PRESIDENT BUHARI’S MINISTERIAL LIST: A COMEDY OF CHOICE
I have observed the reactions by some Nigerians to the recent unveiling of the names on the advance list of proposed federal ministers from President Muhammadu Buhari’s table for the consideration of the senate: to screen and convey senate’s necessary confirmation to constitute the overdue new federal executive cabinet. Permit me to offer enlightenment, particularly, to those who unnecessarily hold very strong opinion against the person and activities of President Buhari: thank God that as we speak, the team is depleting by the day. The recent turnaround and retirement of elder statesman, Edwin Kiagbodo Clark from active partisan politics is a testimony to this fact.
Hearing Tony Uranta on national television label as “unconstitutional” President Buhari’s nomination of 21 of 36 Nigerians for the consideration of the Nigerian Senate as members of his proposed Federal Executive Council (FEC) showed he has been sleeping too much, and has not be following political developments in the country. I have a little wisdom to share with Mr Uranta, and his team of President Buhari’s “Wailing Wailers”. Deep productive reasoning should have served Mr Uranta’s unnecessary outburst against the ministerial list, especially at this time that the “ball” of Mr President’s communication with the Nigerian Senate in this regard is already upon the “playing field” of senators of the federal republic. They are better positioned to determine if sending 21 of 36 nominees for their confirmation, with the assurance of Mr President to send the conclusive list on a later date breaches our constitution in anyway. He, in the alternative, can also approach a court of competent jurisdiction to test his understanding of the constitution as it relates the appointment of ministers.
Mr President had in a nationwide broadcast to Nigerians on the anniversary of our independence sought the understanding of Nigerians concerning his late release of the ministerial list, explaining the reasons behind the delay. I wish to believe that majority of Nigerians gave him that necessary understanding he deserved. I remember the period shortly before the inauguration of this administration when officers of the last administration accused the incoming of trying to run a “parallel” government, and without mincing words seriously warned the Buhari transition team against it. What we see now, as the president had noted, was caused by the vindictive treatment of the present administration in the twilight of the last administration.
The response of Mr Tony Uranta to the ministerial list is called “jumping the gun”: in athletics track events; this is an offence that always calls back athletes to their starting “marks”. Unfortunately, the patience of Nigerians with President Buhari’s style of administration is wanning by the day. I am an ardent supporter of President Buhari, and I have unconsciously joined in complaining about the present “biting” economic conditions I am also experiencing.
Nevertheless, I find consolation in the fact that I am not suffering this economic shortages in the face of a severe abuse of the fuel subsidy regime, obscene public spending and mindless fiscal impunity in the “highest place”. The present pain is felt by every Nigerian including the national economy. Though the wheels of governance still find ways to roll, it cannot erase the fact that we are suffering an economic recession. I pray that after this suffering, Nigerians will live in prosperity again and government will become people-oriented.
In the face of President Buhari’s seeming and alleged incapacities, we yet talk of how his “body twistings” has engendered some of the forced-reforms we have observed in the polity and in certain socio-economic sectors.
As an admirer of the character traits of Mr President, I desire to see a very prosperous Nigeria where the welfare of the people are treated like that of those of the people of Saudi Arabia, where I suppose poverty is seen as self-inflicted and a crime against the State: this is my hope for Nigeria. Nigerians are tired of continuing with establishment-imposed and official-driven poverty. We all are ready to resist anyone who would suggest that poverty should be a culture for Nigerians: it is wickedness. Permit me therefore to raise some salient points on the reactions to President Buhari’s advance list of proposed ministers now before the senate, and to intelligently analyse the depth of the various opinions:
1. Checking The Shades Of Opinions:
Some Nigerians have suggested that with the kind of people President Buhari has chosen as ministers, the success of Mr President’s anti corruption war is already compromised. Some suggest how in vain Nigerians have waited to see the revelation of the remnants of Nigerian political “saints and virgins” that would comprise the list of Mr President’s cabinet. The worries of others are centered on why the president should think he owes anyone for his victory at the March 28 presidential polls, which produced him as President. Well, I have no words for those who were expectant of Mr President’s nomination of political “saints and virgins” as ministers because that was a very tall demand for any human being.
I did not believe President Buhari authored such a suggestion. A perfect humanity is impossible but a just humanity is possible and available: there are no perfect humans; and sainthood is an unmerited divine imputation. So if Mr President said he was taking his time to study the direction of the government he inherited, examine the capacities of those he has to work with, and prepare to properly assign them to areas of their greatest potentials, it should not be misconstrued for the search for saints and virgins.
