Warts and all Buhari’s cabinet holds promise
On last day of September, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari delivered on his promise to send a list of his proposed cabinet to the Senate for confirmation. Though the President has delivered, the delivery is more or less partial as about fifteen more nominees need to be made to bring the total number to thirty-six and thereby satisfy the constitutional requirement that there should be a Minister appointed from each of the 36 states of the Federation. The President happily, has promised to complete the list at the earliest possible time. Nigerians hold him to his word.
Having taken the first step by sending the names of Ministers, it is interesting that the unveiling of the list has started a new round of controversy in the polity. While quite a large number of Nigerians have hailed the list as containing names of credible persons, who would deliver in any portfolio assigned to them and thus help the President to push the Change mantra, quite a large number of others have questioned the composition and thus the President’s wisdom in taken three long months to select the personalities. According to this group, where are the angels we have been waiting for in the past three months for which purpose the country had no Ministers in place?
This writer associates with those Nigerians who are comfortable with the President’s first choice of Cabinet members. Men are not Gods; hence anyone expecting the President to have made better choices than what we currently have been presented with is not being fair. There is no way President Buhari could have arrived at a selection better than what we currently have except Nigerians want him to appoint foreigners as members of his cabinet!
To the question of the delay in making the appointments for which reason the country had to make do without a Cabinet for three months. Anything worth doing is worth doing well and no responsible Chief Executive let alone the Leader of a big country would embark on any exercise that would ultimately impact on the life and well-being of the populace without careful thought or planning except the latter planned to fail!
It was absolutely necessary that President Buhari took his time to name people to his Cabinet. This is because
the of the huge rot found in the system when he took over and for which the Nigerian people had got fed up with and for which reason, they aligned with the party of Change, the All Progressives Congress (APC). If a new President took over the way PMB did, and met a situation of long queues at filling stations, near total lack of electricity across the country in spite of billions of Naira in investment in power, huge unemployment and unpaid salary arrears for State and Federal workers as well as dilapidating infrastructure in most parts of the country, such a new leader has to be circumspect. The situation described above is not edifying nor satisfying for which a new Leader like Buhari should jump into the fray and appoint people to merely take over ministerial seats in the tradition of all is well! Nothing was well when Buhari took over and there was the urgent need to understand the problem, what was wrong with the nation, sector by sector and stage by stage to know the areas that action are needed.
Yet another issue that made the delay inevitable is the need for the President to get grip of the security situation in the country that had spiraled out of control by the time the previous administration was leaving office. We also remember that PMB promised Nigerians to tackle in order of priority - security and insurgency, corruption and the economy/job creation. In fairness to ourselves, no serious leader can tackle corruption and revamp a collapsing national economy, in the absence of security or when it has not reasonably dealt with an armed and vicious insurgency that has crippled a large chunk of its country and displaced several thousands of its people!
Therefore the President had to do something concrete about the nation’s poor security situation before bringing attention to bear on other aspects of governance like selecting a Cabinet to drive governance and development. Thus, in the last three months, while slowly observing those to be appointed into the Cabinet, PMB had been concerned to a large extent with the pressing issues of national security hinged on the Boko Haram insurgency and the threat it poses to the existence and progress of the nation. Towards this end, in the last three months, Buhari travelled to a number of countries both for security reasons and to reinvigorate bilateral relations to serve better the objectives of national development. Having successfully put the issue of security on a sound pedestal, it is no wonder that the President is now emboldened to turn to constituting his cabinet.
One is comfortable with the list presented by PMB. In fact, it can be said to contain names of people who not only played prominent roles in bringing about the Change era, but these are men and women of caliber, thought and character who will not abandon the task of good governance in pursuit of personal agenda, as has been the case with the former ruling party.
Who would not be assured that the erudite intellectual and lawyer, Alhaji Lai Mohammed would complement the efforts of PMB to make Nigeria a country that works. This is a man who has devoted many years of faithful struggle to remove the then ruling party from power on account of the latter’s many shortcomings. Lai was the active face and voice of the opposition before the 2015 polls.
Or is Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, not good enough for any fair-minded person? Former Abia State Governor, now a nominee from Ebonyi State courtesy of State creation. This man has been constant like the Northern star. All through the years he remained faithful to the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) until that party joined forces to midwife the APC that brought us to where we now are. A first class Chemical Engineer, he would deliver Change and progress anywhere he is assigned. Hajia Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan is a fighter and dogged woman who has a lot of compassion for the downtrodden. She is committed to Change and good governance and the development of her people in Taraba State, and Nigeria at large. It is inconceivable that she would derail to become like any of the notorious women who served under the previous Jonathan administration. Similarly, Rotimi Amaechi, former Rivers State Governor, would not forget in a hurry the tribulations he went through at the hands of the Jonathan government and how without the determination of Nigerian voters who gave victory to his party, the APC, he would have perhaps been on exile or in detention by now. Amaechi will not abandon change for filthy lucre.
The same goes for all other nominees of PMB. Each of them have strong points and are a role model in many ways.
Louis Okoroma, a Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Abuja.