As it is, President Bola Tinubu has finally constituted his cabinet. Nigeria’s 16th democratically constituted administration has kicked off earnestly. Pending issues before the president include the appointment of ambassadors, director-generals, chief executive officers, managing directors and general managers of Federal Government’s parastatals, agencies and departments.
As pending and outstanding political appointments (courtesy of President Tinubu) begin to unfold, political appointees and office-holders should come to terms with the fact that they are the people’s representatives. Every Nigerian citizen cannot be a director-general, chief executive officer or managing director of a government agency or parastatal or department. It is not every Nigerian that will be privileged to become a minister of the Federal Republic. This is the irrefutable truth.
The few privileged politicians appointed into political offices should begin to see themselves as the ‘political physicians’ of the Nigerian people. Political office holders should see themselves as responsible for the healing of the people and act commensurately.
Politics or the business of secular governance is essentially representative. A few privileged persons are chosen to represent the interests of many citizens. Now, the not-too-pleasant aspect about representative politics is that the privileged few can determine the well-being of the citizenry to some extent, either for good or for bad, based on the policies and programmes that they initiate at any given point in time.
This being the truth, the nominations and subsequent appointment of ministers (at least one from each state of the federation) buttresses the fact that not all of us can be privileged to become politicians or political appointees. The few that are called to serve their fatherland should therefore use the rare opportunity to serve the peoples and not themselves.
Politicians and political appointees are ‘pseudo-political messiahs’ of the masses. Members of the National Assembly, usually in assuming the roles of ‘political messiahs’ initiate bills, pass such bills at plenaries, They also pass annual budgets and attend to administrative assignments, such as ministerial screenings, ambassadorial screenings and screening of political appointees, et cetera.
Whenever the lawmakers embark on developmental projects and programmes, they are usually implemented or carried out at the lawmaker’s individual constituencies of origin. What I am really saying, at this point, is that while other political office holders are “constrained” in rendering service to their fatherland or carrying out the responsibilities of their political offices, it is only appointed ministers, after their formal inauguration by an incumbent president, that are ‘Federal’ and national in their onus as political office holders in spreading Federal Government’s wealth, and incumbent governments’ financial generosities, through the nooks and crannies of the country. Appointed, and serving ministers, are mandated to spread the government’s developmental agenda across the nation.
So to say, ministers are the salient point in the dispensation of the Federal Government’s monetary gifts to the citizens of the country. Ministers are expected to spread the government’s ameliorative palliatives and humanitarian welfare packages to the citizenry at every given point in time. If a politician or technocrat becomes lucky or privileged to be appointed as minister, he must work hard to provide facilities and amenities to citizens and residents in the country.
Ministers are very important in the economic structure of any administration or government. Whether we want to come to terms with the fact or not, the truth remains that ministers and appointed aides or assistants are responsible for spending a huge quantum of every nation’s wealth and money, as well as financial allocations, as reflected in each nation’s annual budget. In this sense, the newly sworn in ministers must realise that, to some extent and magnitude, the economic buoyancy of our country and the welfare of our citizens depend on them. The infrastructural development of our nation depends on their performance during their tenure in office.
President Tinubu has fulfilled his own responsibility, as required by the constitution, by appointing ministers from each state of the federation and subsequently, giving them ministries to head. What Nigerians expect from the newly appointed ministers-in the months ahead is performance.
Money spent by the newly sworn in ministers should be with a view to ameliorate the suffering of the masses. Money accruing from annual budgetary allocations to each ministry should be with the primary objective of providing amenities and modern facilities that will make the country attractive to all to live and work in.
In this vein, the new ministers should not be ‘wasteful’ in spending the wealth of the nation while providing modern facilities and infrastructures and amenities for the citizenry. They should realise that they are the ‘Political Messiahs’ that we have been waiting for. In the history of mankind, messiahs have peculiar characteristics, such as self-sacrifice, honesty and altruism. One of their likeable characteristics is the virtue of aversion to personal aggrandisement. Over the ages, human messiahs that ambled through this life all had the opportunity to amass wealth for themselves. The array of human messiahs that this world can boast of, however, did not succumb to the temptation to indulge in monetary aggrandisement.
Consider human messiah symbols that journeyed through this earth, such as individuals like Mahatma Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King in United States of America, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Lee Kwan Yau in Singapore and Mao Tse-Tung in China. Names like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and the likes of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, all in Nigeria, easily align to these categories of political messiahs or emancipators of their individual nations of origin.
In as much as this is not the appropriate place to scribble about noble nation-building acts and deeds, suffice it to state here that all those individuals, while they lived, brought freedom and true independence to their fellow country men and women. Also, they assisted in no small measure to ameliorate the sufferings and hardships of citizens of their individual nations of origin at particular points in history. Worthy of note also, is the fact that the aforementioned carried out noble acts and deeds without un-duly enriching themselves at the expense of the masses that looked up to them for emancipation.
Some criticisms have emanated from citizens and keen observers of political events in Nigeria pertaining the presidents’ newly sworn-in ministers. Some observe, with slight criticism, that a substantial percentage of politicians that were chosen to be part of the president’s ministers, are ex-governors and ex-senators, that have already indulged in the profession of secular governance, and should have allowed other, qualified, debutant, party members, to be the ones appointed as ministers, instead.
Another school of thought believes that the appointment of most members of Tinubu’s cabinet was an avenue to compensate a clique of APC stalwarts that lost elections in their states and constituencies. However, I don’t think that such criticisms should distract the President and his ministers from their visions and missions, as well as administrative commissions. Despite the criticism against his ministerial appointments, I believe he should forge on with his honourable task of nation-building. Criticism exists so that the criticised will improve on what they presume is already their best effort.
In my candid opinion, I feel that all the President’s set of ministers are a fine crop of experienced politicians and high performing technocrats in their individual fields of endeavour. I am sure that every one of them will perform creditably as ministers of the federal republic of Nigeria.
In concluding, one relevant adage, which we all must reflect upon at this stage, is a wise saying which declares: “The business of politics, in its most noblest state, is when and if elected politicians and appointed political office holders wear the apron of altruism” while going out to work, to oversee the affairs of the people.” In this light, our array of political messiahs that have now emerged should perceive the people as their livestock, while they – political office holders, are the shepherds of the people. Shepherds characteristically cater for the welfare and well-being of their livestock.
Written By Patrick Ogbe