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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Nigeria's New Ministers Do Not Inspire Hope For Change


Yesterday, president Buhari's ministerial nominees were finally sworn into their various posts and work for them should begin in ernest. You can find their names and portfolios here. In Nigeria, one is sworn into office using either the bible or the koran. There is no other alternative, or one would be seen as godless. Do not even think about coming out as atheist, whether you are a government official or private‎ citizen; you will be seen as the devil himself, and your life as you know it would be over. But I digress. Anyway, the ministers would have been sworn in using the bible or koran, and these holy books represent not just the religious beliefs of the individual who is swearing by it, it also shows Nigerians that this individual is 'God-fearing'. A few days ago, I read about how half of the Canadian cabinet members chose to skip "so help me God" in their oaths of office, meaning they did not swear by any holy book, they most probably swore on a copy of the Canadian constitution.
The Nigerian ministers have taken their sweet time to come on board, because president Buhari, who was sworn in (using the koran of course) on May 29 this year, had promised to bring Nigeria's best brains on board. Well, the ministers have been sworn in and there is not one inspirational figure among them; just the same old political loyalists who are being rewarded for their 'services' during the elections. It is for this reason that I remain not very hopeful about how they will carry out their duties. For me, they have already started on the wrong foot - deceiving Nigerians with their religiosity. I daresay that it will be the same old song of mediocrity which they will bring to their offices. For example, Babatunde Fashola, the immediate past governor of Lagos state is now the minister of power. This man is a lawyer and I do not believe he has any knowledge about power generation and distribution. Nigeria's power problems are supposed to be taken as a national emergency, and I can guarantee that Mr Fashola will not have outlined his plans for this ailing sector by the end of the year. I would definitely be surprised if he does, but I shall not be holding my breath. One thing I would like Mr Fashola to do is to find out how the $16 billion spent by the Obasanjo administration on the power sector between 1999 and 2007 was actually utilized. I guess that would be asking too much, because as sad as it makes me to say this, Mr Fashola will not make a dent on Nigeria's beleaguered power sector. There are too many powerful importers of electric generators, and also petroleum products importers and distributors in whose interest it is that Nigeria does not generate and distribute any meaningful amount of power, and Mr Fashola will have to literally put these people out of business if he is to succeed. His counterparts face similar herculean tasks, including president Buhari who has assigned the incredibly corrupt petroleum ministry to himself. I really want to wish these men and women the best, but I cannot, because I do not believe they even appreciate the enormity of the task ahead of them.