Journalism in the service of society

Tinubu’s ministers and public expectation

PRESIDENT Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday, August 21, 2023, formally inaugurated the Federal Executive Council by swearing in his first set of 45 cabinet ministers. It was a long-awaited event for an administration that was perceived to have come ready to hit the ground running. The first list was released almost at the end of the constitutionally allowed 60 days. A few tinkering here and there produced the team that took both the oath of office and allegiance on Monday.

Characteristically, when the list was released, there were reactions from different quarters which included applause, criticism and outright condemnation. But then, going by the antecedents of the nominees, it was largely perceived as a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. To those who thought that it would be a winner takes all dispensation, there were some pleasant surprises as the list contained names of non-party and opposition figures. It had a sizeable number of the female gender and also some youths. This seems a discharge of part of the president’s campaign promises.

So far conversations have been escalated on several fronts regarding the kind of persons appointed as ministers, with some querying the sizeable number of former governors on the ministerial list. We believe however that focus at this stage should be more on the capacity of the appointees to deliver, especially given the critical situation in the country. 

Settling political IOUs has always been part of the democratic game, unless we want to deceive ourselves; but the fact remains that at this critical period of the country’s existence, highly experienced hands that understand the system and can quickly deal with systemic and emerging tendencies are desirable. 

The past of some of the appointees might not be saintly, but sight must not be lost of the fact that almost all of them were professionals in different fields before becoming politicians. Running a fresh government without experienced hands might lead to hard-starting which might result in delayed accomplishments, particularly in a dispensation where rapid results are most desirable. Some persons might point to the fact that knowledgeable hands can still be found outside the already known faces, but such might not hit the ground running on an uncharted path. The president might have to replace them when his administration must have gained traction.

Now that the ministers have taken office, it is normal for the people to expect them to deliver on the mandate and particularly change the narrative trajectory of the past, especially at a time when citizens have become so apprehensive because of the economic situation and sceptical of the sincerity of politicians to deliver on their promises and mandates to the benefit of the people. 

During his electioneering campaign, Tinubu had talked about Renewed Hope and promised to make Nigeria great again; He focused specifically on issues bordering on the economy, security and making institutions of government work for the inclusive prosperity of the people and overall growth of the country. He has restructured the ministries and introduced some new ones that speak to his determination to birth a new direction in economic pursuit. 

In recent times Marine and Blue Economy has been the path treaded by countries looking towards new, bigger and more sustainable income streams. Keying into the new fad, a ministry has been created to get Nigeria into the league of such countries, especially considering that the mainstay of the country’s economy, fossil fuel, is facing an elimination threat and gas is being only tolerated as a transition energy source, a new ministry to focus on marine and blue economy has been created.   

The reintroduction of the Ministry of Steel Development signposts a determination to rejuvenate the dormant steel plants across the country and the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs shows also a desire to work with sub-national governments, and development partners as well as serve as a special purpose vehicle to drive matters of urgent national interest, including projects. Also, the creation of the Ministry of Art, Culture and The Creative Economy and Ministry of Youth Affairs to give particular attention to those areas all fall in line with the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign promises.

With the time for promises and the formative days of government over, the people expect rapid responses to the various challenges currently bedevilling the country. Almost every sector of the country is facing existential challenges and it is not time for rhetoric but result-oriented actions to correct the numerous defects within the system and put the country back on the path of growth and development. 

Particularly for the former governors who are now in the cabinet, they must focus their attention on their new duty posts. That would be possible if they do not get themselves involved in power play with the local politicians in their home states, especially with the governors. They must deliver or be removed. We are not oblivious to the reality that it is not going to be a walk in the ballpark, but a focused and purposeful team can achieve noticeable and impactful results within a reasonable time-space. This is what Nigerians expect from the Tinubu team.

While we expect the president to give his lieutenants the free hand to operate within the confines of the constitution and the requirements of their portfolio, appointees who feel constrained by extraneous pressures should summon the courage to resign. Those who are found wanting should be asked to quit. There should be no room for idling about as there are very clear cases of monumental defects within the system that require immediate commencement of salvage procedures. The system must be cleansed immediately and delivering results should be the primary goal.

Already, some of the ministers have given indications of how their tenure would look like and others have stated their objectives during the initial meetings they had with senior staff of their respective ministries immediately after they were inaugurated. They have made promises also, but it needs to be stated clearly that Nigerians are tired of undelivered promises and excuses. They want tangible results.

One of the ministers that have served notice of intolerance with lawlessness is Barrister Nyesom Wike, the immediate past governor of Rivers State. Wike is now the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The territory was created as a model administrative capital for the country with a well-scripted master plan. Today, it has been inflicted with the typical lawlessness found in other cities, including indiscriminate property development and recklessness by commercial vehicle operators who have no regard for traffic rules and traders who have turned the city into a huge marketplace.   

There must be deliberate monitoring and evaluation of the activities of the ministers to ensure they are not on a jamboree, seeing the office as an entitlement. Even those who are rewarded for their patronage must see the appointment not as an entitlement but as a call to national service. The president must keep it at the back of his mind that the buck stops on his table and he takes the flak if his team fails to deliver. 

Comments are closed.