FIVE months after Professor Mahmood Yakubu’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared him the winner of the 2019 presidential election, and three months after he was sworn-in for a second term, President Muhammadu Buhari has finally sworn-in his ministers.
The President who is well known for his slow, deliberate ways, only marginally improved on his 2015 record during which he spent a whole six months before forwarding his cabinet list to the Senate for confirmation.
The new Buhari team while carrying on-board a cross-section of All Progressives Congress, APC, stalwarts still contains a good measure of his long-time personal loyalists. Some of them, such as retired generals Abdulrahman Danbazzau (Interior) and Mansur Dan Ali (Defence) who had played very visible roles in his first term, had been dropped.
Loyalty to the Party and the President appears to have played the major role in ensuring the reappointment of 12 key APC leaders such as Chibuike Amaechi, Mr Raji Fashola, Dr Chris Ngige, Abubakar Malami, among others.
The Constitution empowers the President to choose his ministers subject to confirmation by the Senate, which was fully complied with.
As the Ministers assume full responsibilities today, we need to remind them that they are supposed to take the President’s three-point agenda: the economy, security and anti-corruption, to the promised “next level”.
Nigeria’s economic performance under Buhari has been anything but impressive. The slow response to the economic downturn when the President assumed office in May 2015 (occasioned mainly by the steep drop in the price of crude oil) led the country into recession.
It was not until June 2017 that the Federal Government launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, and marginally took the economy out of recession.
The team must focus firmly on growing prosperity, creating jobs, reviving our infrastructure, increasing the current gains in the agricultural sector, increasing in internal revenue and drastically cutting borrowing. They must do more to upgrade the social sector (health and education). More emphasis should be put in the engagement of our youth in gainful preoccupations to reduce violent and unnatural crimes.
Insecurity is threatening to overwhelm the country and destabilise her unity. This must be halted. Buhari’s first term security architecture failed woefully. This is no longer acceptable.
The anti-graft campaign should be rejigged. The selection of the cabinet did not appear to reflect any serious regard to the anti-corruption fight. Ministers must capitalise on the freehand that Buhari gives his appointees to bring their best on board, respectively and collectively.
But if they choose to pursue selfish interests, we may be doomed to a failed tenure.