By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA — The Presidency has blamed former President Goodluck Jonathan for President Muhammadu Buhari’s five month delay in forming a federal cabinet.
Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, levelled the allegation during an appearance on Channels Television’s morning breakfast show, Sunrise, upon charges that the president was slow.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a sharp response said the delay and the excuse were indicative of the incompetence manifesting in the present administration.
Meanwhile, reacting to Shehu’s comment, PDP in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologondiyan, said the admission was a clear display of incompetence, adding: “It is unfortunate that the Presidency will always resort to peddling falsehood as a cover for its failures.
“It is a settled matter that President Buhari could not form a cabinet for over five months after his inauguration, primarily due to sheer incompetence, lack of preparedness and the fact that he was overwhelmed by the complexity of the office of the President of Nigeria.”
Reacting also, Dr Jonathan through his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, expressed concern over what he claimed as the unending habit of the Buhari administration even near election to blame the past administration for its perceived failures.
He said: “Assuming, without conceding, that the last administration was as bad as they want Nigerians to believe, is it not a fact of governance that it is the duty of every responsible administration to seek to make better the situation it met on ground? Anything less than that is a proof of incompetence for which a failed administration has no moral justification to ask for a fresh mandate.
“While members of the current administration continue to blame President Jonathan for their failure to deliver on their mandate, they should be reminded that there are many African success stories that proved that a progress-minded administration has no business focusing only on the past.”
Garba spoke upon the claim by Phrank Shuaibu, a spokesman of the Atiku Abubakar campaign that Buhari’s delay in constituting a cabinet contributed to the factors that pushed the country into recession following Buhari’s assumption of power.
Responding, Shehu said the former administration kept Buhari in the dark until two days to the inauguration.
He said: “The claims made by my dear friend here that President Buhari spent 166 days without forming a cabinet, that absolutely is untrue. It took him time to form a cabinet because the outgoing administration in 2015 did not cooperate with the transition committee.
“The President was given handover notes 48 hours to the handover of power and for whatever reason, the President at that time determined that, the question that President Buhari was asking, for details of this and that, amounting to running a second government in office.
“And he came out to all his ministers and permanent secretaries not to cooperate with Buhari that this country will not have two governments running at the same.”
Jonathan’s statement reads
Garba Shehu’s gaffe on Jonathan’s Handover notes to Buhari
Our attention has been drawn to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in which he blamed the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint ministers until six months after taking over office on the administration of former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking on a Channels television programme on Monday December 17, Shehu had claimed that it took President buhari who was sworn in on May 29, 2015 until November 11, 2015 to appoint his ministers because the “President was given handover notes 48 hours to the handover of power”.
As strange as that particular assertion may sound, it still beggars belief that a spokesman of a President who is seeking re-election would still be looking for a scapegoat for the administration’s failure, at a time he should be showcasing his scorecard. That amounts to merely clutching at straws.
One thing is as clear as daylight: The Jonathan administration has absolutely nothing to do with the failure of this government to appoint ministers early enough to inspire confidence in investors because it is obvious that handover notes from a predecessor does not contain the list of ministers for the incoming administration.
However, that is even making light of Garba Shehu’s unending embarrassing gaffe. It is expected that a man who has been around the corridors of power for that long, beginning from when he served as a media adviser under President Obasanjo for years, should understand Government’s basic functions and procedures. Handover notes, being transitioning documents, are usually received by an incoming President from his predecessor at the time of change of government.
It is not a document that guides a President to appoint his ministers. Under normal circumstances, a newly inaugurated President needs the support of his ministers, who would handle different departments of Government, to study and understand his handover notes for effective performance of his initial duties.
Those who think like Shehu that a Government would not function properly if it does not receive handover notes in time, should be reminded that there is no law establishing the process. It is simply a matter of convenience for an outgoing President to develop handover notes to guide his successor understand key issues and hit the ground running.
In his own case, former president Jonathan magnanimously set up a transition team that produced the handover document which President Buhari received ahead of his inauguration.
Anyone who uses handover notes to justify a President’s indiscretion of not appointing ministers until after spending six months in power, is either being mischievous or does not really understand governance processes.
Sometimes, when Mr. Shehu speaks, he comes across as someone who is unaware of the fact that, under our laws, an administration is elected for a tenure of four years within which it is expected to have fulfilled its campaign promises, before returning to the electorates for a fresh mandate. In case he does not know, Shehu should be reminded that blaming others for one’s failures is not a prove of performance.
Assuming, without out conceding, that the last administration was as bad as they want Nigerians to believe, is it not a fact of governance that it is the duty of every responsible administration to seek to make better the situation it met on ground? Anything less than that is a prove of incompetence for which a failed administration has no moral justification to ask for a fresh mandate.
While members of the current administration continue to blame President Jonathan for their failure to deliver on their mandate, they should be reminded that there are many African success stories that proved that a progress-minded administration has no business focusing only on the past.
From a past of the worst genocide in recent history, Rwandan President Paul Kagame did not blame anybody when he took charge. He simply hit the ground running, and today, we all know where Rwanda stands in Africa’s growth and development index. The story is similar in Cote d’Ivoire where President Alassane Ouattara was able to turn around the Ivorian economy within two years after it had virtually collapsed following the negative impact of the country’s worst political crisis.
As the Buhari Government nears its end, the minders of the administration should please tell Nigerians what new projects, programmes and institutions for good governance they have added to those established by the various administrations of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), since they took office on May 29, 2015.
The truth is that this unhelpful blame game must stop if we have to move forward as a nation.