Following Tuesday’s disclosure by President Muhammadu Buhari that he was yet to get untainted men and women to appoint as ministers, a week after he said in the United States of America, that he would appoint Ministers in September, many Nigerians are finding to hard to read his mind on the issue clearly. President Buhari, said that he will not appoint ministers until September, because such appointments “cannot and should not be rushed.”
Buhari made this known in an article he authored titled, “Nigeria committed to good governance and fighting terror”, and published by the Washington Post recently, July 20, 2015, before he met with President Barack Obama. In the article, Buhari said it was pertinent for him to take his time to select the right persons to work with him in order for him to put in rules of conduct and good governance.
He noted that it would not have been prudent nor serves the interests of sound government to have appointed ministers immediately after he was sworn in. He said, “Already there are voices saying these changes are taking too long even though only eight weeks have passed since my inauguration. I hear such calls, but this task cannot and should not be rushed. “When cabinet ministers are appointed in September, it will be some months after I took the oath of office.
It is worth noting that Obama himself did not have his full Cabinet in place for several months after first taking office; the United States did not cease to function in the interim. In Nigeria’s case, it would neither be prudent nor serve the interests of sound government to have made these appointments immediately on my elevation to the presidency; instead, Nigeria must first put new rules of conduct and good governance in place.
In his Monday review of his stand of Ministers the President, who was responding to questions on ‘Good Morning Nigeria’, a television programme on the National Television Authority, said that politicians and technocrats would make the list of nominees for ministerial appointments. His word “From what I have seen so far, we need really patriotic Nigerians that can work very hard, knowledgeable, experienced, committed Nigerians to be in charge of ministries. “A lot of the institutions of Nigeria important institutions were compromised.
Everybody was for himself and God for all of us; it’s most unfortunate. “We have the people, educated people, experienced people but everybody seemed to be working for himself how much he could get as much and as quick as possible. “We have to look for technocrats and we have to look for politicians and certainly we have to look for decent people in this class to give them the responsibility of being in charge of ministries and important parastatals (agencies).”
Amazed at this twist and turn of events, Nigerians are expressing mixed feelings over the decision of the President Buhari to delay the appointment of ministers till September. Some welcomed the move, while some described it as a demonstration of lack of preparedness for governance Frank Tietie, a legal practitioner and chief executive of the Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, said the president’s decision smacks of irresponsible governance.
“There are several benefits in having political appointees, like members of the board and ministers; they are able to translate the political, social and economic aspirations of the party, directly to the citizens,” he said. “The ministers are representatives of the president in the various departments and ministries, and to think that he has not appointed ministers, yet went ahead to dissolve the boards of Federal agencies shows that he lacks a clear-cut plan in delivering the dividends of governance to the people.” He said the president’ decision to put certain things in place would have been a genuine excuse to quickly appoint the ministers.
“It is a way of worsening the already bad bureaucracy that is currently in practice,” he said. Godwin Ogboji, a legal practioner based in Abuja, also said the president acted within his constitutional right. “Nigerians are already used to the appointment of ministers soon after the administration of any government commences,” he said. “But that is not necessarily the issue; the constitution did not state a particular time for the appointment of ministers, it only mandates the president to appoint ministers. “It is reasonable to me; the man has been looking for this position for a very long time, and as such he must do something very fundamental.”
Mr. Ogboji said the current crisis in the ruling party could have also informed the decision for caution on the part of the president. “Also in the past administration and even that of Obasanjo, you would note that the ministers were mostly nominated by state governors. “Now shortly after the president was sworn in, you would recall that states governors approached him to nominate ministers for him, but he declined, on the grounds that he does not appoint commissioners for them.
“In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that, because the president, especially at a time like this when there is already a raging crises in the National assembly, he has to be very careful so that he can carry everybody along within the APC fold.” He said the President need to ensure the credibility of his cabinet member to uphold peoples’ trust. But for the Financial Secretary of the PDP in Lagos, it is all about integrity.
In an interview with The UNION he said: what he told us during electioneering was that under 48 hours he’s going to hit the ground running, the ground is yet to run. Ordinary secretary to the government is yet to be appointed. In any new government aside from you as the head, the secretary’s appointment is urgent because of the nature of his work, it should be the first appointment even before ministers.
That means President Buhari himself and some of his appointees are sitting down there in Aso Rock and feeding for the past five and six months before the government is fully in place, then who is fooling who? Presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party, NPC, in the just concluded general election is as concerned: He told The UNION What it implies is that governance is going to be on hold until September, that is what it means and that is very unfortunate. Where we go from here? We already have a government in place.
So we all have to support the government to succeed. Part of the support is to encourage the de-facto president to form a cabinet. Unless he claims to be a know all be all. For Wale Okunniyi,, Head of Secretariat of the Nigerian Political Summit Group, President Buhari is taking his time to make careful appointments that will reflect equity and fairness in a diverse, multi-ethnic country.
Speaking during the weekend in Lagos, the former governorship candidate on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, said “ President Buhari is too experienced and conscious as a leader to commit the blunder of what critics termed “northernisation of the Federal Government. He is a very careful and calculative born again democrat, who understands the political implications of nepotism in an explosive environment as Nigeria” The coming months, particularly the long awaited September, will determine which way the pendulum swings.
-Francis Moses examines the words of the President Muhammadu Buhari not to find credible Nigerians for Ministerial appointments