After a long apprehensive wait, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, submitted 43 names of potential cabinet members to the senate, all of whom, had since been undergoing the screening process, writes Olawale Olaleye
It depends on how you choose to see it. If your calculation of the waiting period was from the moment the President won his re-election in February, then, you are talking about five months of waiting. However, if your take gave a huge grace and chose to look at the period of wait from the day he was inaugurated in May, then, your disappointment is within two months.
But whatever your misgivings, the president, Muhammadu Buhari has shut out that debate for good with his submission of 43 names of potential cabinet members to the Senate last week. And by the end of this week, all the ministers would have concluded their screening and their portfolios announced, perhaps.
It goes without saying, however, that the president has a penchant for needlessly delaying critical appointments or making hard choices at the nick of time. The most disappointing of all is that at the end of the day, he has only sent in the names of the people already known with him and who had been around since the time of campaigns. So, you can’t but query the delay.
Again, contrary to expectations, the president did not send in the names of his potential cabinet members with their intended portfolios attached, consequently shifting the debate to the quality of screening that the Senate under the leadership of Ahmed Lawan had subjected the nominees to and by implications exposing both the hypocrisy and mediocrity of the government as a whole.
After all said and done, the names are already in, the screening almost concluded and the stage is now set for the Next Level government to swing into action.
A lot is not definitely fine with the government. From administration to policy conception and execution, the government has acted more like a learner than one ready to change its own narrative let alone hit the ground running.
Notwithstanding a few of the former ministers, who were returned, there are some new names that could actually help the government pick up some of its pieces and close the gaps of its inadequacies. In general, however, it can be said that the list was not inspiring after all. But this would not be an excuse for the incoming team not to swing into action and quickly address the sweeping challenges of growing discontent that currently pervades the land, starting with security.
The state of security in the land is appalling and does not show any genuine effort on the part of the government in addressing it. By maintaining the same security architecture, which has consistently failed to contain the increasing menace, there is absolutely a need for a review of the entire security setup, making sure that whoever is coming in, as the defence minister, would be ideal to complement what is already on the ground.
Infrastructure is also far from where it should be even though there are palpable efforts geared towards renewal of what the country currently manages. The state of the roads in many parts of the country definitely needs attention, the same way power needs to be stabilised for a desired result in firing the economy. But there are significant moves to show that the story of power is changing slowly but steadily.
The state of health in the country requires that an emergency should be declared. What more, the disposition of the leadership, which has continued to encourage medical tourism, is to say the least, disappointing. Therefore, attention must be given to health, that is, of quality and affordability.
Education too has not been at his best in recent years. Not even with the poor budgetary vote that is yearly allotted to that all-important sector. And with Nigeria’s kind of leadership that does not believe in her own standard of education by sending their kids to study abroad, it might take a little longer for education to find its feet. But of course, this must be the concern of the government going forward.
Unemployment is another cancer that is threatening the economy of the country. With youths of employable age and skills roaming the streets aimlessly after striving to bag one or two degrees, creating good jobs becomes inevitable for the next level team and not the kind of money-sharing jamboree that typified the election period.
In its fight against graft, it is expected by now that government would have realised that its approach has not only been selective but also ineffective, thus making complete nonsense of a rather crucial assignment, dedicated to changing the Nigerian story in many respects.
Still talking about corruption, there is a need to pay attention to the goings-on in the petroleum sector, which interestingly, is headed by the president. Apart from reviewing the culture of subsidy, which from all indications is not sustainable, that sector of the economy is also seen as a critical conduit pipe of corruption.
Thus, except government is merely paying lip service to the fight against graft, it has a responsible, without prodding, to look into activities in that sector with a view to cutting down the pervasive corruption identifiable with it.
Government at all levels must slow down on borrowing, while efforts must be geared towards improving the internally generated revenue of the country without burdening the poor. There is a need for unity of purpose and camaraderie amongst the various functionaries and agencies of government for result. There is a need for genuine change in all facets of the body polity.
Certainly, there are so many things to be done for the people to have a feel of the current government and justify its choice at the end of the day, and with the list of intending ministers out of the way, there would not be no more excuses for failure as the Buhari government begins to countdown to another four years of its second term.