For those who see the nominations of Mr President in the light of a “thank you” reward for the political support he enjoyed when aspiring to be president: these have no reason to see anything wrong in Mr President patronising those who laid down their lives for his emergence as President, as long as the nominees are Nigerians of not less than 30 years of age, holders of at least the School Certificate, members of an existing political party; they must represent a State in the Federation and also enjoy the confirmation of the senate, who are the representatives of the Nigerian people. The qualification of any Nigerian for ministerial appointment is equated to the qualification required of an aspirant nursing membership of the House of Representatives according to our laws. The most essential of all requirements been the nominee’s personal and moral integrity to hold the office of a minister.
For those who label some of the nominees as corrupt, who are, in their own opinion, as elements that would compromise the president’s avowed war against corruption, I dare they produce available evidences of the corrupt activities projected against the nominees, and to help the authorities hold them accountable for their misdemeanor. No Nigerian of this present age would support a “goat” been given the custody of “yams”. The petition before the Senate protesting the nomination of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is a welcome development. We are watching to see the direction it will go. This is what “The Buhari Wailers” should be doing instead of “crying wolf” where there is none.
However, let this be certain: that Nigerians would not allow any political antagonism or backstabbing of the nominees arising from personal and political differences existing and protracting in some States to truncate the good decision of Mr President, and hinder the just reward for those who stood by him in his moments of trial. Nevertheless, where accusations are proven and individuals are indicted, Nigerians would be grateful for such “stitch in time that saves…” Goats must no longer be appointed the keepers of our yams.
2. Strategic Political Permutation:
Looking through the list of proposed ministers submitted for screening and confirmation, me think President Buhari was smart with his choices. Whatever the analysis we deploy on these nominees, the most outstanding is how President Buhari would use their appointments to stabilise his administration, break all opposing hold, and curtail the powers of “godfathers”, and the overbearing nature of governors in their States. The usual hold some individuals have on the presidency on matters concerning their states of origin to take ransome and dictate the overall direction of the governance in their states, sometimes against the law and popular opinion, must be checked. Nothing can better position the APC to address the image-denting they suffered in the hands of their nPDP antagonists during the National Assembly elections, and to check such happening in the future.
The nominees of President Buhari have clear potentials to check the advantages godfathers have over the presidency and the ruling party in their States of origin. No one in Kwara State would serve in this capacity so well as Lai Mohammed. I do not see any other “Kwaran” who would more effectively check the excesses of Bukola Saraki’s influence in the politics of that State, and ensure the relieve of his influence over Abdufatah Ahmed, the State Governor. If he is as wise as I think he is, he would partner with Lai Mohammed to break himself loose from Saraki’s apron string and work harmoniously with Lai Mohammed to aggregate and attract the best federal attention to Kwara State. It will be more beneficial for the people than for them to antagonise each other because of political advantage, especially at this time that Governor Ahmed is outgoing.
The roles changing for Rivers and Ekiti States is also very interesting too. However, I would love to see how these roles switching will also mark a departure from the spirit of vengeance and competition that characterised the use of federal might against the governors of States in opposition to the administration.
For God’s sake this is a democracy and I do not see President Buhari allowing this to happen like Goodluck Jonathan did; nevertheless, I am watching to see how the new actors will compete and succeed politically in their various States using better political intrigues, people-oriented programs, national prosperity and the rule of law to offset and win in the competitions to overrun their States for their parties: it is all about political interest and national development. Operating our governments through partisan politics cannot be avoided but impoverishing the people must be avoided, therefore political interest and national development must go hand in hand.
3. Who Has No Sin?
It is expected that the Senate screening exercise will bear some elements of “witch hunting”, as have been introduced in the Senate on Wednesday 7 October, when Senator George Thompson Sekibo rose to submit a petition written against the nomination of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Like I always opined, there is nothing absolutely wrong with hunting witches where they can be seen and hunted; but it will be useless and time wasting to hunt for witches where there are none to be found.
We have an instance on our hand, in the case of Arc Diezani Allison Madueke: is it possible to arrest President Jonathan for the sins of the minister he appointed to oversee the Ministry of Petroleum in his administration? It will be hasty to do so and this is how I see the case of Chubuike Rotimi Amaechi, as long as his accusers say he sold government assets and diverted the money: I think it is too hasty to link him directly, if there is any truth in the “personal diversion of money” story. The sale of government assets has its guidelines and processes it takes. To summarily inflict him the way it was done, sweeping the guidelines and processes under will fail before any court of competent jurisdiction.
