I received the ministerial list with mixed feelings, I however refused to comment until one was sure of which portfolios would be assigned to which minister. Wednesday, the 21st of August however ended that wait as finally Nigerians all over the world got to know which minister designate was assigned to what ministry. Let us note that much as I was impressed with the ministerial list as against the cacophonous cries by a number of poor potty trained characters that the list did not parade technocrats, as if the likes of Fashola, Onyema, Clement Agba ( The man who did wonders in the urban renewal plan of Edo State) amongst other were roadside mechanics and akpuo-obi’s. Watching the ministerial screening exercise alone wowed me, particularly for the candidates that were not allowed to take a bow and go, sadly these minister designates were not asked specific questions but were asked a broad range of questions based on where they had initially worked or based on what hints the members of the Senate had at that point. This is rather unfortunate and I think it is about time that we fix the situation that allows the President to assign ministerial portfolios as soon as the appointments are announced.
If I was impressed with the ministerial list and the screening exercise that followed, I must say that I am not impressed with the assigning of ministerial portfolios. For example, I did not expect to see a Chris Ngige return to the Ministry of Labour, a ministry where he was at logger heads with the leadership of the NIgerian Labour Congress, NLC over his refusal to appoint Chief Frank Kokori as the Chairman of the NSITF. Nigerians followed the back and forth arguments that greeted the refusal of Ngige to inaugurate the NSITF board; the standoff was so unhealthy that Labour had to picket the minister in his home at Asokoro. One would have expected that with the reappointment of Ngige to the cabinet, he should have been handed another ministry and a new face assigned to the Labour ministry in order to allow for whatever tensions that raged then simmer down.
Again, I must fault what looks much like a mismatch of appointments. What is an Uche Ogah, a major player in the Oil and Gas sector doing in mines and steel, what is a Keyamo doing in the Niger Delta Ministry when he has enough experience as a lawyer to pursue reforms in the judiciary and bring the body to speed with present global standard practices when it comes to dispensing with justice. Ogah too would have fared well in the oil and gas sector.
What is Sunday Dare doing in Youths and Sports, he would have fared better in the Ministry for information or communication, or why is Ambassador Miriam Kategu not in the Education Ministry replacing the dour and underperforming Adamu Adamu and giving our educational sector an area in which she has served as a career civil servant the much required filip? Is President Buhari choosing politics above policy in these appointments?
The answer would surely be no as a number of other appointments suggest otherwise, for example, I am happy with the stripping of power from Babatunde Fashola from his Super Minister status of Power, Works and Steel, this is not because he Fashola failed to perform, far from it, I think he did quite well, however these ministries under him were quite critical to the nation’s wellbeing thus warranting a split. I am also thrilled by Dr. Pantami’s appointment as the Minister for Communications, same with the return of Rotimi Amaechi to the Ministry of transport, same for Hadi Sirika. A Clement Agba is also wonderful music to the the cabinet as. Minister for Budget and National planning!
One character that would be much missed from the cabinet would be Chief Audu Ogbeh, the former Minister for Agriculture. Truth be told, Nigeria’s agricultural sector rose to towering heights from the dismal state the sector had found itself in the past. Credit for the much improved progress in the sector should be given to Ogbeh who became the face of the agricultural revolution, was he dropped owing to age or was he a victim of the evils of the political horse tradings that sometimes claims even the good in our political firmament, one may never really know.
Can this cabinet meet the challenges of the Nigerian people? Can this cabinet deliver the goods? Despite the numerous wins of this administration, Nigerians still seem to be yearning for more and one cannot blame them, President Buhari and his cabinet must be prepared to do more, and write their names in posterity’s good books. Their time starts now!