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Buhari Repeats Mistakes Of The Past During Ministerial Appointment – Jaafar Jaafar

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Editor’s note: Nigeria has finally received the cabinet of ministers of President Muhammadu Buhari on November 11, Wednesday.

 Jaafar Jaafar, Premiums Times guest columnist, criticizes Buhari over his ministers, saying that the incumbent leader repeats mistakes of the previous government.


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Editor’s note: Nigeria has finally received the cabinet of ministers of President Muhammadu Buhari on November 11, Wednesday.

 Jaafar Jaafar, Premiums Times guest columnist, criticizes Buhari over his ministers, saying that the incumbent leader repeats mistakes of the previous government.

President Buhari’s ministers

Appointing technocrats in favour of politicians nominated by governors

I think President Buhari so far made some mistakes in cabinet appointments more than those of Jonathan. If I recall clearly, one of the issues that put Jonathan at loggerheads with some governors was appointing technocrats in favour of politicians nominated by governors.

Quite rightly, Buhari has done a similar thing, though with even less technocratic texture in terms of his placements.

“Round pegs in a round holes”

Kayode Fayemi would have been the “round peg in a round hole” if he was posted to Ministry of Labour, just as James Ocholi or Babatunde Raji Fashola would have fit into the round hole of the Ministry of Justice. Let me reiterate here that Fashola and Ocholi are more experienced SANs than Malami.

While swearing in the ministers yesterday, which are unarguably the seminal point of this administration in the last six months, President Buhari harped on two key issues “putting round pegs in round holes” and “avoiding the mistakes of the past”.

“We are optimistic that bringing these set of ministers into the service of our country today, is a step in the right direction and timely move towards realising our positive goals for our country.

“Since we assumed office in May, I had been mindful of the need to ensure that the appointment of new ministers translate into a ROUND PEGS IN ROUND HOLES while showing sensitivity to our diversity as a people and our various positions as groups of stakeholders of our country. (Emphasis added).

“I have also been conscious of the need not to repeat such MISTAKES OF THE PAST where the right people were allocated the wrong portfolios which translated into their performing poorly to our collective detriment despite their obvious capability (emphasis added),” President Buhari said.

Despite his being dilatory, mistaken by supporters as meticulousness, I must say that I didn’t see round pegs being put into round holes in many of the ministries, just as I see President Buhari “repeating mistakes of the past”.

The merging of Ministries of Power and Works and Housing

The merging of Ministries of Power and Works and Housing, in my view, may cause some operational glitch as they have very little correlation. It is like adding ewudu soup onto pizza, if you are “forced” to combine the two in one plate. They are all edible but there may be some strains while relating to them in your gut. Buhari should have left Ministry of Works independent of Ministry of Power, and then merged Ministry of Information and Ministry of Communication as obtained in the past to level the tally of the ministries he intended to have.
The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing may be in dire straits as Fashola, a lawyer will be assisted by Baba Shehuri, a sociologist, as Minister of State. Technical issues regarding power/energy, design and construction needs an engineer. Jigawa nominee, Engineer Sulaiman Adamu, would have fit either as the main minister or minister of state if actually putting round pegs in round holes matters. The corollary of this decision is inefficient service delivery.

The appointment of Amina Mohammed

Udoma Udo Udoma, being from Niger Delta would have made a good Minister of Environment. He would have handled better the issues of Ogoni cleanup in Rivers state or oil spillage in Bayelsa state or gully erosion in Anambra state.

But Baba, in his wisdom, thought otherwise. He believes Amina Mohammed, an aficionado in planning and connoisseur of development issues, could handle such issues better and speak the language and communicate well with pipeline vandals in the creek and the fiery environment right activists of the Niger Delta region.

Well, to me Amina would have roundly fit into the Ministry of Planning and Budget hole, in view of her experience in development and planning issues at both local and international levels. Nigeria would have had a magnet that will attract UN’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country.

Again, Buhari should have appointed Heineken Lokpobiri from Bayelsa state to be Amina Mohammed’s deputy in the ministry, not Ibrahim Usman Jibril from Nasarawa state.

If really there is a minister that fits into the Ministry of FCT hole, it is Usman Jibril, being a distinguished land administrator and expert in “orthophoto mapping, geographic information service and urban planning and urban renewal”.

Majority of ministers were only forced into holes for political expediencies or other reasons

Kayode Fayemi’s posting is another misapplication of peg. President Buhari should have thanked God that among the people he considered for ministerial appointment, there was a labour unionist, who could speak the unionists’ language and be respected among the labour leaders. Buhari, in his queer wisdom, thought Chris Ngige could do better.

The shoes of Ministry of Interior may pinch General Abdulrahman Dambazau a bit as that of the Ministry of Defense may have suited him comfortably. As someone who had a distinguished career in the military and reached its pinnacle, taking him to deal with paramilitary issues is, in my view, not the best decision. Even issues of Boko Haram terrorism, Dambazau will speak and negotiate issues of arm purchase and military aid with the West better than Dan’Ali.

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