In 2015, it took the then newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari six months to put his cabinet together. At the end of the day, after all the political permutations and combinations, those who were selected were either not prepared or not well knowledgeable in the various ministries they were asked to head. In fact, someone like Babatunde Fashola got three ministries; Works, Power and Housing to oversee. After four years of struggles, very few of them (now former ministers) could point to one tangible thing they were able to achieve while in office.
When the president would say at the end of the day, he said majority of the people that worked with him in his first tenure as cabinet members were not personally known to him. Maybe this alone could be adjudged for the reason majority of them did not do so much exploit in their respective ministries. Majority of them were mostly party faithful who were rewarded for their efforts in bringing the All Progressive Congress (APC) to power at the time. An example was the former Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Lai Mohammed was perhaps, the most unfaithful Minister of Information Nigeria has ever had since the country returned to democracy in 1999. His role in the last administration even got him another name; “Lie Lie Mohammed.” The man was really good like that in his capacity to convey lies to Nigerians on behalf of the Federal Government.
Now, this is 2019, and it’s well approaching the second month since president Buhari was sworn in again to commence another tenure, after he was deemed to have won the controversial presidential election held in February, 2019. Hun! The matter about that election would be a talk for another day. It is perhaps, one of the poorest elections ever in Nigeria’s democratic history. One would ever have imagined, that president Buhari, a man of integrity, an anti-corruption champion, would ride into his second term with such a shambolic election. Anyways, let us put this aside for now.
The real matter now is that the president is yet to put together his cabinet again, towing the path he toed in 2015, of taking six months before doing so. Well, some may argue that there is no need for him to rush into selecting whoever will pilot the affairs of the nation with him, knowing that the permanent secretaries of those ministries can fill in the vacuum, at least for now. This is true, at least to some extent. But one thing we must never forget is that the permanent secretaries are civil servants of these ministries and can only operate within the ambient of the law. There are certain functions that only the appointed minister can perform, which the permanent secretary is not empowered by law to do.
The President himself have even said he wants to personally choose people that are known to him this time around. There was a time he even said that he was under pressure to let the cat out of the bag. But the question remains: How long more can the president hold the whole nation to ransom? Is the president searching for saints? Is he waiting for angels to be deployed to be his cabinet ministers? This action is somewhat sickening and tiring and here are a few reasons:
Firstly, the Nigerian Senate, an institution that is supposed to ratify the appointments of the new ministers by the president have conveyed earlier to the presidency that it may be going on recess by the end of this month. Section 147 (2) stipulates: “Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.” If this happens, it means Nigerians would have to wait till the end of September when the Senate resumes again to know their ministers.
Secondly, does it not appear, that since President Muhammadu Buhari has been re-elected and sworn in, he is the only one in charge of the nation? Someone may say; what about the Vice President? Well, dude has been busy travelling. Have you noticed that there has been no Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings since the last meeting held on May 22, behind a closed door in which the president gave the order that the ministers should hand over the affairs of their respective ministries to the permanent secretaries on or before May 28, the day preceding the inauguration of his second term in office? Well, I think we should hail the president, he has been the only one doing the whole work; and he has not fallen sick because of that (LOL).
Thirdly, appointing ministers isn’t a rocket science. A serious president, who knows what to do, and who had served his first term of four years already; should have done his consultations and know who and who he wants to work with in his second term. I mean, barely one week after swearing in on May 25, 2019, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa constituted his cabinet. Please check again, South Africa is in Africa ‘oooo’, not in Europe or America, please.
The truth be told, serious nations don’t behave the way Nigerians behave. The complacency appears to flow from the very top into every fabric of the nation. We just take everything for granted in this part of the world. How can the president possibly take Nigeria to the next level when his cabinet is not even formed yet? Who possibly would the president blame if he fails again to deliver in this 4 years that he has before him? Well, maybe the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The president promised change in his first outing, many Nigerians can testify that not so much really changed in those four years. In fact, Nigeria, in those four years, became the poverty capital of the world, the economy struggled to grow in those years and many Nigerians became worse off than pre 2015 years.
We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different outcome. It appears that President Buhari did not rate Nigeria and Nigerians at all. At this point, one cannot but doubt if he even has any blueprint on how to succeed in this tenure. This next level he has promised Nigerians appears to be starting on a wrong footing, with the delay in this ministerial appointment. Anyways, time is already ticking, and just like that, Muhammadu Buhari would become a former president of Nigeria. But whatever legacies he wants to leave behind, if he has any; now is the time to start laying its foundation or at worst, he would join the league of Obasanjo in writing letters to whosoever it is that would take over from him in 2023.
God bless Nigeria.