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Cabinet reshuffle without political restructuring

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Buhari

Pundits, witches and wizards, prophets and oracles on Nigerian’s political circles who always know how Abuja works and why Nigeria’s presidency is always unfruitful will tell you that soon and very soon, there will be a major cabinet shake-up by the President. The ruling party’s bigwigs, haters of a vicious cabal, even members of the president’s household including the First Lady and regular investors in politics and business of cabinet making have been pushing for it. There is good news for those pushing the usual midterm agenda: Inside Stuff intelligence in the nation’s capital has indicated that the expectation of the schemers for a cabinet shake-up will not be cut off. The president will satisfy them sooner than later – after the Sallah break. Insiders are saying there will be either dissolution of the cabinet or a major reshuffle.

What is more, those who should know the inside stuff of the politics that will shape a brand new cabinet have revealed that the president may also show that he has never been under a spell of any cabal. To underscore this, inside sources say the president may also reshuffle the unsteady presidential bureaucracy comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Chief Of Staff to the President, (CoS-P), the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF), the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission (CFCSC).

The presidential bureaucracy is headed by the SGF, the engine room of the presidency that has been curiously vacant since April 19, 2017 when Mr. Babachir Lawal, was suspended on corruption allegation. There has been an Acting SGF, Dr. Habibat Lawal, a serving Permanent Secretary who cannot effectively carry out the responsibility of that office because she is still responsible to the Head of Service who should account to the substantive SGF. That is the due order. Besides, the office of the Chairman of the FCSC has been vacant since April this year when Deaconess Joan Ayo’s term expired. Her appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan was criticised was too old and weak to be efficient given the vibrancy expected in that very critical civil service office.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari who was allegedly linked to a N500 million bribe by a fined telecom firm, has also been widely criticised for perceived passivity in his office. The bribery allegation hasn’t been forgotten, though the presidency has curiously swept it under the carpet. People have been gossiping about why he too has bot been suspended since the telecom company that allegedly arranged the bribe at issue has since cleaned up its own house, retired the link to the CoS-P.I have drawn attention to the institutional weaknesses in the presidential bureaucracy several times here but who cares about the nexus between operational efficiency of a presidency and verdict of history?

However, decent sources told Inside Stuff intelligence unit at the weekend that the presidency is seriously concerned about the parlous state of the presidential bureaucracy that may also be overhauled soon. It has been noted on this page before that the suspended SGF did not have enough public service experience for the job. So it was for the Chief of Staff who left banking as a chief executive more than 25 years ago. Besides, the current Head of Service who was said to have worked with the president (as an accountant) in Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) years is also noted for just ordinariness in the service. There has been no critical thinking from her for a reformed 21st Century civil service that can reduce official corruption.

The conclusion of the whole presidential bureaucracy matter is that the present order cannot help the president to deliver service to the people. And so there is an urgent need for restructuring. That is the inconvenient truth that most beneficiaries from the status quo would not like to hear. But truth, easily the most powerful force on earth, must be told to power for the common good. Let’s pray for the taciturn president that principalities and powers that are generally believed to be arresting clinical efficiency in the presidential palace will not hijack presidential courage at this time.

Fashola’s Super Ministry May Be Split
In this digital age, walls have more ears. ‘Buhari Watch’ insiders in Abuja and Daura have gathered that the president has made up his mind to split the complicated Ministry (Power, Works and Housing) that has made the former Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola a super minister. This time, it is said that the possible split is for operational efficiency. The president who still believes in the resourcefulness of BRF would like him to keep only Power Ministry or Work and Housing Ministry. It was confirmed at the weekend that the decision was taken in London while the Lion King was reflecting while recuperating in his den in Great Britain. Inside sources say the president believes that there will be more efficiency if the three critical infrastructure ministries are rebooted to their factory setting: Power & Works and Housing. Some Abuja power merchants are saying that a former governor of a South South state who has relocated to Abuja and has been part of recent issues in the news is among lobbyists to get one of the ministries.

Meanwhile, there were indications at the weekend that most members of the federal cabinet are aware that the president’s early relocation of power house to Daura since Wednesday after the federal executive council has got a lot to do with the expediency of a rejig of his government machinery. Inside stuff sources say they are aware that even the First lady and her allies are part of the strategic lobby for restructuring of the presidential bureaucracy and the cabinet. The restless FL had in a controversial interview on BBC(October 2016) solicited a rejig of the state house machinery to reflect a reward system for some actors whose efforts clearly shaped victory for the governing party. She is in Saudi Arabia at the moment but Inside Stuff intelligence says her body language indicates too that she would like radical changes in government machinery that can deliver electoral promises.

Cabinet Reshuffle and Restructuring Delusion?
Again, this is the time to advise our president that no one will in future remember any radical mid-term cabinet change. That is not an electoral promise. A good cabinet should have been constituted in May 2015. There should be no reminder again and again that the people voted for him and he defeated a government in power to change the way that government was reportedly running the country. Oh yes, he was not elected to be complaining in office about how the successor administration ruined the economy. And so, hope, the PMB administration has been raising for more than two years is not a strategy, according to Fareed Zakaria. We thank God and we have been celebrating his not-so-rapid recovery in a U.K hospital. But the celebration should not be allowed to take the steam out of serious and urgent matters of governance. There are issues that his government should pay attention to at the moment.

First, the president should not underestimate the implications of ignoring calls for restructuring of the federation. It is true that some agitators have made it to look like the country he is presiding over is about to break up. Not at all: the president should have enough honest men in the house who should tell him now that he is presiding over a countryof complex diversity. There are unresolved issues of multicultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic dimensions that even presidential appointments have so far compounded for his administration. Honest political analysts should be around the president at this time to tell him gracefully that time is fast running out on the expediency of changing the way the country has been run since 1966. Yes, what happened 51 years ago when the military radically touched regionalism that was delivering services to the people of various regions is the main issue. The president needs to know that the integrity quotient earlier ascribed to him is being seriously eroded. And so many Nigerians that may not even have access to the media are already saying the president’s integrity may have been overrated, after all.

What is more, integrity is only a quality to leverage on. It is also like hope not a strategy if it is not used for nation building. That is why the President should use his Sallah holiday in Daura to reflect on his legacy and nation building. Politics of second term has begun. What the greedy party people will be telling him now is how to raise funds for a second term they want his name to deliver to them as they did in 2015. There is no doubt that Buhari is still a game changing name, especially in the far North. There is still no doubt that there is a pocket of followers in the South who will encourage the president to stand for re-election.

They can combine forces with the powerful elements in the North and win election in 2019 too. Or so it seems. But what will that victory mean for the country without radically redesigning architecture of governance? Will the expediency of restructuring be a campaign issue for the ruling Party? The president should please send packing all sycophants around him who made him to call agitating citizens “irresponsible elements” the other day. Now he needs to face nation building, which is not for the faint-hearted ethnic bigots. Yes, he can win 2019 election that the Supreme Court may not be able to annul as they just did in Kenya but he can lose the country thereafter.

That is the inconvenient truth he alone should reflect on in Daura , not only about possible cabinet reshuffle. The country needs his integrity at this time – for devolution of powers to the states. He should work, not war with the National Assembly to reshape the constitution that will reflect a true federation where all the states can develop according to their endowments. The simple stating point is the loaded exclusive Legislative List. That will not break up the country. That alone can guarantee a solid future for him as a great leader.


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Muhammadu Buhari‎

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