SINCE the list of new members of the federal cabinet became public, there had been various and varied reactions from different quarters. The majority of the ones I read were not favourable. Criticisms of the new list included the idea that it is a re-cycling of old hands, non-accommodation of the “youth,” absence of core professionals, among others. I must confess that I shared some of these sentiments myself but my perception drastically changed when I witnessed the performance of some of the nominees that were screened. Let me say, straightaway, that I was impressed by the level of intelligence and clear-mindedness of the few whose screening I watched. I can say, with some measure of confidence, that they appear to be “round pegs in round holes” and I earnestly hope that they will be given the enabling atmosphere to utilise their talents/endowments for the best of the country.
Let me react to those who are complaining that the new list is made up of mostly politicians i.e. non-technocrats who are also not young. My view, based on my experience in the civil service, is that the duties of a minister or political head of an organisation are better performed by politicians. Their roles arne to formulate policies while the execution of such policies is better left to the career officers or technocrats. However, to achieve the most effective results from a policy decision, the technocrats must be involved in its formulation. I also believe that technocrats perform best behind the scene i.e. not being unnecessarily bogged down with showmanship / statesmanship which is better left to the politicians. On the issue of the age of the nominees, I have observed that the younger ones are not getting involved adequately in politics, at least with the sole aim of making a difference.
Most of them are foraying into politics to be able to have a share of the “national cake” and so they do not come to the table with new ideas as to be taken seriously by the old politicians and indeed members of the public. On top of these, most of our so-called experts are arm-chair critics. They neither participate in politics nor display traits in their respective callings that they can make any difference.
Having said all these, I believe that the present crop of nominees, if confirmed, can move the Nation forward provided they are given the enabling atmosphere to perform by Mr. President.
In essence, if Mr. President will allow this crop of ministers to put to effective use the traits displayed at the screening exercise without undue interference from forces outside the constitutionally recognized ones, the Nation will be the better for it. My advise, therefore, is that Mr. President should separate governance from personal friendship/individual connections. Let him socialise and felicitate with his friends as much as possible but leave governance to the Ministers and the career officers. Thus, he can sit back, concern himself with the “commanding heights” of governance with the firm assurance that he will eventually take the credit for all the efforts of all those serving in Government with him.
I pray that Nigeria will fare much better with this new team at the Federal level and move us to the much-desired higher and better level. God bless Nigeria.
- Osunro is a retired Permanent Secretary writes in from Ibadan.