Next Level Cabinet And National Transformation. Manasseh F. Paul-Worika
The Next Level, catch-phrase of the APC in the 2019 polls as it sought re-election after a contentious first term was to give hope that a second term for the party will transform Nigerians and take the country to the expected next level of growth and prosperity having stagnated for so long. It was a promise of assurance that things must change for better.
Consequently, as the presidency schedules to hold a retreat for the new ministerial cabinet, reactions would continue to trail the senate’s clearance of the 43-man ministerial list submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari. Whilst some commend the president, others claimed the list neither met their expectations nor reflected optimism chiefly for retaining so many members of his former cabinet and fresh names from his party.
Incidentally, appointment of ministers is an exclusive function of the President albeit subject to confirmation by the Senate as provided in Section 147(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended to wit: “Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President”.
However, the President can only have a productive administration with a proficient team that shares his vision. Thus, competence cannot be overemphasized. Nonetheless, competence is not one and only factor as unity of purpose is requisite.
But why does a president need ministers and what qualities must be found in a nominee for the position? A nominee for ministerial appointment must beyond other qualities have managerial capacity to spearhead and coordinate an organization effectively. Possibly, this formed the basis for opting for scores of former governors with good scorecards.
Coordination and supervision of a ministry including all agencies, parastatals and statutory bodies under it for efficient operations of the President are the essential tasks of ministers. However, these tasks are no child plays. In other words, a minister is essentially, the President’s eyes; overseer in a ministry who ensures that all policies of the government are carried out efficiently. A minister is therefore President’s reliable representative that coordinates, supervises all activities in a ministry and reports directly to the President. Apart from managerial skill and competence, trust is indispensable. If not, partisanship could frustrate the administration.
The drafters of the Constitution understood that a President may not flow effectively with some ministries vis-à-vis policies of the government if left under the watch of Permanent Secretaries who may pitch their tents in another political party. Yes, civil servants are lawfully free to identify with any political party of their choice as provided in Section 40 CFRN; ruling party or oppositions, as a fundamental right provided it doesn’t interfere with official duties.
Section 40 provides, “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests:” So, imagine a Permanent Secretary that belongs to an opposition party heading a ministry; certainly, it will be catastrophic in service delivery as partisanship might play out.
There should be no cause for alarm as nominees’ scorecards show some capacity. Some had expected a number of names from some global institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) etc, such prospects are not bad ideas.
Significantly, most of the new ministers are proficient in their respective careers. Without prejudice, the retained ministers avidly put in their best in the previous administration.
Let criticisms be clothed with patriotism and great sense of responsibility. Opposition must not be overstretched to acrimony. Otherwise, even where criticisms are germane, the points may not scale through. Politics should remain intellectual pursuit for power as in other climes.
By willpower, teamwork and continuous conscientious actions, next level is feasible.