‘Delay in Announcing Cabinet Does not Show Seriousness’

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong dialogues with Yinka Odumakin, spokesperson for the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, on his expectation from President President Muhammadu Buhari’s impending announcement of his cabinet

It is about four months since President Buhari won the February 23 presidential elections and one month since he was sworn in, should he take this much time to announce his cabinet? Has he learnt anything from criticism which followed the delay in announcing his choice of ministers in 2015?

There is absolutely no justifiable reason for this delay except the President sees the leadership of the country as an opportunity to reign and not to govern. After struggling in three failed elections to lead Nigeria, being in power for four years and promising not to be Baba-go-slow in his second term, this delay in announcing a cabinet does not show seriousness about the business of Nigeria or the recognition that Nigeria is in a precarious situation that does not permit this lethargical attitude .How many days did it take President Cyril Ramphosa to announce a cabinet in South Africa-a cabinet that has been hailed as being balanced and free of corrupt people? What we are witnessing in Nigeria in spite of the criticism that trailed the first time inadequacy can only flow from either serious incompetence or sheer impunity .The latter looks so plausible given that even appointees like SSA media, SGF and CoS whose tenure have expired continue to function when all that is required is a press release that they have been reappointed.

President Buhari is not known to change his cabinet, even for alleged or proven corruption, meaning those who make the cabinet will remain till 2023, should he continue in this manner?

Not changing cabinet in face of so many odds is also a function of inability to appraise appointees or some incorrigibility. Neither is it healthy for a modern polity and it’s not healthy for us as a country to continue in that tradition. Neither the ‘change mantra’ of the first term or ‘Next level’ promise of the present term is in tandem with such attitude.

Do you agree with the idea of a ‘super minister’, with a seeming overloaded ministry?

A super minister in our setting is a misnomer. There is no sector in our polity today that is not in some state of rot and it requires being superhuman to excel in any of them. Loading one person with too many ministries is setting up the person for failure as no dog can guard two gates successfully in a robber-infested estate. We should get competent men and women and hand them assignments according to their abilities. A particular reference is the immediate past Minister of Power, Works and Housing .The gentleman was smelling like a rose after his stint as Governor of Lagos State .He was appointed a minister and loaded with too many responsibilities in the name of being a super minister. It all turned out becoming a super failure. Our structure of governance is so warped at the moment and whoever loves his career should run away from being made such a sausage for failure.

Should we continue with the practice of having a minister from every state? At what cost?

Our cabinet is over-bloated though it’s a constitutional requirement that we must have a minister from each state. It is a provision we have to look at critically again in view of our realities. We must at a point stop looking at these positions as sharing the largesse to every corner of the political elites as against running government in a way to spread the good to all our citizens. If we run an efficient government where the needs of all citizens are reasonably met, how many citizens would insist a minister must come from their states?

If we picked a minister from every street in Nigeria and governance is all about the corruption of greedy elites that we have now, the corporate good would not be served in any way for as long as it is not about the greatest good of the greatest majority.

We must address the dysfunctionality of our system and refocus to service wherein governance would be about delivering to our people rather than sharing the spoils of office.