At Last, Buhari’s Ministers Unveiled

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President Muhammadu Buhari (center) and the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a group photograph with the newly sworn –in Mminister at the Presidential Villa, Abuja

Canticles…

 Hmmmmm, what a reprieve!

 

Reprieve? Were you under pressure all the while?

 

Weren’t you? Are you not a Nigerian? Who wouldn’t be anyway? This is an election that was won since February…. And we are just setting up the ministerial team only 48 hours ago, six clear months after. Haba! Is governance that complex?

 

Come on, be fair.  The elections took place six months ago, does not mean the second term began six months ago.

Do not forget the president was sworn-in at the end of May. This is August. It’s barely three months. And the cabinet has been constituted.

Do not also forget that the senate had to clear the ministerial nominees. So…

(cuts in raising the right palm)

 No, no, no… do not blame t, he senate. They delayed their going on break because of the need to screen them. Don’t forget the senate was literally begging the president to send in the names so they can be screened and cleared before they proceed on recess.

Anyway, what is important is that the cabinet has been constituted. And from the look of things, the ministers are going to hit the ground running. Not after they had had a very educative and informed two-day retreat that seems to have set the tone for the Next Level dispensation. I can tell you for free that the Ministry of Transport, for instance is meeting this morning in Lagos to map out its operational strategy for the new term.

 

You saw the allocation of portfolios. Does it engender any hope of a better four years ahead?

I think so. The size of the cabinet is bigger, with  a wholesome 43 members. Many ministries now have substantive ministers and ministers of state. That, I think, will make for a more conscientious execution of government policies and programmes. What’s more, the behemoth called Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, has been split for greater efficiency. It did not make sense trying to compress government template without achieving sufficient progress. So in all, I think, there will be greater strides this time around.

Beside the split of some ministries, do you think the allotment of portfolios is indicative of round pegs being in round holes?

Hmmmm. That’s pretty tough to answer. Nigerians do not exactly  have the profile of all 43 new ministers. But I can tell you that Mr President was far more conscientious in his choice of ministers this time. The allotments are also, to a large extent, full of prospect.

 A cursory look shows that all the returning ministers retained their old portfolios. The Ministry of Transport, for instance has now been separated from the Ministry of Aviation, with the latter having its own substantive minister, just as Rotimi Amaechi, who is justifiably returning as the Minister of Transport, now has a minister of State in Gbemisola Saraki.

Many people are also excited that the likes of Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the first Executive Governor of Ekiti State is heading the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment.   Given his pedigree in frugal management of resources as well as his wide range of network, that is one ministry that holds great promise of raising the bar of governance.

 

But some people are grumbling that Dr Chris Ngige has been sent back to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity. That given the avalanche of industrial unrests that characterized the workforce in the last four years, Ngige may not necessarily be a solution to the distrust existing between workers and government. Recall that the NLC had specially pleaded that Ngige should not be re-appointed into that ministry.

 

And that was exactly why Mr President re-appointed him there.

Does it mean Mr President does not listen to the masses?

Which masses? Mr President hates to be dictated to. He hates to appear as pandering to threats and blackmails.

So what do you say about the allotment of the petroleum ministry to Timipre Sylva without requisite industry experience?

Hmmm, well, don’t forget he was a former governor of a whole state. What experience can be more than that? Don’t also forget that he is from oil-rich Bayelsa State, and had also serves as SA to a Petroleum minister, Edmund Dakouro.

And what’s more, he is Minister of State with Mr President as the substantive minister.

Forget that substantive minister thing in that ministry. Mr President has not been able to handle all the myriads of issues on his table, and so wont have the time to micro-manage any other ministry as substantive minister. Was that not how Ibe Kachikwu was said to be minister of State for Petroleum and he ran the show single-handedly, until they split his power by separating the GMD of NNPC from his portfolio?

But did you notice that apart from Godswill Akpabio who was named the Minister of Niger Delta, almost all other ministers from the Niger Delta are junior ministers? Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), junior minister, Festus Keyamo (SAN) (Delta), junior minister. Goddy Jeddy Agba (Cross River) junior minister, Mr Clement Agba (Edo)   minister of State for Budget and National Planning.

 

That is not correct. Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) is not only a substantive minister, he is in a grade A ministry.  Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom) is a substantive minister of Niger Delta.  Dr Osagie Ehanire  (Edo) is substantive minister of Health,

Take another look, and you’d find that the list was very carefully drawn and far more methodical than in 2015.

I think what is important is performance. Government has set key Performance Indicators (KPI) and it is up to the ministers to benchmark their performances against the KPIs they have been given.

What Nigerians want ultimately is positive impact of government. That is all that will count at the end of the day.

Who is from where does not matter. What matters is what impact does the person bring to governance.

Mr President must take charge of his government much more committedly and devotedly, and wrest the government from the hands of the cabal. Anyone not pulling his weight should be shown the door.

How this set of ministers perform will determine whether or not the ruling party—the All Progressives Congress (APC) will retain power in 2023 or not.

The party must therefore also shine its eyes and actively participate in the governance, this time around.