One-Year After President Muhammadu Buhari’s Inauguration: Not Yet Uhuru! Time To Change The Mediocre, Insensitive And The Inactive Ones In The Cabinet—CACOL
As the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of the present regime closes in, President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly asked Nigerians to tell him if he should change any Minister in his cabinet, one year after the ascension of the All Progressive Congress to power at the Federal level following the party’s roaring victory at the 2015 general elections.
The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL welcomes this ‘openness to public appraisal - criticisms or commendation’ approach demonstrated by the President and views it as exemplifying and magnifying the essence of the ‘change’ Nigerians yearned and are still yearning for. In some quarters, some say 1 year is too early to access the performance of government but we think differently because the future begins today, and with this attitude of the President, the man who is at the very epicenter of what Nigeria is doing about its issues, we think it puts to pay the agreement of those who want to be ‘Buhari more than Buhari’. Thus, we commend the President for his humility and openness.
One year of governance after May 29, 2015, has definitely been topsy-turvy in almost every sector, but there are remarkable and impressive strides being achieved in some, particularly the anti-corruption war and the war against insurgency, some others however are utterly disappointing and reprehensible in their performances.
With regard to Ministries, topping the list as far as we are concerned in terms of abysmal performance that requires radical change is the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. It is our view that the ministry has been the main one that has most misrepresented the campaign promises of APC and the change Nigerians expected. All the actions and policies of the Ministry have compounded the sufferings of Nigerians in multi-folds; from lack of power supply to the illogical hike in electricity tariffs, from continually decaying infrastructure to death traps as roads with a Housing sector that is ‘non-existent’ or in absolute comatose.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing keeps standing logic on its heads by asking the already impoverished Nigerians to bear the brunt of his failure by asking Nigerians to pay for darkness and for services not rendered even up to the effrontery of hiking the tariff of electricity against a background of a country in perpetual darkness. The Minister has made history by achieving the lowest, ZERO, mega watts for more than 18 hours in history of power generation in Nigeria; he has nothing to offer than damage, we call on Mr. President to ask him to honourably resign or he should be sacked!
As a coalition with special focus on anti-corruption, we have followed the role of the bench and the bar, the Judiciary in general vis-à-vis the anti-corruption war against corruption. Recognising a challenge in a process toward achieving a goal is to be honest with oneself and a sign of strength. In CACOL we define ‘corruption as any act of dishonesty’, therefore for us it will amount to ‘playing the Ostrich’ if we cannot come to terms with the reality of our Judiciary which the President himself aptly described a ‘headache’ in the anti-corruption war.
Our following of the role of the Judiciary informs why we are demanding the immediate replacement of Mr. Malami Abubakar as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of this country to safe this government and the country from further embarrassment and criticisms.
The mantra of this government and one of the campaign cardinal points of its party is ‘fight against corruption’. For any government to succeed in its policies, programmes and agenda, the commitment, professionalism, soundness and integrity of the Chief Law Officer of that government must be impeccable and consistent. We are afraid, based on recent happenings, the current Attorney-General and Minister of Justice has fallen short of these critical requirements and incapable of delivering any fundamental departure from the corruption ridden past of governance in the country.
We recall the report of police investigation into the alleged forgery of 2015 Senate Standing Order by some Senators and staff of the Senate was reported to have been submitted to the Government and a DPP's advice was issued on July 29, 2015, demanding prosecution of certain persons and officers. According to Punch Newspaper report of Monday May 9, 2016, page 2, "the legal advice with reference number DPPA/ADV/258/15 recommended that some suspects be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, forgery, breach of official trust and unlawful assembly".
The Minister of Justice, since the assumption of office has consciously and deliberately refused to give effect to the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP’s) advice. According to the same newspaper report, Mr. Malami promised Nigerians a decision on this matter within a week as at 2nd of January, 2016 but failed to do anything. It has taken the indicting report of Punch Newspaper in reference for the Attorney General to issue an ultimatum to both Police and DPP's office for necessary action.
Again, there is the unnecessary and unwarranted controversy that surrounded the subterranean role of the Minister in the Nigerian Communication Commission NCC fine against the MTN. The Minister was accused of meeting and reaching agreements with MTN without involvement or representatives from the NCC. The Attorney-General was publicly accused of meeting, negotiating, agreeing terms and collecting N50 billion on behalf of the government without recourse to both the regulatory agency and supervisory ministry. Local and international criticisms greeted the unprofessional conduct of the Minister and secrecy associated with his negotiation with MTN. These reasons, amongst others necessitate the removal of the AGF and Minister of Justice.
