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A Value-Free Analysis of Buhari’s Cabinet

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Buhari meeting NASS leaders on his ministerial nominees

In my op-ed piece titled “Waiting for Buhari’s Angel.” I stated uncompromisingly that the only way that Nigerians will forgive Buhari for keeping the Federal Government in the state of suspended animation is that “he should go to heaven and convince angels to be his ministers.” By this, I meant that the much awaited ministerial list will be awash with tested and trusted technocrats scattered in this vast country – and definitely not political household names.

ABOVE: Buhari meeting NASS leaders on his ministerial nominees

Going further, the piece runs “already known names say Ameachi, Fashiola, Ezekwesili, Prof. Utomi, Timipre Silva, Ngige, Prof. Tam David West, Soludo Fayemi, Umar Mutalab should not be in the list for Buhari knew those names before 29th May and has waited this long”.

Now that the first set of the list is out with some aforesaid names therein, can we say that the four month search is worthwhile? And why will the list come in twofold after this long search?

The four month search for all intents and purposes amounts to an exercise in futility. Nigerians were expecting angels and not political thieves. Some names in that list are having the halo of corruption hanging around their heads – so why choosing them? Buhari before 29th May knew that Amaechi, Fayemi, Ngige, Lai Muhammad etc. will be in his ministerial list so why this waste of time?

APC Spin doctors and ‘vuvuzelas’ have argued that the ‘wait’ saved Nigeria N845.558million, no doubt this is a very big savings but can this money be commensurate with expertise – that will eventually be transmuted to money – which the ministers will bring? If the reply is in affirmative, I suggest that we should scrap ministers so that Buhari will continue to save money for us.

Buhari’s statement that ministers are ceremonial heads is the tip of the iceberg of the President’s knowledge of the art and science of statecraft. Notwithstanding the fact that the permanent secretaries run the day to day activities of the ministers, ministers remain the political heads of the ministries who don’t just formulate the governmental programmes of their ministries but also see to its implementation. The principle of civil service made it that permanent secretary should wear a t-shirt boldly written: We are a political. I wonder if Buhari want to make them political?

The importance of ministers in Government runs from John Donnel’s dictum that ‘no man is an island entire of himself.” Ministers are supposed to be experts – who have shown themselves approved in their respective fields – employed by government to help in initiating and implementing policies that will ensure the greatest happiness of the greatest members in a given state. You see why Buhari’s four months in office were characterized by the expression  “Baba go slow.”

Selection of Buhari’s ‘parlor cabinets,’ we were told by APC Spin doctors, were based on five factors viz: strict adherence to principle of non-interference in choosing his cabinet, integrity or pedigree; selfless service; old acquaintance and less exposure to political influence.

Are they correct? Let’s See!

Non-Interference

If by non – interference, they meant that Buhari independent of himself  – that is without considering the lists of his APC’s cardinals – chose his cabinets, then they are considering us fools! Why I don’t have problem with Buhari considering his party list, am groused with the way that the dyed in the wool Buharimanics always canonized him to a point of nausea?

Integrity or Pedigree

Among the twenty-one names in the list just a handful can boast of attaining the aforementioned virtue. Amaechi – the only Nigerian Politician that “hate money” – should not fall into this yardstick, if not for anything he is still undergoing probe in his State. If integrity or pedigree is the major determiner of who will and will not be in Buhari’s ministerial list I don’t think that Alhaji Musa Ibeto will make the list. The only reason that influenced Buhari’s choice of  Ibeto lies on the fact that he folded the cannon that did not just fire PDP out Niger State but also disgraced his former master – Babangida Aliu. What about the Taraba women? She is so convinced that she was rigged out in the election, why not leave her to her fate in the tribunal. Are they no other people in Taraba State?  Buhari would have done us well if he had removed his eyes completely from politicians.

Selfless Service

In Nigeria, politics is seen as the shortest cut of amassing wealth. Selfless service is a rare attribute among Nigerian politician. If Buharimanics are telling us that selfless service is the deciding factor of who will or will not be in Buhari’s ministerial list, then they are joking!

Fashola did marvelously well in Lagos but the Internet scandal did soil his ‘immaculate shirt’ of administration.

Old Acquaintance

Buhari should not be criticized for choosing his old acquaintance – but ought to praise. For a President work to efficiently, he needs to work with people whose ability and capability he is rest assured.

Less Exposure to political influence

Only few of Buhari’s ministerial nominees can see the light of the day when cooked on the Bunsen burner of less exposure to political influence .many names in list –and probably the second list –made due to connection with some highly placed powers that be. Be that as it may, Buhari need to be commended for appointing Emmanuel Kachukwu, and Adebayo Shittu.

That said, concerning ministry of petroleum, we were told that our 72year old President will be our minister of petroleum – having Kachukwu as a Junior minister. In as much as his action will not be unprecedented, Nigerians need to listen to Fela’s ‘intro to military arrangement’ –for I don’t know any history book that recorded it – to know what happened when he once acted on that capacity during Obasanjo’s military regime. Up till this day, the $2.8 Dollars that missed under Buhari’s watch is yet to be accounted for. An inquest was set and after all that was said and done, Fela will tell you “they dabarule everybody Oh!”

All in all, there is one factor that determined Buhari’s ministers that we were not told – and that is the “spoil system”. The application of this spoilt system in process is a confirmation that governing Nigeria still remains business as usual. Nothing separates the way Buhari chose his cabinet from the way Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Jonathan selected theirs – so why the fuss?

Even if we accept religiously that the highfaluting principles were followed, can we say that the four month wait is worth it? Obasanjo who arguably had the best ministers since the return to the civilian rule, did not wait that long. Buhari should know that sometimes impatience can be a virtue!

ASIKASON JONATHAN – A Political Scientist wrote in From Lapai, Niger State 


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