Let Our Ministers Hit The Ground Running | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Columnists, Uncle Sam's VOICE

Let Our Ministers Hit The Ground Running

Posted: Nov 12, 2015 at 12:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Sam Kargbo

More than ten percent of the tenure of the Government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been spent by Mr. President preparing places for the 36 men and women who have just been constituted into a cabinet that is supposed deliver the dividends of democracy and fulfill the aspirations and yearnings of Nigerians for a strong, viable, stable, peaceful and self sustaining nation.


Pursuant to section 148 of the Constitution, the President has assigned to the Ministers of the Federation their respective responsibilities for the effective business of the Government of the Federation. The respective ministries yielded to them are theirs to manage for and on behalf of Nigerians and except for the weekly meetings with Mr. President or the regular meetings with the Vice President for the purpose of (a) coordinating the general direction of domestic and foreign policies of the Government of the Federation; (b) coordinating the activities of the President, advising the President generally in the discharge of his executive functions with respect to which he is required by this Constitution to seek advice or act on the recommendation of any person or body, the Ministers are on their own. History has beckoned on them to be counted or be damned tomorrow.

I will certainly not envy this cabinet. As I had stated in my assessment of the state of the nation as inherited by President Buhari, the country is faced with myriads of problems, among which are: low employment rate; decaying educational institutions signaling poor education standards; low electricity generation, abysmal transmission and poor distribution of same; corrupt, unproductive public service; paltry public utilities and infrastructure; dwindling oil revenue, youth employment, insecurity etc.

It cannot be overemphasized that the majority of the Nigerian youths are unemployed, many of them unemployable, being products of tertiary institutions whose surrender value is abysmally low – famished institutions that keep churning out half-baked graduates, being incapable of attracting above average brains. Far from being ivory towers, Nigerian universities, most of which have no regular and uniform academic calendar, are, like civil service offices, centres of commerce and graft. Research facilities and grants are nonexistent. Learning environment is poor; the physical structures look like police barracks, while hostels are like zoos. Poorly paid and demotivated teachers and lecturers are unleashed on students who pay their way through school, buying marks and grades.

Quality education is no longer for the poor. Public schools are no longer capable of producing educated pupils and students. The middle class and the rich are running to private and oversea schools for their children’s education. Rather than being a leveler and bridger of social classes, education in Nigeria is now a tool for widening the gap between the poor and the rich. The children of the poor who attend public schools are severely disadvantaged. Returning public schools and universities to the standards they were in the 70s and 80s may seem as difficult as bringing the moon to the ocean, but that is a task that must be done if Buhari is to put this country on the path of sustained development and growth. Nigeria’s security is dependent on the education of its youth. Without an emergency response to the educational crisis, it will be right to say Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb.

Fashola in particular has a job to do. Nigeria’s energy crisis is deep and complex. Although Nigeria has solar, wind, hydro, coal and other renewable sources of power, the country still depends heavily on petroleum – oil and natural gas – for its electricity. For a country that needs a minimum of 25,000 megawatts to support its industrialization dreams, Buhari’s government will need to intensify and diversify energy production. The government will need to revisit the Power Reform Act, 2010 and open up energy production to the private sector. Efforts should be made to attract foreign investment in the energy sector. Production and transmission are key. The country has the capacity to absorb and yield profit for any investment in electricity. The number of generators out there will attest to this fact. To be the change Nigerians voted for, Buhari must effect a concrete, appreciable change in this sector.

Public services and facilities are poor. Virtually every aspect of our public life requires emergency treatment from the incoming government, especially transportation systems (air, roads and water), hospitals, schools, water supply, electricity, and capacity to respond to emergencies.

The country is grounded economically. The Federal and State Governments cannot pay salaries. The debt profile of the country has again gone beyond reasonable proportion – in spite of the tremendous gains recorded by Olusegun Obasanjo’s government in that regard. This country has never seen it this bad. Although it will take a miracle for Buhari to put this nation back on track, he has no choice but to do so if he is not to kill that flicker of hope in Nigerians.

The health sector must be attended to. The parlous nature of the public health sector is an indictment on the outgoing government. Buhari must revamp the National Health Care scheme and make medical care and facilities accessible to the average Nigerian.