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The List

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Whatever form or content the Ministerial List that President Buhari is soon to announce takes, there is no debating that Nigerians have turned this crowning entry in the governance franchise into a major event.

Apart from the outcome of election results, there’s few other entries in the process of government that are as awaited with the kind of anticipation Nigerians have attached to the individuals who will eventually make the Ministerial List.

Unfortunately the List has now become the tale of 36 or 42 men and women where some embark on a journey of wealth, authority and influence. Sadly, for a few, it is a shortcut to power and a way out of povertywhile many civilians lean on them for assistance and connection, creating a sense of infinite possibilities. For that and several other reasons, you have a few Nigerians who are so desperate and ready to do anything in order to make the shortcut of The List.

The reports of endless closed-door meetings, particularly by leaders of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), as to who will make this electrifying List and President Buhari’s somewhat silence on the issue is alleged to have engendered desperation and the infamous do-or-die mentality.

If the reports emanating around the Villa are true and frantic lobbying is already taking place by some Nigerians scraping the bottom of the desperation barrel for ministerial slots, one would hope that the allegations that huge sums of money are purportedly changing hands are untrue. If the reports that there are those giving money to individuals around the seat of power for a chance to feature on The List pans out to be fact, then, “Nigeria… We have a problem!” If so, the ministerial list isn’t even out and yet the hydra headed monster called corruption has already began to rear its tentacles. It is important for President Buhari to make enquiries about this and make sure that this doesn’t spill into his team.

If by peradventure money changes hands and some ministers emerge through this dodgy means, what is to be expected in terms of performance and deliverables? What is going to stop them from recuperating their supposed investment with lots of interest when they get into the seat of power, usually at the detriment of Nigeria?

Reports also have it that the battle to feature on The List especially by former ministers who are itching to return to office as well as former governors who have completed their two-terms in office and those who lost reelection bids or lost the ticket seems to have made the run-up to the premier of The List cutthroat. Others looking to be in the cabinet are those within the ruling party who feel they need to be compensated for the roles they played in the 2019 elections.

The naked truth of our nation is that a lot of energy seems to be expended on wanting to be in governance but sadly for the wrong reasons. From all indications, many people want to be in governance for the perks and to have access to the proverbial national cake. They see governance as a means to an end, as an avenue to gain access to the treasury, and a means to amass unlimited power rather than a privilege to serve the generality of Nigerians.

For a long time now in Nigeria, we have been suffering from the norm of placing round pegs in square holes and vice versa when it comes to political appointments; all in a bid to satisfy and placate ethno-religious sentiments, political affiliation, the cabals and godfathers lurking at the corridors of power. As a result, we have been left with the culture of mediocrity that we have been witnessing since the advent of this our fourth.

Right now, there is a whole lot of expectation on President Buhari, particularly on doing the needful. It is said, “To whom much is given, much is expected… With great power also, comes great responsibility.” The majority of Nigerians who came out en-masse earlier in the year to vote for the President expect and deserve capable lieutenants with the same vision and mission as the President at the helm of affairs.

The importance of ministers in an administration cannot be overemphasized and their effectiveness is crucial to an administration’s success. Hence, the interest of Nigeria should be paramount when selecting these men and women. The President needs to ensure that capable hands are brought on board in making the “next level” a reality.

This time around, one would hope and expect the President not to limit his choice of lieutenants to a minor pool in and around the Villa. There are a whole lot of Nigerians within and outside the country, not involved in politics who are experts in their fields, making huge strides, country men and women on the precipice of greatness all over the globe that would be more than willing to serve their fatherland if asked to do so. In medicine, law, engineering, aeronautics, one can name it, Nigerians all over the world are excelling and can bring their expertise and experience home if given a seat at the table towards making Nigeria better.

This is President’s Buhari’s second and last term in office and he needs to put his best foot forward. His ministers, this time around, should be a whole lot better in terms of quality and expertise when compared to the ministers in the last four years. Nigerians are in dire need of effective representation and governance.

As the President makes his selection, one would naively hope for a Utopia where he would break from the norm and select competent hands, even if they are from opposition parties. The nominees should be tested, trusted and accomplished technocrats rather than politicians who may turn out to be entitled, egocentric or even mediocre.

Also, in selecting talented men and women, it would be ideal if The President were not restricted by the Constitutional Character element. If we were not so shamelessly hung up on the innate tribalism, and regionalism as we all silently seem to have, it shouldn’t matter whether those selected are from the same state, region or tribe. Creed, gender or status shouldn’t come into it. It should only matter that they are Nigerians who have the capacity and expertise to move this nation forward. If there is more than one person in a state that is at the top of their game, the President should be allowed to absorb them into government rather than being restricted. Regrettably the President is limited by the Constitution to a single candidate per state. Federal character in this instance is the causative factor. The truth is that this requirement shortchanges Nigerians, as two or more capable individuals might hail from the same state. It deprives Nigerians of their expertise and service.

What this administration needs are credible and patriotic Nigerians who have a roadmap on how to tackle insecurity, improve infrastructure, meet the demands of workers with regards to the N30, 000 minimum wage, advance job creation, transform healthcare delivery, revolutionize the education sector, reduce the number of children not in school, decrease the carnage on our roads, combat partisanship, ameliorate tribal and regional divide and be a unifying factor for all of Nigeria.

Furthermore, the culture of nominating ministers and attaching portfolios to them after the Senate has approved the list could be seen as an ambush to the public. In the United States, where we copy our democracy from and in other countries, ministerial nominees are announced together with their portfolios. This gives the public and media ample opportunity to discuss the suitability or otherwise of the candidate for the job based on antecedents and track records.

All those fervently lobbying for a position in this government need to take a Chill-Pill and calm down. Leadership is divine and comes ‘only’ from The Almighty. Instead of putting all that energy into lobbying, they should concentrate it on praying to the Almighty to ordain on them the position they seek ‘ONLYif it is in their best interest for the unknown future and in the best interest of Nigeria.’

For those who will eventually feature on The List and make it into President Buhari’s second term government, “give your gratitude to The Almighty who fated you to have the position. As you take the mantle of leadership, pray for The Almighty to guide you in offering exemplary, accountable and selfless leadership service that will better the lot of Nigerians, while also helping to entrench good governance. …That will become your burden!”

The wait for The List has made Nigerians apprehensive; it feels like it has been ages since the Inauguration for many reasons, but the fact that the last List in 2015 took months to come out doesn’t help. The List will soon be announced and over 200 million Nigerians are anxious to see which direction President Buhari will take.

While I’m not as anxious as many to see who makes The List, I can understand the trepidation. But I am also kind of afraid and nervous, because I don’t think there’s any possible selection that President Buhari will make that will be truly satisfying to a majority of the Nigerian public. Such a selection will always be divisive and hard to do satisfactorily, period! It is possible that one of the things that will unite our country will be in our universal agreement that the 2019 Ministerial List was genius or whether it totally blew.

As we await the expected blockbuster Ministerial List, one sincerely hopes the masses welfare would and should be prioritized and corruption, undue sentiments and ethno-religious consideration eschewed. This is what we hope and we pray it is what we get.

“Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be.” As he makes the selection for The List, may President Buhari be guided by The Almighty on what is ultimately in the best interest of Nigeria, not by the lobbyists.

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