The list has also been widely criticised for being made up largely by a group of re-cycled old hands and also for being gender blind. It contains the names of only three women out of 20 nominees.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list containing the first batch of 20 nominees is out at last and their screening for confirmation has begun in earnest in the Senate. Reactions to the list as read out on the floors of the Senate on Tuesday October 6, 2015, have been largely that of disappointment. Given the time it took in coming and the assurances by President Buhari that only men and women of probity would make the list, a lot of people feel, and have expressed so openly, that the list fell short of public expectation. It contains names of people being trailed by fresh and odious smoke of corruption allegation from the public positions they held in the past or have just vacated. The general feeling is that President Buhari did not cast the net far enough even with all of the time he kept the nation waiting.
The list has also been widely criticised for being made up largely by a group of re-cycled old hands and also for being gender blind. It contains the names of only three women out of 20 nominees. Women are only waiting for the second list being prepared before going to war with President Buhari. For now, they are only grumbling. Various female gender activism groups doing grumbling on behalf of the women are wondering if gender insensitivity is a manifestation of the change mantra of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Compared with the impressive number of female ministers that served in the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, three women out of 20 ministerial nominees is poor and unfair to women. The second list is, however, a good opportunity to narrow down the gap in favour of women.
Even as critics are still busy tearing the first list into pieces with their comments, the question of how long it would now take for the second and perhaps concluding list of ministers to be released by the Presidency is being raised. The hope and wish of those asking the question is that it would be soon. Soon, because a lot of time has already been lost waiting for the first list. The more time the second list takes in coming, the more time it will take for the government to complete the process of settling down to business.
President Buhari must ensure that the next list of ministerial nominees is not delayed unduly. To say that the nation lost a lot in terms of the services that government would have delivered during the time the nation was awaiting the appointment of ministers is an understatement. For more than three months, Buhari operated as sole administrator. There was no Federal Executive Council, FEC, and so no council meetings for the approval of government’s major policies and programmes as conceived and designed in the ministries and department, were held. The waiting must be brought to an end quickly.
It is good that the Senate has already swung into action on the confirmation process. The process must be thorough, fast and devoid of unhealthy political intrigues that may deny the nation of the services of good hands or pave the way for nominees that are unfit to serve as members of FEC. What we are saying, in fact, is that in the discharge of their duties of screening and confirming the nominees, the senators must not succumb to pressure by party leaders and other influential personalities to do what is wrong but rather be guided by the overall interest of the nation.
The present screening of Buhari’s ministerial nominees is the first major constitutional assignment the 8th Senate with Bukola Saraki as its president is performing under the present political dispensation. It owes Nigerians the duty of handling it in a way that will earn for it the confidence of the people. The fact is widely known that the present leadership of the entire National Assembly and leaders of the APC, are presently not the best of friends. They have been unable to resolve the dispute that arose between them over the election of the National Assembly leaders which did not favour party position. This situation must not be allowed to affect critical decisions and policies requiring the input and approval of the National Assembly members, the ministerial screening inclusive.
We also believe that the resolution of this face-off is long overdue. While the senate is expecting the supplementary list of ministers, Saraki and his co-travellers in the act of disobedience to party position on the election in which he was a major beneficiary should ask for forgiveness from their party leadership. The party leaders should be magnanimous enough to accept the olive branch when it eventually comes without setting impossible and humiliating conditions for those offering it.
This country must move on and very fast too. A lot of time has been lost already due to the delay in the appointment of ministers. There should be no other reason to lose more time. The National Assembly as the hub of legislative endorsement for most of the programmes and policies of the executive arm of government must necessarily enjoy a good working relationship with the other arms of government, the executive in particular, for the government to function smoothly. Both the legislature and the executive must work together to create an atmosphere healthy for such good working relationship to develop and to thrive.