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The Federal Cabinet: Time for Effective Governance

The 2015 Presidential Election ended on Saturday, March 28, 2015. It now belongs to the history books. Regardless of the pros and cons of the polls, it came and went.

And in a commendable act worth eulogising, the then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat and congratulated the declared winner, Muhammadu Buhari, a development that earned widespread local and international applause for Nigeria as a nation.

On May 29, 2015, Jonathan handed the reins of power to Buhari, effectively handing to Nigerians a new administration at the centre formed by another political party, other than the PDP that been in office since 1999.

As days and weeks passed, agitations began to emerge on the composition of a new Federal Cabinet to assist the president to run the affairs of the nation. As expected, political pundits and other Nigerians became restless and were raising concerns over the perceived delay in constituting the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the attendant impact on policy direction, formulation and governance.

When the agitations grew louder, Buhari came out in defence of his cautious stride and promised to unveil members of his cabinet by the end of September. Indeed, not everyone was pleased by the promise, let alone critics. But for others, it was a waiting game towards September.

Accordingly, the news that Buhari has finally submitted list of his cabinet ministers to the Senate is a welcome development on many counts.

First, it would calm frayed nerves in the polity. It would also ease the air of uncertainty surrounding the issue of governance in the country.

Added to these is also the positive market sentiment it has sent to the financial and economic sectors in the country.

On our part, we welcome the development as concrete evidence that Nigeria is now set for effective governance. As expected, Nigerians are eager to see the nominees appears before the Senate for screening, eventual confirmation and allocation of ministerial portfolios.

Our belief is that the president has made choice of people he desires to work with to actualize his dream for the country. It is also our belief that he looked beyond party membership and affiliation in nominating such persons for ministerial appointments into the Cabinet.

We believe that appointing professional politicians into core technical positions where they lack the requisite competence would be a great disservice, both to the government and Nigeria as a nation. There should be specific positions for politicians in the Cabinet, at least as compensation for working for the victory of the party at the polls.

However, such positions should be anchored on the core competence areas of such politicians considered for nomination. We believe that every politician is a professional in one area of activity and should be duly considered within that sector.

We advise that tested technocrats should be given the opportunity to handle core technical areas, to bring the needed expertise and innovation to governance for the betterment of the people. The technocrats need not be card carrying members of the ruling party. All they need to justify their inclusion in the Cabinet is professional capacity to perform.

In terms of expenditure, we strongly advocate trimming down the size of the Cabinet and the number of Special Assistants and Advisers which drain the public purse unduly. With dwindling revenue from falling price of oil in the international market, the country cannot afford a large Federal Cabinet and the attendant State Cabinets across the country that raises the level of recurrent expenditure to a frightening level.

Indeed, austere times demand austere financial decisions for rational management of resources. Our nation today does not have the resources for a bloated Federal Cabinet. We need a manageable size of Cabinet that can run the country efficiently on available lean resources, without compromising competence.

Given the general optimism and expectations expressed by Nigerians towards the Buhari administration, the government must endeavour not to disappoint Nigerians, first, by nominating the wrong persons to the Cabinet, and secondly, failing to make reasonable positive impact within a given period of time in office.

The government cannot decree all the problems in the country to vanish overnight. However, it could initiate and implement policies that could lead to better days for the citizens through the appointment of the right caliber of persons into the Federal Executive Council.

As we await the screening, confirmation and allocation of portfolios to the ministerial nominees, we must quickly remind the nominees that being chosen out of a population of 170 million is indeed a special honour they must cherish and appreciate by living up to expectations.

Goodluck to the New Ministers!

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