Buhari’s ministerial blues
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s long-awaited ministerial list generated a lot of public hysteria. The price of 2015 is to be held with trepidation because never in the chequered history of the Nigerian state has a leader been so elected in a defining manner; unseating an incumbent leader and a ruling party of 16 years standing. And so when President Buhari foot-dragged and dithered in nominating his would-be henchmen and became inscrutable in the process, the people expected names that would brim of intellectual stars with an unblemished record, verifiable performances, untainted integrity, high moral rectitude and no corruption stains. But alas, the ministers – as we now have – are a mixed bag.
Whereas, Mr. President has the inalienable right to choose whosoever he desires to run the affairs of state with him as guaranteed by the constitution which provides that he shall choose ministers from each federating state and delegate
powers to them as he wishes; he nevertheless owes Nigerians the duty to bring on people that will add immense value to this beleaguered nation. For a man that has been accused of displaying tendencies of nepotism based on his initial appointments, the ministerial list leaves much to be desired and this is without prejudice to the integrity and capacity of the ministers. Some of them have verifiable antecedents, few with track record of performance and many with obvious question marks around them.
The die is cast, the ministers are here now and have been allocated their beat; some fitting, others not so fitting. None will begrudge Buhari and his choices for now as he still enjoys his long honeymoon but the onus will be on him to see that his actualisers live up to societal expectations by nudging them to conduct themselves in a manner that typifies the mood of the times which calls for sobriety in the implementation of campaign promises and the delivery of quality social services that will substantially elevate the life of the least disadvantaged Nigerian. The opulence resplendent in former ministers must be jettisoned. The likes of Ogbonaya Onu, Chris Ngige, Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi and Babatunde Fashola must do away with the gubernatorial splendour they were used to and know that this is a call to service for which their sleeves must be rolled up. Ngige for one must do away with the walking stick!
The likes of Adebayo Shittu, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, Audu Ogbeh, Lai Mohammed, Udoma Udoma, Aminat Ibrahim, Kemi Adeosun and a few others must know that they were
products of political settlements and should stand up to be counted in their respective ministries. Adeosun, the new finance minister, particularly has a huge burden in proving wrong many who believe she has been entrusted with an assignment heavier than her lightweight capacity. Even the illustrious Okonjo Iweala knows how hot it is to sit on that chair. How she (Adeosun) is able to craft the right fiscal policies to make the economy rebound, will go a long way to determining how long she can be in the saddle. Fashola, the minister of power, works and housing have his work cut out for him and even his often trumpeted strides in Lagos may not count for much in the large and murky waters he currently swims. His portfolio is large and his capacity to work is not in doubt, but he needs more than goodwill to succeed on this assignment.
Buhari may not have assembled beyond the ordinary and having also failed to spread his dragnet to far places of the globe to recruit great minds, the responsibility, however, to make sure the current bunch justify the taxpayers monies they will earn, squarely lies on him. Ministers play important role as the implementers of government’s ideas and polices; and for a country with huge infrastructural deficit and a reclining economy, Buhari’s ministers cannot afford to be lethargic or pedestrian in their action. If Buhari got the votes of 15 million eligible Nigerian voters, 12 million others felt otherwise and voted for Jonathan. The cynical 12 million and many other Nigerians that did not participate in the polls are out there with the swords should this government falter.
The melodrama that characterised the ministerial nominations, screenings and eventual confirmation have come and gone but the jury is still out. Buhari is out of the ministerial blues, but he should expect that questions will be constantly be asked of him and his ministers on just about every action of this government. The president is the emblem of government and the buck stops on his table, but his ministers exercise his powers at their own discretions; suffice to say their activities in the coming months will be more than telling on the overall goodwill of the Buhari administration. Will these ministers actualise the dreams of Buhari and take Nigeria out of the woods? Time will tell.
• Adeniji, a communications and public affairs consultant wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State.