By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, please take this piece as a rhetorical question that requires no answer. I’ve always said that an average Nigerian is an expert in conspiracy theories and there is never a limit or end to the thesis we conjure from time to time. Please, flash back to just some months ago, at the peak of the PDP gragra, General Muhammadu Buhari was completely ruled out of the race for reasons ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. He was supposed to be suffering from all sorts of terminal ailments and even described as brain dead by some uncharitable souls. The doomsday prophets did not appear to reckon with the great man’s personality, integrity and perseverance. They also seemingly dismissed out of hand, the yearning of most Nigerians for change from whatb they perceived to be a corrupt and inept regime. But it would seem a miracle has occurred so soon and a Lazarus has been raised from the dead.
Since winning the election, we have moved from those old tales to new ones. Buhari is now said to be slow, even slower than the snail or tortoise because of our penchant for being in a hurry and rushing to nowhere. The same accusers would have accused him of being too dictatorial if he was too fast and decided to choose his team in a jiffy without making wide consultations and investigations about those to be chosen and those to be discarded. It should have been clear to all that there would be many deserving and worthy candidates for the post of cabinet ministers because Nigeria is indeed a country blessed with abundant gifted and talented human resources. Any selection process was bound to be complicated if not long drawn out because of this fact and not simply because of the President Buhari’s quest to find champions for his anti-corruption crusade who would not themselves be smeared or tainted by allegations or whiffs of the noxious odour of corruption. Besides there was also the fact that the President had to cater for the various vested interests and balance those interests in the overall interest of the nation. No mean feat when dealing with a rich coalition and amalgamation of strong political Parties and personalities.
I have read all manner of comments since early this week when the initial ministerial list was publicly disclosed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Some said President Buhari had wasted four months to pick his cabinet since all he done was to come up with the names of mostly people that had initially been touted as potential ministers after the President had been elected. The usual talebearers therefore saw nothing good in the selection. They claimed there were no youths and wrote off the much older nominees as being too geriatric to govern a nation that requires all the energy it can muster. There are cries from women’s groups that women have been marginalised and mistreated because only 3 of the 21 nominees are women.
Those who championed the cause of technocrats believe that the President has failed them becasue there are no visible technocrats amongst those nominated. The truth is that this is only a partial list and some of these concerns, even if genuine, may be subsequently dealt with when the final line-up is published. Again what I can discern is that we are too hasty in arriving at unjust accusations and conclusions. We should exercise patience and restraint and wait for the President to put his team together and explain why he has chosen those people.
Furthermore, some of the nominees were accused of unbridled corruption by fiat even if they’ve not been prosecuted, tried or convicted. The armchair critics lampooned President Buhari’s anti-corruption stance as fake or, at the very least, weak and ineffective. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if Buhari unilaterally arrest supposed criminals and flings them into jail or executes them without trial. I have followed the raging debates on the ministerial nominees with keen interest and my conclusion is that the arguments and furore demonstrates that we do not really know what we want most times as a people. It seems to me that we are myopic in outloook and can only see the short run, the smaller pictture.
We seem to lack the vision of a people committed to a distant future of development and success in our collective national endeavours, a commitment to long term goals and aspirations that sees us cultivate and develop the present crop of talents so that we can birth greater giants in the future.
I reached the simple conclusion that many of the commentators hardly knew or understood the issues at stake. They are super human beings who know everything but have forgotten the man on the hot seat is likely to know what most of us don’t. He has access to privileged and confidential information that would have informed the choices that he eventually made. I will continue to plead that we tarry awhile before we begin to write off this President.
This is an unusual leadership at an unusual period of our national existence. There is no gainsaying the fact that there has been great rot and decay in our polity. Too many of our worn-out institutions had virtually collapsed and a reasonable, dedicated and meticulous leader would need to study the situation a bit more before arriving at critical decisions such as those that administer this country with him.
This is not to say governance should take eternity to kick-start things but we have to wait a bit and see the direction this government is headed. I confess that I have previously had cause to call on the President to name his Ministers quickly so that the business of government can continue in earnest and the speculations and suspense engendered by the failure to do so would be laid to rest.
More importantly the legal and constitutional implications of not governing with Ministers was becoming an issue which was an unnecessary distraction and was unfortunately detracting from the patently obvious good work that this adminstration has been doing and the remarkable progress made in such a short time. The President decided to take his time but thankfully we are now where we are and everything is now a matter of history.
Now that President Buhari has picked about half of his men and women, I’m one of those looking forward to some blistering pace of action soon. I’m certain it will happen once the Senate confirms the Ministers and President Buhari is able to allocate and fill up key position.
