Finally the Federal Executive Council was inaugurated by swearing-in of 36 ministers by President Buhari on Wednesday November 10. Equally, the president has assigned portfolios to all the ministers, a development which attracted a series of agitations in the media as to the effect that some of the minsters would not be assigned any portfolio.
Expectedly, Nigerians have come out from different perspectives with views as to the fact that while some saw the whole assignment as a reflection of capabilities of the individuals, some as usual were quick to point one form of error or the other. This, however is very much expected and in tandem with the tenets of democracy and constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.
On the whole, I saw most of the assignments as putting what is commonly referred to as square pegs in square holes. No doubt, virtually all the minsters are properly certificated and theoretically and in some instances, in practical terms qualified to serve as ministers of the federal republic.
I agree also that Nigerians are at liberty to share the thoughts that some people were either wrongly placed or placed in positions that likely would not lead to the realisation of their full potentials, an issue the president himself brought up as a factor that was responsible for the failures of ministers in the past. One fact however remains that the constitution of Nigeria has only restricted the office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice to a lawyer as its occupant; meaning that most of those appointed have acquired the requested qualification to serve anywhere. True that it will be ideal to have a medical expert to man the health sector for instance, but that does not mean that the result at the end of the day would be any better than if a non-health expert were to be in-charge
In Nigeria we have seen many examples where high-ranking professionals have failed woefully in their areas of posting. Ministry of education is one that I have seen where in the last several years, professors were appointed and the value added to the education sector was dismal. We have also seen that each time university dons were appointed to head the ministry of education, the conflict that ensued between the ministry, government and university unions were vehement.
This constantly reminded me of the words of Professor Gambari who once said when asked a question about the relationship between his theories of international relations and the practice of serving as minister of external affairs. Gambari’s answer was simple and precise – “the view of the road changes as you move from passenger to the driver’s seat.”
This professorial and diplomatic expression may likely explain why when we take statistics of the contributions of several professors as ministers of education, we find that they have not been very outstanding and in fact, nothing serious to write home about.
In this light, I fault the views of several professors who feel that the elevation of Adamu Adamu as senior minister ahead of a former vice chancellor and a professor as merely an intellectual protectionism and a typical Nigerian attitude short of saying that the professors are insisting that henceforth, all people to be appointed ministers of education must be professors.
Running the ministry of education is not equally proportional to running a university system where the professor is critical. Management of education like many other things requires the forthrightness sound sincerity. It requires the discipline and apt knowledge of educational management not necessarily buried in any superior university degree or for that matter occupying a professorial chair.
Similarly is the case with Babatunde Fashola who is a lawyer and now occupies technical areas of power, works and housing, formally three large ministries that were each headed by engineers some of who are professors. If we take into cognisance the quantum value addition during the reign of these professionals, we would realise that very little has been achieved otherwise the power crisis that we face as a people and a nation would have for long been an issue in history. Our roads would have lost that tag of death traps while the over 20 million housing deficiency that Nigerian faces would have been substantially reduced.
I think the most important thing that we need to do is to charge these ministers and encourage them to achieve what has not been achieved in the past in the last several years. What Nigeria desires desperately is motion into a future where life would be abundant for all its citizens. I have since realised that after all, the quality and efficacy of individuals is not necessarily anchored on their level of educational achievements. However, such an achievement could serve as a pivot to achieving efficiency and effectiveness.
I am not saying by any means that professors are incapable but immediate and too distant histories have shown that professors that manned ministry of education haven’t done as much as to rejuvenate and add positive quantum value to the system.
It is against this background therefore, that I celebrate President Buhari’s decision to appoint Adamu Adamu as education minister so that we may have a change. To those who merely desire to see Adamu as an accountant and columnist, they are doing so at their own peril because I do know for sure that he is much more than that and I am confident he will set the nation’s educational policy thrust on the right direction.
Ministers, I want to believe, will not be the same that we had just a few months ago. We would hold them accountable for their actions and they must live up to expectation. In wishing them well, I advise that it should not be business as usual.