THE CONCEPT OF MINISTERS AS ONLY NOISE MAKERS

 That President Muhammadu Buhari( PMB) would prefer to run his administration without ministers is no longer in doubt. When on assumption of office, he failed to name his ministers at the time many other Presidents would normally do so, many of us thought that it had to do with the apparent division in his party, exemplified by the imbroglio in the National Assembly. Later on, people concluded that it was because he was searching for 'human angels' to appoint as ministers. Some even said, it was because of disagreements on the list between him and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. All sorts of reasons were being adduced to explain what has become a major abnormality in democratic governance . 
  But speaking from France a few weeks ago, all the doubts disappeared. PMB does not find much use for ministers. According to him, all that Ministers do is to make noise. They do little or no work, as actually the civil servants do all the work. To prove it, he has run the country for 4 clear months and going to the 5th and the Heaven has not fallen. According to many commentators, he has done very well fighting corruption, fighting Boko Haram, kidnappers and armed robbers and fighting the economy. He does not need noise making ministers in these battles. To drive home his disgust for ministers, he complained that the month of September was running too fast for his liking and comfort. He would really have loved that the month was slowed down or that it was extended.
  Unfortunately, neither has been approved by God and so whether PMB likes it or not, September will end this week. I therefore presume that by the time you are reading this piece, he may have sent the long awaited list to the National Assembly. Court appearances at the code of Conduct Tribunal permitting, the senate may spend the better part of October reviewing and approving the list. At the best therefore, PMB's ministers will be resuming in November, clear 6 months after the government was inaugurated.
  With the anticipated release of the list we will now know who these 'human angels' are. Certainly the media will be awash with comments on the ministerial nominees. Those whose candidates were nominated will applaud while those not so lucky will kick. Me, I trust that the President knows what he wants and will not care what anybody feels. But I feel a concern for these ministers. I am concerned that they will be coming to office bearing very serious burdens. The first burden is that they are being presented as incorruptible. And they will be viewed with this perspective by many ordinary Nigerians. The burden for them is how to remain incorruptible in a highly corrupt environment. Every move they make, every contract they award, will be scrutinized in search of any taint of corruption. But Those who nominated them and those rooting for them will be the first to lay the bait. How they will look these people in their faces and tell them to go to hell will be a big burden.
 The second burden is that many ordinary Nigerians will expect these ministers to perform miracles that will change their lives in a very short time. But given the external shocks buffeting the economy, the ministers will actually be miracle workers to effect any meaningful improvement in the lives of Nigerians in the short term. In the medium term perhaps. The third and perhaps the greatest burden these ministers will face is that of the expectation of their principal. Since PMB does not expect them to contribute much to his governance except to make noise and perhaps pander to political interests, how much room will he give them to perform?.To whom much is given much is expected and to whom much is not given, not much is expected.
  Related to this, is the fact that PMB by his utterances and relationships has made the Permanent Secretaries feel that they hold the ace. He has made them to become accountable to him. The Perm secs now know fully well that PMB  would rather work with them than with the ministers. They now know that PMB is more or less being compelled by the constitution to appoint ministers and those he has just nominated he has done to fulfill all righteousness. For long, the Permsecs have contested with ministers for supremacy in the MDAs. Now the contestation has been settled, the Perm secs are it, the ministers are mere decorations. So I forsee, so many battles ahead. Many Perm secs and heads of parastatals will owe their allegiance to the President and will either scorn or just tolerate the 'imposed' ministers. 
  
The list of ministers will certainly contain the names of some notable persons, who have excelled in other endeavors and it will be great burden for them to be cast in the mould of becoming only noise makers, just because they have become ministers. Because they have to accept the offer, more for altruistic reasons, ignoring the categorization as noisemakers, my counsel to them is to prove that they have much to contribute to the good governance of this Nation. They should by their productivity, first convince PMB that he needed them to get his government to function and deliver on his several promises. Secondly they need to disappoint those who are waiting in the wings to remind them what PMB said, that they were good for nothing but for noise making, by not not necessarily keeping quiet when they should be talking but by exceeding the expectations of the doubting thomases. One thing, they must do is to hit the ground running. Time is running out!
   Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

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