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The New Cabinet: A chess master’s move

By Kunle Oyatomi

We clamoured for a new cabinet; now we have one. I was not among those who expected a miracle, but it is only fair to admit that, given our political climate, this new team is the product of high political calculations. If you place it on a chess board, you can rate it as a “Master’s move.”

Only those unfamiliar with the politics of strategic control of power would fail to see the master stroke which Acting President Jonathan has taken off his wonderful hat with the new cabinet structure, to firm his hands on the levers of power.

Of particular interest in this power construct is the “Tsunami” that has swept through the economic sector. It was a clean sweep.

The economic powerhouse of Nigeria is totally in new hands spanning the petroleum, finance, commerce and industry ministries. And this new personnel portend a totally new direction and perhaps a new orientation as well; that is if extreme politicisation does not stand in the way of the new ministers. The obstacles are there, and they are enormous.

If the team is not just paper weight, (I don’t believe it is), then we should expect a formidable new direction in the short term; because the current arrangement has a very limited life span!!

However, talking about political balancing and equity, the new cabinet may not be in the “A” class. The nationality question, and the inadequate or over-representation in specific instances look a bit untidy especially in the south south zone. The Urhobo / Ijaw equation didn’t seem to play fair, but it’s yet early days to judge (as at the time of writing this, the full cabinet list is not yet out). Four people are being expected to be screened by the National Assembly.

On balance though, Acting President Jonathan’s move on the composition of our new cabinet is a master stroke that will make a lot of people smile and a few wince. That is to be expected  in a Nigerian society, which is polarised ethnically, politically, socially and economically. What we must insist on is that this cabinet delivers on the critical issues: poverty alleviation,  insecurity, joblessness of the youths, power supply, and the big question of the economy.

It is on the basis of how the new ministers perform that Acting President Jonathan will be assessed. That’s where the challenge is. We did not know him to be a “political chess master,” but with the new cabinet, Goodluck Jonathan is looking like one already. But it will take some doing for him to become a “grandmaster.”

I personally think the AP has got a lot of hard work ahead of him. The good thing is, Jonathan is working and we are hoping, even praying for a “safe landing.”

Adieu Rimi
If anybody in the past had problem rating his political weight at his Kano base, then that was cleared up at his funeral. The crowd said it all that Alhaji Abubakar Rimi was a politician of the people. But beyond that, he was also a politician of politicians!!

Mercurial and charismatic throughout his political career, Rimi stamped his imprints on the pad of Nigerian politics as a progressive from what is seen by many as the heartland of conservation in the northern part of the country — a fulani who exercised his right to differ. And he did it loudly.

His ability to operate comfortably across the political divide of North and South was his strongest political credential. It was the beacon of hope for the youths on both sides but that hope has suddenly dimmed with Rimi’s passing.

The young progressive politicians like Sule Lamido who he inspired into politics will now have the onerous responsibility to carry on from where he stopped.

Rimi’s memorial will be incomplete if we forget to cherish his uncanny forthrightness that can be sometimes embarrassing even if not intended to hurt. It was his style in politics which friends and foes had come to appreciate but which all of us will miss. Adieu Rimi.


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