THE PRESIDENT'S NEW CABINET
President Goodluck Jonathan recently inaugurated his new cabinet and charged members of the team to hit the ground running in order to quickly deliver democracy dividends to all Nigerians. The cabinet has few technocrats and some politicians. Its primary goal is to ensure that the president's transformation agenda is realised.
The president's appointment of technocrats into his cabinet is informed by the need to achieve certain objectives for the country in the next four years. The modality for achieving these must have been encapsulated in the president's transformation agenda framework fashioned to substantially transform the country during the tenure of this administration.
For effective implementation of this agenda, the president needs to draw a roadmap of what his administration will do within the four-year period. The agenda must be broken down into various manageable segments with each ministry having specific mandates and tasks to perform. All the segments should have verifiable goals within a stipulated timeframe and inbuilt mechanism for monitoring and evaluation. The ministries should work as a team to achieve true transformation. On no account should they work at cross-purposes.
Of paramount importance at this time is the critical need to grow the economy. The medium term expenditure framework and fiscal responsibility bill earlier introduced by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should be well utilised.
Unfortunately, the country has been saddled with instances of budgets being passed without reference to the medium expenditure framework. More worrisome, too, is the fact that some of our budgets did not derive from laid down institutional rules and mechanisms. They have also been hampered by implementation problems.
For the transformation agenda to be realised, it is necessary to stick to extant rules on budgeting. In fact, our budgets should be integrated to minimise waste in the system. They should also be significantly implemented.
It is good that Jonathan has invited some technocrats to serve in the new cabinet. They should be given a free hand to operate so that the country can really benefit from their wealth of experience. Some of them, especially Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and her counterpart in Ministry of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, should be allowed to function optimally and achieve expected goals in their sectors. They should be allowed to discharge their duties without the official meddlesomeness commonly associated with our bureaucracy.
Members of this team should be mindful that the ultimate goal of the administration is to ensure the overall welfare of the citizenry. No doubt, Nigerians deserve good standard of living with adequate provision of basic necessities of life such as shelter, food, water, electricity and health.
All the ministers must key into this transformation agenda and work with team spirit to achieve objectives. Each minister must ensure that his ministry is not left behind in meeting sectoral goals.
For instance, the minister in charge of power must ensure that there is significant improvement in the nation's power generation and distribution. Adequate power supply will boost other sectors of the economy, especially industry.
Some other expectations include adherence to laid down budgetary rules and practices, efficient provision of social infrastructure and a workable transport system. The education and health sectors are also in dire need of overhaul. The economy should be diversified to attract foreign investors and boost growth. This calls for quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). Job creation is a must if the economy is to grow.
Above all, the deteriorating security situation in the country should be frontally tackled for this transformation plan to succeed.