“The civil service provides the continuity, the technocrat. And in any case, they are the people who do most of the work. The ministers are there, I think, to make a lot of noise, for the politicians to make a lot of noise. But the work is being done by the technocrats.
“I said we will have one by the end of the month, and time flies. The end of the month is coming too quickly for my liking. Yea, I will stick to it. I will send the names to the National Assembly.”
The above is an excerpt from an interview President Muhammadu Buhari famously granted to the media in far away, Paris, France on the 16th of September, 2015.
In the interview, the President made efforts to justify why his administration failed to appoint ministers as required by the Constitution four months after he was sworn-in on May 29, 2015, an exercise he eventually carried out after six months in office.
The appointment of ministers during the President’s first tenure in office was the longest ever in the history of democratic governance in the country.
Though various officials of the administration and Buhari’s admirers tried hard to justify the delay, citing the President’s desire to identify people he could work with, many Nigerians felt the eventual list of cabinet ministers sent to the National Assembly fell short of their expectation.
Except for a few technocrats, loudly in the person of the former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the bulk of the list was made up of career politicians, whose only claim to the appointments were their contributions to the emergence of Buhari as President.
Curiously, the reluctance exhibited by President Buhari in appointing ministers in his first tenure has dominated his administration, including sacking or relieving erring appointees of their position.
Analysts are of the opinion that the reluctance of Mr. President in appointing or firing may be largely out of indecision and his uncertainty in who to appoint in replacement in the event of firing an appointee.
A lawyer, Mr. Jackson Ibe, made reference to the long clamour for the sack and replacement of service chiefs, long before the President capitulated to the then deafening clamour.
According to him, even when the National Assembly put out resolutions that the service chiefs be sacked, the President stuck to his guns, instead expressing confidence in them.
“What many Nigerians don’t know is that the President, not out of fear but a certain degree of indecision, is very reluctant in sacking his appointees. He seems to see in them, what other Nigerians cannot see. But what exactly he sees, is left to be seen.
“Closely related to this is also Buhari’s inherent fears of not getting a suitable replacement that suits his personal preferences. And of course, this casts a question mark on the President himself. Because the reason he has a retinue of advisers is for occasions like this when he has to make tough decisions that has fundamental implications on the success of his administration. If he cannot trust his advisers to give him counsels that are top notch, then why have them in the first place?”, Mr. Ibe querried.
More than anything, the delay in replacing the service chiefs, who majority of Nigerians found wanting in securing the country against the activities of criminal elements as represented by the Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers, a current affairs analyst, Dipo Sangoolu, said cast a great question mark on the ability of President Buhari to make informed decisions for the good of the country.
According to him, several deadly attacks by insurgents and bandits in different parts of the country were enough for the President to show them the way out, without anyone prodding him.
“As a retired army General, the President ought to know that you don’t leave a faltering commander at his post, lest his ineffectiveness affect the troops and dampen their morale. Unfortunately, that’s what the President did, and that’s, for me, what’s responsible for the current terrible state of insecurity in the country”, Sangoolu said.
IGP, NSCDC Commandant General Appointments
As if the faltering in the sack and replacement of service chiefs is not enough, confusion has also continued to reign in the retirement and appointment of a new Inspector General of Police and Commandant General for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
For the Inspector General of Police, though Mohammed Adamu, former administrations in the country made immediate appointments to replace a retiring IGP.
The current situation, according to a political commentator, can only lead to guesswork and conjectures on who would eventually be named the substantive Inspector General!
The situation at the NSCDC is even more precarious, as there seem to be a disconnect between the Presidency, to which the shortlisted names for the next Commandant General has been submitted and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where the Minister, Rauf Aregbesola has insisted on the conduct of a qualifying examination for the post.
Counting the Cost
Many Nigerians are of the opinion that beyond the delays in making appointments and the reluctance in sacking appointees, the quality of appointments by the Buhari administration leaves much more to be desired.
According to Mr. Rufus Dauda, an economist, most of the appointments of President Buhari into economic related portfolios may not be the best the nation has at its disposal.
“I still find it difficult why the current Minister of Finance, National Planning and Budget has remained in that portfolio. It is obvious, from what is happening with the nation’s economy that she is not the right candidate for that office. And this even become more obvious with the current recession the country is going through, without serious proactive ideas on how to steer it out.
“For now, all we have are fire brigade approaches to the nation’s economy and that will only make things worse. The same goes for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, where Timpre Silva is in command as the minister of state, without a substantive senior minister.
“For me, Silva is only there because he is a member of the APC and an Ijaw man from Bayelsa, and not because he has any serious professional experience in managing the petroleum industry. It is also curious how an Ibe Kachikwu would be eased out and Silva ushered in, despite the intimidating credentials of Kachikwu as an industry professional”, Daodu said.
Continuing, he opined that until the Buhari administration is able to put round pegs in round holes, the economy, and the nation in general will continue to drift.
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