NEW CABINET: AMBODE, AREGBESOLA, AMAECHI, AKPABIO MAY MAKE TEAM
At the ministerial level, there are indications that the duo of Hadi Sirika, outgone minister of Aviation and Rotimi Amaechi Minister of Transport, will make it back for different reasons.
Sirika, initially had eyed the governorship in Katsina his state and that of the president.
The calculation of having both the President and the state governor coming from Daura province, Katsina, had forced Sirika to concede the ticket to the incumbent. Dropping Amaechi, for President Buhari, was not an option.
Though the president is said to be happy with the strides in the railways that he oversees, the thorough shellacking the ruling party got in Rivers pointed to a possibility that Amaechi was all but wiped out politically. Leaving Amaechi out of his appointments will end him politically. Buhari is believed to have reasoned.
Other appointments as gathered may feature more former governors like Akinwumi Abode of Lagos, Godswill Akpabio and probably Rauf Aregbesola or Osun State.
But most Nigerians are of the opinion that President Buhari must up the ante of governance by being proactive in effecting changes where and when necessary.
They further argue that a situation where some ministers were made to complete the mandatory four year tenure of the first term left much to be desired of a government that desires the recovery and growth of the economy.
However, what is most important to many Nigerians is how the President and those to be appointed ministers are going to “recover” the country from insecurity and sluggish economic growth to the benefit of 200 million people. Today, Nigeria is home to over half of its population who are poor and are wasting away in poverty and nearly 60 million illiterates.
With the latitude given to the president by the constitution to appoint his ministers and other aides to work with him, Nigerians are apprehensive over the quality of those Nigerians that would be appointed as aides and cabinet members. Nigerians would want to know the track records of the would be cabinet members and aides.
According to them, Mr President needs a team of leaders, not management team because of numerous challenges facing the country. Leaders take over where managers stop. It’s hoped that the President will not take up to six months to form his cabinet as he did in 2015.
There were some observed shortcomings of the last cabinet that they feel Mr President must guide against, sources within the Presidency said.
In fact, there were ministers who willingly compromised ethical standards and were favourably disposed to all forms of corruption. The Maina Gate and the former SGF corruption scandal are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians. It’s very appalling to see Nigerians who served under the President as ministers thinking they are repository of knowledge but most times they don’t have solutions to teething troubles faced by the citizens.
For instance, one wonders why the country has not significantly diversified its economy from oil. Why is the inequality between the rich and the poor increasing? Today, Nigeria has the unpleasant record of being at the bottom of the world’s inequality ladder for the second year running, according to IMF reports. The commitment to reducing inequality between the rich and the poor by the President and his ministers hasn’t yielded significant results. The middle class is shrinking in size and capacity, such that the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
There is no doubt that the President and his team tried their best during first term, but their best has not improved Nigeria’s economic growth. Most of the challenges we face as a nation aren’t addressed because a few of the President’s cabinet members in the last four years have only applied archaic ideas to solve local problems.
Specifically, they took exception to some utterances of the president at the valedictory meeting last week where he paid tributes to those that started with his administration and praised the ministers, who remained till the lifespan of the cabinet, saying, repeatedly to them “to be proud” to have served Nigeria to the best of their ability.
According to Buhari, the ministers should be proud to have been part of the government that liberated the local governments previously under Boko Haram’s rule; to have contributed to the country’s food security and economic diversification, leading to a rural agrarian economy; and to have been part of the team that developed the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which led to Nigeria exiting its worst recession in decades.
Besides, he enjoined the ministers to be proud to have introduced the social investment programme that enhanced the livelihoods of millions of Nigerians; and to have overseen the most ambitious road, rail and airport rehabilitation programmes in the history of the country.
Then President Buhari had an answer for Nigerians, who had queried why he didn’t change his cabinet since 2015. He said the FEC members, through heated debates, always offered differing views on the best way to achieving government’s goals, thus making the decisions taken “all the more rational.”
“It is this quality that made me retain my cabinet for the full term,” Buhari told the nation, adding that each of the ministers had a unique skill and strength.
“We (FEC members) are a reflection of the Nigeria we aspire to achieve: A diverse but tolerant nation where no one is silenced and where every opinion should be heard and considered,” he said.
However, some analysts and public commetators said last week that all human beings have certain unique qualities, adding that opportunities should be given for new ideas rather than being fixated to some individuals, even, when it was obvious that the fortunes of the country were dwindling.
“We want to see proactiveness and occasional changes when necessary in both his kitchen and federal executive cabinet,” says an analyst, who preferred to be anonymous.