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An SOS to All the New 36 Ministers


Photo shows the new 36 Ministers pose with President Muhammadu Buhari

Congratulations to all the Nigerian compatriots who have finally become ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the most wonderful, tactful, dynamic, intellectual and sagacious African president of our contemporary times, President Muhammadu Buhari. I must say that it was a good and calculated selection of Nigerians who are going to prove their worth in governance and democracy. My elation is multiplied when I see some great names in the list, though my section of the country is still left behind.

The compatriots Muhammad Musa Bello, Adamu Adamu, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Chibuike Amaechi, Sen. Hadi Sirika, Ogbonnaya Onu, Babatunde Fashola, Abdulrahman Danbazau, Amina Muhammad, Lai Muhammad, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, Aisha Jumai Alhassan (Mama Taraba) and Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, among few others are the ministers to watch in the uncommon transformation of Nigeria by this people-oriented and development-driven federal government.

The swearing-in of the ministers came barely a day after the appointment of new federal permanent secretaries and deployment of others, which has clearly indicated that there is a calculated plan by the President to ensure the full execution of his plans to transform Nigeria. This is the first time since 1999 that Nigerians did not know their ministers and their portfolios, even the ministers themselves, until their swearing in. Although some guesses were correct, many Nigerians must have been taken by surprise. However, the long awaited Federal cabinet is born and all that Nigerians expect is actions than speeches and rigmarole. The ministers must have been handed their areas of immediate actions; and the whistle has been blown to kick-start the race to real national growth and integration.      

My Save-Our-Soul (SOS) to the honourable ministers is based on the fact that no single sector of the Nigerian economy is healthy and sound. In the past democratic governments especially from 1999 till end of May 2015, corruption was institutionalized to the extent that massive looters of public funds were glorified and honoured with national and international recognitions and awards; indiscipline and executive lawlessness were commonplace, financial fraud and high-leveled criminality prevailed; and tribalism and ethno-religious were staged to thrive. 

I cannot find any sector that was well with Nigerians. The health sector suffered; our foreign image was bastardized, our foreign affairs, our women and youth affairs, science and technology, trade and investment, justice, aviation, works, labour and productivity, interior affairs, petroleum and natural resources, water resources and solid minerals, agriculture, information and communication, transportation, finance, culture and tourism, all of them were lacking in developmental demands.

The reorganization and trimming of the ministries to twenty-four is interesting and impressive. The new ministries are labour and employment; solid minerals; transport; power, works and housing; interior; women affairs; science and technology; finance; justice; aviation; communication; water resources; youth and sports; petroleum resources; health; agriculture; budget and national planning; information; environment; foreign  affairs; Niger Delta affairs; education; defence; industry, trade and investment; Federal Capital Territory; and solid minerals.

What is expected from these men and women to succeed? President Muhammadu Buhari did not mince words at the Presidential Retreat with the Ministers-Designate, on November 5, 2015. “The work of restoration and renewal is urgent and immense. The expectations of Nigerians are high. Our determination to succeed and change the fortunes of our country must be equal to the challenge. I have invited you to join me in this urgent mission for our country. I am convinced that in accepting this invitation you are also equally determined to take part in this patriotic undertaking”, he told them.

A former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Ebele Okeke, who spoke at the ministers’ retreat, espoused the clear distinction in the duties of a minister, a minister of state and the permanent secretary of a ministry to guard against highhandedness, friction and conflict of interests which had hampered the overall success of government apparatuses. According to Okeke, “Ministers of state are appointed to assist ministers of cabinet rank in the discharge of the responsibilities assigned to them. 

The minister of state must be kept informed of the policy and activities of the ministry. The minister of state must not be impaired in discharging the responsibilities entrusted to his/her office. The authorization of the minister of state to assume responsibility for certain subjects cannot relieve the minister of his/her ultimate responsibility for policy implementation or carrying out presidential directives. In the same vein, it does not relieve the Permanent Secretary of his/her responsibility for the organization of the ministry.”

For these ministers to succeed, they should be guided by the fear of God, their human conscience and the love for Nigeria. They are the privileged; Mr. President confirmed: “We must count ourselves privileged to have been chosen among millions of our compatriots at this historic time to be the instruments that will deliver the change we have promised.” They should not quickly forget the anxiety that trailed the whole processes in their selection and screening. They must be humble and put Nigeria first. They should by now know that President Buhari is anti-corruption fighter and will not tolerate any of his ministers or appointees to be corrupt.

They should share vital experiences and information in regards to governance and administration with fellow ministers and the conduct of government activities should be open and more efficient. Accountability and patriotism must prevail. No Nigerian should be distanced from their offices.  

The chase for wealth should not be their primary concern; though the conducive environment must be provided for them to perform. They should learn from the present predicaments of past public officers who are now living under fear and limitation from their past offences against Nigerians. Let them reform and transform.

Our honourable ministers and my dear Nigerian compatriots, I will conclude this piece with Mr. President’s declaration at the 55th Independence celebration on October 1, 2015: “Change does not just happen. You and I and all of us must appreciate that we all have our part to play if we want to bring CHANGE about. We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust. We must change our unruly behavior in schools, hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices. To bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.”

Muhammad Ajah, a socio-political analyst, is an advocate of humanity and good governance. E-mail: mobahawwah@yahoo.co.uk

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