By Bisi Lawrence
The list of the ministers has been received by various people in various ways. As usual, the areas of responsibility were not included. This was demanded in the past and would have been welcome in this dispensation now as a mark of the expected change which many people are still waiting to discern in the Buhari government.
On the other hand, some people can rattle off the number of the aspects they have noticed already. I myself can count one or two features which are welcome additions to our mode of life;
though I would wish they were more, but then we are just at the start of a four-year journey, and there is still a long stretch during which we can complain.
Many who felt that four months, four whole months, had been too long to produce a ministerial list in the first place, are now loudly wondering why all that wait if that is all that would be produced, of the end of the day—if you won’t mind that hackneyed phrase. And I find it difficult to disagree with them on that score.
For one thing, it was all so predictable, which is not in itself a sad aspect since some of the men and women who featured prominently on the campaign trail would naturally be expected to be in the team. That should not be the only criterion. But then, President Muhammadu Buhari is a team player.
Even those who were not in a position to realize this during his first coming must have noticed this in his “body language” since he took office as President. He gave an indication of this when he remonstrated ever so mildly with the distinguished Senate President Bukola Sakaki, the he would work with him, though he would have preferred that Saraki toed the party line if the appointment of some Senate officers.
But Sarakj demurred. His hands were tied. His commitment to the other party from which he had been supplied his Deputy, had held him firm. Two of the nominees for the positions of the ministers are very prominent on the hate list of his former party, the POP, who are still holding him by the balls and are likely to squeeze him to submission.
If the list should suffer some harm, however, it might queer the pitch to the extent that the President might not be able to function properly without his preferred cabinet, even if we are able to escape a constitutional crisis. And that is not as unlikely as it looks from this distance.*
It is also not only the perceived delay in the announcement of ministers’ names that could cause a row with the list, but the actual personalities. There is a low substance of youthful —and thus energetic—content in the proposed ministerial list, in the view of some critics. I would personally take a second look at such a contention, in any case.
For one thing, it is myopic and restricted in its scope. It is too presumptive although it looks factual until you set the actual situation against the likelihood of an opposite or contrary state of affairs. If, for instance, we agree that the position of minister would require not only the energy of youth but also the wisdom and experience of age, we would further agree then that age matters a lot also as an ingredient in the discharge of a successful ministerial appointment.
It has to be taken into consideration, though, that the critics in this regard also specifically link the issue of age with the fearsome phenomenon of corruption which is associated with those who had been on the political scene,and have indeed been active participants therein for a considerable period at that.
This is what has almost destroyed our nation, and is still confronting us at every turn of our development right now. Against the backdrop of our history, there can be nothing more than zero tolerance for any personality that has been tainted with this evil disease, in an administration which strode into the seat of power on the red carpet of change.
Such a state of affairs would give more than mere repulsion to such a government, but total rejection to even any mention of it. But then, there is the low number of women which would be addressed later on, assuredly. The issue cannot be swept under any carpet, no matter how massive or colourful, as the unfortunate tenure of some women in the immediate past administration could have been.
But it would appear it has not. It would seem indeed that it will not be so since the long arm of Nemesis is reaching out to them.
And we do have a good number of good women who can occupy the position of ministers with competence and grace. Only, we have to wait for them— that word again, wait.
One of the newly-proposed minister who was very close to the President, by his own deposition, averred that Buhari must be a “surprise master”, since the announcement of his own appointment was withheld from him even at the last moment. If it is a special game he loves to play, the President would be well advised to desist from it.
It is a dangerous pastime that may well erode the confidence of his associates in him, and thus backfire. So indeed may this delay in announcing the names of the distaff members of his cabinet. After all, they are his to appoint and announce, so why keep them under a cover of expectancy? It even seems childish; hardly a sport to engage in with the fortunes of a nation at stake.
But if it would lighten his heart—or whatever—let us all get into the spirit of the game. We shall mention only three names. Here we go: Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a media personality who has also been through a two-term experience in a State House of Assembly where, though in the opposition, she bore the responsibility of the Committee on Diaspora with the elan of a Foreign Minister.
And, of course there is good, old Oby Ezekwesili—old, not so much in age, but in being there for the good name of this nation, and for so long. And then we have our only Olympic track-and-field champion, Chioma Ajunwa. She remains an icon, an object of inspiration in sports excellence, and a police officer of impeccable record.
Many more still exist, and it is certain that some of their names, we hope, will soon be brought up, for nomination. We wait.