The hues and cries about the Ministerial appointments are diverse but I’m sure they would subside once we take time to study the great individuals saddled with the task of restoring hope, stamina and dignity to our nation. As I have said clearly on social media, I’m reasonably impressed with the list of Minsters released so far. Most of them are the people that I have previously suggested are worthy material for the noble assignment that the President seeks to entrust them with. They have already proven themselves in previous national asignemnts and in some cases stood firm and supportive of the President in his leadership of the change that Nigerians craved for. In essence, the nominees are distinguished men and women of substance and intellect. It is my hope and expectation that in alloting them portfolios President Buhari will put round pegs in round holes and not seek to assign them to positions where they are not best suited.
I’m happy to see such big brands like Audu Ogbeh a former Minister of yesteryears who handled both the Communications and Steel Development portfolios at different times betwen 1982 and 1983. He became a farmer afterwards and was a great achiever and significant success in that field until he became Chairman of the PDP in 2001. He suspended his activities but returned to his first love when he resigned from the Party chairmanship in 2005. He still has a lot to contribute because his knowledge of the Agricultural sector in Nigeria is astonishing.
I was privileged to watch him in action shortly before the inauguration and I marvelled at the extent of his knowledge as to what needed to be done to fix our agricultural sector and return Nigeria to its enviable status as a foremost agrarian nation and remove our dependency on the monoproduct known as crude oil. There is the quintet of five former governors led by Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the first Governor of Abia State from between 1992 and 1993. Other Governors who are the product of this current Republic are Dr Chris Ngige of Anambra State, Babatunde Fashola SAN of Lagos State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
Dr Ogbonnaya Onu made a first class degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos and is an alumnus of the renowned University of Claifornia, Berkeley, where he obtained his Ph.D in Chemical Engineering. He lectured at the University of Port Harcourt and is a Fellow of several Enmgineering Societies in Nigeria. He is passionate about using technology as a tool for national development and during his tenure as a governor established a Technology Village in his State and introduced free computers into schools.
Dr Chris Ngige is a medical doctor who rose to become a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health before retiring to join politics. He distinguished himself as a medical doctor and as a governor and naturally had a predilection for medical projects during his tenure as governor.
Babatunde Fashola SAN, needs no introduction to Nigerians. A distinguisghed Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he has a cult following because of the strides and advances he made whilst he was a two term Governor of Lagos State. He continued the work of his illustrious predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in changing the face of Lagos State into a cosmopolitan city that would rival any city in developing countries of the world whilst at the same time also continuing to increase the internally generated revenue of the State.
The fire brand known as Rotimi Amaechi also needs no introduction to Nigerians. He was one of the prime arrowheads of the change movement and indeed it was his resolute courage at the Nigeria’s Governor’s Forum which was the major platforms for change. His reform agenda in Rivers State and the progress made by that State in the areas of infrastructural development and education cannot be overemphasised. Last Sunday, his name went viral on Twitter as Nigerians poured encomiums and paid special tribute to his rare courage in the face of raw intimidation. He remains the catalyst for change and a quintessential pride of APC who must be protected from the PDP apparatchik who may wish to take their pound of flesh when screening begins next week.
Dr Kayode Fayemi is a graduate of History, Politics and International Relations from the Universities of Lagos and Ife respectively. He holds a Doctroate degree in war studies from the world acclaimed Kings College of the University of London. Dr Fayemi is a guru in foreign relations and international community and was a successful Governor of Ekiti State who brought much needed development to that State with his distinct style of refinement.
Senator Hadi Sirika is a pilot who has a longstanding passion for aviation. He was a member of the Senate Committee on aviation and was known for his forthrightness in discussions about Nigeria’s almost comatose aviation sector and what is needed to resucitate and revamp the sector. A credible person he has long been a staunch supporter of President Buhari who he regards as his mentor.
The three women nominated by President Buhari namely, Senator Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, Amina Mohammed and Kemi Adeosun are all distinguished women of integrity in their own right.
Senator Aisha Al-Hassan, a lawyer by profession, was a former Attorney – General of Taraba State and eventually retired as Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory. She became a Senator in 2011 and contested for the post of Governor of taraba State in 2015 but lost.
Amina Mohammed was until her nomination the United Nation’s Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning. She has been involved in the management of more than US$1 billion debt relief funds in Nigeria and has had the unique position of having served 3 Nigerian Presidents during the current political dispensation. She has worked in projects involving reduction in pocverty and gender and education in both Nigeria and at the United Nations. She has also been involved in a multi-disciplinary firm of engineers and quantity surveyors.
Mrs Kemi Adeosun was previously commissioner for Finance in Ogun State under Governor Ibikunle amosun. Indeed she had been nominated to retain her position until she was nominated by President Buhari. Mrs Adeosun is an Accountant who has worked at senior managerial level in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. She has been routinely involved in finance and financial mattrers for more than a decade.
Space and time won’t allow me to go on but there is always another chance in the future. Even at this juncture, President Buhari has shown the true stuff of a born again democrat with his deft moves especially his latest working relationship with the National Assembly. I’m sure he has more jokers in the pack!
- This Best Outside Opinion was written by Dele Momodu/Thisday