For APC, getting the transition right means all
FOR more than a week since the out-going Jonathan administration named its own Transition Committee, curiosity has acquired a new meaning all over Nigeria.
There is not a day that passes without speculative reporting, 100 per cent of it based on falsehood on what the in-coming government’s team will look like, who is heading its committees, and so forth.
Some have even been reporting imaginary fights over this or that office.
For the country’s new governing party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), a transition committee is not only to serve the purpose of diagnosis.
A good transition committee must also draw up a plan of action.
This alone makes these first early steps to be challenging. They must be handled with extreme care. If not so handled, the transition may turn into a flashpoint and an unnecessary distraction.
In last few days, there appear to be indications that both the APC and the newly elected President, General Muhammadu Buhari, have found a common ground on the Transition Committee. That should help to move the country from its current standstill.
Addressing correspondents at a news conference at his country home in Daura, Katsina State last week, the in-coming President announced that: “I will make sure that it is not too big because if it is big, they will start thinking of how they will make the choice of ministers either for themselves or those they want to be ministers. But, my hope and my idea is to get knowledgeable and experienced technocrats that are really patriotic and to study the handing over notes by ministries and make recommendations.”
In an interview with The Nation in its edition of Friday April 17th, the National Chairman of the Party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun spoke loud and long on the same issues, stating that: “we will raise a transition committee to crosscheck whatever papers or records they are handing over to us. In our case, we need a lot of more consultations and be sure that the right caliber of people are there.
“We will study the handover note and make sure that all issues are put in proper perspective for the new government.
“If there are grey areas, which experts will have to put us through, we will not hesitate to seek their help.”
From the foregoing, it is very clear that General Buhari’s priorities fit perfectly together with those of the party.
It is important that the incoming administration gets this one right because everything will depend on it. It may not be right at this point to question the goodness of the faith of the out-going administration.
The President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has earned an incredibly high amount of goodwill following his acceptance of the outcome of the election, which itself had the effect of de-escalating tensions not just among Nigerians but also all over the continent.
But the President’s Committee on Transition and hand-over looks to be a trickish one. It seems to be like one drawn to “massage” the numbers and ensure safety for “team Jonathan”.
Some names on that list have certainly made the eyes pop out of their sockets. In the President’s list, you have men and women who reflect the worst of our prejudices; men and women who have made themselves the mouthpieces for everything regressive.
This is one reason why President Buhari and his party cannot be too careful on choosing who they will give their part of the assignment to. There is no room for complacency in doing this either. Nothing that puts the new government at a risk should be allowed to happen.
What is required of the job is a diagnostic and a forensic understanding of the handover notes. I have my respect for politicians. After all, they are the ones who led the party to this overwhelming mandate.
But if they are given this job, they won’t be an incisive as is needful. Let us not underrate or under-estimate the amount of damage that has been done to national institutions, the economy and politics by the 16-year mismanagement of the country by the PDP.
It is the combined effect of their unseriousness, shortcomings and their mistakes that have reduced the once dominant ruling party to a paltry minority stakeholder in the states and the National Assembly following these elections.
As General Buhari has himself mentioned, politicians will come with natural expectations when given this job. In a manner of speaking, they may compromise the ability of the incoming government to get a full understanding of the issues, in other words a good snapshot of the nation, its systems and institutions at the time of this handover.
A membership of the transition committee will naturally confer a sense of already-being- there on many a politician. They will see themselves as the natural successors of the outgoing administration.
Some among them already have a sense of victory, a sense of indictment and a sense of entitlement.
Technocrats will on the other hand come in from a detached and hopefully, unbiased standpoint. Without preconceived ideas or mindset, a well-chosen set of technocrats may help unravel the rot that has eaten deep into the oil and maritime sectors, two money spinners, yet hemorrhaging government departments that are adequately represented in Dr. Jonathan’s transition team.
Although these are only matters of perception, it is not at all surprising that they have raised serious questions about the sincerity of government in regard to this aspect.
Of course, it is not all politicians who have a hemmed attitude to these things. For this reason, a fair chance should go to them even if to give them a benefit of the doubt.
But the technocrats should form the bulk. The committees must be constituted with people with a background in government.
When they know the inside workings of government, they will know what to look for, what to vouch for, what to accept and what not to accept on its face value.
What will work for the incoming administration and for the best interest of the nation is a strong set of committees, drawing heavily from experts in the several fields and a set of good, independent auditors.
In formulating their action plans, no one involved in this should lose sight of the fact that the poor are at the center of the new government’s policies.
Buhari’s emergence as President has already unleashed an upsurge of patriotic zealotry and strong sense of probity and accountability that is flaring and sharpening with each day.
It is, therefore, important for the country that both General Buhari and the party have agreed that a good step to the successful take-off of the new administration is one that is defined by the quality of its handover team, itself driven by knowledge and experience and certainly not by patronage.
Shehu is Director, Media and Communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Abuja.