by Prince Charles Dickson
Scientists have finally found out what’s wrong with the politicians’ brain. They discovered that on the right side there’s nothing left and on the left side there’s nothing right. – Anonymous
“My cabinet would be completely detached people who are patriotic Nigerians, who are knowledgeable and experienced…” – Nigerian President-elect, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari.
Often people ask me why I write on certain topics and issues all the time, like bashing government, and seeing very little good in persons in government and government actions and my takes on education, health and power, conflict, politics of ethnicity and more.
My answer is that I do because I believe that such subjects are important for Nigeria and Nigerians as they are for other nations, but when it appears to me Nigerians and our leaders particularly do not react to these topics the way they should, I repeat them in new essays to remind old readers and recruit new ones to participate in the continuing dialogue.
One painful part of our democratic journey is the disconnect between people and government. And as seen by the victory of the All Peoples Congress APC at the polls, a lot of expectation is on the in-coming administration.
As Buhari prepares his cabinet, I am not one of those that will really bother about whether he has a kitchen cabinet or even has a kitchen in the first place. The fact is that one; the kitchen belongs to Aisha whether as wife of the president or first lady…so I would concern myself to his ministers and yes men, and probably women.
Let me add quickly that politicians are not really so bad, it’s just that 99% of all politicians make the rest look bad. And I am sure for the next four years that will be the case for Mr. Buhari if he is not careful with the politicians around him.
Because from the onset, the song may be now we have power what are we gonna do with it, and early permutations show that if Buhari does not stand his ground, we may start with a “combination of contradictions”.
Today Buhari has the people’s mandate, forget all the PDP ranting and noise, and thank God for a new era of “concedelism” (the art of calling your opponent to concede).
The National Assembly is APC dominated and so the Ministerial list should ordinarily sail, but again if the PDP example is anything to go by, this party made up largely of ex-PDPites may hardly move as passionately as Nigerians expect and we as usual will be the victims of expectation fatigue once more.
For Mr. Buhari, in the first line of offensive, will be between making sure it’s not business as usual and settling politicians with aggrieved pockets on one hand.
Mr. Buhari will have to resist the temptation to be Minister for Petroleum, or give Osinbajo his vee pee the power to be this or that, he should be wary of the politics of senior special assistant or some commission or body doing something and nothing about one industry or sector.
Whoever Buhari picks, Tinubu suggests and demands, or the party hierarchy nominates, for whatever position, the Buhari/Osinbajo contraption is faced with a conglomerate of jobless politicians, jobbers and ex-this and that, who require settlement of one form or the other. Can Buhari damn them?
There will be need to create to balance with intellect, hard work and patriotism in the zoning thing that has led us nowhere. How Mr. Buhari is able to come out with any fascinating cabinet that will thrill Nigerians is a big question.
For example, the questions to be answered will be what will the Ministry of water resources do, as many Nigerians would want to see water run from a tap courtesy of their effort.
Beyond the politics of ebola, malaria and HIV/AIDS, doctors and health workers strike, what will the new health Minister do? Will we see another Ransome Kuti?
Apart from the Civil Defence, Immigration and SSS, really the internal or is it interior ministry’s visible task is to announce public holidays. Without bias, will the present group around Buhari facilitate a collection of the best brains without recourse to godfather, mother and uncle, without recourse to politics of convenience?
I would not even discuss power, because Nigerians are fed up of all the process, from NEPA to PHCN and now DISCO, two stand-out facts are that one, the president’s workplace and home Aso Rock has budgeted millions for diesel to power generators and also we are one of the highest importers of generating set. How soon will that change?
With the new universities, all the somersaulting in policies, whether it should be 6-3-3-4, or 9-3-4, unity schools or violent colleges…maybe we could do with three ministers and a special minister for universities. Buhari’s Education chief has his job cut out…
Buhari is going to be faced with giving or sharing the bounty on very mundane reasons. Ministers who failed as governors, legislators who contributed nothing and persons who lost elections and others whose father and mother was former this and former that.
Buhari must stop sharing the cake; he needs to shock Nigerians by his appointments. This is my admonishment, Mr. Buhari…does not have an enviable job but with passion he can make it a worthwhile one and start to leave a legacy. Get off all the talk, cause it is cheap and could come back to hunt and haunt him
After the moon-slide it should not be so much of a task. Nigerians want Ministers, advisers, and aides, legislators that are born again. For a nation that has a very low expectation ratio, for sure we are ‘not’ asking for the impossible from Buhari considering the rot he has to contend with.
Let me end with these lines of advice to ordinary Nigerians and Mr. Buhari, Politicians are not really trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems-of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind and—only time will tell.
Prince Charles Dickson is a social critic.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.