Wanted: A Government Of All Talents
Four years ago we trod down this same path, filled with so much hope we sauntered through the alleyways. We issued paper after paper in quick succession to the incoming government of Goodluck Jonathan because we were compelled by the love we have for our nation and our desire to make that government succeed. It is now obvious that we failed at that time, but today we are presented with another opportunity to speak truth to power to a new government.
Obviously, this government faces challenges on many fronts; patriotic Nigerians must remain engaged with it at all levels. I make bold to declare:
That I write not because I am bound nor motivated by filthily lucre, temporary political advantage, electoral opportunism or posturing but because I have deeply held ties to the truth, which were nurtured in my secondary school classrooms, in my early youth at university, where I learnt to cherish chivalry and truth. I have over the years learnt to pull together each one with the rest of my mates, playing up and striving with each of my friends to do our best.
Therefore, whatever, the context that may be presented today, my voice is here to stay as a permanent fixture on the firmament and it shall not fizzle out.
As the President considers the composition of his government, I urge him to flee from the usual inclination to interpret this prerogative simply as one of patronage, limited to rewarding personal loyalty, settling of political debts and accumulating political capital. He should break with the past and chart a new course for our nation.
We cannot be seen to reward incompetence and mis-governance nor can we recycle failed politicians and persons of dubious pedigree all in the name of settling party debts or cementing party unity. Any politician or individual with questionable antecedents must render due and full account before being entrusted with public office again. The discredited Senate ritual of ‘bow and leave’ must be discontinued and proper scrutiny must be undertaken.
The President should use the goodwill he currently enjoys to forge a government that will make a difference in the lives of Nigerian citizens. He should choose only the most capable and honest Nigerians as ministers and advisers and his choice must not be limited by the membership of any political party but must take into account the fact that some of the best and brightest of our people now live beyond our shores.
The new cabinet must reflect the many patriotic technocrats and the quiet achievers who have remained at home, steadfast and committed, holding together the fraying fabrics of our society against all odds. Therefore, the government constructed from this process must be built to deliver good governance over the next four years. It must be composed of good men and women who are able to contribute their energies in a new spirit of public service to make our nation what it should be.
The President should ensure that his Chief of Staff is capable of being trusted with enough clout and gravitas to control access to his office and knock heads together, so that this term of office is focused on delivery from day one.
Finally, I urge him to be imaginative to curtail wasteful recurrent expenditure in government. Why do we need a separate office of the Chief of Staff to the President and Secretary to the Federation, when surely one person can fill both positions? Why do we need a Special Adviser on the Media and a separate Federal Minister for Information?
• Dr. Olu Ojedokun of Lead City University, writes from Ibadan.