Buhari procrastinates, Lawan And Gbaja proliferate
It is not too early to remind our President, President of the Senate and Speaker House of Representatives that if they continue with the tone they have set for their governance system, their actions will surely generate people’s enthusiasm for mass revolt that some groups are mobilising for. Again, this is another moment of truth. We have been deceiving ourselves for too long and so we have not been making progress. It is no longer a time to speak in tongues about the state of the nation. We need to speak truth again to powers in Abuja where we are beginning to see that they can’t inspire us for national development anymore.
And here is the real thing, despite all the noise, Nigeria’s president is still procrastinating. All his 43 ministerial nominees (without portfolios attached) were confirmed by the Senate last Tuesday. But in a strange twist to the rampaging presidential procrastination, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mustapha Boss confirmed to the expectant nation at the weekend that the portfolios of the ministers might still have to wait till after August 16 when the presidency would have concluded a cabinet retreat for the new ministers. Why is this Buhari’s presidency always contemptuous of the people even in a democracy? Why were the ministers hurriedly nominated for confirmation if the president wasn’t ready with their portfolios? Can’t they align the content of the imminent ‘world-class’ retreat and master class on how to lead Nigeria from Third to First World with the portfolios for efficiency?
There is no democracy where this kind of executive tardiness has ben an affliction in recent time. Two months for a leader to assemble a business-as-usual cabinet of 43 nominees and another almost three weeks to assign portfolios. In Africa, South Africa is Nigeria’s main rival when it comes to economic power. Despite all odds recently, as noted the other day here, South Africa made its cabinet within a week after election of Cyril Ramaphosa for a full term leadership. That is why South Africa does not need any rebasing of the economy to be a member of G-20 and BRICS – the organic merging markets in the world. They are desperate for development.
Lawan and Gbaja as proliferators
It is also sad to note that if President Buhari is a remarkable procrastinator, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila are proliferators – of standing committees at such a time like this. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Committees of the National Assembly, have not realised that the 1999 Constitution as amended makes them to be the original guardian angel of the national treasury and indeed the economy. They have the powers under the constitution to use policy instrument in the appropriation details to protect the economy.
Similarly, the framers of the same constitution make the Auditor-General of the Federation to work with the Public Accounts Committees (PAC) in both chambers of the Legislature conventionally headed by the opposition – to safeguard the economy. The real power over the purse is in the law-making body. But how else should we explain the fact that at this time, Senator Lawan inaugurated 63 Standing Committees out of 109 Senators? How should the nation feel about Gbajabiamila’s 109 Standing Committees out of 360 members? Specifically, Hon. Gbajabiamila increased the House committee slots from 96 to 109.
The United States’ Congress with almost our numbers, maintains only 22 Committees.
These tragic decisions in the hallowed chambers of the federal legislature came at a time real people were raising concerns about Buhari’s 43 cleared ministers-designate. Most public policy experts have been quoted here as saying though the constitution mandates Nigeria’s president to reflect the original federal character in the composition of the cabinet, the constitution does not impose the number of ministries on the country. There have been suggestions that Nigeria should not have more than 18-19 ministries, after all. Though the Buhari presidency, which threatened to restructure the bureaucracy for efficiency in 2015 failed to conclude the process. There are fears that a lot of arm-twisting is going on in Abuja so that the Aviation, which used to be part of Transportation will be carved out for a very ambitious minister-designate who would like to be his own master. There are dark hints too that Power, Works and Housing would be separated and given to some special candidates. It is not difficult to create these structures for political patronage. But at this time in our world, there are consequences for these actions as overheads would be uncontrollable. All these numerous ministries, agencies and extra-ministerial departments are as toxic to the economy as the redundant standing committees in National Assembly. So, Buhari, Lawan and Gbajabiamila should note that the nation has been watching their disservice to the nation by their failure to be reform-minded at this time. Do they want us to note that they do not understand stand the times?