with the President rewarding her (another form of patronage) for the support that her husband’s party gave him during the 2011 elections.  That is politics!  The Coalition Government in UK have a give and take arrangement.  But not by rewarding her with such a bogus appointment.

I’ll give an example of a fine and right appointment.  Until Sir Christopher Kolade, a super-Administrator, was posted to the Nigerian High Commission, did systems begin to improve there.  I had cause to visit the High Commission before and after his tenure, and the difference was as clear as daylight and darkness.  Before his time, the Commission was a complete contrast from the rest of the British society.  An experience in there, used to seem like one was back in Nigeria, and I always used to wonder whether the staff do not mix or go out into the British society, like go to the banks and the stores?  I used to wonder whether they do not see how customer service is delivered, so that they too could emulate these good standards and practises.  But since Sir Kolade, the High Commission changed, and became a different place.  On my last visit there, last year, I felt proud being a Nigerian, and openly commended the systems, which is now just a shade different from the rest of Britain.  This is the product of appointing the right persons or people into positions.

I have written about our appointment systems in Nigeria before, and have continued to go on about it, that I am almost sounding hoarse.  And because I have written so much about it, some people even accused me of seeking to be noticed for appointment.  What silliness!  They attack the messenger, rather than listen and deal with the message.   An excerpt from my written work goes, “Is Nigeria regressing or progressing with these types of appointments?  I have written before about our appointment system in Nigeria, and blamed it as the bane of the country's underdevelopment.  Appointing people without the requisite experience or skills, or appointing those that have a history of failures is not good for the country.  This is the same as appointing people because of political patronage.  This would only spell mediocrity and ineptitude, and bring about more inefficiencies.  It is tantamount to putting square pegs in round holes.  It would not work”.

I also faulted the appointment of the new NSA who, events have now shown, is not different from those before him.  Rather, under him, terrorism has assumed a new dimension, and is now almost a full scale war.  I did not believe a rtd Colonel (who retired over 20 years ago) was good enough.  I have been proven right.  I can imagine how he will sound when he is with Generals and the Service Chiefs.  He would seem like fish out of water, and out of his depth, when it comes to discussing strategies.  It is like expecting Prof Wole Soyinka to engage a secondary school graduate in a debate or to plan strategies.  What can he contribute or offer or bring to the table?  The NSA is supposed to know more than a President, as an ADVISER.  His role or duty is to ADVISE THE PRESIDENT ABOUT SECURITY MATTERS OR ISSUES!  He should even know more than the SERVICE CHIEFS about SECURITY STRATEGIES!  That is a very powerful and important position!

Sadly, it is these wrong appointments that throw up the ‘MY OGAS AT THE TOP’ type of people in positions of leadership or command.  If the head is empty, the rest of the body is as good as dead!  Our practice of FEDERAL CHARACTER AND QUOTA SYSTEM (INSTEAD OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES, AS WE HAVE IN BRITAIN) is another reason why mediocrity abounds in the country.  When the wrong people and UNQUALIFIED are put in positions that is beyond their depth, what else can one expect, but MEDIOCRITY?

Moving to the issue of ‘Pardon’, the recent Presidential pardon comes to mind.  I was one of the strongest critics of the ‘pardon’ (and still am).  But having listened to arguments from the other side, one can begin to see a much bigger picture.  The other side argues thus, ‘Why is it that only Alams (pardon me for not being able to spell his mouthful name) was convicted out of all the corrupt Governors (about 31 of them) indicted under Ribadu’s EFCC?’.  Fair point!   Some argued that ‘if the Nigerian society has pardoned those other corrupt people, including Atiku (my addition) and others that have found their way into Parliament, why shouldn’t the President pardon Alams (his confessed mentor)?’.  Another fair point!  Others have also pointed out and even asked me, ‘If I was the President, and I see such injustice (or selective Justice) meted to my ‘person’ or my own, would I not right this INJUSTICE or SELECTIVE JUSTICE?’.  Fair question!

The last question actually threw me off guard, and made me think very hard!  Yes, I thought very deep and hard.  A bigger question arising from that is, ‘IS SELECTIVE JUSTICE AN INJUSTICE’?   Yes, I see the points and merits in the argument that these people seem to be making.   However, my benchmark would not permit me to use a wrong to correct another wrong.  Two wrongs do not ever make a right in my books!  My benchmark of ‘NO SCAPEGOATS and NO SACRED-COWS’ would not allow me to pardon Alams, even if he were my son or brother.   I will leave the pardon to someone else, if at all!

Then again, maybe I say this, because it hasn’t happened to me.  But I am not a neophyte.  I have managed over 100 people in the UK, and I only know of one standard or benchmark to use or apply, which is the EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES STANDARD.  I treat everyone EQUALLY.  No preferential or differential treatment, but one standard.  The same standard that I apply to a white or green man, I also apply to a black man or red man.  I apply the same disciplinary standards to both a white man and a black man.  So, I know what I will do!

If I was the President, the other 31 Governors, and the Atikus and others, would join Alams, in receiving their own share of punishment for fleecing and raping the country.  Everyone seems to have forgotten about ATIKU and his indictment by the EFCC and the US Government.  He played the VICTIM CARD so well in Nigeria!  BUT WAS HE ALSO A VICTIM IN THE US?  We all seem to have forgotten about IYABO OBASANJO, BANKOLE, KALU, DARIYE and many others before them.   IBB has been forgotten too.

What a country, where we have no standards or benchmark.  Where anything goes.  Where brown envelopes exchange hands.  Where contracts are inflated, for settlement purpose.  Where Legislators embezzle in billions and yet still sit in the house of ‘Honourable’ members to legislate for you and me.  Where the Police wait to be told how to do their jobs.  Where a band of terrorists hold a section of the country to ransom, even where there are ‘leaders’ and elders in the region.  What a country, where a small terrorist group run the security agencies ragged, 3 YEARS ON!  What a country!

Article reference: No reference available

Artice title: Appointments And Pardons – What Is Our Benchmark?