The mon­i­tor and the noise mak­ers

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

In the public schools of 1970s and 80s in North­ern Nige­ria, it was par­tic­u­larly dread­ful to have one’s name writ­ten among noise mak­ers. Be­ing pen­cilled down among noise mak­ers was a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for se­ri­ous pun­ish­ment, mostly beat­ing, by teach­ers or se­niors. Since we cher­ished our skin and dreaded hav­ing it cracked by whips, we had pre­ferred a more mer­ci­ful penalty of be­ing asked to dig the tough ground or cut grass.

But lately, the term noise mak­ers has been used dif­fer­ently by Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari who has ap­pro­pri­ated it for his will-be Min­is­ters. These past four months, dur­ing which he in­ter­acted with and re­ceived brief­ings from Per­ma­nent Sec­re­taries, the Pres­i­dent must have un­doubt­edly ap­pre­ci­ated the enor­mity of the work be­ing shoul­dered by civil ser­vants. The Pres­i­dent had merely sought to down­play the su­per­vi­sory po­lit­i­cal role of min­is­ters as he was con­ver­sant with the la­bo­ri­ous “I am di­rected” work per­formed by civil ser­vants.

Now that the long awaited list of noise mak­ers has been com­piled by the mon­i­tor and sent to the Se­nate, Nige­ri­ans are wait­ing to see what the up­per cham­ber will do with it. I be­lieve there are a few sur­prises in Buhari’s se­lec­tion. Un­til now, many of us didn’t know much about Bar­ris­ter Abubakar Chika Malami (SAN), Bar­ris­ter Ade­bayo Shittu, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Dr Em­manuel Ibe Kachikwu, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, Kemi Adeo­sun and Ibrahim Us­man Jib­ril. Re­turnee min­is­ter, Dr Audu Og­beh will be the dean of the new cab­i­net. Nonethe­less, we are all agreed that as far as pa­per qual­i­fi­ca­tions are con­cerned, these Nige­ri­ans are em­i­nently qual­i­fied for min­is­te­rial po­si­tions. In terms of per­for­mance also, they are all com­pe­tent as will be shortly demon­strated in the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.

Many of them also bring no ex­cess bag­gage what­so­ever. Abubakar Malami is an ideal min­is­te­rial can­di­date; he is a hum­ble and hard­work­ing lawyer with SAN ti­tle to boot, and a flour­ish­ing pri­vate prac­tice. He is also young and en­er­getic and not known for any con­tro­versy. His will be a de­light­ful con­fir­ma­tion pro­ce­dure. Be­sides, he has the full sup­port of not just the three sen­a­tors from Kebbi but the en­tire state.

I am sure Chief Audu Og­beh will have zingers for those who may ques­tion his re­solve to work with Buhari 33 years af­ter he had served as Al­haji Shehu Sha­gari’s min­is­ter. I be­lieve that Audu Og­beh will be an agent of change, an op­por­tu­nity that the Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) de­nied him. He may be old but Og­beh is a demo­crat and is not given to in­flam­ma­tory rhetoric; even when he was edged out of the PDP gar­ri­son pol­i­tics, he had re­fused to use the phan­tom of Mid­dle Belt iden­tity, eth­nic­ity or re­li­gion to threaten any­one. Citizen Og­beh has al­ways spo­ken about Nige­ria, not North or South, Chris­tian­ity or Is­lam. He has en­thu­si­asm for farm­ing and has a farm; he is sim­ple, straight and sin­cere and can drive Buhari’s new poli­cies for agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment.

Although it has taken Buhari a long time to se­lect them, it is gen­er­ally be­lieved that Buhari’s min­is­ters will be above board.

Firstly, no one will toy with the idea of seek­ing grat­i­fi­ca­tion from Buhari’s min­is­te­rial can­di­dates. When Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo nom­i­nated Malam Nasir elR­u­fai as min­is­ter, we were re­galed with ac­cu­sa­tions and counter ac­cu­sa­tions about how some named Sen­a­tors ap­proached him for fi­nan­cial in­duce­ment to aid his con­fir­ma­tion. No one will at­tempt this with Buhari’s nom­i­nees.

Se­condly, none of Buhari’s min­is­ters will dare hi­jack the job of a depart­ment or agency un­der his min­istry that could lead to the avoid­able death of our cit­i­zens, ala Abba Moron, Jonathan’s Min­is­ter of In­te­rior, who com­man­deered the re­cruit­ment process of the Nige­ria Immigration Ser­vice (NIS) and al­legedly caused the death of about a dozen young Nige­ri­ans and then turned around to blame the devil. Buhari’s min­is­ters know very well that who­ever brings the devil to the cab­i­net will be dou­bly pun­ished by the Pres­i­dent and by God!

Buhari’s min­is­ters also un­der­stand that they can­not buy bullet proof cars be­fore or be­hind his back, like Stel­lah Od­uah, and then cling to their seats while the cit­i­zens holler for their dis­missal. Rather, when these types of scan­dals break out, a Buhari min­is­ter will him­self, on his own vo­li­tion, say his good bye. Those are scan­dals that Buhari will not tol­er­ate; it’s doubt­ful if any of Buhari’s min­is­ters will be in­dis­pens­able like Diezani Ali­son-Madueke or Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the no­to­ri­ous Jonathan cab­i­net. Ev­ery Buhari min­is­ter knows that he will quit if any­thing un­to­ward hap­pens in his min­istry.

All of the min­is­ters have a tough job ahead of them; the Min­is­ters of Agri­cul­ture, Fi­nance, Power, Mines and De­fence must par­tic­u­larly be on their toes all the time be­cause with the Pres­i­dent’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to di­ver­sify the econ­omy, cut down dras­ti­cally on the num­ber of the un­em­ployed and re­store se­cu­rity, those man­ning these min­istries have to work round the clock.

It’s un­cer­tain if the Se­nate can do any­thing other than con­firm­ing who­ever Buhari nom­i­nated as min­is­ter. Of course, sen­a­tors can grand­stand in the media and even­tu­ally get to ask the nom­i­nees all the ques­tions they wish to on the floor of their cham­ber, but they re­ally have no choice other than to pass them all, in­clud­ing the con­tro­ver­sial Chibuike Amaechi. There will be no ex­cuse to stop any­one, not even on the strength of pe­ti­tions, some of them ma­li­ciously filed to pro­voke fil­i­busters.

The real price for noise mak­ing will be ex­acted by Buhari him­self when he dis­cov­ers a min­is­te­rial trans­gres­sion or the in­abil­ity of his cho­sen noise mak­ers to meet set tar­gets. At that time, Sen­a­tors and Nige­ri­ans alike will only laugh at the noise mak­ers.

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