8 May 2014

Nigeria: Postponed FEC Meeting and Matters Arising


The recent postponement of the scheduled weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting based on the death of Vice President Namadi Sambo's younger brother, Captain Yusuf Sabo Sambo, who died in an accident on April 30 coupled with the executive fiat which ordered the closure of offices and schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja for the World Economic Forum (WEF), for three days from 7th May to 9th May for security reasons and the invitation by the wife of the President, Patience Jonathan, of some women, including the wife of Borno State governor and some public service officials on issues pertaining to the missing Chibok schoolgirls, struck this Newspaper with incredible shock.

This is because we find no reasons for these decisions especially when it is considered that the issue of security has been well taken care of by the government. Moreover, we wonder what constitutes the role of the first lady. The Federal Executive Council is the highest policy decision-making body of the executive arm of government. It provides the direction on the implementation of government authorized programmes and projects. We are therefore surprised that at a time when salient issues especially those concerning the Boko Haram insurgency and the kidnap of hundreds of schoolgirls needed urgent attention, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim, in a statement explained that "the cancellation of the meeting was at the instance of President Goodluck to allow Council members attend the three-day prayer for the deceased." This indeed is quite disappointing and portrays the government as insensitive to the feelings of Nigerians. While we commiserate with the bereaved Sambo family, could the FEC meeting not have been held and its members still find time to pay condolence visits to the bereaved family, especially since it is a three-day prayer programme? We recall that the FEC meeting held when so many Nigerians were killed and maimed by bombs at Nyanya.

Also, the FEC meeting held when insurgents abducted hundreds of Chibok schoolgirls most of who are yet to be rescued. We feel it would have been quite in place for the government to hold the cancelled FEC meeting in line with these meetings that were held. We feel it is time for the government to take the business of governance seriously.

Nigeria is not the first host of the WEF. There is no history of any previous host country shutting off their Capital because of the Forum. Hence, we do not see any justification for government's decision to close up Abuja for whole three days. This is especially since the FCT has been placed under very tight security. Apparently, also, the government did not put into consideration the plight of many Nigerians who subsist on their daily incomes, who will, for three days, make do with the trauma of hunger. We insist that only nationally acceptable cogent reasons should cause such abnormalities to be upheld in Nigeria.

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