Veteran And Mega Ministers
“Your choice of people you associate with will have more impact on what you become than any other single factor.” –Brian Tracy
“Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners.” –1 Corinthians 15:33
One of Nigeria’s most respected and eminent men of God, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, once said; “Nobody must be the reason why you fail in life.” It has been spiritually and psychologically ascertained that when a man fails in life, his friends and associates are the first set of suspects. One of the marks of great leaders is the ability to surround themselves with very competent people. An authentic companion and associate must be willing to ‘hurt’ you with the truth but never comfort you with a lie. One of the major undoing of previous dispensations was that the former presidents surrounded themselves with serial liars and ministers that were not in tandem with their visions and core values. It was very glaring that the corruptive tendencies of some of the former ministers were beyond redemption, but the former presidents treated them with kid gloves and gave them the platform for unprecedented impunity and corruption. Scott Hamilton said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude”, we are in dire need of leaders with the right mental attitude that will evolve a new Nigeria. In previous dispensations, we had ministers that made the Nigerian system more conducive to corruption and some even made themselves an ‘anathema’ to national growth!
“Don’t expect to see positive changes in your life if you surround yourself with negative people.” –Robert Tew
One of the infamous Roman emperor and the last emperor of Rome, Emperor Nero, blundered his way to oblivion by surrounding himself with people and advisers that were not in harmony with people’s hopes and aspirations. Ancient sources confirmed that when the young emperor surrounded himself with Rome’s brightest minds to include the great philosopher Seneca, the result was five years of exemplary government, but the moment he chose a wrong detour in bringing in intellectual invalids, his empire fell like a pack of cards. A pathetic summary of the emperor’s reign reads Nero, the emperor that fiddled while Rome burned! Our company will ultimately determine what accompanies us in life. The list of ministerial nominees sent to the upper chamber of the National Assembly by President Buhari actually generated a lot of uncertainties, trills, frills, drama and paparazzi, and also elicited diverse reactions from different stakeholders but eventually, the inauguration of the federal executive council some few weeks ago has put everything to rest with the unveiling of Mega ministers, technocrats, veterans and superstars as honorable ministers. It is good to note that it is relatively impossible for the president to present a flawless list especially if there has to be a fallible mix of political, ethnic, gender, religious and constitutional constraints, coupled with the hegemony in the APC structure.
Nevertheless, I sincerely want the President to see the unveiling of his ministers as an extension of the declaration of his assets and liabilities to the nation! In his inaugural speech, the president cleared the minds of the Nigerians off destructive and manipulative attachment that has hindered, bewildered, bewitched and bedeviled previous dispensations when he emphatically said, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.” But if the sincere truth be told, the eventual composition, quality and caliber of his cabinet members and core masterminds will ultimately put his claim to the test! The president must surround himself with change gladiators, economic giants and experienced technocrats; not myopic subordinates, political fugitives and liabilities.
The true mark of a man is found in the quality of his companions and it is easier to determine the direction of this dispensation by simply looking at the content of the ministerial list. Kevin Eiken Berry said, “look carefully at the closest association in your life, for that is the direction you are heading” John C. Maxwell captured it better and succinctly by saying, “your network determines your net worth.” We must not jeopardize the present dispensation by recycling political loyalists at the expense of merit and professionalism. When a man surrounds himself with people of low intellectual value, his journey to oblivion has been sealed and his agenda is already ‘bankrupt’ even before commencement.
It is very obvious that President Muhammadu Buhari is a visionary leader in clear terms but his vision can only go as far as the quality of people he eventually ends up surrounding himself with. The President must design an economic and visionary team that can solve problems; leaders that cannot solve problems are liabilities. We need leaders in his government that will help design an economy that nurtures entrepreneurship. We need ministers that will help in diversification of the economy by reducing or phasing out the debilitating effect of blatant dependency on the Nigerian oil. The president must painstakingly audit his closest associates and must vehemently resist ‘political loafers’ that are powerhouse and agents of classical, malignant, digitalized and sophisticated corruption. We need ‘possibilitarians’ in the present dispensation, people that are keen on finding solutions and not constituting a nuisance to the Nigerian system. We need leaders that can see and seize opportunities that abound in the present Nigeria. Poverty in a clear term is simply passing over opportunities regularly. We need ministers that are rich in ideas and not in ignorance!
The revival of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy by President Buhari to curb excessive spending and make fiscal policy implementation more effective should be fully supported and implemented by the present ministers. I will only want to suggest that the TSA policy should be reviewed, made more effective and also given a ‘human face’ in order to avoid it from becoming cumbersome and counter-productive. We are in dire need of ministers that are not given to poor and extravagant spending styles that have decimated and stunted national growth. The current happenings in Greece are great pointers to the ultimate end of any nation with the culture of impunity and extravagant spending.
The president has been saddled with the responsibility of driving the ministers towards a common vision and ultimately, whether they turn out to be liabilities or assets will depend to an extent, on the kind of platform that the president decides to provide for them. Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they tell us what to do.” The ministers should not be a mismatch for their responsibilities; we don’t need square pegs in round holes. The ministers must give us an idea of how they will want to align themselves with the Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals (MDG’s and SDG’s). Nigeria is not in isolation, so we must see how we can productively fit into the global picture. We need goal oriented ministers because when you have a goal mind, you have a goldmine. We can be local geographically, but we must be global in expression!
I sincerely at this juncture want to suggest that the ‘drilling’ of the ministers by the senators should be made a yearly event, but my fear is that it may be bastardized through politicking and vendetta. I want to advise the president to design a yearly audit system to constantly evaluate the performance of the ministers. It is a basic truth that what is not inspected is not respected; their continuation should be attached to performance and results. Results don’t lie! Accountability was greatly lacking in the previous dispensation even in the face of obvious indictments.
The only place where I see the list greatly flawed is in its great ‘disregard’ for the Nigerian youths. The president has at various fora eulogized the Nigerian youths and strongly emphasized that he believes in them, but the recent ministerial list proved otherwise as the youths were clearly omitted from the list. I want to encourage the president to infuse young and vibrant minds into his list of ‘masterminds’. Old ways won’t open new doors! Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”, we need renewed thinkers as ministers, young innovative minds that will come together to build an economic blueprint for a new Nigeria. The minister of youth and sports, Solomon Dalong, has assured Nigerians that the Buhari’s administration would avoid those mistakes in the past that led to the non-inclusion of the Nigerian youths in policies, programs and empowerment initiatives that border on youth development. As a youth coach and specialist of many years, I have come to realize that it is impossible to engage and empower the youths without designing a way of involving and reaching out to them. There are ‘languages’ that the youths understand and people at the helms of affairs must come down from their lofty heights to feel their pains and provide them with a platform for them to be themselves.
My sincere advice to Mr. President is that we desperately need a healthy mix of both the veterans and young minds to revolutionize and inspire a new Nigeria. We believe strongly in the president’s sense of judgment and also in his vision for a new Nigeria. The Nigerian youths are generally excited and anxiously waiting for the President to unveil his plans for the economy and the Nigerian youths. I want to also encourage the Nigerian youths to be fully involved in policy making and to eliminate myopic apathy towards Nigerian politics. The candid truth about the Nigerian politics is that we must be involved for it to evolve!
Lastly, if I am asked to say something concrete and objective about our present ministers; without any jaundiced view I will confidently say that the list is a healthy blend of technocrats, superstars, veterans and the hungry! It is relatively impossible to have a flawless list in a country where scandals exist even among saints! I strongly believe and pray that the present ministers will against all imaginary and protracted odds prove to be a great asset to the Nigerian economy.