‘Why Buhari Hasn’t Formed His Cabinet’
Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi is a former Minister of State for Education under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. He spoke on why Jonathan’s government failed and the need to exercise patience with President Muhammadu Buhari. He spoke with journalists in Lagos recently.
On the state of the nation
I believe that a nation that went down to the level we got to under the Jonathan administration will find it difficult to get out of it hale and hearty. I believe Dr. Jonathan is, in fact, a lucky man that General Muhammadu Buhari won the election. We had reached the end of the road under the immediate past president. That we had a change of government itself had given us a breather and what the breather means is that we have a better hope than before.
A lot of Nigerians now expect something as against when we had no expectation. What we are looking for now is how Buhari will get us out of the messy situation we are in. They have started arresting some criminals. What we had in the past were inconclusive arrests and investigations.
Are you dissociating yourself from the failures of the past administration under which you served?
There were things in government that went on while I was there and after I had left that I dissociate myself from. I’m dissociating myself from the infractions of the government. I want Nigerians to know that there are people in this country who have made money and had wealth before going into government. The former president himself said several times that he didn’t know I was that wealthy before I joined his government.
The point is I’m not directing any attack at anybody but what I’m saying is that the country was misruled and if Jonathan was my father or brother, I will say so. I won’t keep quiet when things are bad. You will recall I told Jonathan two months before the elections that there was no way he could come back.
Do you think the steps Buhari has taken so far are taking us back to the right tracks?
As somebody in the business world, I will say that Buhari himself might not have done something but the fact that you cannot carry $100,000 to the president to secure favour has put a different orientation into our heads that it is no longer business as usual. It is clear that at over 70, Mr. President will never get to a stage where he would have any other interest at heart than the good of Nigeria.
Controversies over Buhari’s appointments
There are appointments that the President has to make under constitutional conditionality but there are some that are strictly under his prerogative. We can compare him with other former presidents of Nigeria and see if he has done anything different. You cannot appoint a Minister of Niger Delta from Lagos. It is not possible because the constitution has taken care of that. But if you talk about some appointments, it is based on what the President wants.
Appointment of INEC chairman who is from the same place with Buhari
I can confirm to you that Amina Zakari, the new head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will never be chairperson of INEC. A government’s business cannot be left in a vacuum. When the last Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega was leaving, somebody necessarily must take over in an acting capacity. What we have is a transition to a different government.
In a country where the President is inundated with people of doubtful characters, he has to take his time to appoint the right person for
an important agency as INEC. But I can assure you that Buhari is too sensible to make Amina the substantive INEC chairperson no matter how competent she is. The history of Nigeria has made it that the President and the INEC chair always come from different regions. Amina is only bidding time in INEC. She will go when Buhari finds a competent person.
Appointment of Lawal Daura as the Director General of Department of State Security Services
Nigerians must learn to remove pettiness from our reactions. Given the sensitive nature of this country, in terms of coups and counter-coups, it has become a practice to appoint someone you can trust as DSS chief.
Let me start by saying that Daura is a wonderful and honest man. He has not been found wanting or accused of corruption. We have had several instances of Presidents only entrusting security to persons they are comfortable with.
The former DG SSS, Sunday Are is very close to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he was like his son. He became DG DSS. Lt. General Patrick Azazi was appointed as Director of Military Intelligence, then National Security Adviser (NSA) because former President Jonathan believed in him. Azazi was from Jonathan’s region. Every major appointment in the security forces then was coordinated by Azazi. That was what the former President was comfortable with.
The point is that today, people feel comfortable with certain persons. Nigeria has become so distrustful that you need persons you can trust for certain roles. So, what is wrong with Daura who left the service voluntarily because he couldn’t cope with the level of corruption?
The President has not done anything wrong by picking a man who left the service voluntarily. We have to be careful with many of the things said in the social media because most of the activists are sponsored and paid by certain vested interests.