With the recent widely-expected dissolution of the Federal Executive Council by Acting President Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan, a deep reflection into the composition and workings of our government mechanisms is called for. This is with a view to ascertaining the utility of draining scarce resources in servicing of personnel costs and overheads with a record forty two ministers, each with no less than ten to fifteen aides and hundreds of hangers-on.
In fashioning a clear 3 point Agenda for the (Acting) President, namely electoral reforms, cultural reorientation (rebranding of attitude) and steady electricity, his Advisers should insist on reducing the ministerial slots to what is rational and not what is ‘politically expedient’. Nigerians are not difficult to govern; it is the elite that always obstruct good policies that will favour the people once it may not guarantee their own continued relevance and pecuniary sustenance.
It is easy to argue that unemployment can be abated by having forty two ministers so that if each has about twenty aides (both the official ones in Abuja and the retinue of support staff and hangers-on) that comes to about eight hundred and forty families who are literarily ‘guaranteed’ of stable food and provisions for the period their oga’s tenure lasts. But I still think that it is a narrow, short term and defeatist perspective, because if we do things the proper way and each ministry or minister passionately and patriotically puts in a mere 60% of genuine and honest work, as Mr Odom tried to exemplify, our country will be well on the way to economic and socio-political stability and that to me is more secure, purposeful and long lasting for the greater number of Nigerians than just a mere 840 families in a country of about 140 million.
My point is clear, albeit it may sound un-Nigerian, for a direct beneficiary of a system to speak against that (warped) system. We don’t need more than fifteen ministries as against the present twenty eight ministries which are at best conduit pipes for draining our resources through bogus contracts that are either shabbily done or not done at all. And if about fifteen ministries under the present arrangement have been operating without ministers of state, then we might as well scrap that concept of minister of state, which in any case is laden with unimaginable struggles for space and relevance with the senior ministers often seeing them as a little more than just aides.
For avoidance of doubt, the following ministries had only one minister in the last dispensation; Justice, Aviation, Power, Sports, science/Tech, Defence, Environment, Labour, Mines, National Planning, Police Affairs Transport, and Woman Affairs.
So if these ministries can stand with only one minister, why do we need to create confusion and the shameful battle for turfs between ministers and their ministers of state? With a good breed of permanent secretaries and directors, any seasoned technocrat or Administrator can comfortably man one ministry and give Nigerians results within the next fifteen months.
And in point of fact, we also need to close down some ministries or better still merge them with other related ones to avoid duplication and or over lapping of schedules. For instance, if our ministry of Works and Housing is really effective under a development-crazy patriot like Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, we may not need to have a separate ministry for Abuja or Niger Delta. And for crying out loud, did we honestly need to waste time and resources convening another talk-shop in Warri on the same amnesty issue for which the Ledum Mitee committee has already turned in useful and broad based solutions? I guess that was the message the MEND guys were trying to pass across, that all they want to see in the region henceforth are Julius Berger bulldozers and caterpillars. Its time really to stop these seminars and give people like Prof Pat Utomi the chance to make the Singaporean change he has cried so much about!
Who has ever heard of a minister of London or Washington? It is the ineptitude of existing structures and the lack of political will on the part of past leaders that keep making them talk of creation of new ministries and agencies and commissions right from the time of Willinsk.
Why can’t the police join the other services like Immigration, Prisons and Civil Defence under the Interior ministry as is found in other societies?
What is special about a Special Duties ministry? Why would women, with all their claims to equality with men, allow themselves to be treated as if they are physically or mentally challenged, by awarding them a separate ministry? They should be asking why there is no ministry for men. For that is the stuff true women’s liberation should be made of. Women affairs can better still be part of culture, Tourism and social Development. Why can’t we have a ministry of transport that coordinates Air, Land and Sea activities instead of another separate ministry for Aviation that asks for 63 billion naira just to expand a runway?
Youth and sports Development are complementary and can be handled very well by a seasoned entrepreneurial administrator
Like Prof Pat Utomi, (have you noticed how most sports administrators are sit tight dictators? - Amos Adamu, Isa Hayatou, Sepp Blatter and even Dr. Rafiu Ladipo of supporters club fame)
Akuneme was an aide to former Minister Julius Chika Odom.