Cabinet: Take time President, do it well
If Buhari fails, his political party, the All Progressive Congress (APC,) would have failed. The president has also said that as far the issue of corruption is concerned, he has neither foe nor friend. But surely, he needs to ensure he does it excellently.
So why is Buhari foot-dragging in constituting his cabinet? The president said in the United States during his visit, that he remained committed to his campaign promises adding that, ‘’I can be held to my promise for the next three years and 10 months.
I think two months is too early for anyone to pass judgement on my campaign promises.’’ He also told the world that it even took Obama more than three months after his inauguration as president to appoint members of his cabinet. On this, however, I vehemently disagree with Mr. President.
America is a different environment altogether. Americans are not worried about light. They are not worried about fuel scarcity. They are not so much worried about corruption because they have a ‘detecting device’. They are not worried about extremely bad federal roads like that from Port Harcourt to Onne, in Rivers State.
All the institutions are working perfectly. So for me, there is no basis whatsoever to use Obama’s style of leadership as a benchmark in this area.
The president’s house is on fire. The crisis rocking the eighth National Assembly (NASS) is not a mean one. Peace is a precursor to development. The disquiet in the NASS has unsettled the APC and its leaders. It is only human to draw a conclusion that his administration is getting an undesired baptism.
He is supposed to be enjoying the fact that his party has a majority in both chambers –Senate and House of Representatives. But this has turned out, at least for now, to be an albatross. Resumption dates have been shifted twice to give room for settlement of the imbroglio rocking the APC members of the senate.
So how can Buhari be effectively constituting his cabinet amidst all these squabbles in his party? And if he nominates them, who will screen and give approval?
But again who are his choices of nominees? Who will he leave behind? Is it so easy for Buhari to play an acceptable balance of nomination to positions within the four or so parties that formed the amalgam called APC? The president should go out of the square and appoint technocrats proven to be incorruptible professionals but who are not necessarily party men and women.
How does he achieve this blend in a hurry? He certainly needs time to wade through all these calculations and do it right the first time. Secondly, the president’s resolve to fight corruption is another factor. He has given himself a difficult task.
He needs to investigate deeply those who will form his cabinet to avoid being embarrassed. Nigerians should allow the president a breathing space to conduct a thorough investigation on all his would-be ministers. But the news making the rounds (if true), that the president said he would restrict his corruption searchlight to only the last administration may not be fair, not just to the last administration but to Nigerians.
Does it mean that Obama’s promise to assist in revealing and recovering all the loots stashed away in foreign countries, by corrupt officials will be restricted to only Jonathan’s administration? I suggest the president reconsiders his stand on this. Even if there are Abacha loots that are yet to be identified and recovered, Buhari should go all out for them.
This corruption war of the president should not be seen as a selective one. Buhari’s quest to reduce the cost of governance may be another source of delay for his cabinet.
According to the constitution, he is expected to have as many as 36 ministers each representing a state. With the plummeting of the price of oil, Buhari needs to cut cost to save funds for infrastructural development.
He probably will need to identify and nominate ministers who will accept to serve but earn much less, in terms of salary and allowances, than their predecessors. This should reflect in his next visit outside the shores of Nigeria.
The ministers are the ones to push the president’s agenda and ensure they are realised. He cannot therefore afford to make any mistakes. The buck at the end of the day stops on his table.
Even if Buhari decides to present his nominations as a new year gift to Nigerians, on the 1st of January, 2016 and feels comfortable with it, so be it.
But he must remember that Nigerians (and that is the way it should be in a developed clime), will tell him how impressed or otherwise they are with his performance and by extension his party, come 2019. Lets not stampede the president. Just take your time Mr. President and do the needful. • Victor Asianah, a keen watcher of Nigeria’s socio-political development , writes from Port Harcourt.