We were expecting the unlisted in the ministerial list, instead we were presented with the motley of the common and the known. The list was disappointing and it is hard to imagine that this list of the common and the expected was vetted for so long and under a notorious veil of secrecy. This list is anything but bold. It is more of mannerly discretion and pointless deference to party loyalists and the old establishment.
The list was not much of an overhaul in quantitative or qualitative terms and far from any notion of novelty. With this list, President Muhammadu Buhari has made it even clearer that he intends to run the administration with his own people. So far, the entire cabinet is a parade of loyalists. Only those people whom the President can trust are his men.
President Muhammadu Buhari has made his choice and he is entitled to them. He seemed convinced that he can effect his change agenda by his own crowd, I wish him luck, I wish Nigeria well. There is no denying the fact that there is an advantage to having a cabinet of loyalists. It can be easier to get things done when everyone believes in the same things and are on the same page. It is also a given that information will be more tightly restricted within the administration. And we are finding that out as in the Akwa Ibom State raid etc.
On the other hand, it also means that any kind of novel or bold change in approach may be too much to hope for. At this moment, in this nation’s history, given the landmark election that upstaged an incumbent; this time calls for the injection of new blood to surprise the public and win it back. President Buhari, went the exact opposite route by choosing to keep it all in the family. We have been presented with more of the same, there is nothing remotely exciting nor surprising about this motley of the common list.
It did not end there. As it is usual with President Muhammadu Buhari, he seem determined to reinforce his own priors and the priors held against him. The inclusion of women in the ministerial list is on the paltry side. It makes a growing case of a man stuck in an era he was raised and grew up in. The rub in this is that the male experience and perspective is still seen as more universal, more public, more valuable and more germane to national development than the female.
It is more disappointing knowing that there are many smart, hardworking and patriotic females in this country whose life and work defines the female perspective as normal and the female experience as mainstream, as universal, as the male. The list reinforces the belief that President Buhari has a distant political and emotional relationship with women and he must find a way to change this. There is a reason why more men voted Buhari than women on March 28, 2015. He must look to fix his women problem by deliberate effort at inclusion and by funding targeted programmes for women. Nigeria has plenty of experienced, talented, professional women available to fill any of his cabinet posts.
For what it is worth, the President, his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and whoever the President appoints to work for him and with him must make this government development driven. A new political, economic and national development culture must be sought after as a critical imperative. Greater emphasis must be placed on ensuring the state institutions are made more accountable and profitable. All state institutions must be restructured with a culture of responsibility and accountability as opposed to the endemic culture of mediocrity, corruption and waste.
In addition, the shrinking of the cabinet will be a welcome development. We did not vote for a change in government only to see the new regime follow the patterns of the old one. We voted for change, we voted for a departure from our bad ways of pork, gravy And impunity. The President’s modest lifestyle and lean and mean approach to governance is an asset and he must lead the charge at curing us of greed, profligacy and waste. We are in the fifth month of his presidency, the government must start taking shape and present to Nigerians its platform and operating guidelines.
We understand that the opportunity to answer the public’s hopes with some new faces may have passed, but hopefully the next set of appointments at least will be handled with some semblance of surprise and skill.
Bamidele maintains a weekly column on Politics and Socioeconomic issues every Tuesday. She is a member of Premium Times Editorial Board.