July 22, 2015
MR PRESIDENT: TIME TO CONSTITUTE YOUR TEAM
The attention of Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has been drawn to the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to wait until September 2015 before appointing Ministers and maybe, key officials of government. The President who made this declaration in the United States of America is reported to have stated that it will neither be prudent nor serve the interest of sound government to have made the appointments immediately upon being sworn in. He stated that Nigeria must first put rules of conduct and good governance in place stressing the need for the process to be carried out correctly. Prior to this development, the President had indicated that he needs time to correct the ills of the past government and to start governance on a clean slate.
While we acknowledge the need to put rules of conduct and good governance in place, we are not aware that the President is preparing any new set of laws and regulations to guide the conduct of governance. If he is doing that, he has not communicated to the Nigerian public. Extant laws and Financial Regulations are good enough to facilitate good governance and what has been lacking in previous administrations is the political will to enforce same. The President does not need to reinvent the wheel but to continue the administration from where his predecessor stopped considering that governance is a never ending continuum. Even if the President is engaged in drawing up new laws and regulations or restructuring Ministries as has been suggested, the process need not take the whole of June, July and August 2015. It can be done in a shorter period. It can be done now.
The fact that has been repeatedly stated by a few officials of the new government is that there is a lot of work to be done to clean the misdeeds of the past. The volume and enormity of the work demands that more hands should be involved in the cleansing exercise. It cannot therefore be a justification for only one or two persons to carry the load of reforms. Nigeria is too big for only a few persons to think they can solve all the economic, political and social challenges alone. That would be an arrogation of superhuman and impossible powers to the President and a few officials around him. It cannot work and will only deepen the challenges.
Even if the President is to wait until September 2015, it is imperative that some critical sectors get Ministers immediately. As at now, there is no economic policy directive to guide citizens and investors and the economy seems to have stagnated. The naira is fast losing value by the day while quoted stocks have lost a good part of their value. Investment decisions are delayed and the last budget implementation report that was published was for the second quarter of 2014. No one seems to know or the public have not been briefed on the implementation of the 2015 budget. And no one seems to be in charge of the preparation process of the 2016-2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the 2016 budget. We do not see the Permanent Secretaries in the appropriate Ministries managing the processes that would resolve these afore-stated challenges. Hence the need for Ministers in the Finance and Economy portfolios to steer the economic ship of state and move it away from running aground.
The President also needs to be reminded that having got the approval of the National Assembly to appoint Special Advisers, at no time does he need Advisers especially on National Assembly matters than now. With the unending crisis raging in the National Assembly, he needs the guidance and briefing of the Legislative Adviser to take a principled and nuanced approach to the crisis and to push through principal bills he may wish to forward to NASS in the coming days.
Further, we do not think it is a best practice in governance for a President elected by Nigerians to be making major domestic policy decisions in a foreign land and through foreign media organisations. The announcement of the timing of the appointments should have been done in Nigeria and foreign media outlets can then carry it as news from Nigeria.
In conclusion, it cannot be described as rushing to make appointments if the President were to appoint Ministers and key officials 54 days after assuming office. Mr President, make haste because there is work to be done and there is no time to waste. History beckons.
Eze Onyekpere, Esq