By Dakuku Peterside
Three recent developments are the focus of people with a keen interest in the political affairs of Nigeria at the moment. The first is whether ECOWAS, which means Nigeria, in real terms, will go to war in Niger Republic. The second is the brouhaha over the Naira versus Dollar exchange rate, which has severely affected the living standards of a broad spectrum of Nigerians. The third and by no means the least has far-reaching implications on the shape, form, and character of the Tinubu presidency. This is the next Federal Executive Council with raging questions on whether or not the incoming Ministers are the “messiahs” Nigerians expect. In my view, one packs the most weight of these three significant developments. It is the quality, capacity, and effectiveness of these Ministers appointed by the President and Commander-in-Chief. I hold this view since the impact of our cabinet Ministers on policy and their momentum is what could directly determine the quality of governance and, by extension, the living standards in our country now and shortly. Not surprisingly, the stakes were high, and the tension was palpable until the President released the list of ministers. From informed commentaries so far, it is evident the list was received with mixed feelings.
There were huge expectations that technocrats, intellectuals, politicians with proven records of performance, and highly skilled and talented Nigerians would dominate the cabinet. Some feel this expectation still needs to be fully met, given that the new-mint cabinet is dominated by old political war-horses with a sprinkling of professionals, youths, and women.
Although inferentially, the President is expected to choose persons of good character, integrity and capacity for his team of cabinet Ministers, politics is not arithmetic. Political exigencies sometimes trump these qualities in the melting pot of choice of ministerial nominees. The President, as Head of State and leader of his party, must strike a delicate balance between the conflicting intricacies inherent in making such choices. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find tainted persons, political jobbers and hollow men making their way to the cabinet. Politics will always be politics and not necessarily about what is best for the President, the government he leads, or the Nigerian people. But that is where base or mundane considerations also end.
We have arrived at the business end of things for a government in which citizens have invested so much expectations now that those nominated as Ministers have been screened and cleared by the Senate. With the confirmation, they must now work hard for the country. Regardless of who nominated them or how they were nominated and cleared by the Senate. It does not matter if some had to bow and go with the attendant drama. Or making the list by being somebody’s stooge or friend, the most important thing is that they have made it to the cabinet. The point to note is Nigerians have expectations of the new Ministers. The current social and economic crisis occasioned by the agenda of the President to transform the economy and make it viable now and in the future creates a fait accompli scenario for hard work by those in the policy engineering room of the Administration. It remains to be said that in this period of unmitigated uncertainties, the new Ministers hold the key to driving the President’s vision and implementing policies that will lead Nigeria to a better position socially, economically, and politically.
Ministers occupy the highest office in the Executive wing of the ruling elite. Ministers, as individuals and as a collective, can significantly influence a country’s economic trajectory and quality of governance. One major success factor of the famed Asian Tigers is the quality of input to policy making and effective implementation of sound fiscal policies resulting in better development outcomes. Singapore’s technocratic model is a ready reference. Their Ministers were at the fore of policy articulation and implementations. The exact opposite is true of most sub-Saharan African countries. In Nigeria, most Ministers in the past could hardly live up to expectations where they ought to have added more value. They were simply passengers to nowhere. In the end, these categories of persons in the Federal cabinet are proof that more than crude loyalty to personalities is required to keep a ministerial position. Nigerians expect no less and demand even more now.
Our new Ministers must dare to be different. This is a new epoch and a time to get it right if Nigeria would achieve socio-economic emancipation. It would be unconscionable for Ministers to expect red-carpet treatment and excessive office perks at this time when the country is going through severe economic turbulence. The least we expect is for Ministers to roll up their sleeves from day one and go to work. They should refrain from pursuing individualistic and narrow interests. They must eschew a vision that conflicts with the overarching vision of the President. Instead, as Ministers of the Government of the Federation, they must make time to engage with the President to internalise and understand his vision for the country and how their respective roles will align to achieve high-quality governance, prosperity, and citizen satisfaction.
