In another three years and ten months, Nigerians will be singing the nunc dimitis of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The period will not even be up to that. As we approach the months leading to the February 2023 presidential election, there will be an informal nationwide referendum on Buhari’s eight-year term (assuming Atiku Abubakar’s efforts come up to nothing). Citizens from all walks of life will be busy assessing the performance of the president and determining whether they want more of the eight years administration of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or they would rather kick the party out and retry, once again, the only seeming alternative so far– the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Good enough, the process that will determine how the APC and the Buhari administration will fare in that impending nationwide assessment of the government is right now ongoing in the Senate. The President recently sent a list of 43 ministerial nominees to the Senate for ratification. Among the nominees are many ministers from the President’s first term such as Babatunde Raji Fashola and Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Also now on board are the likes of former Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola and fiery lawyer, Festus Keyamo.
The performance of President Buhari in this his last term in office will largely be determined by the choices and performance of these ministers, hence the grave importance of the ongoing screening of the nominees by the Senate. If the Presidency and the Senate succeed in ensuring the appointment of credible persons who have a passion for innovation in public service delivery and the energy to bring such ideals to realization, then Nigerians can have hope that the President’s second term will usher in much better performance and service delivery that will bring the country closer to its developmental aspirations.
So much has been said about both the “recycled” and fresh, incoming ministers, especially the retention of some of them that appeared not to have pulled their weight in the past four years. However, there are those that appear like a breathe of fresh air, having given a good account of themselves in their recent offices and Nigerians can only look forward with expectation to the impact that they will make on the scope of governance in their new assignments.
If the APC is not to leave office with its tail between its legs in four years, the 43 men and women who have been selected to help the President achieve the party’s objectives will have to do everything that is within their power to ensure that they make a serious impact on the problems that negatively affected the president’s rating in his first term. They must be able to rise above whatever limitations circumscribed the performance of their predecessors, including the so called “cabal”, and ensure that they are able to make a significant difference in the lives of the people.
The economy is one area that the people expect to be led into winning ways so that jobs can be created and wealth created across all segments of the economy. The exchange rate of the naira to the dollar has been very poor, owing to our poor production capacity and overdependence on importation of goods which place great pressure on the naira.
There is so much to do in the areas of health and education that are so well known that they do not need to be repeated here.
Security, however, is one field in which the president and his team must get their acts together. At no time in the nation’s history, with the exception of at war time, has the security of individuals in the different parts of the country been so compromised. In virtually all parts of the country now are gun-wielding gangs attacking people at will and making it virtually impossible for people go about their businesses in peace.
The clash between farmers and herdsmen which had hitherto been confined to the bushes and farms have unfortunately spilled onto the expressways, and people who even have no business with cows and farming can no longer move without fear on many expressways.
The President’s new team, when inaugurated, will therefore need to work in concert not only to make a positive impact in their respective ministries, they will need to put heads together to ensure that as a whole, they are able to make an impact that will erase the current negative perceptions of the administration and open new vistas for growth, security, development and progress.
Although there are 14 people retained among the old ministers and 24 new ones, the need for fresh and imaginative making, especially thinking out of the box, cannot be more compelling than we have it now. This is because many of the nation’s problems have become so seemingly intractable that many of our people are simply at their wits’ end and wondering if the nation will ever succeed in putting these problems behind her.
Although portfolios were not attached to the list of 43 nominees, the Senate will have to do a thorough screening to ensure that only capable persons are approved. There should be less of the bow and go syndrome. The economy and security are two major areas where there is a definite need for new thinking if we are to make any dent on the mountain of problems they are posing. Fresh ideas, competence and sincerity of purpose are critical if the administration is to make a headway in resolving the problems. These are two areas in which the confidence of many Nigerians have waned.
The incoming cabinet should be a game changer. It should not be business as usual and there should be specific objectives and timelines set out for the achievement of particular objectives. There should be deliberate efforts to consolidate on the achievements of the president in his first term so that the gains of the past four years can be vividly seen by all.
The next four years should witness a flurry of activities that will show that the country is on its way to its El Dorado. There is need to see that the nation is moving in a clear direction that will culminate in the achievement of its developmental objectives so that the people can have a nation that is close the one they envisage and was planned for by their founding fathers.