In the last week or two, three people have decided for one reason or another to turn down prestigious appointments – two from President Buhari and the other from Governor Ayade of Cross River State. What’s going on here? Most Nigerians would run and fight for prestigious appointments, and then to be nominated and have the effrontery to turn it down, that would be considered stupid.
Well, in the first case, Pauline Tallen, former deputy governor of Plateau State said that she was consulted and had already said that she would not accept the appointment. Her name was not even on the list of nominees as Ambassador. Then, imagine her surprise to hear her name on the radio as having been nominated for an ambassadorial post.
This former minister of science and technology and Labour Party governorship candidate in Plateau in 2011, said:
“I hail from the same local government and tribe with Gov Simon Lalong. I turned down the nomination because of balancing of appointments; I don’t think it is right for me to accept the appointment,” she said.
“Secondly, proper consultation was not done. My governor was not consulted because I called him when he was in United States of America to ask but he said that he was not aware.
“For me, I was consulted and I turned down the appointment even before the announcement was made. My husband’s ill-health is another reason why I will not accept the appointment.”
Okay, kudos for Pauline Tallen, for taking such a principled position. Now, there is the case of Usman Bugaje of Katsina State, also turning down an ambassadorial position. He said he didn’t want to state his reason in public.
Finally, we have the case of Attah Ochinke, former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Cross River State, who turned down his appointment as Chairman of the Cross River State Diaspora Fund Board. He simply issued a statement after his name was announced:
“My attention has this morning been drawn to radio announcements to the effect that I have been appointed Chairman of the Cross River State Diaspora Fund Board by His Excellency Governor Ben Ayade.
While I thank the Governor for having confidence in my capacity by giving me this appointment, I am unable to accept this responsibility. I have had the privilege to express my views on the size of government in private discussions with Governor Ayade. I still hold those views. I have also provided the Governor at those discussions with additional reasons why I cannot take an appointment at this time.
Those reasons remain valid and I will keep them private still. Meanwhile I thank all well wishers that have called me to congratulate me on this appointment. Your affection is appreciated and I hope you show me understanding in my decision. I will continue to support the government for our common good.
I make this decision confident that there are very capable citizens that can step in and take my place. Thank you all and thank you Your Excellency.”
The question is have we entered a new era in Nigeria where principled individuals don’t feel being drawn into the swamp of political office?