Amajor review in the way and manner appointments are made to major financial regulatory institutions in the country is quietly being canvassed and kite flown in the wake of unfolding developments at both the National Pension Commission (PenCom) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Those who are championing the push say the regulatory institutions have had appointments to their leadership often shrouded in secrecy, tainted by political, ethnic and religious influences; and in a few serious cases had led to incompetent people occupying such regulatory positions or that the individuals so appointed become beholden to their political masters at the detriment of the economy, Nigerians and the country as a whole.
business a.m. learnt that those behind the push are planning to lobby the National Assembly to work on a bill that would change the way and manner certain appointments are made, especially to reduce the degree at which incompetent people find their way into such positions. They say they are canvassing that appointments to such offices as the office of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Director General of National Pension Commission (PenCom), the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Commissioner for Insurance/CEO of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), should be professionalised and detached from political scheming where sometimes party members are appointed and every sense of professionalism is thrown to the dogs.
The advocates of this new push also say that they would like to see a proper professional headhunting scheme put in place with a rigorous selection process that would be carried out by globally recognised and tested independent professional headhunting firms.
“Every of this position is tenured. It means that once someone is appointed, he or she knows how long they will serve; and government which makes the final announcement knows how long too. So, I believe one or two years to the end of the tenure of an incumbent, a recruitment, headhunting process ought to kick in. The appointee often signs a contract before taking up the appointment and as such if it is an appointment requiring two terms for an individual, he or she should be able to indicate that they are interested in serving a second term and their first term performance would be evaluated for a consideration to extend,” said someone close to the champions of this new move.
One source told business a.m. that the overarching motive for this push is that the best is sought for these regulatory positions especially because there are millions of competent Nigerians in different parts of the world who ought to be allowed an opportunity to offer service. Besides, they say it is in the best interest of the generality of the citizens that these positions are clearly apolitical.
The promoters of the idea know that they have their work cut out as they believe that they are up against much opposition already, who are largely beneficiaries of patronage often dispensed under political, ethnic and religious cloaks. “We know there will be much opposition against us, but we think that it is about time that we began to look at certain regulatory institutions, especially those to do with financial regulation like the CBN, SEC, NAICOM, PenCom, to see that appointments into their leadership are more professionally done,” said one of the promoters of this initiative.
But this push comes on the back of two recent developments at the National Pension Commission, where a group last week leaked a petition sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in which they alleged a number of untoward developments at PenCom, literally calling out the acting director general for certain misdemeanours. The EFCC is yet to respond if it is going to act on the petition, but a number of damning allegation were made against the acting director general, Aisha Dahiru-Umar.
One particular allegation that the group, which calls itself The Pension Reform Advocacy Group, made against the acting director general bothers on incompetence, with the group alleging that she was not qualified to occupy the office. Those who are asking for a more professional way of recruiting people into these regulatory institutions say this and many others are the reasons why the time is calling for a change to be made and that proper headhunting of professionally competent people is the way to go.
At the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the executive secretary, Usman Yusuf, a cerebral professor, who many believe should be competent, is also facing accusations from a number of people who allege that he is corrupt. However, in both cases fingers are being pointed at the way and manner those appointments were made – they were shrouded in secrecy, not advertised and no known selection interviews were held.
Kenneth Amaeshi, director of the Sustainable Business Initiative, and a full professor at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, told business a.m. that the idea to subject such appointments to professional headhunting is a welcomed one. “It’s a good idea,” he simply said.
“On face value, therefore, it is fair to say that this system of leadership by seniority is not a good way to run an organisation. Research evidence shows that competition brings out the best in people. Competition affords people the opportunity to demonstrate how best they can contribute to the growth of an organisation, and offers an organisation an opportunity to choose from a pool of competent people,” Amaeshi further said.