Editor’s note: There were reports that President Muhammadu Buhari planned to redeploy some of his cabinet ministers. Since coming on board the present government has been accused of being too slow and not responding fast enough to the needs of the people. Kupoluyi who wrote this piece from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta says those to be appointed into the new cabinet of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration should make more visible impact.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that very soon, Nigerians should expect a different cabinet from what obtains now. What this means is that while new persons are to be appointed into his cabinet, some of the existing ministers would be swapped with the hope that it would enhance productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in the Federal Executive Council.
Since coming on board close to two years now, the incumbent government has been accused of being too slow and not responding fast enough to the needs of the people by alleviating their sufferings. Initially, when the cabinet composition was delayed several months after the inauguration of Buhari, many observers had thought the President was taking his time to get the best crops of professionals, technocrats and administrators that would make a difference.
At the end of the day, many people expressed their disappointment at the ministerial list because many of the appointees have been in government for such a long time that they have been tagged as recycled politicians. Without prejudice, those to be appointed into his new cabinet should make more and visible impact. The first step in realizing this goal would be for the government to look beyond party affiliation to getting patriotic and capable Nigerians that possess what it takes to deliver. Certainly, there are many hardworking, experienced and committed citizens in all facets of life that could offer the needed quality of leadership.
While some are already proven and tested, many of them are largely unknown. Why is this so? They are neither into partisan politics nor believe in lobbying for appointments; a common feature of Nigerian politics. Unfortunately, experience has shown that at the end of the day, the best materials may never be chosen.
This is where Mr. President has a lot of work to do by ensuring that the best materials are fished-out from their obscurity – home and abroad – and given the opportunity to contribute their quota to national development.
Without any prejudice, the President should begin by putting in place, a sound economic team that would revamp the country’s ailing economy within the shortest time in view of the biting economic recession. There is the need to save the Naira from further slide against international currencies.
The adverse effects of such a problem can better imagined for a country whose economy is heavily dependent on crude oil exports and imported goods. Severe inflation has become unbearable for many Nigerians as they continue to groan in pains while unemployment has become critical as many able-bodied young men and women continue to roam the streets without any hope of earning a living and with bleak future. These are some of the major economic problems that require urgent redress.
Another area that deserves urgent attention is the diversification of the economy from its over-reliance on oil. Even though the government has stressed the importance for the economy to be diversified, nothing much has really been done to actualize this. The President should ensure that technocrats with passion and the requisite experience to make this work are invited to come on board to serve. Many of our natural resources remain neglected and untapped at the expense of crude oil that is fast depleting and losing value.
The perennial food scarcity facing the nation should be addressed. The incoming cabinet should make sure that enough food is put on the tables of Nigerians. The agriculture ministry should evolve sustainable policies that would encourage more people to go into farming by making access to funds a cheaper and easy. It is disturbing that many Nigerians celebrated the Yuletide in hunger when a full bag of rice sold for over N20,000, as against the less than N10,000, last year. Agencies of government that were set up to promote agriculture should be made functional to assist farmers in the massive agricultural production.
The terrible network of roads littering many parts of the country should give any serious government great concern. There is hardly any part of the country’s major road that is not a death trap. The same sorry state goes for power. Epileptic supply of electricity across the states has continued without any ray of hope in sight. It is high time the Federal Government unbundled the three federal ministries for more efficiency and effectiveness.
The ministry in charge of power, works and housing should no longer be put under the purview of a single minister as experience seems to suggest that in the last one year, nothing much has been achieved. While the works and housing portfolios could be fused, that of power should be isolated for better performance. We need to ask that the N8.4 billion provided for generators in the 2017 budget is not an attestation that we would not get it right with power?
The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Ministry of Justice should be better run in view of the commitment of the present government to fighting corruption. To ensure proper prosecution of cases and supervision of anti-graft agencies, there is the need to strengthen the ministry. This can be achieved by adopting a better strategy in the prosecution of corruption cases to a logical end as well as promote the administration of justice.
The information management machinery of the government should also be strengthened. A lot of policy issues need to be better understood than the way they are currently being projected. This disconnect continues to distance the government from the people. For instance, many people would want to know how much has actually been recovered through the anti-graft efforts and the plans for such funds.
When there is disconnect in the flow of information, rumours, half-truths and insinuations would become the order of the day. This also creates apathy rather that cooperation from the governed. The alleged case of the existence of ‘plastic rice’ in the markets and the weak public enlightenment on the controversy is another example.
It is saddening that various agencies of government continue to give conflicting statements on whether there is actually ‘plastic rice’ in the country or not. Also, the culture and tourism components of the information ministry appear to be receiving very little attention. They should be better harnessed in tandem with the government’s diversification goals and the many opportunities inherent in culture and tourism.
The country can still do better in sports. There should an opportunity to rejuvenate our sports administration in terms of improving the welfare of our athletes and officials for enhanced productivity. The Niger Delta ministry does not appear to have really impacted the lives of the people in the catchment areas. Restiveness and vandalization of oil facilities are clear attestations to the fact that the ministry should still do more.
The plight of Nigerian workers continues to worsen with the astronomical increase in the pump price of fuel to N145/liter without the corresponding increase in the minimum wage, as promised by the government. Fuel purchase consumes a large chunk of salaries of many workers! The labour minister should ensure that government fulfills this important obligation. The government should make the minimum wage increase a top in the New Year.
There are certainly other areas of national life that deserve serious and urgent attention. These include security, health, education and transportation, among others. Apart from ensuring that square pegs occupy square holes, Mr. President should allow the ministers to function by providing them with the necessary environment and prevent undue influence.
Finally, the Senate should do a thorough job by screening the nominees while the portfolios of the ministers should be attached to their credentials. It is only hoped that the nation would eventually be better-off with a new cabinet in place.
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