“SINCE our inauguration on May 29, 2015, the Vice President and I have been mindful of the need to constitute a cabinet that will best deliver our expectations of a better country than we inherited. ….I have been mindful of the need to ensure that the appointment of new Ministers translates into putting round pegs in round holes while showing sensitivity to our diversity as a people and our various positions as groups of stakeholders in our country”,heralded’putting round- pegs-in-round-holes’, after Buhari’s 166thday in office.
We all believe there will be hang-over from any previous administration for the new government to inherit. Buhari’s lateness in constituting the Federal Executive Council should not be blamed on the immediate past administration inability to put in place structures that would made the transition seamless. The US President, Barack Obama never complained of what he inherited from his immediate predecessor, George Bush,on Iraq, his tone was ‘…what we decided on Iraq…’ not the excuse on what Bush did that delayed his administration take-off. In Nigeria the hang-over from 1999could still be noticed in all areas of governance causing some tenacious malaise in Nigeria till date, 2015.
Buhari’s approach in ‘putting round-pegs-in-round-holes’of progress, solving some critical areas of Nigeria essential needs, would be the yardstick for some Ministers, like Fashola for Power, Works and Housing; the ‘Saint’ Amaechi’s Transportation, combined with Aviation, for people and goods movements within the community, with good road-network, critically needed in Nigeria; Fayemi of Mineral Resources, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, with his First Class Honors Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, USA; for Nigeria self-sustainable producer of weapons, thus creating jobs for the unemployed Nigerians. Ogbeh could use his skills in agricultural business, to manage the Agriculture and Rural Development programs across the country, complimenting services from Fashola and Amaechi’s ministries; as regular power supply would definitely boost all aspects of development in the country, while the inexperienced ‘poorly qualified’ Finance Minister, by ‘the Economists’,Kemi Adeosun, would endorse their efforts with adequate funding; working with the Vice President, to give Nigerians and the business world more confidence in reviving Nigerian economy.
Nigerians are awaiting the exposition of her brilliant performance during the Senate screening exercise; capitalizing on her Upper Second Class Honors in Applied Economics from the University of East London, 1989, with Post Graduate Diploma in Public Financial Management, University of London, an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; and her experience as a former Ogun State Finance Commissioner, if she could navigate the complex world of international finance and economic diplomacy, the challenges from the National Assembly, and the pressures from Corporate Nigeria and working with these monsters and clowns swimming around her.
Rationally, we expect any Minister, especially Fashola to effectively and efficiently relate with technocrats and professionals in the assigned ministries to achieve Buhari’s unprejudiced policies. We cannot be talking about ‘putting round-pegs-in-round-holes’while some Ministers were assigned portfolios that are outside their professional competences which would compel them to spend some months understudying the assigned Ministries. Buhari spent 166 days to study the new Nigeriandemocracy terrain before appointing his Ministers. Ministers like Chris Ngige, a Medical Doctor, as a Labor Minister; Fashola a Lawyer, for Housing, Works, and Power; While Rotimi an English Graduate on Transportation and Aviation.
Pruning some ministries that are closely related like Budget Office with the Ministry of National Planning is applauded. However, combining the three unrelated sectors to one Minister, power with works and housing could be administrative convenience. Hopefully, having two permanent secretaries, and with Mustapha Baba Shehuri, as Minister of State Minister could help.
That notwithstanding, the assigned portfolios could be coming as a relief to most Nigerians as they have waited impatiently for the inauguration of the Ministers, to effect the delivery of exceptional results, especially in the areas of adequate power supply, good road-network, in addition to the diversification of Nigerian mono-economy to Agriculture, and yet untapped Minerals, which could be another alternative for power supply. Some Ministers in Buhari’s team could be a relief to the yearnings of Nigerians, capable of handling synthetic man-made Nigeria problems, elongated from the rejuvenation of Nigerian democracy since 1999, and meeting up with Buhari’s electioneering campaigns of making the country the pride of the Universe, as the Giant of Africa.
Babatunde Fashola (SAN) Degree in Law in 1987, called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988, while Honorable Mustapha Baba Shehuri, BSc. in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Maiduguri would definitely get Nigeria Communities 24/7 electricity, whereas Nigerians could move across the country in the comfort of good means of transportation, good roads, and high speed fully air-conditioned train services. Being the first-time the three most important ministries, power, works, and housing are combined into one, we could call it the Ministry of Infrastructure, solving both man-made and systemic challenges in the power sector. The temporary administrative merging could be a test of Fashola’s skills in human management, however, not an attempt to frustrate him with the overwhelming expectations from these urgent NEEDED areas?
Jokingly Amnesia would not make Buhari to say that Babatunde is Minister of Power, Raji is Minister of Housing and Fashola is Minister of Works.
