After four months of anxious waiting, the ministerial list of President Buhari has been unveiled. However, it did not meet the expectations of Nigerians and even the standard the President set for himself writes EMMA ALOZIE
In the run up to the nomination of ministers, President Muhammadu Buhari made two statements that can be described as conflicting. First he described ministers as ‘noise makers’. In far away Paris, France, while fielding questions from journalists, President Buhari said, “the civil service provides the continuity, the technocrat. And in any case, they are the people who do most of the work. The ministers are there, I think, to make a lot of noise, for the politicians to make a lot of noise. But the work is being done by the technocrats. They are there, they have to provide the continuity, dig into the records and then guide (those of us) who are just coming in.”
Also, when the president came under enormous pressure owing to his delay in constituting his cabinet, he defended the delay saying he never wanted to appoint already compromised people because of the level of rot in the system. According to the president, his delay was simply to avoid appointing those he described as hostages.
“We will try as much as possible to avoid appointing hostages; by this, I mean people who have been in the system but compromised their personal and professional integrity.
“We have to look for technocrats and politicians. We have to look out for decent people in this class to give them the responsibility of being in charge of ministries and important parastatals.
“It is taking so much time (to appoint ministers) because a number of knowledgeable people have been compromised. They have been compromised by people who will like to depend on them to damage our economy and security; a lot of them have been compromised.
“The worst thing that I think can happen is to get a compromised person to be in charge of institutions. There is no way he could be efficient or patriotic. Somebody behind the scene will be manipulating him at the expense of the nation.
“This is what we are trying to avoid and I assure you that so much damage has been done to Nigeria. We cannot rush to give this responsibility to people that have unfortunately been compromised,” the President assured.
However, with the first batch of 21 ministerial nominees released, Nigerians are unanimously saying the list comprises people who going by the president’s insistence of not appointing ‘compromised individuals and hostages’, have no business being there.
Yinka Odumakin, the spokesman of Afenifere, captured it succinctly when he said there was nothing exciting or surprising in the list to have warranted the four months wait. “There is no excitement or surprise in the list. They are mostly run of the mill people that do not warrant waiting four months to have. Those names could have been submitted at Eagle Square on May 29,” Mr Odumakin said.
He is not alone in feeling disappointed by the content of the awaited list in the last four months. Balarabe Musa, former governor of Kaduna state, said the list was not worth the wait.
According to Musa, “these are the same old names, ordinary Nigerians who the President knows and he must have even met them several times. So, what is particular about them that he wasted so much time in appointing them ministers.
“But there are about two or three who I can say are distinguished among them like, Audu Ogbeh who I have known for a very long time. We were together during the Second Republic. He was a minister while I was governor then. Audu Ogbeh has an outstanding public record that everybody knows.”
The nominees include Abubakar Malami (SAN), Kebbi, Abdurahman Bello Dambazzau, Kano, Aisha Jumai Al Hassan, Taraba, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Kwara, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Lagos, Adebayo Shittu, Oyo, Solomon Dalong, Plateau, Senator Chris Ngige, Anambra, Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers and Chief Audu Ogbeh, Benue. Others are Mrs. Amina Ibrahim, Kaduna, Dr. Osagie Ehaneri, Edo, Emmanuel Kachukwu, Delta, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, Jigawa, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Ogun, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Ebonyi, Hon. Ahmed Musa Ibeto, Niger, Ibrahim Usman Jubrin, Nassarawa, Senator Hadi Serika, Katsina and Senator Udo Udoma, Akwa Ibom.
Based on the perception of Nigerians on some of the prominent names on the list, the verdict is that many of them fall short of the standard the president set for himself in terms of not having men and women who are perceived to be corrupt. To many Nigerians, some names in the list appeared just for compensatory purposes; for the fact of their huge contribution to the successes of the president and the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the last election.
Even Kayode Fayemi, former Ekiti State governor and one of the ministerial nominees confirms that the list is mostly made up of people who worked for the success of the party as against non compromised people as promised by the president. According to Fayemi, “One must thank the president for reposing confidence in us and we thank the party because when you look at the list you see that this is a galaxy of party men and women; people who have really been active, who have worked so hard to ensure the victory of our party.”
For instance, names like Fashola, Fayemi, Ngige, Amaechi and even Dambazzau evoke some sense of lack of integrity in the minds of many Nigerians.
Babatunde Fashola: A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the immediate past governor of Lagos State. he held this post for eight straight yearsm by which time he was roundly hailed as the best thing to have happened to Nigeria in terms of governance.
However, all that was in the past as the underbelly of Fashola’s administration has been opened even by those who are supposed to be his political allies. He was accused of using N78.3 million to establish his personal website. With these weighty allegations on his neck, Nigerians are wondering whether he does not qualify for the ‘compromised’ Nigerians President Buhari vowed never to appoint.
Chris Ngige: Former governor of Anambra state and a staunch supporter of President Buhari. A medical doctor by training and a two term senator, he is better known for being a beneficiary of stolen mandate, of which he held for three years before it was retrieved by the Court of Appeal. His tenure as the governor of Anambra State cannot be said to be without allegations of corruptions as there are various allegations of corrupt enrichment and abuse of office still hanging on his neck. Is he still amongst the saints?
Rotimi Amaechi: Immediate past governor of Rivers State, his nomination has divided opinions more than any other nomination. He is currently being accused of mismanaging N70 billion of state assets sold under his tenure. He has been having a running battle since he left office, especially with his kinsman and successor in office, Governor Nyesom Wike. There are those who argue that the nomination of Amaechi as a minister runs contrary to the avowed anti-corruption crusade of this administration.
Kayode Fayemi: former governor of Ekiti State who failed in his reelection bid. He is one of the nominees. He has been accused of constructing a government house with about N3 billion and buying a bed for N50 million. Is he amongst the saints?