There is no denying the fact that the 43 ministers inaugurated recently by President Muhammadu Buhari have herculean job ahead of them considering the myriad of socio-economic and security challenges confronting Nigeria.
Therefore, we demand that no stone should be left unturned by the federal cabinet in addressing these problems headlong in order to bring succor to citizens who have for long borne the brunt of bad governance that manifested in insecurity across the land, high cost of living, unemployment, erratic electricity supply, little or no access to potable water supply, poor medical services and endless strike in the educational sector especially in tertiary institutions.
No doubt Mr. President had hit the nail on the head during the inauguration of the 43 ministers as he challenged them to build on the achievements recorded by his administration in the last four years.
According to him, “We have a challenge to build a country where everyone can maximize his or her potential. We must build a country where opportunities abound for everyone. Work has started; we must all get down to action,” even as he urged them to strive to improve the economy, fight corruption and create a country that would engage the estimated 20 million unemployed and unemployable people into productive ventures.
“We must make everyone productive. We must make everyone an asset to the country. Everyone must be fully engaged,” he added.
Also underscoring the need for adequate security for Nigerians to live in peace and harmony, the President declared that key economic indicators would be used to assess the ministers’ performances, urging them to work very hard to give Nigerians the good governance they truly deserved.
However, Buhari admitted that there had been national challenges, insisting that Nigerians must not fail to recognise the achievements record of his administration during his first term in office that ended on May 29th 2019.
Furthermore, we note with satisfaction the two-day retreat hosted by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) for the ministers with Permanent Secretaries and other key government officials in attendance ahead of their swearing.
There, they were told in clear terms the roadmap and focus of government in the next four years, and specific priorities identified to form the base for building a strong Nigeria and the well being of her citizens.
We further welcome the admonition for the ministers to work closely with the permanent secretaries and heads of ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs of their ministries, where the need for collective efforts towards success as well as call for closer and constant communication and coordination among the officials were emphasized.
The ministers were also told that all communications requiring Buhari’s attention must be routed through the Chief of Staff.
However, it is our view that there should be an exception to this rule in times of national emergencies especially where lives are involved as going through an elaborate bureaucracy to reach Mr. President as directed will certainly be counter-productive and not in the overall best interest of the country since as the popular axiom goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
We believe that top on the agenda of the newly inaugurated Federal Executive Council (FEC) should be “the security and welfare of the people” which is the primary purpose of government as stipulated in section 14 (2) a of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Indeed given the pedigree of the new Minister for Defence, a former combatant, a lawyer and the former Military Administrator of old Sokoto State, we expect an end to the bloody campaign of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram fiasco; the banditry across borders; the kidnapping that has made the country so insecure and a permanent solution to the ravaging killer herdsmen, some of whom are said to be foreigners coming into the country from neighbouring countres to kill Nigerians at will.
We expect nothing less from the new cabinet since the sustenance of law and order is the basis for any meaningful socio-economic development. There must be a stop to continued threats to lives and properties of the citizens.
The Federal Government is further challenged to focus greater attention to achieving stable and unhindered power supply between now and 2023, given that such is the only sure way of accelerating the growth of the real sector of the economy and particularly the small and medium enterprises.
This is capable of generating multiplier effects and enterprises comatose before now on account of poor power supply, will bounce back and new ones springing up thus creating additional jobs for the millions of unemployed youths in the country.
More efforts is also required on the part of the new cabinet to sustain ongoing diversification of the economy especially through massive investment in agriculture to feed the people, produce for export to generate foreign exchange as well as reduce the mass importation of food items into the Nigeria.
Apart from its salutary effect of making food more affordable to the average citizen, a boost in agricultural production or food security will go a long way in dousing tension across the land since fewer Nigerians would be angry on account of hunger.
Our expectations are also high that Mr. President in collaboration with the National Assembly will do the needful in ensuring the passage of all pending bills in respect of the petroleum sector since he has retained the Petroleum Resources portfolio.
The Federal Government should also ensure total turn around maintenance of the existing refineries and give necessary support for the smooth take off the multi-billion dollars Dangote Refinery located in the Lekki Free Zone, Lagos which upon completion will bring an end to the massive importation of petroleum products into the country.
We also expect that Buhari will put an end to gas flaring in Nigeria which is currently polluting the air of some oil producing states in form of soot posing serious hazards to the people. The cleaning up of Ogoni land and all other communities polluted through oil spillage in the Niger-Delta region should be remedied.
We believe that the creation of additional ministries namely Police Affairs; Special Duties/International Affairs; Power; Aviation; Works and Housing and Humanitarian/Disaster Management is also a right step in the right direction since ultimately the move will further the provision of quality service and good governance for the benefit most Nigerians.
The Solid Minerals sector should also receive adequate budgetary allocation from the Federal Government to further diversify the economy and reduce the nation’s dependent on oil and gas as major export earner.
The reappointed Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu should strive hard in resolving all issues relating to the 2009 and 2013 Memoranda of Understanding signed between ASUU and the Federal Government expected to uplift public universities and guarantee stable academic calendar.
More resources and attention should also be given to the health sector in order to restore Nigeria’s lost glory in the field and reduce medical tourism whereby billions of dollars are spent annually by Nigerians in foreign hospitals. A healthy nation as they say is a wealthy nation.
It is our view that Nigeria has the wherewithal financial and otherwise to upgrade medical and health facilities in each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for use of the citizenry. We should bring back the glory days of the 60’s when Nigerian doctors and professors in the medical and health industry used to train Egyptians, South Africans, Ghanaians, Gambians and even Indians.
We demand that the ministers should fully join hands with the President in returning the country to the January to December budget cycle in the interest of our national development and further enjoin them to be patriotic, conscientious, selfless and not to engage in corrupt practices.
Finally ,those privileged to be named as substantive ministers should not see their Ministers of State as subordinates who they should work in harmony while any minister who turns himself or herself into a liability should be relieved of their portfolios immediately.
Non-performing ministers as witnessed during the President’s first term should find no room in the current dispensation as we believe that only the best hands are good enough to pull Nigeria out of the current wounds.