President Buhari is bent on appointing only credible men into his yet-to-be-formed cabinet, but such men according to the president’s confession are not
available. EMMA ALOZIE looks at how the president intends wriggle out of this dilemma
The biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about playing out in Nigeria in the course of President Muhammadu Buhari’s search for those to fill ministerial vacancies.
When Abraham pleaded with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction, God gave a condition that if He could see just 50 righteous people in the city, He would spare it. Even When God lowered the condition to 10 righteous people, there was none.
This perhaps typifies the dilemma President Muhammadu Buhari has found himself. President Buhari got into office singing integrity and anti-corruption and this seems to have tied his hands. Nigerians are eager to see the caliber of those likely to make President Buhari’s cabinet and perhaps judge him from that plank.
The President has always insisted on appointing only credible Nigerians into his cabinet and nothing suggests that he has shifted from this position.
In a recent TV program, the President reiterated that position. The President said, “From what I have seen so far, we need very patriotic Nigerians to be ministers; Nigerians that can work very hard with knowledgeable experience; committed Nigerians to be in charge of ministries.
“A lot of institutions in Nigeria are compromised, everybody for himself and God for all of us. It is most unfortunate. We have people, educated and experienced people, but everybody seems to be working for himself on how much they could get away with as soon as possible.
“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.
“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.
“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 tele-guiding him at the expense of the nation.
“This is what we are trying to avoid. We cannot rush to give this responsibility to people that have unfortunately been compromised.”
Recently, there were stories that some prospective ministerial nominees failed the president’s integrity test and this accounted for the unusual delay in naming members of cabinet. It was reported that out of 36 names allegedly sent for verification, 33 failed to meet the standard set by the president.
Ideally, the President’s insistence on credible men to help him implement his policies and programs should be applauded, but realistically such men are in dire short supply in a country like Nigeria where the system itself encourages institutional corruption.
The president’s position is not helped by APC’s campaign before the election; a campaign that basically painted the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the worst thing to have happened to Nigeria since independence. To APC, PDP typifies corruption and what is wrong in politics, but the reality on ground is if PDP is all about corruption, APC cannot completely distance itself from corruption because APC as a party is an amalgam of various elements including PDP elements. In fact, there are strong beliefs that without the PDP elements, APC electoral success would have been delayed; it would not have been this swift.
Analysts are of the view that in looking for saints to man the ministries, the President may end up making a huge political mistake; alienating the ‘corrupt’ political class that helped him ride to power. And to these analysts, no matter how irrelevant the President and his handlers may see this group of people after the election, they may have a way of cutting the president down to size at least in the long run.
What then is the way out for the president? There is no easy escape route as looking for 36 unblemished politicians in Nigeria is tantamount to searching for a pin in a haystack. This has put in the president in a political quandary that needs extra-political wisdom to wriggle out from.
If he fails to appoint many of the politicians who bankrolled his election or their cronies, he would have alienated his core constituencies and made unnecessary political enemies. If on the other hand he appoints many of the perceived corrupt politicians who sank huge resources into his election, he would also have alienated his masses constituency who still view the president as stainless. So the president has unwittingly found himself between a rock and a hard place, and whichever way he falls, he is bound to break some bones.
When God could not locate even 10 righteous men in Gomorrah, He sent his angels to destroy the city. Now that President Buhari cannot locate even 10 ‘righteous’ politicians to form his cabinet, will he run his government alone?