The prolonged delay in the release of the ministerial list by President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to attract scathing criticisms from Nigerians who feel that the development is slowing down governance in the country.
The president commenced his second term in office after he was sworn on May 29 for another four years in office. But week after week, Nigerians have anxiously waited for the list of the president’s new lieutenants to no avail.
Amid this prolonged waiting, the president released a bombshell, claiming he didn’t know the majority of those who worked with him in his first term, adding that they were imposed on him. But while many view the statement as a way of justifying the delay in releasing the new ministerial list, others say it was meant to absolve himself of the responsibility of taking the blames of the shortcomings of his administration during his first term.
Abubakar Tsav, a retired Commissioner of Police and former Federal Commissioner, Public Complainants Commission, views the delay by the president as a way of getting the best hands during his second coming.
“I think the president is taking his time as far as the ministerial list is concerned because he wants to get the best he can. And also, I know there is lobbying going on, that in itself, may also delay the release of the list. The president himself had said he didn’t know some of the former cabinet members who worked with him during his first term; that means they were just recommended to him”, he stated.
Tsav, who expressed optimism that the president would release the list soon, admitted that the development was not good for the country. “The delay is actually not good for the nation because we thought that soon after the election he would get his new cabinet ready and as soon as he was sworn in he would submit the list to the Senate so that they can start work. But sincerely, we don’t know what delays the list. But according to them, it’s because he wants to get the best for Nigeria. Truly, if he wants to get the best of the best he can actually get them in every state and in every zone in the country,” he noted.
An Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo sees the delay in the submission of the list of ministerial nominees as an indication of the nonchalant disposition of the president to the challenges bedeviling the nation.
According to him, “ I am sure he doesn’t understand the problem. He doesn’t understand the issue in the country. In a situation where the country is down, is that the time to delay forming his cabinet? But because he doesn’t care; if he is a listening president, all the pressure coming from here and there to underscore the necessity and the urgency of constituting your cabinet, he would have buckled up.
“You contested an election without knowing what you are going to do after the election. You have been working for this position for the past 15 years and now you are there. If Nigerians can forgive him for failing to constitute his cabinet until six months in his first term, he has no excuse for this. In his first four years, he should have known who and who are capable in his party. So, if he is still looking for competent hands to be appointed into his cabinet I wonder when he will get them. Is it when the economy finally goes down? I am not surprised; the people deserve the president they get,” Adebanjo declared.
Chief Chekwas Okorie, national chairman of the United Progressive Congress and former presidential candidate, however, expressed the feeling that the inability of the president to submit his ministerial list to the National Assembly almost two months after the commencement of his second term has in no way taken its toll on governance.
“I don’t think the delay has been so long as to take a toll on governance. I say this because there are certain circumstances that are prevailing now that were not like that before and then the president had made it clear that when he relied on nomination and commendations by the party and party leaders in making the previous appointment, he realised his mistake. He has made it clear that he is going to select the people he could vouch for so that he will be entirely responsible for his nomination, that is also likely to take some time so as to be thorough.
“At the same time, the security situation in the country, whether we believe it or not, has taken the centre stage of those in government and outside the government and one would expect that the president would give priority to that. I will like to join those who have called on Nigerians to be patient with the president. We only pray that he will be guided to really appoint people that will help to drive his agenda. I don’t think governance has really suffered so many setbacks.” Okorie said.
For Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, executive director, Civil Liberty Organisation, the delay is a further indication of the nation’s leaders’ penchant for the denigration of the country’s law and its people.
Ibuchukwu, who bemoaned government’s failure to pay attention to the cries of the electorate, said that the president despite spending six months during his first term to get his cabinet ready failed to justify the delay with the crop of ministers that eventually served in his first administration.
He said: “A lot of us no longer show interest in the happenings in this country because you talk and talk, but people refuse to listen to voices of reasoning. If politicians could go to the electorate to ask for their mandate to hold the society in trust for them and at the end of the day when you are given the power, you now behave as if you are above the people and the law, it is an act that is not in consonance with the principle of democracy.
“In 2015, this man said he was waiting for the angels from heaven to be appointed into his cabinet and we waited for a very long time. The angels came and performed worse than Lucifer; they didn’t perform like the angels we expected. But now, according to media report, he claimed the ministers were imposed on him and he is now taking his time to choose people who will help him to deliver. Is it that the former heads of state in the country did not come from Nigeria? I don’t know the kind of characters he is looking for that he hasn’t seen. One is worried that Nigerian rulers have refused to respect the law, to respect the people and to respect the rights of the people. It is worrisome,” he lamented.
In his own contribution, National President, Arewa United Consultatve Forum, Alhaji Shuaibu Ado Dansudu, described the delay as unfortunate, adding that it is capable of compounding the nation’s woes.
“It is very unfortunate that the president is yet to present the ministerial list to the National Assembly. This delay will definitely slow us down. A lot of people, including foreign investors and local investors are being very cautious and careful in taking certain decisions because they do not know the people they are going to work with and the environment.
“They want to see who and who will be appointed to be able to project on how the appointments will rub on their interests before they take the plunge. Secondly, the delay is causing more hardship and more problems in the country. I can’t really figure out what could be causing the delay. But what I am sure of is that Buhari has the best of intentions for this country. It could even be to get the best for the nation.” Dansudu opined.
Senator Femi Okunrounmu on his own part attributed the delay in the submission of the list to the uncertainty surrounding the president’s election at the election petition tribunal.
According to him, “even when he had ministers what kind of governance did he deliver? I have no confidence in this government with or without ministers. In any case, he is not yet sure of his fate at the tribunal; that partly explains it. He doesn’t know whether he will remain the president or not. Even, if he is sure that he is going to rig it, he has to wait until he has completed the rigging, after he has completed the rigging up to Supreme Court he can then go ahead to appoint ministers. But he has to wait until he is so sure that he is going to be the president because now there is no certainty that he is going to remain the president.”
Mayor Japhet Anyanwu, national chairman, Rebuild Nigeria Party, RBNP, described the inability of the president to come up with his nominees’ list several weeks after he was sworn in for the second term, as unacceptable.
He said: “Before anybody could attempt to contest the position of a president of a country, I believe he must have gathered himself very well. But in a situation he has to wait endlessly to get members of his cabinet means he was not prepared for it in the first place. And having been president for four years, the first thing he should have done to please Nigerians is to, immediately after his inauguration, announce his cabinet members. For Nigerians to have to wait up till now is very unacceptable.”
Calls by Sunday Sun correspondent to the mobile line of the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, were not answered. He, however, responded tersely in an SMS on an enquiry about the reasons for and possible update on the delay thus: “I have not been briefed about cabinet.”