President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, assumed office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015 alongside Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, after defeating former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last presidential election.

NigeriaHe is widely believed to have won the election on the mantra of change which was his campaign slogan during the electioneering period. He had vowed to adopt a different style of governance that would curb corruption in the country and make life much more bearable for the citizenry.

In anticipation of the much touted change, Nigerians had waited anxiously for the appointment of ministers and inauguration of the FEC to kick-start activities that would safe the country’s economy from its present precarious state. Now that the President has taken enough time to form his cabinet, the people cannot wait any longer to begin to see and feel the change they were promised by Buhari and the APC.

Addressing the new ministers after their swearing-in, the President charged them to hit the ground running to justify the confidence of Nigerians and meet their expectations. According to him, “Our new ministers must proceed to work speedily and do their utmost to justify the confidence we have placed in them, not only by their conduct but also by their performance in their various positions… “Since our inauguration on May 29, 2015, the Vice President and I have been mindful of the need to constitute a cabinet that will best deliver our expectations of a better country than we inherited. We want to work towards a prosperous nation respected for the right reasons, and whose citizens can hold up their heads anywhere in the world. And we are optimistic that bringing this set of ministers into the service of our country today is a step in the right direction, a timely move towards realising our positive goals for our country.”

There is no gainsaying the fact that the new ministers have Herculean tasks ahead of them in their respective ministries. They must not forget that they are the drivers of Buhari’s change agenda. As such, it is incumbent upon them to come up with ideas, strategies and innovations that will open the door for the implementation of policies and programmes geared towards the actualization of the change agenda.

With the inauguration of the FEC, the stage is now set, according to Dr. Benjamin Nwokedi of Alvan Ikoku University of Education, for the present administration to begin to deliver to Nigerians the dividends of democracy via effective leadership anchored on positive change, transparency, integrity, probity and accountability. Nwokedi, a social commentator, noted in a commentary aired on Radio Nigeria Network News that “It therefore becomes imperative to remind the new ministers that the attention of Nigerians is now focused on them. They must bear in mind that to do otherwise will translate to betrayal of trust and abuse of confidence. Coming at a time when the crusade against corruption has become a top priority, the new ministers are enjoined to not only join in the crusade but to also lead exemplary lives and be above board while the rest of the people follow. The ministers must be alive to the obligation to improve the lot of the people from their respective ministries and make them feel the impact of leadership in a positive and significant way…The ministers should know that leadership is about service rather than for selfish interest…Responsible leadership which Nigerians expect from the new cabinet must not only address the immediate basic needs of the people but should also be sensitive, foresighted and proactive in policies and programmes initiated… The new council should from the onset get their priorities right as they drive the various ministries, departments and agencies under their purview.”

Nwokedi further added that, “Rather than passing the buck, they (the new ministers) should help to correct past mistakes, consolidate the gains already made in the past and give the people a purposeful, impactful, people-oriented and selfless service. Nigerians need food and affordable food on their table. They need enhanced regular salaries, pensions, gratuities and other motivational incentives for the workers when they retire. The people need market price stability, uninterrupted electricity supply and pipe borne water. They are in dire need of good road network; accessible medical care; quality, affordable and stable education for their children at all levels; jobs for the teaming unemployed youths; adequate security of lives and property as well as affordable shelter for all. This is the type of change Nigerians expect from the new cabinet.”

However, many observers have noted that the new Ministers would have no option other than to perform as the body language of President Buhari alone was enough to let them know that he would not condone any act of indolence and corruption. It is believed Buhari has taken certain important steps and actions since assumption of office that should have sent a clear message to Nigerians, including the new Ministers that he is, indeed, out to effect change in the system, and put Nigeria on the path of sustainable growth and development.

In an interview, former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, a prominent member of the Senate from 2003 to 2015 and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, said the new ministers must see themselves as agents of the expected change. According to Ndoma-Egba, who recently resigned from the PDP to join APC, “They promised change and so they must be agents of change. This government came on the wings of change, I mean promise of change. So, they must be agents of that change. Nigerians are anxious to see the change. I believe that they will be following Mr. President in his determined effort to bring about the change. But if they are unable to cope, I am sure the President would know what to do.”

Another notable Senator in the seventh Senate, Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, who is a chieftain of APC from Kogi State, expressed confidence that the new Ministers would excel in office and make Nigerians proud. In his words, “I believe the new Ministers will perform. They will have no option because they know Buhari is a no-nonsense man. And so, they must key into his change agenda with every sense of commitment and responsibility.”

While I congratulate the new ministers on their appointments and wish them well in office, I call on Nigerians to put aside sentiment and give them the necessary support and encouragement to succeed. Where they go wrong in the course of discharging their duties, we must endeavour to be constructive in our criticisms.

It is my hope that the new ministers will sincerely work with Buhari for the realization of the change agenda. No doubt, the achievement of the change agenda would put smiles on the faces of the Nigerian people who have become so disillusioned with the way bad leadership has dragged us back and made us to remain a fractured, crawling giant, after fifty-five years of our existence as an independent nation.

Source: Michael Jegede


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