Adebayo Adeolu, lawyer and public affairs commentator expresses disappointment in President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees, alleging that some of them have not shown capacity to perform.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s much awaited ministerial list has finally been unveiled, what is your assessment of those who were nominated?
He unveiled the ministerial list almost 56 days after his inauguration for a second term; that may appear to be an improvement on his first term when it took him six months to form a cabinet. However, the list is disappointing and makes one to wonder if we run a monarchy kind of government. Some of the nominees in that list have been in government since 1999. These are the people that put Nigeria in the sorry state we find her today with decayed infrastructure, bad security and poor economy. In fact some of them had been accused and indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for embezzling funds, while some are former governors that ran their states so badly and owed workers arrears of salary running into several months. How does Buhari intend to succeed or change Nigeria with these kinds of ministers? How can he justify the nomination of these appointees? What I expected was a complete overhaul with new faces. Nigeria is too big a country, you just have to give others a fair chance and allow for dynamism which has been missing from the Buhari-led government on all fronts.
What caliber of people should have been nominated?
The quality of people that should be in the Federal Executive Council should be people of integrity who are honest and have good ideas. These characteristics are not reflected in the current administration. I mean look around Nigeria, you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you anything further. It’s ridiculous how the same people are recycled in a country of almost 200 million people. President Buhari does not have the best hands around him and this has not allowed his government to shine. The information going out from Nigeria to the international community is that of a failed state on the brink of collapse. That is why there are no state visits from overseas. All we see today is political office holders abandoning their duty posts and running overseas with public funds. Of late, this attitude has crept into the university system. Just recently, the Chancellor of one of the nation’s federal universities had to issue queries to a vice chancellor and his team for frequent oversea trips on the institution’s funds. Only a weak and uninformed leader allows such to happen under his watch.
While Nigerians waited for the ministerial list the government was running so why all the pressure to form an executive council?
Nigeria definitely suffered not only from President Buhari’s delay in forming a cabinet but also from his foreign exchange policy which makes it difficult to move money in and out. I am talking about legitimate business and foreign investors who have shied away from the country because of the monetary policy in place and the single treasury accounting system. These have not encouraged businesses because there is no money in the system. It’s like a water tank in a house where the valve of the water outlet is turned half open. The effect in different parts of the house will be a slowing down of every activity that requires water, whether it is cooking or bathing. Because the water comes with low pressure, it makes the general comfort in the house laborious.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently wrote a critical open letter to President Buhari, the second of such letters in less than two years. What do you make of it?
Obasanjo’s letters are timely, patriotic and always welcome. It puts a reality check on the nation’s unfolding events. Nigeria has been experiencing political instability and religious violence resulting in the death of thousands and displacement of several other people. This started with Boko Haram in the North East, then it turned to unknown gunmen killing people, then it was the killer herdsmen and now they say it is armed bandits. The security of the country has become so compromised. The escalating insecurity and killings of innocent unarmed civilians is worrisome and made Obasanjo to write the letter. His concern was for President Buhari to save the nation and people of Nigeria. In 1979 Obasanjo published Nigeria’s first defense policy which put the military in charge of preserving Nigeria’s territorial integrity as well as contributing to national emergency and security. The policy went ahead to include security for the African region with the aim to enhancing Nigeria’s foreign policy and the drive to global security this is the policy direction of Nigeria till date. The unfortunate unfolding events got Obasanjo to seek a national dialogue on security where the nation would work in harmony to guarantee the safety of the people.
The continued detention of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, founder of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, even after several court orders for his release has sparked off violent protests across the country. What is your counsel to the president on how to handle the issue?
President Buhari had to keep the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in check and declared the group’s leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, a terrorist. The reason is because Zakzaky is backed by the Iranian government. In 1979 when the Iranian Revolution, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, took place, Zakzaky was a Nigerian student resident in Iran. He supported the revolution. When Iran became a government he was financed by the new government in scholarship and grants and on his return to Nigeria, he continued to enjoy the support of the Iranian government. Again, President Buhari was in the United States on military training during the Jimmy Carter government in when the hostage crisis erupted and supporters of the new Islamic government broke into the American embassy taking hostages. I believe the reason why Buhari continues to detain him is so he does not threaten the security and peace of Nigeria.
President Buhari is often accused of trying to Islamise Nigeria through his appointments and actions. What do you make of that?
One can easily agree that President Buhari has not lived up to the expectations of the people, but I don’t believe the allegations of Islamisation, though careful and watchful observation of things happening in Nigeria may confuse people. People will easily get confused when certain groups or associations issue threats to other ethnic groups in the country and the President keeps mum.
What do you think of the suspended Ruga programme?
There has been farmer and herders clashes for many decades but not to the scale of the new dimension we see today. What is happening today is definitely sponsored by certain people. The burning of villages and killings and displacement of people from their ancestral homes is new and creation of refugees that do not return back to their villages is disturbing.
Ruga cannot be the solution. The Federal Government must seek the help of the international community with the desertification problems in the northern parts of the country.