Ring True with Yemi Adebowale, Email: email@example.com; Tel: 07013940521 (text only)
Speculation about an impending cabinet shake-up by President Muhammadu Buhari is growing by the day. It could happen in January next year. However, I am not looking forward to the shake-up. The Buhari I have always known may not bring in men capable of turning around our depressed economy. I can’t see him inviting assertive people; people capable of looking at him straight in the eye and tell him that his mentality is archaic. Buhari has in the last 13 months surrounded himself with a legion of sycophants. Most of the current ministers are usually very economical with the truth. Just as he did about 13 months ago, our President looks good to invite mainly people who are satisfied with just being called ministers; people incapable of adding value to our country and economy.
Yes, I am in support of moves to rejig the cabinet, but not for the fun of it. Clearly, many have no business staying a day longer in this current cabinet. The quality of Buhari’s ministers shows that he has simply been struggling to fit mainly square pegs into round holes in the last 13 months. I still can’t understand how square pegs will enter round holes. For the position of finance minister, we need somebody with clout and global reach for this vital office. We need an assertive finance minister. The truth is that our incumbent Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun lacks these qualities. Running the finance ministry requires more than speaking Queen’s English. Buhari should look for another job for this beautiful woman.
The case of Udoma Udo Udoma, a lawyer and Minister of Budget and Planning, is pathetic, considering the controversy that trailed the 2016 budget. I fully agree with the submission of Ike Ekweremadu on the floor of the Senate that this brilliant lawyer has no business with our budget and planning ministry and that Udoma is supervising a strange terrain. This was partly responsible for the upheavals we had with the 2016 budget. The 2017 budget is an accident waiting to happen. Just wait for January 2017, when our lawmakers dig in. This country needs somebody with a very strong background in budget and planning for this job.
Another man that should not be allowed to stay a day longer in this cabinet is Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung. His level of ineptitude is unprecedented. Just imagine a sports minister saying publicly that our conquering Falcons could not be paid their bonuses and allowances because he was not expecting them to go all the way to the final and also winning the African trophy. Sports administration in Nigeria has never experienced this level of incompetence in all our years as a country. The last 13 months have been horrendous. The Rio Olympic debacle under Dalung is one I am still struggling to delete from my memory. Some of our athletes went to the games without kits. Also, we didn’t have official attire for the opening and closing ceremonies. Aside from Dalung’s clumsiness, the quality of his spoken English is an embarrassment to everybody. This minister is always struggling to speak good English.
The Minister of State (Power, Works and Housing) Mustapha Baba Shehuri is another man that has no business in this cabinet. He has remained obscure ever since assuming office. In practical terms, Shehuri does not exist as a minister. At times, I wonder if he was not assigned specific duties by the senior minister in the ministry.
The Labour Minister, Chris Ngige has been persistently dabbling into things he knows next to nothing about, instead of focusing on his primary duty. The other day, Ngige was issuing instructions to private companies to halt retrenchment during a recession. Will he provide funds for the companies to pay these workers if they are retained? This minister has very little to show as his achievements in the last 13 months. He should be allowed to return to his medical practice.
Solid Minerals Minister, Kayode Fayemi pledged to ensure that minerals become key contributors to Nigeria’s forex inflow. Almost 14 months down the line, the story from this sector is still not impressive. Fayemi is very good at grandstanding. He also does very well with newspaper achievements. He should take a break and return to Ado Ekiti.
The aviation industry needs a break from the man called Hadi Sirika. Aviation has been witnessing an unprecedented recession in the last 13 months, with foreign airlines leaving the country and local ones closing shops. Sirika has spent most of his time globetrotting. Aviation sure needs a committed, creative and result-oriented person.
Agriculture Minister, Audu Ogbe has spent the bulk of his time working on how to start importing grass from Brazil for our herdsmen, while prices of agricultural products skyrocket. Ogbe needs to be discharged, to allow somebody with fresh ideas on board; somebody who can pragmatically tackle our agricultural challenges. Information Minister, Lai Mohammed needs to step aside for a credible person to manage the perception of this administration.
For me, other ministers with nothing tangible to show for their 13 months in office are Ogbonaya Onu, Adebayo Shittu, Suleiman Adama, Usani Uguru, Khadija Bukar-Ibrahim, Cladius Daramola and Heineken Lokpobiri. These ministers should be retired without benefits. At this critical time, this country needs people capable of thinking outside the box. We need assertive and creative ministers.
The Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Anthony Okogie was apt when he remarked in an open letter to Buhari: “When you assumed office, the chant of change, your campaign slogan, ushered you into the Presidential Villa. Today, cries of hunger could be heard across the length and breadth of our vast country. Nigerians hunger, not only for food, but also for good leadership, for peace, security and justice. This letter is to appeal to you to do something fast, and, if you are already doing something, to redouble your effort. May it not be written on the pages of history that Nigerians die of starvation under your watch.
“As president, you are the chief servant of the nation. I therefore urge you to live up to the huge expectation of millions of Nigerians. A stitch in time saves nine. If you want to leave a credible legacy come 2019, in all sincerity, please retool your administration. Change is desirable. But it must be a change for the better. Let this change be real. Change is not real when old things that we ought to discard refuse to pass away. You will need to take a critical look at your cabinet, at the policies and programmes of your administration, and at those who help you to formulate and execute them. You will need to take a critical look at the manner of appointments you have been making.”
I hope the President is listening.
Still on Babachir Lawal’s Transgression
President Buhari’s so-called war against corruption is a war against opposition politicians. This has always been my position. There are so many examples, with facts and figures. The transgression of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal is a further confirmation of his skewed war against corruption that I have been talking about for so long. The SGF’s file with the Senate ought to have been sent to the EFCC for prosecution. The Senate has provided facts and figures. For me, the decision to have the SGF investigated further by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami is a clear attempt to give Lawal a soft landing. On his part, the SGF spent most of this week, allegedly making moves to compromise the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Bello Mahmud, in order to alter some of Rholavision’s document with the commission. The minister of State for Trade and Industry, Aisha Abubakar was in the thick of the action, as she tried summoning Mahmud, but the CAC boss refused to be intimidated.
More disturbing facts are emerging daily on the SGF’s role in the finances of the Presidential Initiative on the North East. Just this week, it emerged further that Josmon Technologies, a firm that was awarded contract by PINE, paid the money into the bank account of Rholavision Engineering Limited, owned by the SGF. Even more damning was the fact that Lawal, who only relinquished his shares in Rholavision on September 16, 2016, remains the sole signatory to the account of the company, as his Bank Verification Number (BVN), was linked to the company.
After Josmon Technologies was paid by PINE, it began to make payments into Rholavision’s account number 0182001809 in Ecobank on March 29, 2016, when it paid N50 million in five installments of N10 million. The payment continued the following day, March 30, when it paid another N50 million in five installments of N10 million each. On March 31, it paid N20 million in two installments of N10 million each. The sequence continued as Josmon on April 1, 2016, paid another N50 million in five installments of N10 million and continued on April 4, when it paid N25 million in three installments. N10 million was paid on September 8, 2016, while another N10 million and N55 million were paid on September 9. Curiously, the award of contract for the removal of wild grass along the river channel, which does not fall into the IDPs immediate needs, came into the job schedule of PINE.
My position on this scandal is that our dear president should collect the Senate’s report and send it to the EFCC for prosecution. The facts and figures needed are in the report. There is no need bringing in Malami who is a known ally of the SGF.
The Jester Called Ali Ndume
I was depressed watching Senator Ali Ndume on television on Monday, twisting and turning the Senate’s resolutions on Ibrahim Magu of the EFCC and the SGF, Babachir Lawal. This was after his visit to President Buhari. Ndume wants to be seen working for the President, even when the job is a dirty one. This funny Senator looked miserable, while struggling to turn the truth upside down. Ndume wants Nigerians to believe that Magu had not been rejected and that the SGF is yet to be indicted. Haba! These are issues that had been virtually concluded. His colleagues had to come out the following day to ridicule him. According to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Aliyu Abdullahi, the rejection of Magu as Chairman of the EFCC was sacrosanct. Abdullahi said he had to make the clarification following the misinformation by Ndume. He stated further that the Senate did not only reject Magu’s nomination but had since returned same to President Buhari for further action. On the SGF, the Senate’s spokesman said his indictment by the Senate in plenary followed consideration of the report of its ad-hoc committee on the humanitarian crisis in the North-east.
Honestly, the Senate should consider sanctioning Ndume when it resumes in January, for trying to mislead Nigerians. This country will not make progress with politicians like Ndume, who are always involved in shenanigans. Their personal interest is always paramount, instead of our national interest. People like this will always call black ‘white’, even when it is obviously black. This is not the first time Ndume will be involved in monkeyshines. His people in Borno South should initiate moves to recall him. Ndume is an embarrassment, not only to himself, but to Borno South in particular and the nation in general.