Rotimi Amaechi with hisBachelors and Master’s Degree in English, as the Transportation Minister, has a trained pilot as Aviation Minister of State, Hadi Sirika, forming’ no bribe taking’ team in the modern day Nigerian democracy, would have to develop the road network by working hard in completing and extending the ongoing rail projects to all parts of the country, to transport heavy goods across the country, to save the life of the roads. The technical merger of Transportation and Aviation, as witnessed in advance countries, will require the Government to invest in modern equipment, employed technically sound personnel, in both agencies and strengthen the regulations, absorbing and working in line with the change for the benefit of Nigerians. Amaechi would have to straighten up the putrefaction in the Aviation, The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian Railway Authorities, Shippers Council and the related agencies. We hope he would maintain his ‘clean record’ of no ‘Bribe Taking’ principles.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, of Solid Minerals, holding Bachelor’s Degree in History and Master’s Degree in International Relations at the University of Ife now OAU, 1987; obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in War Studies from King’s College, University of London, England. Abubakar Bwari, a holder of Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Urban and Regional Planning, ABU, Zaria, as State Minister could help in the navigation of Nigeria Mineral Resources. The Team could strengthen Nigerian economy, benefitting the entire nation with the development of solid minerals. The team efforts would boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria, transmittingthe forty-four different types of minerals, in about five hundred locations deposited across the country.Coppers could be used for electrical appliances, kaolin for industrial use, such as papers, paints, rubbers, drugs, tires and pen; Gypsum for building plaster, prefabricated wallboard, cement manufacture and for agriculture; Limestone, coal, lithium, platinum, granite and gold coal could be converted to coal-briquette to warm the rooms during the harmatan, and also good for cooking. These minerals are abundant for Fayemi to explore.
In other areas of Education, Labor, Justice, Agriculture, Information and Communication could be another set of team toc ompliment Power, Works, Housing, Minerals, for the changes Nigeria need with adequate security for an average Nigerian. The’putting round- pegs-in-round-holes’in Education could be misplaced as its Minister goes to Adamu Adamu, an Accountant and a Deputy Editor of the Daily Newspaper with B.Sc. in Accounting from ABU, Zaria, plus a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University. The Minister of State is Professor Anthony Gozie Anwukah, who studied English Language and Literature at the Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, with Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Planning at the University of Portland, Oregon, USA in 1975;he bagged a Doctorate Degree in General Curriculum, System Analysis and Social Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA in 1977. He was also a Vice Chancellor of the Imo State University, and a recipient of professional laurels and fellowships of professional associations in Nigeria and the United States, who, according to Buhari, would only sits in the Council without tapping his knowledge and skills. What ‘putting round- pegs-in-round-holes’.
Senator Chris Ngige with Bachelor’s Degree in Surgery, handling Labor and Employment Minister, who dressed like a clown on the swearing-in day, would work with James Ocholi, SAN, who studied law at the University of Jos, as Minister of State. We thought he would dust-off his Medical Certificate to work with his diploma in his constituency, the Medical Association of Nigeria, if he still remembers what it takes to prescribe the right medication for headache. Nigerians are anxiously waiting if he matches ‘putting round- pegs-in-round-holes’ to prevent the incessant labor unrest in the medical profession; especially the cloudy weather surrounding the payment of the N18,000.00 minimum wages as declared by the thirty-six states inability to pay it, as a result of the poor state of Nigeria mono-economy.
Abubakar Malami (SAN) for Justice Ministry, former Attorney for CPC, as the Attorney General of the Federation, with a Sharia background, attended College of Arts and Arabic Studies, Sokoto, where he obtained a Grade II Teachers Certificate in 1984; studied law at the Usman Danfodio University Sokoto, attended the Nigeria Law School in 1992, holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Maiduguri; would be another testimony of ‘putting round- pegs-in-round-holes’. He is being tested with the death of APC candidate in the inconclusive Kogi Gubernatorial election (November 2015). Nigerians are waiting for his reformed appetite in the Justice system in Nigeria, or he would continue with the meandering Justice process that seems to be a hopeless agent in protecting an average Nigerian from the inequalities. Also it would be a test of sorting out the shady cases in the fight against corruption without ‘hide and seek’ game of the Judiciary or the courts on an average Nigerian.
Lai Mohammed,with a Law Degree from the University of Lagos in 1985 and a graduate of Nigerian Law School in 1986,could aid his ‘noise making’ business at the Central Government. He has started with his loud noise of complaints of his ministry being made up of ‘misfits’. Nigerians expect Lai Mohammed to provide good leadership, to deal with his identified ‘misfits’ in his Information Ministry workingin concert with Communication Minister, Adebayo Shittu.
While congratulating the Ministers, for increasingly and cautiously putting the challenging team together. Most Nigerians are of the opinion that Fashola’s portfolio reflects what Nigerians need most with some immediate results as a follow-up of what he did in Lagos State for eight successful years. We hope that the past lessons, as testified during the Senate screening exercise, would inform him not to sign checks for any contractor without seeing the results. Power supply would be a universal testimony of his leadership skills. We hope Fashola delivers brilliantly as the allocation of Power, Works and Housing, which are critical to the development of Nigeria, made him a super minister,and shows that he a reliable servant of the people.
The Team has to deliver Buhari election promises. Meanwhile he could start playing politics with some noise-makers, while his Ministers continue to do the work, under his strict supervision. It is left for the Ministers to live up to the peoples’ expectations and justify their appointments.
Regardless how diligent an individual could be, Fashola would have to straighten-up the deadly filthy clowns in the Power Sector, not to derail his efforts. Nigeria needs thorough supervision of the power sector, ensuring that electricity is stable; on works and housing Fashola would have to ensure that housing gap of about 20 million citizens is closed.It would be an added advantage to establish housing policies that would enable an average Nigerian to own a home, without the unnecessary hassle or extracting from the public to build homes.Nigeria road-network should meet the international standard.
Within six months,May 2016, Nigerians should be able to feel the effectiveness of’putting round- pegs-in-round-holes’from their respective assignments; which will be their report cards, in anticipation of reshuffling the Team in a year’s time to boot-out some dangerous clowns within the team; especially those that felt short in the areas of their Ethics, Integrity, Trust, Teamwork, Selflessness, Leadership Styles, and how well they Communicate with the people. How would the Ministers go with the multitude of ‘dos and don’ts’handed over by Buhari, will be part of the yardstick while in office?
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