The politics of ministerial politicking – Guardian Nigeria

Tee Rasheed
7 Min Read


Last Monday was a special day for the country as well as for some 45 anointed folks who were drafted into government at the centre as members of the Federal Executive Council of this great nation. It was marked with the swearing-in ceremony in the morning and lots of feasting, wining and dining in the evening. I was privileged to attend just one but I know Governors and politicians that attended about five of such celebration. It had speeches, revelling, dancing and merry making.
As I ruminated about the future of the country and how some of the ministers might fare, I felt an admixture of hope and true adulation for some of the newly minted ministers while for some others, I still feel some trepidation.
Put directly, a large number of the new men and women I sincerely applaud their choices, but some others my faith is shaky. Somehow the question now arises as to how decisions and the choices were made.
Those who know how decisions like these are made know the variegated processes it entails. Numerous ways lead to the market as they say. After an election as huge as ours is won, the business of building government is a totally humongous kettle of fish which most of the time tasks the President to his wits end. In the case of 2023, one cannot but sympathise with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In the run up to elections, each state always has a top dog or leader where the state is not an All Progressives Congress government in charge.
Consequently, these top dogs are the ones saddled with nomination of ministerial nominees. In one or two cases, these top dogs also former governors nominated themselves. The President has the discretion of accepting or rejecting such nomination if he thinks there are better choices around who are well known to him.
In two of the cases however, that of Kano and Sokoto, the President, I do not think, ever met the eventual nominees more than one. Therefore, if these ministers fail or are found in any misconduct someday, you can’t blame the President but the so-called godfathers for submitting low level candidates.
Nomination also gets more complex when there are so many other factors leading to victory. The case of Rivers State is a case in point where the Wike effect culminated in his appointment as a minister leaving Governorship candidate Tonye Cole, APC ally Sen Magnus Abe out in the cold. Same also can be said of Oyo State where Makinde’s touch left Oyo APC members and Sen Teslim Folarin hanging.
The media had coaxed Lagos former governor Ambode into a ministerial dreamland which didn’t materialise. The President is a president to make hard decisions and I can imagine how hard it was to leave out General Dambazau from Kano who worked tirelessly, Sen Abu Ibrahim of Katsina, Dimeji Bankole of Ogun State and even his close buddy Kashim Imam, National President, Kings College Old Boys Association. Even his former Action Congress of Nigeria Secretary Sen Lawali Shuaibu and Dr Usman Bugaje are on the queue. So also are Sen Kabiru Marafa and Dayo Adeyeye of early campaign organ SWAGA who mobilised South West long before any one else.
Many commentators have asked me, “So what happens to Fashola, Fayemi  and co?” My reply has always been, “There are many like Bayo Onanuga and Dr Danladi Bako who do not work so that they get paid in cash.”
Sometimes, payment comes in form of “respect, glory, recognition and honour.” Asiwaju on so many occasions said, his supporters should do as he does, “don’t expect anything” and “expect everything”.
For whatever happens from this point, the buck stops on the President’s table, I strongly believe that being a listening leader, if any of the Ministers are performing below par or are found wanting he would not hesitate to offload them. I strongly believe he should not be scared of negative response or fallout in 2027.
The good works will outperform the bad ones. It might also be pertinent to advise against the Buhari siddon look syndrome where some Ministers ran out of ideas and had become tired of the job themselves while in some other cases, the public were simply fed up with them.
However, daresay I have implicit confidence in some Ministers and I tip them to give us a five star performance. FCT Minister Wike is one of such, Wale Edun is another, Dele Alake has no option. Prof Tahir needs to show why Adamu Adamu was poor. The young ones, Bosun Tijjani, Dr Betta Edu have an onerous task to prove to us that the Generation Zee “we move” can truly move. At least, EndSARS are quiet for now.
All said and done, it is important for the President to accept that he cannot please everyone at the first throw of the dice. Government is huge. There are parastatals whose budget and influence are more than it’s Ministers. The revenue accruing to the Nigerian Television Authority monthly is beyond what the Minister of Information lays his hands on every month. Same goes for NIMASA, TETFUND, NCC. If your focus in government is money, then don’t be Minister in any of the above agencies, go for the Chief Executive. Besides, they have the power to employ, while a Minister can’t employ.
Finally, if for any reason, the wheels of governance do not seem to be moving smoothly after two years, Asiwaju might need a cabinet reschuffule. We still consider this cabinet an experiment. We pray it sails smoothly.
• Dr Danladi Bako, OON, is Kogna Sakkwto and estwhile Director General of National Broadcasting Commission

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