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President Muhammadu Buhari’s swearing in ceremony for his second term in office will take place on 29 May 2019. What’s most important to many Nigerians,and this writer in particular, is how Mr 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, the country is home to about 90 million poor people who are wasting away in poverty and nearly60 million illiterates.
Mr President is permitted by law and he is under obligation to choose ministers, special advisers, senior special assistants, and special assistants to work with him. It’s the quality of those Nigerians that would be appointed as aides and cabinet members that is of interest at this point. Nigerians want to know the track record of those to be appointed by Mr President as cabinet members and aides. Nigerians want to know the vision of Mr President as he leads the country. We are interested in knowing whether those to be appointed as cabinet members and aides are courageous, competent and committed Nigerians. What strategies are they bringing on board to solve challenges facing the country?Importantly, what is the character of those to be appointed to serve? The questions are endless. 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 Mr President will not take up to six months to form his cabinet as he did in 2015.
The nomination of Godwin Emefiele for a second and final term as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria by Mr President and his confirmation by the National Assembly (NASS) as CBN Governor, has elicited mixed reactions. The appointment of AbikeDabiri-Erewa as the Chairperson of Diaspora Commission is seen by many as a welcome development. With these appointments, one wonders whether Mr President plans to retain all those who are currently serving in his cabinet or he wants to change some of them. So who should make Mr President’s next cabinet? They should be leaders and technocrats in their own right who have knowledge of how government works and what citizens need. We don’t deserve ministers and aides who will be running their parochial agenda in the government.Those cabinet members and heads of parastatals who did not do well in the federal government know themselves. In fact, all ministers of state are just occupying space. One could not point to anyone of them deserving of praise.We have ministers who willingly compromise ethical standards and are favourably disposed to all forms of corruption.The Maina Gate and the former SGF corruption scandal are still fresh in our minds. It’s very appalling to see Nigerians who served under Mr President as ministers thinking they are repository of knowledge but most times they don’t havesolutions to teething troubles faced by the citizens.
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 Mr President and his ministers hasn’t yielded significant results.The middle class is shrinking in size and capacity, such that we now have the “Matthew Effect” in which “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” What is responsible for the high level of insecurity in Nigeria? Many Nigerians argue that insecurity is due to high unemployment? This is not completely true. It’s the rise in inequalityamong citizens that’s responsible for insecurity in the society.We now have a situation where the dividing line between crime and politics is very thin.
Although, the federal government provides meals for primary school children, the number of children roaming the streets across the entirecountry has increased from 10.5 million to 13.2 million in 2018.Most of our children don’t have access to quality education and healthcare facilities. Some of the public primary and secondary schools are not befitting of a country regardedby its citizens as the “giant of Africa.”Most of our young professionals are leaving the country. Why do we haveunemployment figure increasing and inflation still trendy in double digits?Why are we still generating barely 3000MW of electricity after 5 years of privatizing PHCN?
Mr President and his team have tried their best. 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 Mr President’s cabinet membersin the last four years have only applied archaic ideas to solve local problems. They forget that what two hundred million people need are food, shelter, and clothing among other necessities of life.These challenges which have been with us for many years only show that there is a shortage of leadership in the country. If you disagree, then we must ask ourselves: Why are we having shortage of fuel when the country has abundant crude oil? Why do we have shortage of human capital, food, foreign exchange, housing, quality public schools and hospitals, good roads and sporting facilities among others? What is responsible for all these shortages? It is the shortage of leadership in all areas be it political, administrative, educational institutions, sports, labour, industry, and law enforcement agencies that is responsible for the challenges we face as a country. So as Mr President chooses his ministers and aides who are to work with him, he should consider those with professional competence and knowledge. They must have good character coupled with the ability to takedecisions with full responsibility for their actions. No matter how good the intention and sincerity ofMr President, he must not surround himself with those who will only be talking without action. This will deny him of any meaningful legacy by the time he leaves Aso Villa for Daura in 2023. So Mr President must cast a wide net beyond his political party in search of competent, committed and courageous Nigerians, who will work with him to move the nation forward. It’s in our collective interest to be led by able, honest, and dedicated men and women, not by second-rate individuals and politicians.