New Ministers And Tragedy Of Take-A-Bow Government

Casmir Igbokwe

The legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti would have called it government magic. You can call it government of “take a bow,” if you like. Yes, senators like Ovie Omo-Agege will visit Aso Villa, pay fawning obeisance and bow out with smiles. Many kidnappers and sundry criminals, after terrorising the citizens, bow out with impunity. Instead of facing rigorous screening, some ministerial nominees only visit the Senate chambers to take a bow. The next level now is that most of the ministers will lobby for juicy portfolios, ruin their ministries and then take a bow afterwards.

The mantra appears to be: bow and tremble for the All Progressives Congress and every other thing will be added unto you. It does not matter if you are tainted by mortal sins. President Muhammadu Buhari’s new cabinet, for instance, looks more like his campaign council. I wonder why it even took him five months after his election to come up with such bland names.

Fourteen of them were ministers in the last dispensation. Their performance was anything but salutary. What, in God’s name, is Hadi Sirika doing in this current cabinet? In July 2018, Sirika, as minister of state for aviation, announced that Nigeria Air would commence operations before the end of that year. But two months after the announcement, the airline took off and landed in Sirika’s office. In other words, the Federal Government suspended the plan. It meant no serious thought went into its planning before rushing to make the announcement. The same Federal Government has reportedly approved N47.43 billion for the project in the 2019 budget. Let’s see how it goes.

What of Ogbonnaya Onu whose ministry of science and technology promised to produce pencils for us? How many did they eventually produce? And will they add biro and toothpick to their scientific prowess this time? Only Onu and Buhari can answer that.

Babatunde Raji Fashola supervised the ministry of works, power and housing. A super minister, you might say. But what were his achievements? How many houses did he deliver to Nigerians? How many roads and bridges did his ministry complete in the last dispensation? And what was the state of electricity supply in Nigeria under him? Again, only the ruling cabal can answer this as many Nigerians did not feel the impact of this ministry.

I don’t know if Abubakar Malami will still retain his position as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. He would easily be remembered as the attorney-general who took over the fraud case involving the former Gombe State governor, Danjuma Goje, and buried it finally without any qualms. Under him, too, the Federal Government flouted some court orders. During his own screening at the Senate, Malami elevated a nebulous concept called ‘public interest’ over rule of law. The courts had ordered that some detainees be released on bail. The former attorney-general claimed the refusal of government to release some of such detainees was in public interest. Pray, how will the release of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, for instance, hinder public interest? How has the continuous detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-zakzaky, who the Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier granted bail, served public interest?

Is it also in public interest to nominate former governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State as ministers? There were some allegations of fraud against them in their time as governors. Today, as members of the almighty APC, they are saints. Former Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, could not pay his workers for many months as governor. I wonder the magic he will deploy this time round as a minister.

Festus Keyamo, the tough-talking, erstwhile human rights lawyer, once handled some cases against some of these ex-governors as counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Now, they will sit together at the executive chambers in Aso Rock to decide the fate of Nigeria. It rankles that some of them were even asked to take a bow and go without probing questions.

To even screen these nominees without knowing their portfolios is a disservice to Nigeria. What this means is that a nominee could be assigned to supervise a ministry where he clearly lacks competence. And there is nothing anybody can do about it because the minister has already been screened and cleared.

I searched for sound technocrats in this cabinet who will move the economy of this country to the next level. I searched for names that will lift our spirits from the abyss where they sank after the confirmation of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad. I saw none.

In this present dispensation, no arm of government inspires hope in Nigerians. The executive is a disaster. The legislature is a disappointment. The judiciary is hopeless.

Look at the Osun governorship election verdict, for instance. Relying on technicality, the Supreme Court ruled against Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) principally because one of the judges at the election tribunal was absent in one of the sittings. The previous position of the Supreme Court was that technicality shut out justice in the administration of justice. In answering the question of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe about elevating technicality of law over justice, our CJN goofed.

Hear him: “Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field. Ask me anything about an aeroplane, I don’t know; ask me to drive an aeroplane (sic), I am sure if you are a passenger and they told you that the flight is going to be driven (sic) by Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, I am sure you will get out of the plane because it is something that requires technicality.”

This is a man our lawmakers rushed to confirm. And the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, claimed they would not be rubber stamp of the executive. A serious and independent legislature would have further scrutinised the CJN or asked for another nomination. I doubt how far it can go in performing its oversight functions effectively.

Nevertheless, we should continue to cultivate hope in the farmland of Nigeria. Let us continue to recommend what happens in civilised countries to our government. Immediately he emerged as British Prime Minister last week, for instance, Boris Johnson announced his cabinet. He already has his agenda set out and work to achieve them has already started. One day, a statesman will emerge to set things right in Nigeria.


Re: Nigeria’s worrisome travel to Golgotha 

Casmir, my dear brother, your piece titled “Nigeria’s worrisome travel to Golgotha,” which appeared in the Daily Sun of Monday, July 22, 2019, is the truth, nothing but the truth. The questions you raised are fundamental questions. If there is sincerity in what Buhari is doing, why has he not ordered the disarming of the Fulanis in all parts of the country, etc?  You have expressed our minds and the minds of millions of Nigerians. May God bless you IJN.

– Magit, P.D, Ph.D, Gindiri, Plateau State, +2348058726771 

Any journey planned or otherwise to Golgotha is always suicidal. For Golgotha has never billed anyone any fortune, it is a land full of evil, so nightmarish, and full of skulls and never cherished by any one. A careful look at the nation’s walk every day now reveals that, unless a wedge is swiftly put to check the rush or slide, this God-blessed nation will be history. Take a hard look at a nation furiously sliding into anarchy. Take a careful look at the entertaining events, you will wonder if you are still in a nation so blessed with what all other nations of the world are clamouring for. Criminals are paraded but none is ever put in jail. We hear of so much being looted, we never hear of recovered loot. We are tired of killer squads, bandits, herdsmen but never hear of their incarceration, as if they are government agents on a revenge mission. Nobody sleeps with his two eyes closed. It has started rubbing off on the high-ups in our midst. You will surprisingly notice the anguish over the murder of a lady of substance, Lady Funke Olakunri, quite unfortunate, and untimely, being the first daughter of an elder statesman and the representative of the BEST in Yoruba nation. No more excuses and no more delays: “sine mora.” Those of the Presidency, NASS, the states and assemblies, even up to local government, should sit up and wedge this sliding and fast-drifting nation before it tips all of us into Golgotha.

– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha; Ibeku Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise, Imo State, 08036174573 

Dear Casy, your treatise in your column of Daily Sun is interesting. Fulani haven’t fought war in this country since their jihad in 1804. Now that Buhari is the President, they want to continue their jihad from where they stopped. They think that they can win the war. Buhari and the Fulani have failed; 1804 and 2019 is a different ball game. Nigerians must rise up and defend their lands from vandals. God bless you. You are always esteemed.

– Eze Chima Cletus, Lagos, +2347036225495

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, July 29, 2019.

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