14 June 2019

Nigeria: Buhari Yet to Make Appointments, 2 Weeks After

President Muhammadu Buhari is still silent over appointments usually made soon after inauguration for first or second term in office, a clear departure from what his predecessors did.

Past presidents including Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru 'Yar'adua and Goodluck Jonathan made key appointments soon after they took the oath of office, especially appointments that do not require clearance by the National Assembly like SGF, Chief of Staff and Spokesmen.

Ahead of his swearing-in for second term on May 29, President Buhari had during valedictory session with ministers directed all his appointees to vacate their offices by May 28.

However, some of them remained in their offices till date, carrying out official duties even though there was no official announcement that they had been retained.

There were expectations that the president will immediately after the June 12 celebrations announce some appointments, and probably transmit names of his prospective ministers to the National Assembly.

When he won a second term, ex- President Obasanjo announced the reappointment of his key aides six days after he took the oath of office.

He was sworn-in on Thursday, May 29, 2003 for his second and he made his first appointments on Tuesday, June 3, 2003.

The appointments were made public via a presidential statement in which Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed was asked to continue as Head of Service; Chief Uffot Ekaette was retained as Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Major-General Abdullahi Mohammed (rtd.) continued to serve as Chief of Staff (COS) in the Presidential Villa.

Sources said it was after the reappointment that the three aides resumed duties in their respective offices.

Speaking on recent developments, Ahmed Raji (SAN) stated that if the president was okay with his appointees that do not require approval by the National Assembly, he could continue with them.

"It is only the ministers that he reappoints and submits their names (to the National Assembly). You don't take the name of the SGF to the Senate, he (president) does not take the name of the National Security Adviser to the Senate or the name of the Press Secretary to the Senate for confirmation. Such ones, the constitution only limits the number; none confirmatory appoints, they can continue, they are at his pleasure," he said.

Also, Abeny Mohammed (SAN) said special advisers were personal, and if the president wanted to continue with them, there wouldn't be any problem because their appointment does not require National Assembly approval.

Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq. stated that by the provision of Section 151(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), aides such as special advisers to the president were appointed at the pleasure of the president and should cease when the president ceased to hold office.

He said since the president, who had been re-elected and inaugurated for a second term did not relieved the aides of their appointments, it showed he was still pleased with them in their respective offices.

"More so, the appointment of a special adviser by the president is only made by the president at his discretion and pleasure without the confirmation or approval or recommendation of any other person," he said.

But Mike Enahoro Eba Esq. disagrees that the aides of the president could continue to function without fresh appointment based on the provisions of Section 171 (2) Paragraph E of the 1999 Constitution.

"For them to function in that capacity, there must be fresh appointment. The president won election, why didn't he just continue without taking fresh oath of office? So, these guys cannot continue to sit there under the previous mandate they were appointment," Enahoro-Eba said.

"Their stay is dependent on the president and if he is under obligation to take fresh oath after his tenure ended on May 29, then they cannot be there in perpetuity," he added.

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