The much awaited names of cabinet members of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration came out finally on July 27, 2023, sixty days after he was sworn in.
Tinubu’s first set of nominations was overshadowed by politicians including ex-governors, serving and former members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
Twenty-five per cent of the nominees are women while 75% are men. The women are Betta Edu, Doris Aniche Uzoka, Hannatu Musawa, Nkiru Onyeojiocha, Stella Okotete, Nkiru Onyeojiocha, Uju Kennedy Ohaneye, and Iman Suleiman Ibrahim. This still falls short of the affirmative action for gender equality. The national Gender Policy (NGP) has formulated a 35% Affirmative Action (AA) in Nigeria since 2006. This policy demands that 35% of women be involved in all governance processes. The NGP is recognized but is not practiced as the structures and processes to use are not in place.
By regional representation, South-East has 5 nominees namely Uche Nnaji – Enugu; Doris Aniche, Uzoka – Imo; David Umahi – Ebonyi; Nkeiruka Onyejocha – Abia; Uju Kennedy Ohaneye – Anambra.
South-South has 6 nominees namely: Nyesom Wike – Rivers; Abubakar Momoh – Edo;
Betta Edu – Cross River; Ekperikpe Ekpo – Akwa Ibom; Stella Okotette – Delta; John Enoh – Cross River.
South-West has just 4 nominees made up of Olubunmi Tunji Ojo – Ondo; Dele Alake – Ekiti; Olawale Edun – Ogun; Waheed Adebayo Adelabu – Oyo; leaving out Lagos and Osun states.
The North-East has Yusuf Maitama Tuggar – Bauchi; Ali Pate –Bauchi; Abubakar Kyari – Borno;
Sani Abubakar Danladi – Taraba.
From the North-West we have Badaru Abubakar – Jigawa; Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai – Kaduna; Ahmed Dangiwa – Katsina; Hannatu Musawa – Katsina; Bello Muhammad Goronyo – Sokoto.
Lastly, we have from the North Central Lateef Fagbemi – Kwara; Muhammad Idris – Niger; Iman Suleiman Ibrahim – Nasarawa; Joseph Utsev – Benue.
In the nomination list, Mr. Tinubu left out 11 states namely Adamawa, Bayelsa, Gombe, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Lagos, Plateau, Osun, Yobe and Zamfara. The current list has 7 females, 4 ex governors, 6 ex lawmakers, 3 serving lawmakers, and 3 presidential advisers.
The list has received rave reviews in the media. Some political pundits have commended the list while others have criticized it. The argument has been on what informed the choice of who made the list. Some argued that President Tinubu has not given good representation to the women, having nominated only 7 out of the 28 list. Arguments are also rife on the issue of recycling of spent-out politicians who have been in the corridor of power since 1999.
Compared to the list of Ministers former President Olusegun Obasanjo pulled in 1999 -2007, the Tinubu list does not give vent to technocrats who are not partisans. Pot pouri of opinion is that politicians don’t make good administrators, they compromised principles and non commitant to the state but are self centred.
Between 1999 and 2007, President Obasanjo worked with some Nigerians who were renowned in their various fields and have been tried and tested at global level. They included: Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, two-term Minister of Finance, brought in from the World Bank where she served as development economist. Another outstanding performer who was also not a card carrying member of any political party was the Former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili brought in from the World Bank where she served as Vice President for Africa. Did they deliver? Yes they did.
However the past 24 years of Nigeria’s democracy has shown that cabinet portfolio performance is never based on the personality, rather it has been on individual capability, competence and the attitude of their principal. We have seen the worst experiences in the last two governments under Presidents Goodluck Jonathan, and Muhammadu Buhari. They failed in their responsibilities to put round pegs in round holes; where they did, they failed to instill the culture of checks and discipline on their cabinet members. The worse corruption was perpetrated under these two leaders just because they allowed ineptitude, laxity, political affiliation and tribal sentiment to becloud their vision and mission statements.
President Bola Tinubu should therefore be very circumspect in choosing his cabinet members. The list of his 28 cabinet team is made up of both young and old well educated Nigerians. Majority of them are card carrying politicians who have occupied one political office or the other. Some are public administrators whose capacity and competence cannot be established from their previous appointments. They make the list just because they are representing some political interest.
Others are chosen based on their relationship and support to Tinubu’s presidential ambition. However, it is pertinent for Mr. President to realize that this is not business as usual. His ministers and Special Advisers must be selected and given appropriate portfolios based on the 3Cs of leadership which are Competence, Capability, and Capacity. He has fiducial responsibility to make Nigeria great, having sold his political campaign messaging to Nigerians on the premise of “Renewed Hope”.
The oath of office he took on May 29, 2023 is to Nigerians and not to his party members, his families and friends. Tinubu needs to get the job of fixing Nigeria done within time. And to get the job done, he must move away from the primordial factors that have made all past efforts fail in moving Nigeria forward.
Ministers are called to serve, not to come and become lords unto themselves. They are to come and drive the vision of Mr. President, articulate and implement the party manifesto. They are appointed into the cabinet to come and serve the people and provide governance to the citizens.
However, in the past administrations, we saw a lot of garrulous asperity, indiscipline, low respect to their principal and lack of commitment to the Nigerian project. This was the attitude of some of the Ministers under President Jonathan and President Buhari, who themselves did not show any regard to the plight of Nigerians. The body language of the Commanders-in-Chief determines the attitude and altitude of his ministers in serving the nation.
Mr. President and his Chief of Staff must come up with a mechanism for supervising his ministers, evaluating their performances, and ensuring there are consequences for their actions and inactions. Ruling Nigeria has gone beyond partisan politics; and Tinubu is now the president of Nigeria not of APC members. He should show zero tolerance for ineptitude, corruption, political rascality and disloyalty at various arms of government.
Ex. President Muhammadu Buhari shocked the world when he disclosed on national television on March 13, 2018 that he did not know his Inspector General of Police defied his order. Two months after he directed the then Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris (IGP) to relocate to Benue State and stop killings by herdsmen, Buhari discovered when he arrived Makurdi that his order was not carried out. Unfortunately, Buhari just laughed it off. Though he summoned the IG to his office a day after, and nothing happened. That kind of body language portrayed a weak leader.
Tinubu must endeavor to show a different attitude to governance. He must take a clear cut direction from what we have seen; a serious and determined approach to governance. Also, his appointees should be made to cultivate civility in their relationship with the masses. The political brigandage, grandstanding approach and ‘me against them’ communication style of past ministers and spokespersons of the president and minister of information as witnessed under the immediate past president, should not be tolerated under this government.
The heads of ministries, departments and agencies must be deliberate and purposeful in their actions geared toward delivering best solutions to Nigerian problems. To this end, they must be held accountable for their actions.
Every member of the cabinet must align with the vision of the president and manifesto of the ruling party. Policies should be peoples-centric, because governance is all about making life comfortable for the electorate. The vote of the people is a mandate for every elected leader and their appointees to manage the resources of the nation on behalf of the people. This is our common patrimony that must be accountably managed. Therefore President Tinubu should know he is responsible to the over 200 million Nigerians that are looking up to him to take them out of Egypt into the Canaan land. God bless Nigeria.