Experts say that the expressed resolve of the Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government to rid the nation of official corruption, especially in government institutions, would be best upheld by putting firm corporate governance structures in place to ensure that the system runs properly and ethically.
They add that one of the pillars of such a structure would be to ensure that carefully selected individuals are appointed to the boards of government agencies.
They say that in the past, such appointments tended to be dished out to political and personal cronies who lacked the knowledge, experience and integrity to steer these insitutions in the path of probity, accountability and profitability.
Sam Ohuabunwa, founding chairman of Neimeth international pharmaceutical plc,a seasoned member of boards of private and public sector institutions and BusinessDay columnist has lamented that “many public sector boards pay insufficient attention to good corporate governance”.
This failure is not surprising, he says, as many appointees to these boards are there “for purely political reasons, no requisite experience on the subject matter, no understanding of what boards do and many never managed any serious businesses or organisations in the past.”
Victor Ukaogo, professor of History and Internationtional Relations at the Federal University Wukari, Taraba State, believes strongly that the “body language of the leader” is what is required to create a paradigm change in society. If the President continues to lead by example, every public official will toe the line.
Ukaogo however urges the President to appoint members of boards for government institutions from a pool of technocrats and professionals that are in profusion in the country, those having pedigree and reputation to protect not from the ranks of “professional politicians” who merely hang on the corridors of power for selfish ends.
“The process of appointing public office holders is largely opaque, since the appointments are made largely to compensate contribution to electoral victory. It is the responsibility of the President or Governors who make such appointments to choose office holders that can help deliver on their collective electoral campaign promises,” says Boladeola Agbola, executive director, Cashcraft Asset Management.
Agbola adds, “a President or Governor that gets his team right should comfortably win the next poll, either for re-election or for his party to continue in government.”
Olufemi Olawore, executive secretary of Major Oil Marketing Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) says that every government agency has an Act of parliament establishing it, which prescribes how the board should be constituted and this Act should be followed.
Olawore believes that every board of a government agency should give proper direction and the board members and the management should perform their specified functions as prescribed by the Acts, knowing that “Big Brother is watching”.
For Olawore the boards of government institutions “shouldn’t be populated by politicians”.
Nigeria and indeed Africa have since been plagued by the phenomenal deficit of corporate governance practices, weak public institutions, gross and rising inequality, fuelled by a leadership elite that is self serving and corrupt.
In the case of Nigeria, billions of naira in public funds have been looted by government officials in a system where checks and balances are absent and public institutions are mere instruments of graft and sleaze.
The reckless appointment of persons to boards of government agencies has been an unfortunate trend in country governance in Nigeria and has denied government institutions the benefit of good corporate practices that would have resulted if credible, resourceful and experienced people, devoid of opportunistic tendencies had found themselves in the boards of these institutions, governance watchers say.