The “next level” ministers’ list is out. President Buhari released the list 56 days after his May 29 swearing-in. Although relatively late than many had anticipated for the ‘next level’, he has broken his record by the recent indication of his readiness to form a Federal Executive Council. He has done it four months shy of his last record when he formed the cabinet after six months. It is five months since February 27 when he was officially announced the winner of the 2019 general elections.
Congratulations to the ministerial nominees. The matter at stake is the president’s integrity and by extension his ostensibly lacklustre attitude to governance and substance of his assurances. In following commentary of party loyalists and his media aides alike, I have observed that two qualities always stand out at every instance they get to eulogise the president.
The first is that the president is a man of integrity and this fact has been consistently proven in the many public offices he has held. It is on this very belief that he is believed to be better suited to fight corruption. The logic is simple. A man of integrity would abhor corruption. The twist to this narrative is the fixation on his financial prudence as if that is all to it.
Kudos must however go to the president for his administration efforts to recover looted funds from politically exposed persons from previous the administration. With profound acknowledgement of these strides, the fact remains that it is not in totality a fight against corruption. Another disturbing fact is that there is almost no comment on his sterling qualities as a manager of men and materials.
The second quality is that the president is jovial and is a leader who allows his aides to work to the best of their abilities. I want to suggest a third for which I request no gratitude. PMB is a record-breaker with tangible things to show for it – both in words and deeds. By way of advice, the president needs to accept responsibility for actions and inactions under his leadership and not pass the buck.
PMB had remarked at a dinner with the National Assembly leadership that he was very aware of the pressure he was under to form his cabinet. Now that the 43-man nominees list had been released, we can analyse the statement with some context. The statement begs a lot of question. Why did it take the president 56 days if he knew the nominees personally? How is that he is suddenly friends with some who only just became members of his political fold? What is Buhari doing with people who have cases to answer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission? In a list that is dominated by more politicians than technocrats, what exactly does the president intend to achieve?
In relation to the issue of ministerial list, the president had given his word that he would maintain a 65-35 gender balance in his cabinet. With only seven women accounting for 16% out of 43 nominees, he did not make good on that promise. In the build-up to the elections, he promised an infusion of young, energetic Nigerians. Again, he did not live up to this assurance. Is this an indication that he has no faith in the Nigerian youth? The youngest nominee is 49 years which is 19 years more than the minimum required age to run for a governorship office in the new and popular ‘Not too Young to Run’ bill which the president signed to law.