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Tasks before the new cabinet

THE necessity for the dissolution of the President Umar Yar’ Adua cabinet inherited by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan showed when its members were rived into two camps, one supporting the ailing president while the other was in favour of the Acting President.

The dissolution became inevitable when some of the pro-Yar’ Adua former ministers went so far as to dictate what they perceived as the limits of powers exercisable by the Acting President, who was mandated by the National Assembly to step into a dangerous vacuum consequent upon Yar’ Adua’s failure to transmit a letter informing the National Assembly of his absence on health grounds.

Finally on Wednesday, March 17th 2010, the Acting President dissolved the Federal Executive Council and by Tuesday, April 6th 2010, the new cabinet made up initially of thirty eight members, was inaugurated at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Even though a good number of members of the dissolved cabinet found their ways back to the new one, it is safe to observe that the Goodluck Jonathan FEC is composed of many fresh hands and is more balanced in the distribution of portfolios than was the case in the Yar’ Adua years.

We are particularly gratified to note that the Finance portfolio has been restored to the custody of another international financial icon, Mr Olusegun Aganga. Bearing in mind the great progress the financial system made when former President Obasanjo eschewed political and ethnic considerations and handed over the financial management of the country to a team headed by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who now head the World Bank as its Managing Director, there is hope that in the final thirteen months of this administration’s tenure, our financial system will be insulated from the heavy political season that is about to open.

At the inaugural meeting of the Council on Wednesday, April 7th 2010, Jonathan charged his team to settle down quickly and mind their business as the political heads of their ministries, rather than assuming operational roles. He also warned them to avoid the bickering that was rampant among ministers in the old Yar’ Adua cabinet, adding that anyone found wanting would be reposted (which could mean being dropped from the team).

The nation has spent over four months suffering from complications arising from Yar’ Adua’s illness and his refusal to follow the constitution to ensure the smooth flow of public governance. As a result, many things that should have been sorted out by now are still pending. For instance, the power project that was supposed to have yielded 6,000 megawatts by December 2009 could no longer occupy the top priority of our attention. It is gratifying to note that the Acting President has seen the need to cover lost grounds by personally taking temporary charge of the Ministry of Power.

The new cabinet must grease the wheel to ensure the speedy disposition of the 2010 Appropriation Bill to enable full economic activities. Nigerians also expect that now that the tenure of Professor Maurice Iwu has expired at the Independent National Electoral Commission, a new group of electoral umpires should be quickly selected, even if they have to start informal meetings awaiting the exit of Iwu. We must not allow any excuse whatsoever to come between us and the promise by Jonathan that the next year’s general election will be free and fair.

Thirdly, the Niger Delta initiatives must now be pursued with utmost vigour. Only visible and sustainable development activities will reduce acts of sabotage in the area. The Jonathan administration must go full steam ahead with the revival of our national road, water and rail transport infrastructure because they hold the key to the employment of millions of our young, idle hands. The education sector also requires adequate attention. The incidence of mass failures in entrance and certificate examinations is a national scandal that must be arrested immediately.

We agree with the Acting President that this is not the time to go in endless search for solutions. In the same vein, this is not the time to make every topic under the sun a national priority. Let us prioritise properly.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.