With the screening and confirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for ministerial appointment by the Nigerian Senate at the half-way point, influential Nigerians have begun to set agenda for the new ministers, Guardian reports.
According to the report, the citizens have task the government of President Buhari to fashion out a broader vision that would place the country into an enviable position in the commity of nations.
The Nigerian Senate during the week confirmed the appointment of 18 ministerial nominees. They are: former Lagos governor Babatunde Fashola; former Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi; Dr Chris Ngige (Anambra); Senator Udo Udoma (Akwa Ibom), Ogbonaya Onu (Ebonyi), Audu Ogbe (Benue), Osagie Ehanire (Edo) and Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) (Kano).
Also confirmed as ministers by the Senate were Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director, Ibe Kachikwu (Delta), Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Kwara), Amina Ibrahim Mohammed (Gombe), Suleiman Mohamed (Jigawa), Usman Jubril (Nasarawa), Abubakar Malami (Kebbi), Aisha Alhassan (Taraba), Solomon Dalong (Plateau), Kemi Adeosun (Ogun) and Hadi Sirika (Katsina).
In a telephone interview with The Guardian, the Director General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa expressed high expectation concerning the quality of the ministers.
He said the ministers approved by the National Assembly have a lot of experience. “They are people who had occupied one position or the other in the past. With this in view, Nigerians expect them to perform efficiently”, he said.
Former managing director of Daily Times, Otunba Tola Adeniyi said the ministers are expected to address major issues confronting the nation at present, namely mass unemployment, power, corruption, insecurity and violent crimes, shortage of supplies, decayed and decaying infrastructure and others.
He advised the new administration to borrow from the experiences of other countries that were once confronted with the challenges we now have by instituting a Marshall Plan to combat unemployment and other economic challenges.
Funds must be found to engage in massive construction projects throughout the country. Roads, bridges, houses must be massively constructed in all local governments, in states and at the federal level. Each state must begin targeted construction of 50,000 housing units. Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and other major urban centres need more that 250,000 housing units,” he said.
“Immediate revision of our criminal laws to adequately punish offenders should be embarked upon and our law enforcement agencies strengthened and empowered. Community policing must begin soonest while the police strength [federal and state] should be increased to about two million. There should be no sacred cows and everybody must be equal before the law.”
Frank Agbedo, a lawyer and President of the Global Centre for Defence of Human Rights said the ministers should key into the policy thrust of the administration as championed by the president himself.
Since the President is really interested in changing certain things in the polity, especially in the area of management of resources, then whoever comes on board has no choice than to key into that vision because if you don’t key into that vision, it means you are not going to be on the same page with the President.
So, I believe that the incoming ministers, notwithstanding the shortcomings of some of them, have no choice than to perform because it is either you shape up or you ship out. I believe that with the kind of personality we have as President, his ministers will definitely perform so that they will be in the good books of Mr. President,” Agbedo said.
He added that the ministers should also be change agents.
The Co-founder/Lead partner at BudgIT, Oluseun Onigbinde is concerned about the mono-product economy of Nigeria. He expects the President and his minsters to consider expanding revenues from diverse sources.
Our revenue to GDP ratio is estimated at 12 percent and to put it in more clear manner, our non-oil revenue ratio to GDP is around 4 percent. After we optimize the revenue from the oil industry based on current reforms, President Buhari will still need more resources to meet the scale of welfarist expectations given during campaigns.
He also needs to focus on transparency most especially at the revenue sources, contracts and audit levels. I don’t think the fear factor is sustainable; he needs to build transparent and accountable institutions.
President Buhari had in his Washington Post piece said ‘Nigeria must first put new rules of conduct and good governance in place’ before appointing Ministers. The rules of conduct are yet to be made public and if the contracting rules and Key Performance Indicators are not properly defined, the Ministers managing the bureaucrats might not prove to be different,” Onigbinde averred.
On his part, Dr. Kole Odutola of University of Florida, United States wants the new administration to first prepare a clear road map that will guide its journey. “A nation on its knees needs all hands on deck. The most important agenda is the road map for Nigeria. A quick period of stock taking is imperative to determine how to get to the next destination with the lean resources at our disposal.
Our thinkers need to decide how to fashion out a workable, sustainable development plan that can be applied from the community level to the national level. As we think about production at the national level, we also need to work on creating an integrated system that can kick start economic development without compromising our environment.
In short, cottage industries must be assisted to produce items that can feed into what industries may need. Tourism must be designed around the culture of local areas. Regional targets must be set for agriculture based on ecology of the place. I see a concentric circle of urgent activities revolving around security, economy and re-education of the generality of the people,” Odutola opined.
He said the leadership should ask the three questions nations ask themselves in times of crises: Where are we now; where do we want to go; and what resources do we need to get us to the kind of Nigeria of our dream.
“The Nigeria of my dream is one in which the individual lives in an enabling environment where he or she can attain his/her potential and be grounded in a chosen value system that allows for personal, intellectual and spiritual growth.”
A social critic, Edwin Madunagu expressed optimism about leadership of President Buhari, describing it as “a very serious one.”
He said many of the ministers nominated are also serious and intelligent people. “Because of the situation in the country now, they will be compelled by the mood of the nation to do the right things,” he said.
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