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President Muhammadu Buhari and His Saints

For a man who has been contesting elections to become the democratically elected President of Nigeria in the past 11 years, you will expect President Buhari to have a good idea of who his aides and ministers would be. He should also have worked out how to convince his party about the need to have those people appointed. 

I, therefore expected that within days after his nomination, he would announce some aides and ministers of some strategic ministries to say the least.

However, it took President Buhari four months to name only 21 persons as his nominees to ministerial positions pending senate clearance. Nigerians had been waiting. 

The body language from the presidency was that President Buhari was looking for Nigerians who have not been tainted with corruption and without any baggage. 

In that respect, many names were being peddled; those that many people think are above board. But, at the end of the day, we saw mostly the same politicians who have held Nigeria hostage in the past 16 years.

It must be made clear that it is the President’s prerogative to choose those with whom to work with. We do know that in reality the political party has a lot to say about who becomes a minister. 

Indeed, under the PDP, the Governors wielded a lot of influence in the appointment of ministers. The Governors inevitably nominated the ministers that came from states, where PDP had Governors. 

However, we are in the era of change, so we were made to believe that it would no longer be the same. The assumption or rather hope of many was that non-politicians may indeed be appointed as ministers.

Alas, our hopes were misplaced. Most of those nominated as ministers are the same major actors in PDP politics, most of whom, just moved over to the APC. Amaechi, Ngige, Ogbeh and Udo Udoma were all PDP stalwarts who have held various positions under PDP. 

The ministerial appointments appear largely to be settlement for those who have worked for the success of the party irrespective of the baggage that some of them are carrying.

To make matters worse, the portfolios of the prospective ministers did not accompany the list sent to the senate. I have not heard the senate say anything about that. Rather, they are talking about each nominee getting the support of at least two senators from his/her state. 

Why must the person get the support of the senators from his/her state? This goes to show that indeed nothing has changed under the APC dispensation.

My expectation is that the senate will insist that portfolios be set against the names of the nominees. That is the only way any rigorous screening can be achieved. Without the portfolios, there can never be any pointed questions on policy directions and the visions of the prospective ministers. 

What we are going to get will be vacuous and inane questions that will not descend on the particulars. The screening will end up a sham like past ones.

President Buhari’s list contains just three female nominees out of 21. It appears that even the three were added reluctantly. The question will be: why just three. Is it that there are not enough competent women to be appointed? 

My take is that there are not that many ranking women in the party, who are in a position to lobby for compensation with ministerial positions. Therefore, the men who constitute the bulk of the political soldiers are reaping the fruits of the victory.

The President should have announced this list even on the day of his inauguration. There is nothing exciting about a bunch of ex-governors, including certified election riggers, and those foisted on the people by the Supreme Court, and other recycled politicians.

Ikenna Okoli, FCIArb, Surulere, Lagos

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