One of the oldest debate topics is which came first; the egg or the chicken? We have this same challenge with the new President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. For a long time now we Nigerians have been screaming for the list of ministers and PMB has just delivered. Hopefully by the end of November the senate would have confirmed all the nominated candidates and the new ministers would have received their ministries. But what agenda would they be implementing? Where is the beef?
As far as is known, former President Goodluck Jonathan sent the 2015 agenda (budget) to the legislature and it was approved and it is this agenda that the permanent secretaries under PMB are executing. Has anything changed? Will anything change? Will there be a different focus?
In a democratic system of government the Head of Government addresses the legislature giving in broad outline where he wishes to take the country to. He then sends to the legislature the details of his plan (budget). When the budget is approved the ministers go to work to execute the plan (where did Mr. Aluko get the idea that ministers are not executives for crying out aloud?).
The point is what will the ministers be doing when they are in place in about a month? If the idea is that the ministers would draw the agenda and the broad objectives of the new administration, then we would not have a functioning government until early 2016 which by implication means that GEJ had served an additional one year. We already know the answer to this dilemma; that PMB did not receive the hand off notes early. When we get this answer we begin once again begin to wonder how much preparation was made by APC as they hunted for the office of the president of Nigeria.
Were they not running to win?
One of the slogans that helped President Bush (I) win his election was “Ready on Day One.” Meaning that he would not need a long apprenticeship as president. He delivered on that. I think that, that slogan was in the minds of many Nigerians as they voted for PMB. They knew he had had experience as HoS and would be on top of the job on day one. It seems as if that assumption was wrong. We are now seeing so many rookie mistakes, everywhere one looked.
What do I propose? I suggest that PMB looks up to no other than former President Yar’Adua. On assuming office, Mr. Yar’Adua announced his 9-point agenda to Nigerians and to the world. He immediately sent the document (budget) for enabling legislation to the legislature for approval. Yes, his health was failing him and he did not live long enough to fully implement the agenda so we are not able to judge his performance. But the country knew where and how he would have gone. GEJ did similar things.
We do know that PMB wants to fight corruption and indiscipline (his slogan from four decades ago) and to fight Boko Haram. These are worthy wars but how do you put food in the mouths of babes? How do you heal the sick and suffering; educate and provide work to the youth; increase and improve on Africa’s “largest economy”: etc? These are much more imperative and much more immediate.
Should Nigerians not be demanding the AGENDA now? It would have been easier to state that PMB had done so before the election with his contract with Nigeria. But that has been repudiated by the Prince himself when he revealed that he had never seen it or approved of it. So if that was a figment in the minds of some deluded APC members what is the new contract? How and when will he make it a legal document by working with the legislature? How economical is it to have 21 well compensated ladies and gentlemen sitting on their hands waiting for their orders?
The new PMB administration has great opportunities that had eluded Nigeria for a while: a smooth transition from one leader to another; an overwhelming support of citizens; comfortable majorities in the House and Senate; to name a few. What is the delay?
The way the government in a democracy is supposed to work is that there is a generally accepted (by the executive and peoples’ representatives in the senate and House) set of policies and procedures, let’s call this the budget. The president drives the budget. The command structure runs from the president to his chief executives (minsters) to the ministries and out to the citizens. Without this agreement nothing happens. Currently there is no such agreement.
It is this void that PMB must tackle.
It is this agreement that differentiates a democratic leader from a dictator. A dictator has his own ideas as what should be done; he does not need any agreement with anybody else for the people did not select/elect him/her.
Nigerians need to find out who is in charge of their country a PMB or a GMB?
There is a difference.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston Massachusetts
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