FAMAKINWA: Buhari Cannot Afford Any Trial And Error Appointment
Mr. Dipo Famakinwa is the Director General of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission. In a chat with KAMAL TAYO OROPO, he explains why the delay in naming a full cabinet with compliment of the federal Executive Council (FEC) is not worrisome.
It’s a month, and counting, since inauguration of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and Federal Executive Council (FEC) is yet to be constituted. Does it bother you? WELL, for some reasons, I am not bothered. Beyond strategy, the most important component of good execution is the people.
In my view, if the President wishes to succeed on a sustainable basis, getting the people profile right is very critical. We are not talking of run-of-the-mill people here.
We are talking about people with courage, character and competence, who must have a personal vision for success and nation-building and must also be very focused on results and building institutions that would outlast and outlive them. With the way our country has been programmed, especially, in the last few years, you would agree with me that it would take a painstaking leadership effort to find this type of people, in a country as big as Nigeria.
The President cannot afford any trial and error and in my view, he needs time. If you consider what it takes even for private organisations to find the right people, you can imagine what it would be like for a whole country. The President needs time to study the various documents that have been presented to him, both from the Transition Committee and many other well-meaning sources.
This would enable him to frame a realistic agenda for moving the country forward, regardless of his own thinking even before now. I believe that he is also taking his time to receive briefing from senior bureaucrats, who have been on ground while the former administration was in government.
All of these, I believe, will enable the President take an informed decision about the people to help realise his administration’s agenda. The political environment, especially, with the rancorous post-election office sharing among within the ruling party needs to cool off.
This could be blocking the president’s view and he might be looking at a situation where all of this would be settled before his business of governance. And in any case, how many of our state governors, who are managing smaller entities and with fewer complications, have formed their cabinets? It is not a light responsibility, I must tell you.
And the President himself has said that he doesn’t want to appoint people today only to find that they do not fit in to his plans, and thus, he will then need to fire soon. I support him on that. I also buy the argument that this is the first time that we are having power transferred from an incumbent administration to an opposition, so the transition cannot be expected to be so smooth-sailing.
The President needs to have a clear view of all the issues before taking a decision. I am sure that this is a leader that does not want himself to be stampeded into taking decisions that will eventually not be in the long-term interests of Nigeria. We should allow him to choose carefully and wisely.
We will eventually make up for whatever might be considered as the lost time, once we have the right set of people in the bus. Given the number of times Buhari had aspired to the position and the time spent in putting programmes together, shouldn’t one expect that team-Buhari would have fairly acceptable idea of individuals to drive the goals? Nigeria is constantly in a state of flux. What holds yesterday may not necessarily hold today.
With the enormous amount of information that would be available to him today, many of his preconceived ideas would have fallen like a park of cards.
I’m sure he has a fair idea of the results he might need to drive, and perhaps, a good idea of some of the people, but Nigeria is made up of 36 states, and therefore, you need to balance your actions, including appointments.
For avoidance of doubt, my interpretation, by no means, is meant to justify or endorse an open-ended timeline, but even if you consider recent history, some of the immediate past administrations didn’t form their cabinets till late in July after May 29 inaugurations.
As we speak, civil servants are the ones in the drivers’ seats; to what extent can these people be trusted? If you can’t trust them now, then you better retire all of them, because even when you appoint ministers, the civil servants run their ministries.
And I think we must also get used to the idea that certain institutions are designed to operate all the time. Maybe it would also allow the president understand the bureaucracy that will operationalise his mission, and help him realise the enormity of the work that has to be done even in that sector.
There are no easy answers in the affairs of Nigeria; you’re damned if you do, the same way you don’t. It is, therefore, important for the leader to be clear about what he wants to achieve, how he wants to go about it, and how he wants to use the resources at his disposal.
The President needs time to study the various documents that have been presented to him, both from the Transition Committee and many other well-meaning sources. This would enable him to frame a realistic agenda for moving the country forward, regardless of his own thinking even before now. I believe that he is also taking his time to receive briefing from senior bureaucrats, who have been on ground while the former administration was in government. All of these, I believe, will enable the President take an informed decision about the people to help realise his administration’s agenda.
Does the delay have any serious consequences on the day to day government activities? It would certainly have some impact on the speed of governance, which is an important consideration, especially given the enormity of the work that has to be done. But we must balance speed with the reality of the moment.
I believe that the appointments should be made within a reasonable period of time, but we must not run into a ditch and the journey is aborted or derailed or badly affected, when we can move with reasonable speed and get to our destination safely.
What quality and quantity of cabinet would you like to see emerge? I expect a lean, but effective and mobile cabinet. No jobs for the boys appointments and no loafers and predators around the corridors of power. Important attributes must be character, competence and capacity.
I also like to add courage because of the amount of work that needs to be done. All of them must have proven records in those areas.
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