On Tuesday, Nigerian Senate confirmed the appointments of all ministers-designate as nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari, after a five-day screening process by the senators.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, declared the confirmation of all the 43 ministerial nominees after the federal lawmakers had a voice vote at the end of the screening in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
From the list, twelve former ministers who worked with the President in his first term were nominated for reappointment. Also, eight former governors and seven ex-senators, one incumbent national lawmaker and seven women made the list.
Most Nigerians expected a lot from Buhari in his first four –year tenure. Unfortunately, he didn’t perform as much as most people expected, which many say was as a result of putting square pegs in round holes. Some of the ministers in the President’s first tenure lacked the knowledge, technical skills, expertise and competence to man the portfolios they were given.
The performance of such ministries as Power, Works and Housing; Education; Labour and Employment; Trade and Investment; Agriculture and others, were below par because the ministers who manned these ministries didn’t have the technical competence to manage their portfolios.
A cursory look at the would-be ministers indicates that they are all qualified for the job, but the President must be discreet in assigning portfolios to avoid a repeat of the poor performance that most of the ministries witnessed in the President’s first term.
The President must take advantage of the knowledge, technical skills, expertise and competence of the would-be ministers by ensuring that they are given portfolios in the areas of their expertise. That way, he will be able to bring out the best in each of them in their service to the country.
Also, by assigning portfolios to the would-be ministers discreetly, will help the country a great deal in proffering solutions to some of the key challenges confronting her, ranging from unemployment, poverty, substandard education, insecurity, epileptic power supply and of course, to patchy economy.
The economy needs more productive activities to create additional jobs and wealth which can only be achieved if round pegs are put in round holes regarding the portfolio management.
Currently, the economy is crawling, because it’s largely being funded with borrowings. The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF)latest growth rate forecast of 2.3 per cent for the year, is too low; inflation is at 11.4 per cent, unemployment at 23.9 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS); the real sector is still finding access to credit cumbrous, with interest rates very high and electricity supply ever epileptic. Adding to that is the country’s debt profile, which has risen to 24.9 percent.
According to Brookings Institution, the country is now the poverty capital of the world with about 91 million people living below poverty line. The issue of security and its attendant consequences are all making living in Nigeria difficult which we think should be a priority for the President and his team.
Furthermore, the education sector is underfunded due to low budgetary allocations. We call on the governments to embrace the recommendation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), that at least 26 per cent of a country’s annual budget should be devoted to education and do the needful.
Finding solutions to these numerous problems will not come cheap. It requires the President offering his best by utilising what he has and ensuring that discreet is applied in assigning portfolios.
More so, we urge the would-be ministers to see their appointment as a call to service and an opportunity to contribute their own quota to the growth and development of the country. They should see it as a privilege to offer their knowledge, technical skills and expertise in service to the country.
Similarly, we challenge the National Assembly to take their oversight functions more seriously in order to ensure money budgeted for various projects is judiciously spent and taxpayers get value for fund expended.
It is only by so doing that Nigerians who are currently confronted with myriad of problems will get the dividends of democracy and their living standards enhanced.