Buhari’s Cabinet: The Good, The Blunders and The Ugly
On Wednesday November 11th, President Buhari inaugurated his new cabinet. He also whittled down the total number of ministries to 24 from 36, by combining and eliminating supposedly redundant ministries and appointing a fair number of nominees to junior positions. Some of President Buhari’s moves make a lot of sense considering the need to cut down waste and excess, but some of the appointments have left political and economic observers baffled. Here’s the run down of Buhari’s appointments – the good, the blunders, and the ugly.
Kemi Adeosun as Minister of Finance: Blunder
With a challenged economy, significant dip in revenues, the increased risk of inflation running riot, the Naira under significant pressure, foreign financial organizations exiting our bond markets, liquidity squeeze and the need to churn out policies that will impact the economy positively, she doesn’t have the clout and the pedigree to run that ministry. Adeosun lacks the pedigree of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the gravitas of Charles Soludo. Her ability to hold her own with international rating agencies and financial organizations is untested. For someone who ran her Ogun State economy to a point where that State needed a bail out to pay salaries, appointing her to run a national economy without a supporting Minister of State is a decision that defies logic. You can’t have a struggling CBN Governor and also have a struggling Minister for Finance. This is a first class blunder.
Babatunde Raji Fashola as Minister of Power Works and Housing: Ugly
I don’t envy Babatunde Raji Fashola. I honestly don’t think Buhari did him a favor by assigning three very significant ministries to him. Being the Minister for Works alone is a tasking assignment but when you have Power and Housing added, then tasking becomes daunting. Fashola is being set up for failure. That’s the entire infrastructure framework of the country resting on the shoulders of one man! The fact that he’ll be supported by a Minister of State for Power does little to relieve the enormous burden of responsibilities. With 192,300km of Federal Roads to be covered, national power supply hovering around 4,000MW and a housing deficit of 17m, this could get ugly.
Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals: Blunder
The worst thing you can do to anyone with great potential is to underutilize their abilities or put them in a position where their latent capacities may never be called upon. That’s exactly what may happen to Kayode Fayemi as the Minister for Solid Minerals. He should be the Minister of Foreign Affairs given his experience or even the Minister for the Interior supervising the Police and other para-military agencies given the fact that he has a PhD in War Studies. A blunder.
James Ocholi, Minsiter of State for Labor: Blunder
My greatest disappointment on the list was that of James Ocholi. Here is a man who shone like a million stars during his Senate screening, who spoke like a law professor now made a Minister of State for Labour. The judgment of the President should be called to question with this appointment. Ocholi should be the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. Being a side kick to Chris Ngige is a curious, injurious blunder.
Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice: Blunder
Abubakar Malami could be any other thing except the Minister of Justice. It’s actually unbelievable that he will be given that sensitive portfolio ahead of James Ocholi. A blunder.
Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture: Good
Audu Ogbeh is a right fit as the Minister of Agriculture. He is still of very sound mind in spite of his age and his patriotism is not in doubt. His experience shows he’s a round peg in a round hole. Good.
Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Trade and Investment: Good
Okechukwu Enelamah has been raising capital and chasing after investors as an investment banker and private equity don for nearly his whole working life. He’s the right fit as the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment. This is good.
Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, Ugly
I don’t know whether or not to weep over the appointment of Adamu Adamu as the Minister of Education. Making a journalist the supervising minister to resuscitate a moribund educational sector like ours is bad enough, but making a Professor of Education and a former Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian University, Anthony Anwukah a junior minister reporting to Adamu Adamu truly shows the value our leaders place on education. The appointment should have been the other way round. Even Nyesom Wike was made a junior Minister of Education to Professor Rukayat under former President Jonathan. This is ugly.
Isaac Adewole Folorunsho, Minister of Health: Good
Isaac Adewole Folorunsho is one person that can hold down two portfolios comfortably- Health or Education. Fit for role. Dr. Osagie Ehaniren as Minister of State is a good complement. Good.
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information: Good
There is no other role to place Lai Mohammed except for Information. Good.
Usani Usani, Minsiter of the Niger Delta: Good
Given the propensity for previous holders of the office of the Minister of the Niger Delta for frivolities and gross corruption, I think it’s a good thing that Rotimi Amaechi was not given this portfolio. Usani Usani, a grassroots person who has been involved in evaluating projects for NDDC in times past while also serving on the Petroleum Task force for Cross River State, is fit for role. Good.
Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment: Good
Chris Ngige should do well in the Ministry of Labour and Employment. He retired as a Deputy Director in the civil service and understands the intricacies of labour engagement. Good.
Abdulrahman Dambazzu, Minister of the Interior: Good
Abdulrahman Dambazzu would do better as the Minister of Defense than Minister of the Interior. He is a former Chief of Army Staff and tackling the current Boko Haram menace could use his professional understanding and handling. He however holds degrees in criminology and criminal justice and this will help him in the interior ministry role. In this case, his round peg is larger than the hole it is to enter, but this development is good all the same.
Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications: Blunder
Adebayo Shittu should not have been given a role that allows him undue exposure. Apart from the fact that I think the Ministry of Communications should have been merged with the Information Ministry and not left to stand alone, this is a sensitive ministry, especially considering the current fight brewing about regulation of telecoms companies that have thus far run circles around the regulartors. He should have been tucked away somewhere as a Minister of State- just like Claudius Daramola. He is a poor fit for role. Another blunder.
Udo Udoma, Ministery of Budget and Planning: Good
Udo Udoma will handle the portfolio of Budget and National Planning well. With a background as a former Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Judiciary, Banking and Currency at the Senate in 1999, he was also the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He had also served as the Chairman of one of the nation’s foremost conglomerates, United African Company Nigeria (UACN) and a Director of Unilever Plc. He is in a familiar terrain. This is a good fit.
Monsur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defense: Good.
Monsur Dan-Ali’s highest career point was as an artillery commander. It was highly expected that General Dambazzau would be made the substantive minister considering the Boko Haram scourge and given his military experience. While Dan-Ali had served as the Commander of the Nigerian Battalion at the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur, the Boko Haram war needs a highly skilled administrator and military tactician who can marshal the military forces especially with the international dimension the war has taken. I hope the office does not overwhelm him. I’m a bit wary but should be good overtime.
Ogbonnaya Onu: Minister of Science and Technology: Good
Ogbonnaya Onu holds a First Class Degree in Chemical Engineering and authored a book called ‘Technology and Development’. He has been assigned the Science and Technology Portfolio. I think this portfolio should have been merged with that of Education- that is if the ministry should even exist at all. Ogbonnaya is a good fit.
Aisha Alhassan, Minister of Women Affairs: Good
Aisha Alhassan came into national reckoning after losing the Taraba Governorship election narrowly. If she had won, she would have been the first elected female Governor in Nigeria. Traditionally, the ministry has been supervised by women and President Buhari would certainly not have departed from the norm- more especially as the President has been accused of not giving enough consideration to women in his cabinet. Aisha Mohammed should have been the first pick given her previous work on the Millenium Development Goals but Aisha Alhassan should do just fine also. A good fit.
Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources: Good
Suleiman Adamu has worked as a project manager on many water projects which include the PTF Urban/Semi-Urban Supply programmes, National Waterways Development project and the dredging of River Niger among others He’s fit for role as the Minister of Water Resources. Good.
Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs: Good
Geoffrey Onyeama doesn’t have the charm of most Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Consider Bolaji Akinyemi. Consider Joy Ogwu. Consider Mathew Mbu. Consider Odein Ajumogobia. Consider Ojo Madueke. Consider Gbenga Ashiru. However, he is a polyglot and can speak German and French in addition to English. I don’t see the value however that Khadijah Bukar Abba will add to him as Minister of State. The question begging for answer , however, is the type of foreign diplomacy the President wishes to adopt with a green horn in charge of the ministry. Good fit nevertheless.
Amina Mohammed, Minister of the Environment: Good
With her experience in development planning and as a former Special Adviser on Millennium Goals, Amina Mohammed is best suited for the portfolio of National Planning. However, she has served three different Presidents and founded a firm of engineers and architects. Environment is not quite her forte but with her experience on crafting the sustainable development goals, some of which deal directly with global environmental issues, she should handle the portfolio of the Environment Ministry well. Good.
Solomon Dalong, Minister of Youth and Sports: Ugly
How does one react to an individual who will handle the Youths Ministry but doesn’t even have a social media account? How does one react to a Minister of Sports who has never been involved in the administration of any sport before? Solomon Dalong was a former Assistant Inspector of Prisons and chairman of a local government in Plateau State in addition to being a lawyer. Now, he will be Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. This is ugly.
Muhammadu Bello, Minister of FCT: Blunder
I don’t know what to make of the appointment of someone who headed the National Hajj Commission for eight years as the Minister of the FCT. Will the office not overwhelm the holder? The jury is still out but for me this is a blunder.
Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport: Good
I reserved Rotimi Amaechi for the very last. It’s noteworthy that he wasn’t given the Niger Delta Ministry. He didn’t get the Petroleum Ministry like it was touted earlier. He didn’t get the Works Ministry either. He has been saddled with the Transportation Ministry. Rotimi Amaechi is a bundle of energy and he always seem to be able to draw the spotlight to himself- no matter what he does. I believe he will bring some prominence to this Ministry. For a moment, lets forget about the monorail tragedy in Rivers State and the accusations of corruption. I’ll still score him good – for now.
May God help them to deliver in their new roles.
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