We must state right from the onset that, after four long months of waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari to surprise Nigerians, nay the world, with a list of ministerial nominees that most would look at and thumb up the administration for actualizing its hitherto avowed determination to nominate or/and appoint persons whose antecedents and visions are in tandem with government’s anti-corruption stand, he has come up with what many Nigerians have described as not worth the waiting.
No doubt, President Buhari manifested his abhorrence for corrupt practices and persons related to such condemnable acts when he was Nigeria’s military Head of State. Alongside, his late right-hand man, Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, they instilled in all, including our national psyche, the spirit of transparency, orderliness and patriotic disposition for a greater and more prosperous nation. That was the dispensation when government workers resumed and closed from work at established times. That was also when corruption in service delivery, either in the public or private business, was drastically reduced. Thus, when Buhari, now as civilian democratic President, declared his no-hurry stance to get “saintly” ministerial nominees to assist him in administering our affairs, Nigerians supported him despite the obvious delay.
However, the long wait ended Tuesday, October 6, 2015 when to our chagrin, most of his nominees as unveiled by Senate President, Bukola Saraki cannot easily scale any level of anti-corruption test they are subjected to. Many have since described most of the nominees as “analogue,” internally displaced politicians with no relevance in today’s governance,” and “outrightly corrupt.” The plethora of protests that greeted the announcement of the nominees underscore the foregoing; and we align with them and their views intoto.
Perhaps, the most controversial of the nominees is that of immediate past governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi.
In seeking his confirmation as minister, the three senators from the state have said President Buhari ought to have reconsidered the nomination following allegations of fraud and corruption. Their representative, George Thompson Sekibo, Rivers East, told journalists that Amaechi was alleged to have looted N70billion of Rivers state funds – and allegation Amaechi has denied, alleging witch-hunt. But we recall that a non-governmental organisation, The Integrity Group, had two months ago petitioned the president over fraud and corruption allegedly committed by Amaechi‎ while he was governor. Sekibo said the president might not have seen the document, but said that stopping Amaechi’s confirmation at the senate was the next option. Besides, Sekibo’s position, we recall too that the former Rivers state government had regularly incurred the wrath of people of the state for similar but unrelated matters, developments that will obviously stain the President Buhari administration’s war against corruption.
There is also the case of another nominee and former Finance Commissioner in Ogun state, Mrs Kemi Johnson. Anti-corruption group, CACOL, that has long been in the vanguard of advocating thoroughness and sincerity in the exercise of selecting those who were to man top positions in government, has alerted that the former commissioner if cleared and appointed minister would be one individual that cannot add any value or gain to the administration, given her antecedents of alleged scandalous activities premising on financial mismanagement, questionable and self-beneficial transactions of government businesses, wastefulness, acquisition of questionable wealth, ineptness and of course, graft.
Then there is the issue of former Lagos state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola whose financial dealings while in office rubbished all the good works he reportedly did. The antecedents of former Ekiti state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi with his baggage alongside many more of the nominees are there also.
We believe that with this description of men eventually sitting at the table of justice, equity and good conscience to preside over the delivery of democracy dividends to Nigerians, the country could begin a dive into its inglorious past of retrogression. And should the President not withdraw the names of these people from his list, the Senate must do the needful: decline clearing them for appointment for their ignominious past as public servants.
If Nigerians have waited this long for this calibre of unwanted nominees to emerge, we can wait further for a revised list comprising able, capable and patriotically qualified men and women to work with President Buhari. But when men like the above hold sway, it will be one expensive gamble for the administration whose anti-corruption toga must remain clean and shine brighter with every appointee of the President.
Enough of the politicking with the future of the country.