The speculations that there would be no cabinet for the new All Progressives Congress (APC) government, until September was laid to rest when President Muhammadu Buhari told his USA audience so. Upon return to Nigeria, he further told the Nigeria Television Network that the reason for the delay in constituting his cabinet was mainly for dearth of men and women of integrity to appoint into the various cabinet positions.
Further sources claim that the President sent in 33 names for security clearance and only three returned without blemish. This is less than 5 percent. The President has always maintained that no persons of questionable character would find their way into his cabinet. This is good.
However, the President has indeed found himself in a quagmire, for if he could not appoint the ministers that may be less than 40, how and what time will it take to compose about 5,000 positions in the Presidency? The President cannot be too careful. Life itself is a journey of faith and good conscience. There is no perfect situation in life. Even Jesus Christ, true man and true God, chose Judas who betrayed him among his 12 Apostles.
Most Christians would tell you Jesus knew that Judas would betray him even before he chose him for the role he played so as bring salvation to mankind through His death and resurrection. Without trying to be more catholic than the Pope, one dares say that Buhari can appoint those he believes are competent even if they are not exactly saints or angels, and prepare with the law and the hammer for their Judas-like betrayal.
Christ did not spare Judas and he had to commit suicide as a result. So, Buhari should not spare any corrupt politician even if he financed his campaign if hopes to enthrone a new order. Nothing destroys a polity like selective justice. President Buhari is truly in a dilemma, particularly with what to do with the avalanche of politicians who bankrolled his multi-billion naira Presidential campaign and their natural expectations that they and their cronies would be rewarded with ministerial and other juicy appointments. Without their corrupt money he wouldn’t be President and if he allows them in they would steal more to recoup.
It is a devil’s alternative situation the President has found himself. But the simple way out in such situation is a balancing act – he has to make do with what he has and remedy it with the law along the way – jail for the new thieves. Somebody said with a measure of believability that the un-corrupt politician may be the dead one, especially in today’s Nigeria. So, part of the problem may also be that the President is looking only among politicians who may have supported his election as President. Ordinarily, one would say he should look for pure technocrats in the academia and the business world and from amongst Nigerians abroad; and take a chance with them. Then he can follow them with anti-corruption laws and jail.
But are these ones really un-corrupt? Not likely. Past administrations, both military and civilian, have all made extensive use of technocrats. Yet, it is said that it is the same technocrats that have taken us to this point. In the recent past, dozens of government appointees were all top technocrats but most of them have gone the rotten way of the politicians. Buhari should take a good look at the system which corrupts. Perhaps, it is what needed change more than the operatives themselves. Picking technocrats from the Diaspora has also its own problems because all the imported technocrats in the various past governments have brought in too many audacious and elitist policies that alienated Nigerian people and made the economy fare more dis-articulated and to grow well only on paper with an illogical corresponding growth in poverty, unemployment and un-employability among other contradictory malignant issues.
hey introduced what I have once referred to as ‘Voodoo Economics’ in another article. Perhaps what should alarm us more than the issue of delay in appointing the ministers are only 3 men passing the integrity litmus test out of 33. If this is a sample of Nigerians, it means over 90% of Nigerians are corrupts. It is a serious sign and pointer to how bad things have gone in Nigeria. But what do you expect in a country like ours where money, however tainted, is seen as the only sign of prosperity? Even churches now cajole Nigerians to pay their tithes and bring their offerings in dollars and pounds. So, it should not be surprising that majority of Nigerians fall in the corrupt category. The way and manner Nigerians look for money and how we worship and praise-sing after money is alarming really.
Just days ago, a 16-year-old boy killed a 4-year-old in Lagos, and removed all the vital organs for money rituals. More embarrassing is the fact that the well-known ill-gotten wealth is welcome to Nigerian religious circles as their owners proudly occupy front pews in churches and mosques with the clergy singing their praises. Apart from the question of what Mr. President did with the detected corrupt 30, for one expected they should be cooling off their heels in the EFCC detention centers, the time being lost is rather too precious.
And it is actually illegal for the President to run the country for any reasonable period of time without a team of ministers and advisers, exactly the reason Balarabe Musa was impeached as governor of Kaduna State in 1979. Apart from its unconstitutionality, we all saw the practical implications of a lonely President during Buhari’s visit to the USA, where, in the absence of his ministers and advisers, President Buhari was forced to attend low-grade meetings, which in effect, degrades a sovereign he is and the sovereign nation, Nigeria. More seriously, the situation creates the impression that Buhari came to power too unprepared and learning again on the job and being rather too careful not to commit a mistake, thus earning him the pseudonym, ‘Baba Go-Slow”.
But Mr. President should realise that he has only three years and some months left. All his promises cannot just be in vain, even though it must be granted that he has made quite some inroads in the areas of security and diplomacy. If he does not shake off the lethargy and make giant strides in good time, soon his political party, the APC may turn around to tell Nigerians that four years is not enough. But Nigerians buying into it remains to be seen.
Despite all, there are still many Nigerians with impeccable credentials he can work with. This stereotyping of all Nigerians as thieves is a considerable fallacy as it is damning and the President himself is not a visitor to a country he claims he knows and wants to govern. It is therefore surprising that he does not have a long list of men and women to work with, in 12 years he has sought to return as President.
Buhari should try to avoid the messianic mentality of military rulers. It was seen with Obasanjo in an overdose, yet his eight years in power as Nigeria’s President is half of the years that the APC government has written off as PDP’s years of waste and bad governance. The same people who rendered such damming verdict against Obasanjo, rightly or wrongly, will sum up Buhari’s tenure in similar terms. It is a cynical culture, which Nigerians have imbibed as a way of dealing with their frustrations from the nation’s successive elitist governances. So, the President should just make the move and let posterity be the judge.