On a brighter side, the Ministry of Defence, perhaps, deserves the best accolades considering the victories of Military against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East and the improved protection of Nigeria’s territorial borders and of lives and property in the country. The patriotism of our gallant soldiers and their improved performances on the battlefields deserves the best of praises as their conquests warm the heart of Nigerians giving them hope for a greater country. We call on the government to ensure that the situation of the past where funds meant for military operations and personnel are NEVER again diverted for pecuniary needs of murderously corrupt public officials and military personnel.
The Ministry of Defence must remain awake, vigilant, combat ready and well motivated too. The emerging scenario in the Niger Delta must be under the priority attention of the military with a view of resolving the crisis via lawful and constitutional means. Yes, within constitutional means, this insistence is stemming from what Nigerians witnessed during the clash between the Shiite and the Military where hundreds of lives of civilians were wasted by the military for reasons that are yet to be discernible to anyone and does not conform with the statues as far as the rules of engagement between civilians and the military are concerned.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has not been impressive given the present state of the economy which at best can be described as ‘foggy’ and this appear to be consciously made so; with the scenario riddled by contradictions, somersaults, illogicality, indecisions and uncertainties. This is what is at the background of the present economic hardships; where the people are battling with challenges for very basic needs; from food to housing, power to energy and from education to employment etc. and with government appearing hapless.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Development seem to be overwhelmed with present the economic situation in the country. These times require the very best hands, for the period is indeed a very challenging one, as such a change in the Ministry is also suggested by CACOL as the economy is too central to all other aspects of our national life to left in the hands of the mediocre. Via the Ministry, an inexplicable Stamp duty, a N50 tax on Bank transactions from 1000 naira and above has been imposed. Yet the government has refused to fund education adequately; shunned Health and infrastructural development, failed to guarantee security of lives and property.
Yet, on the economy, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Central Bank and President Buhari’s political will deserve commendation and appreciation with the inauguration of the Treasury Single Account, TSA initiative; an initiative of the immediate past regime. The TSA after the first in six months of its operation had reportedly helped the Federal Government to able to save about 2.2 trillion Naira, an amount that is about half the budget for 2015. This huge sum of money would have ended up in private pockets without trace, with the TSA, several holes of corruption has been plugged giving the country the opportunity to plunge the gains of the TSA into the efforts for the revamping of the economy.
Almost all other Ministries are either prostrate or in comatose, some are even approaching non-existence in status. Nigerians can hardly tell what the Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Health, Aviation, Commerce and Industry, Solid Minerals Development etc. are doing in these very challenging times for the country. They all appear to have gone to slumber following the lack of clue on what to do.
The most tragic amongst the ‘comatose ministries’ perhaps are the Ministries of Education and that of Health, two very vital and foundational sectors of the society that cannot be toyed with as they link with existential reality. So far no clear educational policy or health policy has been declared and this has put both sectors in total disarray and catastrophic situations.
The most ridiculous in ideas out of the Ministries, is perhaps the Ministry of Agriculture with its warped suggestion for the importation of grass from Brazil for the cattle being reared by private individuals (herdsmen). This, like the idea for the creation of grazing zones represents favouratism for a particular group at the expense of other peoples’ rights which is unacceptable and must be resisted by all right thinking Nigerians.
The truth is that the present economic situation is a manifestation of the non-profundity and the lack of preparedness inherent in the ‘change’ the APC-led Federal government rode upon to win the general elections in 2015 basically. It reflects the futility of ‘cosmeticism’ and redecoration as strategic approaches for revamping an economy already in woe, as a result of the hitherto existing economic direction i.e. the neo-liberal economic order.
Above all, the present administration needs to holistically approach the myriad of issues bedeviling the polity. There are no rooms for excuses as the condition of existence of the average Nigerian continue to deteriorate on daily basis, the excuses will not assuage the pains and sufferings of the people.
Government should fulfill the very reason why it was instituted in the first place! The primary question to pose; is to ask, what is the general and specific purpose of governance or of government? General in the sense of why do we as a society need a government and what kind of governance do we need in general? And specific in the sense of what is the specific goal, objective and socio-economic program of this new regime, this new government?
Government is a social contract between the governed and the government as espoused in Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution explicitly. The government is supposed to (constitutionally empowered) to harness the resources of the society for the provisioning of social welfare for the (majority) people, including their security and harmony.
A year after the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal government, it is pertinent to come to terms with what is real and what is fad or farce. The worst thing may not be so much about where we are coming from but much more about in which direction we are going, we dare say. And the way things stands, Nigerians are more concerned with the direction the Nation is moving. The ordinary Nigerian wants to be able to feed; to be sheltered, to be gainfully employed, to be educated, secured and to live in harmony, as simple as that!
Long Live, Nigeria!
Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL