As APC voyage of change begins
By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
THIS is certainly no time for congratulating the new ministers. Perhaps, it may be appropriate to reflect on the challenges associated with their respective portfolios towards attainment of the change the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised Nigerians. While several stakeholders espouse varying expectations, all the minister have a singular expectation to fulfill, that is, ensuring efficient and effective governance within the respective ministries and departments they superintend.
Apparently, President Muhammadu Buhari ‘switched on’ the machinery of governance last Wednesday when he administered the oath of office to the 36 ministers at the Presidential Villa. President Buhari had remarked that in assigning portfolios to the ministers, he has put round peg in round hole. This may not be quite correct because the training or career background of most of the ministers do not reflect the portfolios assigned to them. For instance, a medical doctor, former governor and former senator, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, assigned to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, cannot fulfill that slogan of round peg in round hole. The more perturbing ministerial burden is the assigning of Power, Works and Housing to former Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State. Power, in this case electricity supply, has been a complicated problem the country has been battling over the years. It constitutes sufficient responsibility on its own. More so, it does not have link with Works and Housing to be combined under the supervision of one man.
However, President Buhari might have weighed the options of appointing “Specialists”, who have technical knowledge of particular portfolio, and “Generalists” who have broad knowledge of public policies in his fixing round peg in round hole. Both options are germane to public administration.
Meanwhile, the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, congratulating the ministers on their inauguration, reminded them of the promise of change made by the party and high expectations of the people. Tinubu, in a statement declared: “Today, you begin the hard work to help President Buhari deliver on the promise of change he has committed to. The challenges before you are enormous. People’s expectations are very high and expectedly so. The people’s hope is hinged on the change our party promised. You are now the foot soldiers of that change.” He added: “You have to be creative, proactive and bold. You are men and women of talent and experience of the moment and are lucky to be chosen. After the luck comes work. It is a new dawn for our country. Virtually every facet of our national life needs urgent attention.”
Tinubu noted that after the devastating effects of the mismanagement by the previous administration on the economy and the psyche of Nigerians, the ministers have been selected to help bring Nigeria back from the brink. “Your assignment will not be easy. You bear the responsibility to move Nigeria forward into the rank of developed nations,” he said.
The APC National Leader cited Aneesh Chopra in his “Innovative State”: “This is about creating an Innovative State. A government for the 21st Century. One that engages its diverse society encourages participation and creates a partnership towards problem solving.”
The crux of the rendition is how the ministers can confront the challenges before them, particularly, those who have been under caustic criticisms by their opponents.
Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), for instance, lamented that “Fashola is a manifestation of Buhari’s error of judgement.” There are indications that in spite of the seeming complexity of his portfolio, Fashola has latitude of opportunities to prove his critics wrong or justify their criticisms. As a former governor, Fashola handled multiple tasks concomitantly, this experience may be his strength in handling the new challenge. National Daily investigation revealed that industrial budget on electricity takes a chunk of companies’ operational costs; high tariff increases the cost of production. Invariably, Fashola holds a major key to rebuilding the production and manufacturing bases of the country’s economy by ensuring lower electricity tariffs that may contribute to reduction in cost of production in the country.
Several stakeholders are of the view that similar phenomenal challenge prevails in the Ministry of Petroleum where Dr. Ibe Kachikwu holds sway as Minister of State while President Buhari doubles as substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Petroleum products are anticipated to be frequently available at affordable prices to reduce the burden on the cost of production towards enhancing economic growth. Kachikwu also has the challenge of getting Nigerians participate actively in both onshore and offshore transactions in oil industry. It is appalling that over 50 years of oil discovery and exploration, the government has failed to develop the technology for oil exploration or procession within the country. This has confined Nigerians in the periphery of both the oil transactions and global economy; local content has remained mere gospel for leadership entertainment. The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonaya Onu, may have major task of supporting the Petroleum, Power, education and other ministers in developing the requisite technologies in their sectors.
Crafting innovative agricultural sector may be a luxury for Audu Ogbe but evolving modern storage technology or semi-processing of agricultural products could constitute major challenges for the minister.
The Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, could supplement or reinforce the agricultural sector through provision of functional transportation infrastructures across the country. Accordingly, developing or commencing work on the new Standard Guage Railways which feasibility studies were said to have been completed by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan would be expedient to distribution of agricultural products at minimal costs and in shorter time.
The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, has the herculean task to ensure the environment is conducive for socio-economic transactions to take place. Providing internal security is the engine room of the activities of other ministers. These tasks are complemented by Ministry of Finance superintended by Kemi Adeosun where major fiscal policies which provide stimulus for the economy emanate.
The challenges are enormous; the emotional impulse for change is high. Several stakeholders have considered it apposite to acknowledge that the President has assembled players from the states who are leadership transition to mainstream of governance. They may have to learn on the job, make mistakes and corrections in the course of their duties.
The Ministers and their respective portfolios include: Chris Ngige, Anambra State, Minister of Labour and Employment; Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State, Minister of Solid Minerals; Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers, Minister of Transport; Babatunde Fashola, Lagos, Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Abdulrahman Dambazau, Kano, Minister of Interior; Aisha Alhassan, Taraba, Minister of Women Affairs; Ogbonaya Onu, Ebonyi, Minister of Science and Technology; Kemi Adeosun, Ogun, Minister of Finance; Abubakar Malami, Kebbi, Minister of Justice; Hadi Sirika, Katsina, Minister of State, Aviation; Adebayo Shittu, Oyo, Minister of Communication; Suleiman Adamu, Jigawa, Minister of Water Resources; Solomon Dalong, Plateau, Minister of Youth and Sports; Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Delta, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources;
Osagie Ehanire, Edo) Minister of State, Health; Audu Ogbeh, Benue, Minister of Agriculture;
Udo Udo Udoma, Akwa Ibom, Minister of Budget and National Planning; Lai Mohammed, Kwara, Minister of Information; Amina Mohammed, Gombe, Minister of Environment; Ibrahim Usman Jibril, Nasarawa, Minister of State, Environment; Hajia Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, Yobe, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs; Cladius Omoleye Daramola, Ondo, Minister of State, Niger Delta; Anthony Onwuka, Imo, Minister of State, Education; Geoffrey Onyema, Enugu, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Monsur Dan-Ali, Zamfara, Minister of Defence; James Ocholi, Kogi, Minister of State, Labour and Employment; Zainab Ahmed, Kaduna, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning; Okechukwu Enelamah, Abia, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; Muhammadu Bello, Adamawa, Minister of the FCT; Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Borno, Minister of State, Power, Works and Housing; Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment; Heineken Lokpobiri, Bayelsa, Minister of State, Agriculture;
Adamu Adamu, Bauchi, Minister of Education; Isaac Adewole, Osun, Minister of Health;
Abubakar Bawa Bwari, Niger, Minister of State, Solid Minerals; and Pastor Usani Uguru, Cross River, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) contended that the portfolios given to some of the ministers did not in any way inspire confidence that the APC-led government wants to pursue change.
The PDP, in a statement by Olisa Metuh, National Publicity Secretary, declared that “the much-expected assignment of portfolios to the ministers did not inspire confidence that there is indeed any change being introduced in the system;” adding that, “with the inauguration, the APC administration should fully resolve the issues on the actual position of the nation’s economy and the direction therein.”
“These new ministers should note the challenge before them regarding the image of the country which the APC-government has changed from being the ‘Heart of Africa’ and a country of ‘Good people, Great nation’ to that of ‘Corrupt people, Broke nation’,” Metuh declared. He maintained: “Furthermore, we counsel the ministers, especially, those who will be the face of the government, to note that the campaigns are over. Nigerians, therefore, will no longer condone propaganda, lies and deceit but expect a responsible dissemination based on truth, honesty and openness.”
Metuh noted that, “whereas President Muhammadu Buhari had announced that the nation is bankrupt to the extent he cannot pay his ministers, his new Minister of Information had contradicted him directly by stating how the government is buoyant and r
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