House: Failure to Constitute Boards of Parastatals Hurting Economy

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Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to re-constitute boards of agencies and parastatals over a year after their dissolution is hurting the national economy and slowing down its recovery.
This was the position of the House of Representatives at plenary last Tuesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Abdullahi Umar Faruk (Kebbi APC) who called for the re-constitution of the boards as soon as possible.

Faruk listed some of the agencies and parastatals to include Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), and National Universities Commission (NUC), among others.

The lack of governing boards, the lawmaker said, had caused avoidable challenges to the operations of the agencies, since critical decisions which require the board’s attention, are not attended to despite the critical position of the economy.

“The continued failure to reconstitute the boards poses great economic disservice to the nation and the directive for matters requiring the attention of the boards to be referred to the president is unwieldy and will tend to over labour the president, thereby slowing the pace of the work of the parastatals,” Faruk said.

Contributing to the debate, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (Enugu PDP) said the current situation of running the parastatals amounts to abiding by the ‘rule of one man instead of the rule of law.’

“It took this same government six months to appoint ministers and you can see what that has caused the country now. The repercussion of these miscalculations has led to the suffering of Nigerians because what we now have is the rule of men, not the rule of law. If the boards are constituted, the country will move forward but what we have now is a roller coaster situation,” he argued.

Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje (Abia PDP) noted that the failure to constitute the boards translate to subverting national laws as several of the agencies were established by Acts of Parliament.

“Obama said it all when he declared that Africans need strong institutions not strong men to run its affairs. The whole thing is fast looking like a one man show as if we do not have structures for democracy in this country,” she said.

Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor said the failure to constitute the Boards border on the fundamentals of good governance.

“What we are seeing now is the somersault of the Adams Smith theory of division of labour. There is need to put square pegs in square holes to move us forward from this precarious situation we have found ourselves,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun however rose to the defence of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government, saying appointments were delayed due to the dwindling revenues.
“Everybody knows that the situation we met on ground was not good and I believe that once the resources are available the boards will be re-constituted,” Lasun said.

Hon. Sadiq Ibrahim (Adamawa APC) also attempted to defend his party and noted that those who have spoken on the motion have ulterior “motives and intentions,” from the position of the sponsor.
His choice of words however drew the ire of Ogor, who called for the withdrawal of the offending words, insisting he contributed to the debate as a patriotic Nigerian.
Ibrahim however attempted to continue speaking, leading to protests by several lawmakers who refused to let him continue.

He however withdrew the comment after the intervention of Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Dogara, who presided, also noted that several agencies have performed below expectations, adding that President Buhari needs to take his time to appoint the right people.
The matter was referred to the Committee on Governmental Affairs.