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PDP and the ministerial list

A good place to start is congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari for not living up to the prediction of his sworn critics on at least one ground. When he did not announce the names of ministerial nominees within the first week after his second term inauguration at Eagle Square, Abuja, on May 29, they went to town screaming out loud that the nation was about to witness a repeat of the 2015 situation, when the list took about six months to be made public. They chose to ignore what Mr. President had said on several occasions about the subject: that he would appoint only competent and diligent people into his cabinet, and that he would not rely blindly on recommendations by party personalities or even governors – commendable rationale really.

Considering the fact that ministers are political appointees saddled with coordination and supervision while civil servants are the ones charged with the actual implementation of government’s policies and programme, Buhari should have been given enough time to carefully choose his team. Apart from the fact that the president was not particularly breaking any law of the land, he also did not have to follow the footsteps of his predecessors in that regard since they did not face the same challenges and socio-political environments.

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Instead, President Buhari became the target of unprintable name-calling. Some people concluded that he just could not change; that he lacked the capacity to move with the times; and that, as it was in the beginning, so would it ever be. Against the run of insults, the nominee-ministers were ready for screening in less than two months. That effectively sealed the mouths of those who had prophesied about a long delay. Of course, it would be wishful thinking to expect persons who either earn a living through antagonising their rivals or have an abiding habit of criticism to simply go to bed even after an encounter with reason. There must be some contentious matters to dig out, holes to pick and faults to latch unto.

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As expected, as soon as the list became known, the nation’s leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), hit the waves with innuendoes, half-truths and outright lies. Its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, descended on the president’s proposal and tore it to shreds. It is important for discerning Nigerians to see through the shallowness and nuisance of the party that ought to offer a viable opposition to the country in furtherance of a robust democratic culture. According to Ologbondiyan, “Such a ministerial list can only come from a leadership that does not have the mandate of the people. It is a complete waste of time and cannot fulfill the expectation of Nigerians. The list has further shown President Buhari and APC’s insensitivity and disdain for Nigerians. It does not in any way reflect their hope and eagerness for a better Nigeria. Furthermore, in recycling failed yesterday’s men for today’s assignment, President Buhari and the APC have left no one in doubt that they have no vision to move our nation out of the economic and security predicaments into which they have plunged us in the last four years. A committed and responsive leadership would have widely consulted with Nigerians before compiling a ministerial list, given the current situation in the country.

“If indeed President Buhari and the APC mean well for Nigerians and are interested in revamping our critical sectors, they would not have ended up with a list of those who will help conceal the huge corruption in the Buhari administration in the last four years, as well as those who will assist in channeling funds to individuals and groups used by the APC to rig the 2019 presidential election. Strangely, the list has no space for the youth demography, those to whom the future is said to belong.

“With this development, it is clear that the only way our nation can come out of our present economic and security quandary lies in the retrieval of Atiku Abubakar’s stolen presidential mandate at the tribunal. That is the way our citizens will enjoy the benefit of having an array of highly qualified and patriotic Nigerians as ministers to move the nation forward.”

One does not need to be a student of stylistics to be convinced that PDP’s response to this important national exercise is both hypocritical and petty. Its spokesman began and ended with references to his party’s loss in the last presidential election. Ologbondiyan should have waited for the screening in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly before arriving at conclusions. It would have been better if the former so-called largest party in Africa had let the moment pass without its hollow comment.

So PDP functionaries are not tired of screaming at every opportunity, that the present Federal Government “does not have the mandate of the people”? They have exercised their constitutional right by going to the election tribunal, a decent, mature step to take. Now, they need to demonstrate some other sensible qualities – waiting patiently and humbly for the verdict and getting adjusted to the reality of an existing properly constituted administration. Who tells them that the 54 days within which the president combed the country for his cabinet were wasted? And how did they conclude that the 43 men and women put forward fell short of the expectations and aspirations of the Nigerian people? These objections are clearly baseless as most of them are professionals who have already proved their worth in their various chosen fields.

Like a sound football coach who understands the wisdom of mixing experience with freshness, Buhari has picked 29 new names to join 14 old members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to move the nation forward. Ratio clearly favours the fresh membership, thereby rubbishing the recycling accusation. The PDP should learn to accept their fate and let’s truly develop this country.

 

Ebube, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja

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