It took a whole month to drill or screen those nominees of President Buhari by the Senate of the Federal Republic. The screening was a mixed grill. It started with tremendous expectations on the part of Nigerians but ended up as a mere formality.
A reason for the way it ended is simple. One, is that the choices made by the president and his men are made of people who no doubt possess the requisite capacity, at least on paper, to discharge the responsibilities that may be assigned to them. Secondly, the selection was primarily a presidential one and therefore we would hold President Buhari responsible for his choices and the eventual output that the nation would get from this set of ministers.
I appreciate the hullabaloo and some of the concerns and agitations by Nigerians on the manner of the selection as a reflection and necessary ingredient of democracy. Those who should know possibly didn’t know and of course those who expected to be were not to be. The culmination of disappointed expectation and other political additives must necessarily be met with resistance and protestations. Thank God matters have settled and the president seems to have appreciated the concerns raised by the principal stakeholders in this change enterprise.
Now that the ministers would be inaugurated anytime soon, a government would almost be fully constituted, the next thing to do is not to delay the constitution of governing structures for agencies and departments of government so that the ministers would also not come on board and try to wax possible maximum powers on the administration and management of these agencies and departments.
I hope that the decision by the president to appoint a committee that would advise on modalities of the reconstitution of boards and parastatals would appreciate the urgency in the scheme of things and move to fairly advise and remind the president that this is a political regime and there are several citizens that are competent and that have played significant roles in the realisation of this change and the need to carry stakeholders along in the decision to follow.
I am of the view that, that will assuage some of the hostile but graveyard feelings of some of APC giants, especially their governors who hold about 22 states of the federation.
The message here is two-fold. One, for change to be effective in Nigeria, the federal composition must be taken into consideration. None of the two principal levels of government can achieve any meaningful progress without the other. Agreed that N0.52 of every one naira the nation makes is retained in Abuja, the balance that is shared between the states and the local councils is also critical if a holistic movement and transformation is to be achieved in the polity.
I’m emphasising on the critical role that symbiotic relationship ought to play in the delivery of change to Nigerians. The centre must relate properly with the units just like the units are expected to work in tandem with the centre. It is only when that is achieved that we can begin to think of uniform or coordinated pattern of change in the country.
I expect that the committee set up by the president to draw modalities for reconstituting governing structures of agencies and department of government would take into cognisance the critical role that APC state governments ought to play in both character reflection and meeting the yearnings and aspirations of several critical and qualified stakeholders without compromising on quality and integrity.
I’m interested that the government carries along all segments of the society in its development agenda. I’m particularly interested that those critical elements that are part of the movement to today’s reality are also carried along not because they needed to be paid for the services rendered but fundamentally because as stakeholders in the drive, they must be held accountable to the realisation of the objectives of good governance.
I believe that the council to be inaugurated by the president anytime soon will be different from the ones we have seen in the past. Being a minister should not be celebrated because one would be close to public resources and as such could exploit them. Anybody thinking that it will be business as usual I want to think is in error and may not happen yet again.
I will continue to encourage government to put dialogue and consultation as principal vehicular additives needed to effect change from a society that has been badly run in the last several years to a system of order and procedure. The buy-in of citizens is critical even though several others would continue to draw the hand of the clock backward.
What is essential in change is mobilisation of the various social classes in the society. Every segment must be carried along or at last given the opportunity to participate. It is on the basis of compliance and failures that the difference is made. The result of the 2015 elections no doubt clearly pointed to the fact that Nigerians are in need of change even from amongst those who massively benefitted from the previous disorders.
In conclusion, it is necessary to suggest further that one way of getting the federation work is through collaboration with the levels of authority so that delineation of responsibilities is clearly understood from political viewpoint. The constitution has though allotted functions but in areas of concurrence and overlaps, political brinkmanship is required to streamline so that unnecessary duplication and waste of resources is averted. This has been the character of Nigerian federalism.
That is why federal government is building boreholes, so are the states and even local councils. The issue is that if there is proper synergy, resources would be invested in areas where they would make the most meaning and impact. The confusion is not restricted to water issues but in virtually every other facet – in education, health and several others.
The best way out of this mess is political. If all levels would insist on their constitutional assignments, then, we may continue in the same old manner and the result would be, injecting more money and yet, problems remain unaddressed. It was Robert McNamara as the president of the World Bank that said: “Fighting poverty without having a grounded theory for it, is merely throwing money at the problem,” and I think we need to address the method in place to effect the change required.