Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why President Buhari’s Cabinet Will Be Delayed Beyond July
By Our Special Correspondent
Nigerian Guardian
June 29, 2015

DESPITE scathing criticism that President Muhammadu Buhari has unduly delayed naming his cabinet, indications emerged at the weekend that he is not in a haste to bow to pressure on the issue.

Specifically, it was confirmed at the weekend that the President may not be appointing any cabinet members within the next two months, at least.

Speaking in an off-the-record chat with a set of journalists in Abuja, a source close to the President who is not authorised to speak publicly regarding the issue, said that Buhari was not in a haste to build on a “rotten foundation,” he claimed he inherited from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.

“You cannot even begin to imagine the situation we have met on the ground,” he said.
“Almost everything is in a state of decay. There is absolutely no way the new government can hope to achieve anything long-lasting without first building a new foundation.”

The source likened Buhari’s plan of action to that of a doctor who first has to break a poorly set bone afresh, before resetting it to allow for smooth and proper growth.

Over the past week, the President who was sworn in on May 29, 2015, has come under fire from various sources in the media that he has had more than three months since his election, including a month since his inauguration, yet no cabinet appointments have been made. Only his media and protocol officers have been named.

Even the 15 Special Advisers the last Senate approved for the President have not been unveiled.

Responding to the criticism, the source pointed out that it would be impossible to appoint ministers to portfolios, without first knowing which portfolios exist and which will be abolished.

His words: “The President plans to cut down the number of ministries and parastatals. He wants to cut down the cost of running government. He wants to make sure that all the loopholes that enable corruption to thrive are blocked. All these are procedures that require time and careful planning. You cannot do it in a rush.”

The presidential source added that Buhari could not have begun this process without first receiving the full report of the transition committee and ascertaining exactly the situation his government faced.

“This is the thing. Remember that he has to make sure that all this is done without any job losses or mass retrenchment. All this is not a day’s or one-month job.”

The source also denied reports which stated that Buhari’s delayed cabinet appointments had brought government to a halt, insisting that civil servants have been supervising the day-to-day running of ministries and that Permanent Secretaries of the various ministries all have full access to the President.

“All these reports and agitations are being fuelled by politicians who want to put pressure on the President. They have tried doing it other ways and those haven’t worked. Now, they are trying to use the media. They only want their cronies appointed to ministerial posts and they are fuelling the agitation through newspapers.”

He advised the Nigerian media not to fall for the old tricks and shenanigans of politicians who worship only the gods of their bellies.

“This is a serious matter and it is business unusual,” the source insisted.

The presidency source concluded by referring to the current crisis in the National Assembly, listing it as yet one more excuse, why forming a cabinet will be impossible until further notice.

His words: “Look at how they are fighting among themselves .The Senate has now adjourned till July 21. That means there would be no one to scrutinise or approve any ministerial list until the end of July.”

Reminded that the Senate has agreed to reconvene to consider the President’s ministerial nominees as soon as such list was ready, the source asked the reporters to await the President’s long-awaited intervention in the crisis between the party and the National Assembly.

“The President wants to walk his talk on stable politics and being a leader for all. He has a plan for the National Assembly.”

Contacted on this issue, Buhari’s spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, said they had spoken on the same issues in a similar manner.

In separate conversations, they said the source was not far from the reality check at the moment.

In a page three comment entitled, PMB, Make key appointments now, an Abuja-based newspaper Daily Trust on Sunday yesterday urged the President to name his ministers as it is risky to allow the civil service to function without political leadership and direction.

The newspaper said the President “should not look for saints because there are none to be found anywhere”.

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