As is usual with him, President Muhammadu Buhari could not hide his feeling about the set of ministers that formed his first term Federal Executive Council, with whom he was holding, mainly, weekly Executive Council meeting.
Speaking at a dinner he had with the leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday, July 11, at the Presidential Villa, the President made it clear that he did not know most of the ministers he worked with in his first term, from 2015 to 2019.
The President, not given to hiding his feelings or pretending, said: “The last cabinet which I had, most of them, a majority of them I didn’t know. I had to accept their names and recommendation from the party. I worked with them for three and a half years.”
Well, it is not very clear what the President implied by such statement: was it that he was not comfortable with the ministers, who, by the implication of his postulation, were forced down his throat all through the three and half years? Yes, he did not know most of them, which was understandable as it was impossible for him to have known them before he appointed them, but was the fact that he did not know them had any negative impact in their general performances in office?
We in Greenbarge Reporters feel, and strongly so, that the question of knowing everyone across the 36 States of the federation in governing a country as widely dimensional in every respect as Nigeria does not make a good case. In other words, it does not make any social or political sense for a leader to know beforehand, every other person he would appoint for the federal executive council, and more importantly, that such knowledge of the ministers is a guarantee for superlative performance of same.
There is even argument in some quarters that those who easily disappoint leaders are those that are well known by such leaders. An example is the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Lawal Daura, who was alleged to have betrayed his uncle, President Buhari when his loyalty was most needed. Remember that Daura was kicked out of office by the Buhari’s administration on the basis of such betrayal.
It is a universal fact that one usually gets to know other people through acknowledgement from others who know such person, and even in as wide as Nigeria, a leader cannot insist that he MUST personally know all the appointees before he would appoint them. It is practically impossible.
As a matter of fact, what President Buhari is saying, including the fact that he is being pressurized to appoint ministers, is that Nigerians should keep on waiting until he is able to gather all the people he personally know before he settles for business of governance; for, governance, in our own kind of democracy, can only be done with ease, along with egg-heads and technocrats, sitting together regularly to fashion out fresh directions. And do we assume that such wait will take another one year or more?
It is our humble opinion that the President should move fast, make quick consultations and come out with the ministers before the end of July, when he would have spent clear two months since he was sworn-in for a second term and five clear months since he was formally declared winner of the February 23rd Presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The President should know, as he actually acknowledged, that he has just four more years to correct all the anomalies in the polity and some mistakes he made in his first tenure.
We remind Mr. President that one thing with time is that it moves faster than we imagine. This means that before one would say Jack-the-little-boy, definitely, we would have been preparing for the 2023 general elections, which may beat into background, whatever noise anyone would like to make about achievements or no achievements.
Philosophers have warned us not to postpone to tomorrow what we can do today. Mr. President Sir, assembling ministers is what you can do within a week. And you have the liberty to ease out any of them that is not performing later. It is allowed.
We humbly and patriotically submit that tomorrow may be too late, sir.