PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has eventually been able to mend the strained relational harmony between him and Nigerians recently engendered by his hesitant and delayed appointment of his ministers. For many months, what Nigerians perceived as neglect of presidential duties has now received cautious thumbs up from both admirers and political foes alike. We have to commend Nigerians for showing informed tolerance and patience through the tenor and thrust of the waiting period.
Now that the ministerial list has gone to the Senate for screening, it is then pertinent to analyse the wisdom, brilliance and absurdity of President Buhari’s choice of men and women who will head various ministries in the coming days. If we should travel back into the heavy roller of this nation’s memory, there is this discomforting reminder that appointed Ministers had, at various times, been sacred cows and oftentimes cut themselves away from the reality of the day. Many of them had lived, as it were, beyond their statutes of limitation in terms of profligate lifestyles, abuses of privilege, ridiculous egotism, lawlessness and various unpatriotic acts.
Perhaps it is these aberrations of our past Ministers and the parade of their delusions while in public service that made President Muhammadu Buhari to liken them, in his recent pronouncements, to “noisemakers and lazy people”. For the benefit of hindsight, such perception coming from the president may have informed his reluctance to hand over the affairs of our badly managed ministries and institutions into their hands. At least, Nigerians can now breathe easily that this nation has not fallen into the hands of a disciplinarian, who, with the unfading credentials of his integrity and morality can now serve as a guard against past ministerial excesses. The president can now set standards for his Ministers to follow by entering into a social contract of thorough public accountability and transparency of government businesses.
However, the ministerial list, as presently constituted, throws up a whole universe of loopholes and questions. President Muhammadu Buhari’s affirmation of change is in the reverse gear going by this list. First, is to ask whether the president has been radical enough in his choice of ministerial nominees? Secondly, has he been able to shock and awe us in his list by including unknown, untried, untested and unsung personalities? Thirdly, has the president ventured outside the cloistered confines of elitism to look for talents from lesser known realms?
Does the list satisfy the national character as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the land? Has the list satisfied the requirements of the Constitution which stipulates that each State must have a Minister in the presidential cabinet? Are we fated to live with old, discarded, spent and recycled faces all over again under the sky of a CHANGE-driven administration? Why would President Muhammadu Buhari re-select past governors, many of whom had served either four or eight years in their various states? In a nation teeming with brilliant and youthful generation, why would septuagenarians and octogenarians find places on the ministerial list?
Our greatest concern is the lopsidedness of the ministerial nominees. As we write, 14 nominees are from the South West alone in a nation of six geopolitical zones. What this seeming presidential short-sightedness affirms is the enthronement of party loyalists, so-called party supremacy and buddy politics. Here, we have to be honest and say that, in the list of ministerial nominees, as presently composed, there is absence of political neutrality. Already, there is a strong consensus among the public on lack of fairness in the list sent to the Senate for approval. This may entirely explain why this paper is strongly against the list of nominees as presently constituted and it is our hope that the Senate will discover these loopholes and subject the list to the severest test.
In as much as we sympathise with the president in the onerous task of selecting his ministers among a nation of 170 million highly gifted Nigerians, we, however, are of the opinion that Nigerians are yearning for a bit of radicalisation and surprises in the calibre of the men and women who will head various ministries without any relapse into recycling past governors and other pseudo technocrats, political aides and party sympathisers, people whose only qualification for this job is that, at one time or the other, he had made some negative comments against the past government. Above all, the list of nominees does not satisfy the requirements of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which President Muhammadu Buhari swore to uphold.
Within the emerging tolerant climate of our social democracy, this paper is of the opinion that President Muhammadu Buhari, should, as a matter of political expediency, do the right thing that will satisfy the aspirations of a new and changed society he has promised to deliver. He has to recall and delist most names on that list with the Senate with courage and conviction and the vision of a true patriot.
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