The speculations that there would be no cabinet for the new All Progressives Congress (APC) Government, until September, was laid to rest when President Muhammadu Buhari told his USA audience so. Upon return to Nigeria, he further told the Nigeria Television Network that reason for the delay was mainly for dearth of men and women of integrity to appoint into cabinet positions.
Further sources claim the President sent in 33 names for security clearance and only three returned as without blemish. This is less than an 5 percent. Buhari has always maintained that persons of questionable character would not find their way into his cabinet. This is good. However, the President has indeed found himself in a quagmire, for if he could not appoint the ministers that may be less than 40, how and what time will it take to compose 5,000 positions in the Presidency?
Buhari cannot be too careful. Life is a journey of faith and good conscience. There is not perfect situation. Even Jesus Christ, true man and true God, chose Judas who betrayed him among his 12 Apostles. Most Christians would tell you Jesus knew that Judas would betray him even before he chose him for the role he played to bring salvation to mankind through His death and resurrection. Without trying to be more Catholic than the Pope, one dares say that Buhari can appoint those he believes are competent, even if they are not exactly saints or angels, and prepare with the law and hammer for their Judas-like betrayal. Christ did not spare Judas and he had to commit suicide as a result. So, Buhari should not spare any corrupt politician even if he financed his campaign. Nothing destroys a polity like selective justice.
Buhari is truly in a dilemma, particularly with what to do with the avalanche of politicians who bankrolled his multi-billion naira Presidential campaign and their natural expectations that they and their cronies would be rewarded with ministerial and other juicy appointments. Without corrupt money, Buhari would not have been President and if he allows them in, they would steal more to recoup. He has found a devil’s alternative himself.
Somebody said with a measure of believability that the uncorrupt politician may be the dead one, especially in today’s Nigeria. So, part of the problem may also be that Buhari is looking only among politicians who may
have supported his election. Ordinarily, one would say he should look for pure technocrats in the academia and the business world and from amongst Nigerians abroad; and take a chance with them.
Past administrations, both military and civilian, have all made extensive use of technocrats. Yet, it is said that it is the same technocrats that have taken us to this point. In the recent past, dozens of government appointees were all top technocrats but most of them have gone the rotten way of politicians.
Perhaps what should alarm us more than the issue of delay in appointing Ministers is that only three men passed the integrity litmus test out of 33? If this is a sample, it means over 90 percent Nigerians are corrupt. What do you expect in a country where money, however tainted, is seen as the only sign of prosperity?
Even churches now cajole Nigerians to pay tithes and bring offerings in dollars and pounds. Therefore, it should not be surprising that majority of Nigerians fall in the corrupt category.
More seriously, the situation creates the impression that Buhari came to power too unprepared and learning again on the job and being rather too careful not to commit a mistake, thus earning the pseudonym, ‘Baba Go-Slow”. Mr. President should realise that he has only three and some months left. If he does not shake off the lethargy and make giant strides in good time, soon the APC may turn around to tell Nigerians that four is not enough.
Despite all, there are still many Nigerians with impeccable credentials he can work with. This stereotyping of all Nigerians as thieves is a considerable fallacy as it is damning and the President himself is not a visitor to a country he claims he knows and wants to govern.
Buhari should try to avoid the messianic mentality of military rulers. It was seen with Obasanjo in an overdose, yet his eight years in power as President is half of the years the APC Government has written off as PDP’s years of waste and bad governance. The same people who rendered such damming verdict against Obasanjo, will sum up Buhari’s tenure in similar terms. So, the President should just make the move and let posterity be the judge.