By Tabia Princewill
In the past, the Federal Executive Council meetings had allegedly been turned into a market place where ministers competed to be awarded contracts and personal benefits.
Policy making, when it occurred was allegedly the purview of a Christian, South-South cabal (one must remember that the South-South and South East back then dominated appointments in the military and most of the Army Chiefs were of this extraction).
Diezani Allison-Madueke, the former Minister of Petroleum; Stella Oduah, the former Minister of Aviation; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance (who was also granted the title of “Coordinating Minister of the Economy”), were powerful women whose controversial tenures left many unanswered questions in their wake.
Tradition in public administration
There was, in effect, a government within the government, one where powerful men and women who surrounded the former President manipulated events to their own advantage.
Nigerians had hoped that President Muhammadu Buhari’s incorruptible stance and strict attitude to governance would curb what had become a tradition in public administration in Nigeria by first of all, surrounding himself with the best of the best who would carry out his plans for development.
How did we get to a point where in-fighting between Presidential appointees distracts from the work being done? One might have to begin the analysis by recalling the first rumoured cracks in President Buhari’s relationship with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who, it is claimed, was not consulted when the ministerial list was drawn up. Instead, the President relied on the recommendations of people who, to quote Aisha Buhari, Nigerians had never heard of until now, people who were members of no political party and contributed little to the President’s victory. The result is that appointees now appear to be at each other’s throats, or at the very least, pursuing their own agenda, like in the case of the Minister for Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, who categorically endorsed someone other than her current boss for the elections in 2019. These are the dangers one faces politically when one ostracises the party that brought one to power under the guise of “check-mating” the influence of a national leader who was perceived as too powerful.
The President was poorly advised by whosoever recommended that he burn that bridge. Despite its abysmal performance in office and the many unresolved corruption scandals, the PDP managed to retain power because it was a well-oiled machine, one house that single-mindedly worked towards the same objectives (these goals were however not to the benefit of Nigerians but that’s another story entirely).
Some assume that the question of why the President has allowed certain appointees to seemingly run amok might not be unconnected to his illness. Whatever the case may be, it is high time, in regards to the most recent spat and conflicting reports emanating from the Minister of state for petroleum and the GMD of NNPC, that the President comes down hard on individuals whose actions are contrary to his avowed desire to reform Nigeria.
The National Assembly has already constituted itself as an opposition party, seemingly working towards thwarting the executive’s plans, the Presidency cannot afford to also have to mediate between its appointees while also carrying out the vital fight against corruption.
At this point, it is time to separate the wheat from the chaff and for those who truly mean well for this country to close ranks around the President and focus on bringing to fruition key reforms to counter the impression of this government wasting the opportunity to do something deep and meaningful in this country.
Are those in government today truly the best of the best or are some of them there for their own interests and possibly to act as spoilers? If the President wishes to end his tenure with concrete achievements, he might wish to begin mending fences with those who could advise him on who is who in Nigerian politics, seeing as having been out of the game for a number of years, he might have been given the wrong impression by some shadowy influences.
Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim
THE former Governor of Yobe recently announced that he will remain a senator till the day he dies. What do his people think of this?
The Senate is supposed to be the people’s house. What an undemocratic statement. After all, whether he stays or goes is up to his constituents. Anyway, what happened to giving other people a chance to contribute their share to development? This is the feudal mind-set that keeps Nigeria (and the North) underdeveloped.
The Senator is currently the Chairman of the Committee on Ecology and Climate Change, a vital institution given the erosion and desertification which threatens livelihoods in the North and the South-East, two areas which have recently been overtaken by violence.
Nigerians haven’t heard much in terms of the Senator’s ideas or legislation to tackle the environmental issues which are also factors responsible for agitations. All we ever hear is personal ambition.
This is also the same Senator whose alleged tryst with two women was ignored by the Senate’s ethics committee which only seems to speak about members’ conduct when it infringes on the collective’s ability to escape scrutiny.
The Senator’s wife also served three terms in the House of Representatives before becoming a minister under President Buhari. In the immortal words of Patience Jonathan: “Na only you waka come?”
Fight against corruption
The Minister of Informa tion and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said 55 people looted $6.2 billion of which, according to his estimates, $2.06billion could have built 600 kilometres of roads, 37 hospitals, 20,000 housing units and trained 4000 kids from primary to university level.
The cost of corruption isn’t unknown to Nigerians. The issue is that it doesn’t pay to be honest in Nigeria. There are virtually no rewards for doing the right thing and young people especially, have watched evil people get away with murder.
As a result, we live in a society where no one stops to question anyone’s source of wealth, out of greed, first of all, and secondly because most people hope that one day it will be their return to defraud the state or whatever organisation, through any position they can lay their hands on.
We cannot fix any issue in this country (be it health, education, infrastructure etc.) without curbing corruption which is why I for one have always advocated for involving foreign governments in the prosecution, so that individuals can be charged both at home and abroad, where they can’t so easily buy the judiciary and get away.
Patience Jonathan and NASS
The former First Lady re cently called on President Buhari to tell EFCC to leave her alone because “Trump isn’t probing Obama’s wife”. That is because Michelle Obama doesn’t have $35 million which she has been asked to explain. If she did, the entire country, not just Trump’s party would be calling for a probe. Why do we get everything mixed up in Nigeria? Journalists in this country must begin to analyse and explain facts rather than simply parroting what some deluded people say and presenting it as the norm or an acceptable circumstance.
As for Mrs Jonathan’s petition to the National Assembly, NASS doesn’t exist to do her bidding or to shield her from investigation. The credibility of our institutions has been virtually destroyed by politicians sticking together to defend themselves from any enquiry into the huge amounts they inexplicably amass during their careers as public servants. The special courts for corruption are our last hope, otherwise, we won’t have a country to speak of.