No link between change mantra and ministerial list – NLC former chair
What is your take on Buhari’s proposed ministers? The process of selecting the ministerial nominees took some time and that kept Nigerians guessing, as well as gave them high hopes and expectations. Such process always involves intrigues, tinkering with several options, consideration of diverse interests and power play among major gladiators. The list emanating from such a painstaking process could only be expected to bring out some of the best hands the party believes it can propose. I only hope that the party is aware of the magnitude of the expectation of Nigerians and there must be no excuses for non- performance. Having said this, I am of the view that the nominees have made their marks in their respective fields and should bring their wealth of experience to bear in the onerous task of rebuilding the nation if the change mantra will be worth the trust and electoral investment of Nigerians.
Do you think the cabinet is okay from political perspective?
It is not always easy to determine the appropriateness or otherwise of a cabinet from the nominations or composition. One thing that is clearly shown is that the nominees are drawn from diverse political backgrounds, bearing in mind that the APC ab initio was an amalgamation of several political parties which some critics described as the coming together of strange bedfellows. Only those in the party can determine the level of contribution of each bloc to the general success and perhaps use such for political power sharing. Despite the perceived ideological differences, all the nominees come in with diverse background knowledge, vision and mission of the impact they wish to make.
Has President Buhari satisfied the feelings of Comrade Farouk Akanbi is a former chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Kwara State. In this interview, he x-rays President Buhari’s ministerial nominees. Excerpts: Nigerians with the list he came up with?
I do not think Nigerians have any particular group of people in mind. Rather, the expectation of higher performance that can impact meaningfully on their lives. The general notion now is not necessarily about who makes the cabinet, but about the tune, direction, standard and approach of the current administration. I must admit that in the course of the intrigues that usually go with contest for nominations, a lot of individuals have had their hitherto acclaimed achievements rubbished, while concerted efforts were made to drag people’s names in the mud. It has manifested that all of such were sponsored campaign of calumny.
Arising from these, and in line with Mr President’s anticorruption posture, a number of names which ought not to make the list until they had cleared their names eventually did. Unfortunately, some of such allegations were even not cleared in the course of ministerial nominees’ screening by the Senate.
Has the change mantra reflected in the list?
There is no link between the list and the change mantra because, when you talk about the change mantra, it was not a political ideology of any political party, not even the APC because what led to the change mantra was the ineptitude of the previous government and its misrule in Nigeria; Nigerians desired a change for the better in terms of administration, how they are governed and what happens to them in terms of their general welfare. So, the APC keyed into it by realising that no single political party can defeat the PDP-led government. Then, the amalgamation of parties came together, each of them coming with its different background and ideology; if they had it in the first instance. As result, it is the matter of each block within the APC as a party that would present its own candidate and that is why we cannot say that there is a particular link between that list and the change mantra. Whatever they are able to do, having won political power and coming together with the best each side can offer, whatever they are able to make out of it is what Nigerians would want to see.
If they are able to bring the desired change Nigerians are willing to have, and that is why I said there is no link between that list and the change mantra, we must realise that each of the ministerial nominees has a background he is coming from, has number of positions he or she had occupied and experience he or she had gathered.
The youth are complaining that they have been skewed out of the equation, what is your take on that?
I believe in Nigeria, power sharing has always been an individual and collective contribution of people to the electoral successes of political parties. It is after you have achieved that, that you will now sit down and begin to allocate positions. What has been the contribution of the youths? Well, they have contributed in no small way but they have not come together to identify with a political party. More often, they have been identified as individuals and when they are identified, they are usually consumed in the larger political struggle in the larger context within the political party because it is those who have the big political muscle in the party that determine and they are also those who determine who and who gets what.
I do believe that the youth already have substantial representations among the governors, National Assembly members, state assemblies, commissioners and even among local government chairmen. However, there is need for our youths to equally reappraise their contributions to politics in terms of being used as foot boys because many of our political gladiators require their services; some armed them and give them drugs to stimulate them to do something that ordinarily they will not be able to do; and they are used to perpetrate all manner of illicit acts during electioneering campaigns and electoral processes to the extent of engaging in political malpractices and attacking political opponents. Political offices are not meant for those kinds of people. They are always used and dumped and paid off whenever their services are no longer required. This is the area where the NANS, youth council and all other youth organisations should please sensitise our youths to be able to take up their proper role in the society.
What is your expectation from those already nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari?
Those who will form the cabinet have been told it is not going to be business as usual. They should also understand that they must learn from the pitfalls of those who have been ministers in the past.
We expect President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC leadership to come out with their policy direction so that Nigerians will know what all this is in the change mantra.
Comrade Farouk Akanbi