The President also has the responsibility of setting the agenda, giving policy direction, and spelling out goals and timelines for the Ministers. Ministers must know that the country’s current mood, which is more pessimistic, gloomy, and tense, must be systematically turned around through their actions, policies, and altruism. Because of greater awareness of the polity, the masses will resist any flagrant display of opulence and hedonism by the new Ministers. The average Nigerian is in economic pain and the Ministers must by their lifestyles provide hope for a better Nigeria.
Nigerians want Ministers who can exhibit innovative thinking and demonstrate the capacity to develop practical, impact-oriented solutions. They desire and deserve Ministers as public servants with creative ideas to overcome the challenges we face as a people. Nigerians yearn for leaders who can unleash transformative action towards development and the new cabinet is expected to deliver no less. Any Minister with the archaic “I have come to chop” mindset will come to the shocking realization that this is the digital age of Nigeria. Youths and other stakeholders are gearing up to hold all officer holders, especially the Ministers, accountable and responsible for their actions in office. These savvy Gen Z advocates although political neophytes are armed with the democratisation of social media to advocate for transparency, justice, fairness and the rule of law. They have a strong voice and would make everyone hear them loud and clear. In recent years, they have communicated that they would actively engage in the political process and their expectations must be addressed. Let none take this demographic for granted.
Those on the watchtower to monitor government performance must remember that Nigeria has had good Ministers in the past whose work is worthy of emulation. As the watching citizens expect the new Ministers to live up to the lofty standards of the past, they are further enjoined to make time to learn more about these past Ministers to improve their performance. One such effective Minister was Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Though not perfect, her dedication to duty and Nigeria is self-evident. She embodied that strength of character and demonstrated a determination to succeed where others have failed. She had the mental rigour to push for reforms and changes that had short-term and long-term impacts. Her restless creativity and boundless passion for serving Nigeria were infectious. Okonjo-Iweala came and served Nigeria rather than being served by Nigeria. Time will fail us to begin an enumeration of her successes as a Minister who served two different Administrations. But her work in securing debt cancellation for Nigeria was notable. These impactful achievements are chronicled in various books and online resources. They make good resources and research material for the incoming Ministers. Akinwumi Adesina is forever remembered for his innovative agricultural policies that served people experiencing poverty. If a Minister wants to be among this league of much-loved ministers in Nigeria, now is the time to plan and work to create a legacy.
Ministers ought to be change agents. Nigerians like to feel the passion, patriotism, integrity, creativity and inclusiveness that should be the hallmark of democratic leadership. They should possess excellent communication skills, expertise in the subject matter related to their portfolio, critical and strategic thinking skills, adaptability and resilience to succeed in performing their roles. Besides, Ministers should understand that the mechanisms of governance, public administration and policy-making are essential for a Minister to manage his or her portfolio effectively. They should have a genuine commitment to serving the public and positively impacting citizens’ lives. Ministers, as heads of ministries, constitute the instrumentality of government functions. The government implements all its policies through the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) running a civil service structure that is apolitical and designed to serve the government of the day. It is important to note that no individual may possess all these qualities equally. However, striving to develop and exhibit them can contribute to effective leadership and governance.
The total output of government MDAs roughly corresponds with the total productivity of government in terms of policy creation and execution as well as procedural and operational efficiencies. This much should be clear to those appointed by this Administration. Based on the above, the principal function of the Minister is to organise, manage and direct all material and human resources available to the ministry
to achieve their set mandate in line with the dominant ideology, goals and aspirations of this government. Therefore, ministers must see themselves as both the voice of the government and the voice of the people and the voiceless.
Finally, the role of a federal Minister is significant. Therefore, all newly appointed ministers should consider serving Nigeria in their respective capacities a great honour. They must be guided by transparency in decision-making, managing resources and accountability. Ministers must work to script with ingenuity in line with the philosophy that to whom much is given, much is also expected. Ministers must acknowledge they are responsible to the people, the Constitution of Nigeria and the President. The nation is looking up to the new Ministers to uplift it from the subsisting social and economic quagmire. This is a task Ministers can only fail to their peril. My dear compatriots, fellow countrymen and women, congratulations on your respective appointment.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent