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Saturday, 10 October 2015



At long last, President Muhammadu Buhari has sent the first batch of his ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening, after months of waiting.

But, going through the names of 21 nominees unveiled by the Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday makes me wonder why it actually took President Buhari four months to compile it. I say this because Buhari’s list could have been assembled in a matter of days or a week. This does not appear like a list that took the president four months to compile.

The list as configured by the president does not justify the long wait because there is nothing revolutionary about it. It does not worth the waiting game, the guess work and the headache caused Nigerians. Is this the list that Buhari kept to his chest? Why should Buhari keep this kind of list to his chest at all? Upon the entire secrecy, the list is not different from the one speculated in the media. Maybe someone leaked the list before it was submitted midnight before the September 30 deadline.

Some people even said that the list was hurriedly couriered to the Senate from New York, USA, where the President attended the 70th anniversary session of the United Nations General Assembly. Even at that, there is nothing ‘saintly’ whatsoever about the names in the list.

Some of them have been part of Nigerian politics from 1999 and its rot till now or even before. There may indeed be other reasons why it took Buhari that hell of a time to assemble the ordinary list. He should tell us that in the fullness of time. There is nothing special about the list. Most names on the list are well known and most of them worked for the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the 2015 polls. Nigerians know them and their antecedents. Nigerians have unpleasant perceptions about some of them.

However, there are some people in the list that merited ministerial appointments in terms of their track record of achievements in both private and public spheres but definitely there are some others that should not have been there in the first place if merit and integrity are the criteria Buhari considered for his selection.

Good enough, all of them will be grilled by the Senate. It shall no longer be business as usual or take a bow as Senator Dino Melaye has threatened. I hope the threat is real. But Senator Robert Borroffice is sounding different. He said that since it was take a bow when the PDP was in charge, it is not going to be different under APC. This notwithstanding, let the Senate grill them and screen out those that are not suitable for such appointments.

I vote for a thorough screening of the nominees as Melaya suggested because we are in a change era. But regardless of what comes out of the Senate screening, whether grilled or allowed the usual ritual of take a bow, ministerial appointment in the country is still a ‘come and chop’ sort of thing that OBJ christened it, a reward for high ranking party supporters and not necessarily the assemblage of the incorruptible and untainted humans amongst the estimated 170 million Nigerians Buhari wants all of us to believe. But, that should not be the case.

The appointment is a reward for those that have stood solidly behind Buhari in his quest to wrestle power from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. I do not begrudge them. It is their luck. It is a reward for Buhari’s loyal and financial backers as well as his foot soldiers and image launderers during the keenly contested polls.
No doubt, most Nigerians will be highly disappointed with Buhari’s list. It falls far below the expectations of most of them. It is more of a list of ex-this and ex-that. Apart from one or two names, the technocrats are not well represented as well as women. Our women deserve more representations in political appointments than what is given them now. Besides, the list contains names of some people that have been alleged to have been corrupt or those that should rightly be facing corruption charges if the anti-graft agencies are really up and doing. I hope the senate should grill them, especially those that have pending corruption allegation cases.

Why should Buhari recycle old people in his cabinet as if there are no other Nigerians that can do the job? Nigeria will see no change and will not make progress until this ritual of recycling old hands is done away with.

We should do away with ‘old boy’ syndrome and gerontocracy in appointment of public officers. Perhaps, those are the ones Buhari knew or those he could vouch for their integrity. Or better still, those are the ones the governors and APC godfathers submitted to him. Where are the youths, the future leaders, in Buhari’s ministerial architecture? How many women are in Buhari’s list? Are these the ‘saintly’ ministerial nominees that Nigerians waited for? Can they clean the Augean stable?

Although Buhari has expressed his interest to be the next oil minister as his friend and mentor, OBJ, did in most part of his eight-year reign, a change agent like Buhari should never contemplate that, even if some of his aides goad him to do so. It is against the spirit of the time. It is not elegant.

It will distract the president to no end. That OBJ did it does not make it right. Why do we like to repeat mistakes? There is no way Nigeria will develop with the way we are going. There is need for attitudinal change in all facets of the society including politics and leadership. Is that not what change is all about?

Buhari should just be contented with being the president and nothing but the president. This is a job that took him about 16 years to get. He should make the best out of it.It is worth reminding some of his aides that Nigerians elected Buhari as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. There is no point for him to appoint himself a minister. No matter how attractive the oil ministry might be, let Buhari resist the temptation.

Whether the ministerial nominees would be drilled, grilled or allowed to take a bow, the senate should handle the screening expeditiously so that Buhari’s team will hit the ground running to cover lost grounds. Time is no longer on the side of this administration that came on the heels of high expectations and litany of promises. One year will soon go and yet, the APC promises are still mere wishes.

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