In lieu of the fact that things are getting out of control economically for the country; in lieu of the fact that the situation is getting geometrically worse for the peoples of Nigeria; in lieu of the fact that some Nigerians are now dying and many more are very susceptible to untimely death, it is my suggestion that President Muhammadu Buhari should declare a state of emergency for the country. In declaring this state of emergency, the National Assembly will still have to function in its full capacity and according to the laws of the land.
“To choose the right moment in which to act is the great art of men…”-Napoleon Bonaparte
Along the line of this state of emergency, the most to be done to rectify the calamitous situation lies with the Executive Arm of the Government headed by President Buhari. Thus to this end, I am recommending the following steps as the starting point for the rectification of the economic crisis of the country.
1. President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately cease overseas travel for himself and many of his top officials. Journeys of the President out of the country have been costing the taxpayers $1million according to some reports. In today’s Naira this would be about NGN300 million. Nigeria cannot afford this now. The President should “sit put for Abuja” and begin to solve problems. The president should also bar any form of travel by any Minister or any senior official from the post of Assistant Director upwards. It is time for all the officials of state to sit and work to save the sinking boat of the country.
We have ambassadors in all the countries that we relate with. The ambassadors should be allowed to do their jobs and carry out any functions given to them by the Presidency on behalf of the Federal Government. There are times when personal presence of the president might make a difference, but we could always invite the leaders of such country for state visit which has to be very few and far in between. All traveling must be suspended until we fix the home front.
2. President Buhari should IMMEDIATELY sack all Ministers of State in his Cabinet. They constitute wastage on our national purse. They are unnecessary duplications of responsibilities especially during this economic crisis. There is the need to save the boat of the Nigerian State from sinking. When things improve and the country is stabilized the decision could be reviewed if there should be room for such acts of state profligacy. But as of now, to save funds and country, they should all be relieved of their duties immediately. This would be within the realms of constitutional authority of the president.
3. The President should review the list of the Substantive Cabinet Members and further realign the Ministries to save funds. From the present 36 Ministers, after firing all the Ministers of State which are 13 in number, if the President has the courage to follow my suggestions the country would end up with only 13 ministries as follows:
a. Ministry of Power, Works and Housing
d. Defence and Interior
e. Education, Science and Technology
f. Labour, Employment, Youths and Sports
g. Transport and Aviation
i. Industry, Trade, Investment and Solid Minerals
j. Information and Communication
k. Agriculture and Water Resources
l. Foreign Affairs
m. Attorney General/Justice
The following Ministries would be eradicated and be reduced to parastatals with immediate effect. They would be headed by Director – Generals and would be supervised by the Vice President who would report to the President. They are as follows:
a. Budget and Planning
b. Niger Delta
d. Women Affairs
e. Federal Capital Territory
4. Along this line, the President should review the number of the political appointees such as Special Assistants and Advisers for himself, the Vice-President and the Ministers that would remain. For example why do we have to have a Special Adviser on Media and Publicity at the same time have Special Assistant on Media and Publicity. It is duplication of offices. It does not speak to effective management of human and financial resources.
For political jobbers whose fortunes would be adversely affected by these suggestions, they would fight back and some of the likely arguments would be the need for Federal Character. They are also likely to contend that the ministries are “too big and unwieldy.” But it is my contention that the Federal Character principle could still be applied in other appointments in the Federal set up using the cabinet list as a starting point to other appointments to ensure that every state is properly taken care of.
“Those who desire to reach, and keep their places at the top in any calling must be prepared to do so the hard way.”-Chief Obafemi Awolowo
The Ministers could also be replaced after 2 years to give room for others to try their talent as long as there are consistent and solid philosophical guidelines for operation. Also it is ridiculous that a particular Ministry could be considered “too big and unwieldy” by some political jobbers. Many in the Cabinet often think that they are capable of running the country if they are elected to be president. If any of them cannot run a Ministry, the President should fire such persons and put more competent hands ready to serve the country. No excuses.
It should be understood that the United States of America is far bigger than Nigeria. In fact, the State of Texas alone is bigger than Nigeria at least in terms of land area. It is just one of the 50 States. The affairs of this vast sub-continent country is being run by President Barrack Obama with only sixteen (16) Ministers called “Secretaries” in their own parlance. Though there are other seven (7) officials who are referred to as “Cabinet Rank Officials”. They include the White House Chief of Staff, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Director of Office of Management and Budget, Trade Representative for the United States, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Council for Economic Affairs and Small Business Administrator.
Also, the government of Western Region under Chief Obafemi Awolowo had 13 - member Cabinet. This was a government that supervised the greatest advancement in development on African continent as at then. In addition to this, it should also be remembered that during the first republic, Sir Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister of Nigeria only had 18 – member Cabinet from 1959 – 1964. He had 20 - member Cabinet between 1964 and 1966 before the military intervention. Things may have differed a little bit. But regardless, this is an emergency. Things have to be done differently.
5. There is the need for urgent and immediate review and or auditing of the Federal Civil Service. Duplications have to be eliminated. The audit should focus on the positions of Assistant Directors, Directors and Director- Generals. Some of them should be retired or fired depending on their trajectory. Majority of them are collaborators in the looting of the Nigerian commonwealth. They are the real culprits of the present woes of the country. Their numbers should be streamlined.
6. The President should shake up the Judiciary. This is primarily important especially for the war on corruption. Any reticence in this regard would doom all the efforts of the President. The President is reported to be a courageous man. If this is true, this is an opportunity to show it to Nigerians.
7. The President must run an open government. He must establish a link with the Nigerian people. He must speak with them as often as possible explaining decisions and the goals as he moves on. There is the need for him to rebuild the confidence of Nigerians in his administration. It would create a resurgence of credibility for the President. This should not be difficult with the caliber of the people surrounding him. Femi Adesina should be able to make this happen. He is experienced and has the necessary skills in this regard.
The President should also be able to make himself available for international media every 3 months at least. He should let the world know what is going on within his government. This would create confidence in the foreign investors who would otherwise have been scared of. The fact that the government is accountable and open would remove their doubts and encourage them to take Nigeria more seriously and put in their money. The effect of this could only be imagined.
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”- John F. Kennedy.
This is not the time for politics. This is not the time for intrigue. This is not the time for bickering. There is fire on the mountain. There is need for drastic steps to be taken. This is a period of emergency. There are a lot that could be done in specific ministries as I have listed them above. We would be getting into them as time goes on. But the President must show seriousness and recognize this sense of emergency. President Buhari should listen to the great sage, Obafemi Awolowo who said: “After rain comes sunshine; after darkness comes the glorious dawn. There is no sorrow without its alloy of joy; there is no joy without its admixture of sorrow. Behind the ugly terrible mask of misfortune lies the beautiful soothing countenance of prosperity. So, tear the mask!” President Buhari should “tear the mask.” The TIME IS NOW.
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”- John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961
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