By Ocherome Nnanna
President Muhammadu Buhari last week showed his government is not as weak as it seems. He dropped two of his ministers: Sabo Nanono of Agriculture and Rural Development and Saleh Mamman of Power. The only time I ever heard of Nanono was when he brought out N30 million, our money as allocated to his ministry, to build a mosque for herdsmen displaced from the Boko Haram war.
The old man was not bothered that under his watch, farmers were being killed by armed herdsmen, and that staple foods were scarce because the people who produced them were now dead, on the run or living in refugee camps. At least, between 2015 and 2019 we saw the boom of agriculture through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s, Anchor Borrowers programme. Under Nanono, all was lost. As for Power, we stopped hearing about that sector when the portfolio was taken from Babatunde Fashola who used to shoulder it with Works and Housing.
This reshuffle should have come around the transitional moment around May 29, 2021. When Alhaji Sule Lamido was the Governor of Jigawa State (2007 and 2015) he ran a highly accountable government. Every year from May 1, all the commissioners and chairmen of local governments were mandated to go on live radio to give account of their stewardships. The people were encouraged to call in, ask questions and expose any lie. By May 29, cabinet reshuffles were done based on proven performance. This was the kind of thing we expected from Buhari if he were serious with accountable governance.
Buhari says we should expect more changes. That is needed. It is the president’s prerogative to appoint, redeploy and sack ministers. Since we are the ones being ministered to, we can at least suggest. First, President Buhari should cease from being the Minister for Petroleum Resources and appoint someone else for that post. He was supposed to reform the corrupt and inefficient sector. After six years, he is only waking up with the signing of the Petrol Industry Act, PIA. He will take another year to get it going, thus essentially leaving that job for the next regime.
Buhari has not justified taking on the job of oil minister. Presidents should never be oil minsters because their presidential immunities prevent them from being summoned by the National Assembly to give account. To go with the Oil Minister is the Minister of the Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio. He cannot extricate himself from the rot in the sector as contained in the recently concluded Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Lai Mohammed should never have been appointed minister. He should have been kept at his party’s secretariat as a master propagandist. More importantly, Lai is an enthusiastic foot soldier in the increasingly autocratic Buhari regime’s quest to destroy and subjugate the media and emasculate the civic space.
Isa Pantami should go. He is a jihadist sympathiser, though he claims to have “repented”. We don’t need such people in our government because we don’t know what they are really doing with our digital resources. Besides, Pantami was reported to have used gunmen to chase away Abike Dabiri and her staff from an office allocated to them in May last year. Pantami is “repented” but he still exhibited that manner of violent behaviour – and nothing happened! Also, on my sack list is the Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi. This retired military officer should have been left to continue watching TV and playing with his grandchildren. What value has he added? He has even told those under attack by bandits to defend themselves. But apparently, that rule does not apply to people being killed by Fulani militias masquerading as “herdsmen” in Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, Benue and all states in the South. Under his watch, bandits have attacked military targets and so many military plane crashes have taken place, yet he stays put!
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, should go. But he will not, because he is a critical factor in the prosecution of Buhari regime’s perceived “Islamisation and Fulanisation” agenda, whereby armed herdsmen are allowed to dislodge indigenous Nigerians from their farms and communities. He is at the forefront of the search for the nonexistent “grazing routes”, “grazing reserves” and “water resources” for Fulani herdsmen from all over the world. The owners of the land are expected to stand idly by and watch!
Chris Ngige must go. He does not have the diplomatic touch to handle Labour matters. Adamu Adamu of Education, Osagie Ehanire of Health, Ogbonnaya Onu of Technology (I laugh), Zainab Ahmed of Finance, Geoffrey Onyeama of Foreign Affairs and others are just benchwarmers and free passengers. People who know are not surprised that Sadiya Farouk of Disaster Management remains in office despite all the pandemic School Feeding scandals.
Few will argue that Rotimi Amaechi, our workaholic Minister of Transport and rail reformer, has been exceptional. So also have Babatunde Fashola, the Works Minister. These were high performing governors who took their acumen to make a difference in the Buhari government.
The final name among the regime’s top performers is Hadi Sirika, the Aviation Minister. This gentleman is related to Buhari (as we hear), yet he has not allowed that relationship to reduce him to a mere indolent occupant of empty space. I remain impressed by the dispatch with which he led the effort to complete the Abuja Airport second runway on schedule. He also scored above average in his reconstruction of the Enugu International Airport. This was an airport that former President Goodluck Jonathan asked an Igbo lady, Stella Oduah, then the Aviation Minister, to fix in 2012. She did, but the runway fell to pieces within seven years, and the airport had to be closed.
Oduah only recently joined the party that turns sinners to saints – the All Progressives Congress, APC!