WHEN former President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the presidential candidates of the two major political parties – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) respectively, it was taken for granted that the government that would assume office on May 29th 2015 would start work immediately. The reason behind this was simple: both men had occupied the highest office in the land and would not need to learn from the scratch on the job.
One month after President Buhari was sworn-in, he has yet to set up his cabinet of ministers. Expectations of an early action on this were dashed when, over the past weekend, the Presidency disclosed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) should not be expected before September, 2015. In other words, about the first 100 days of the new regime would be spent under a virtual “Sole Administrator” of the Federation. Even though the crisis-riddled two chambers of the National Assembly are already active, their own contributions to governance will be restricted. As the Executive Branch has not been fully reconstituted, the lawmakers will not be able to effectively exercise their oversight functions and track government programmes, policies and spending.
Presidency sources declared that the delay is necessitated by need for a “painstaking” homework to tackle what they described as the “deep rot” left behind by the previous administration. The president has said that former government officials who made away with government funds will be forced to return them. There are also indications that the number of ministries, departments and agencies will be reduced. If that is the case, then it is understandable that the rationalisation has to be completed before appointments are made.
But still, we believe that three months is a long time. The only way to vitiate the anxiety of waiting that long for effective governance to start is to provide the general public with regular, useful information about what the president and his team are doing. Nigerians must be carried along in whatever fundamental changes the president wishes to make. Regular briefings will help generate the public support for government policies.
The long wait puts Nigeria at the risk of wasting almost the whole of this year, since the first four months were wasted in politicking and transition. Given the economic situation in the country, the unyielding challenge posed by the Boko Haram terrorism and the exploding crime of kidnapping around the country, government must wake up to its obligations to the people.
We look forward to the early return of government action to abandoned project sites and the galvanisation of all activities that will get the economy going once again.