Thank God the Rivers State government has asked the State Attorney-General to prosecute the former governor but I hope the case would not be withdrawn midway in the “spirit of reconciliation”.
In my opinion, if the government of Governor Ezebuwon Wike wants to come clean with his trailing of Rotimi Amaechi’s administration, let them commence this trail from October 2007 and see if Governor Wike is morally the right person to cast the first stone at the matters his government has so far raised against the administration of Rotimi Amaechi.
I am aware that there is palpable fear in Rivers State that should Chubuike Rotimi Qmaechi clinch a ministerial slot, it may cause the continuation of the Amaechi/Wike war by the change of roles. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with this because the Holy book admonishes us to do unto others as we would love to be done unto us. I therefore do not pity those who are paid back in their own coins. The important thing is however in how the people of Rivers State can be best served by the ministerial appointment of Rotimi Amaechi. But as long as the interest of President Buhari and that of the APC in Rivers State is concern, the best person available to vacate those interests is Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and it is in this light that the opposition of the PDP government of Rivers State is seen.
Let me also point this truth out concerning the personal integrity of the man Rotimi Amaechi: he is the only nPDP member that has fully, totally, and convincingly repented into the APC. He is the only true convert from the nPDP to the APC. He is now a full blooded, trustworthy APC man. I see a team-up against him in the Senate by the members of the nPDP and core PDP members, but this can only last for 21 days according to the law and he will be a minister.
4. Serious Matter Arising From Ex-Governors Pension Benefits
President Muhammadu Buhari would do well to look into the wisdom in asking his ministers who are former governors, and who enjoy pension benefits from their States to forego such pensions from their States during the period in which they would serve with him.
This will be in the spirit of the present administration’s “give-back” to Nigerians for their unmitigated sufferings in the past, especially in the face of the fact that principal members of the present Federal Executive Council, who are not beneficiaries of such pensions have voluntarily foregone half their annual salaries in sympathy with the cause of the present “change”, it behoves well to observe the rascality in an ex-governor taking all the entitlements attached to the office of a Minister and at the same time “coast home” with almost an equal (if not more of the) amount as pensions from funds usable for the development of their States. The culture of putting too much money in personal pockets in this country must stop.
In line with this objective, it becomes pertinent for the Buhari administration to promote an executive bill to the National Assembly demanding the outlaw of remittances of pensions in whatever way to former political office holders who still hold political offices in other capacities and enjoy renumeration for their present office. “Political pensions” remittances should only be enjoyed by politicians who are out of office in all capacities, Including political party offices. It is absolute madness for Senator Akpabio to fleece Akwa Ibom people of his pension as an erstwhile governor and coast home with all the entitlements of a senator and that of the senate minority leader. Imagine what Senator Bukola Saraki has been enjoying for the past 4 years. These men are mindless and wicked. They should no longer be politically relevant to us in anyway. They are selfish and greedy.
5. Why The National Assembly Must Get Serious With The Business Of Lawmaking:
It takes very little effort to read the laws passed by States Houses of Assembly to observe how personalised, selfish, childish, obnoxious and primitive the laws they churned out are. These Assemblies are mostly populated by “foot soldiers” for bigot-politicians, especially State Governors who use them to ascend their high horses and turn around to donate the mandates they rob from us to them as rewards for the violent and bloodletting assignments they usually carry out for them during political party and electioneering activities. Our State Houses of Assembly are made up of people with very despicable characters, who are only stamp pads on the table of Governors.
We have a national constitution that subordinates all other laws in conflict with it. I do not see why our National Assembly would not sit down and steadily go through our constitution letter for letter, punctuation for punctuation, and strengthen all the weaknesses in our laws, plugging all its porousness and injecting more of privileges for all Nigerians: and helping to narrow the caveats that provides the judiciary the avenues to ridicule our jurisprudence and exploit our justice system. We cannot deny the military thumbprints upon our constitution.
It is a shame that after 16 years our lawmakers cannot generate a civilised constitution for the advancement of our democracy but hide under military crafted laws to avoid their primary responsibilities. They sit on the seats our military oppressors vacated and have behaved worst than they were. We will force these sets of politicians out the same way – by a massive popular protest. So let us leave Buhari alone for now and pray that our present sorrows will turn to joy after all-well is done.
Let us see how the Senate will fair with their confirmations, especially now that a new rule of appeasing at least two senators is concern. We are watching to see who the actual ‘witches’ are that we must hunt to free Nigerians from obvious darkness. As for “witch hunting”, we are just beginning; and we will not rest until the last witch in Nigeria is hunted down. We must free ourselves from the colony of political witches.