President Buhari eventually released his list of Ministers last week and subsequently made public by the Senate President Bukola Saraki. To the angst and surprise of many Nigerians, the list contained many familiar names that reminded Nigerians of a sad past than hope for a better future.
From a former Governor with a reputation for being the first ever “kidnapped Governor” to a politician whose first stint in public domain was as a Minister over 30 years ago. The list in its irnoical twist of glory also includes certain names a lot of Nigerians can quickly with or without prejudice associate with corruption. Nevertheless, Buhari is not stupid and must have his reasons for the names included in that list. We attempt to explore some of the possible reasons why we have some of th0se names.
Closer to his age
Nigerians voted in a 72 years old President to lead them to a brighter future. That sent a strong message to the president that the younger generation perhaps had little faith in themselves having endured years of corruption and impunity. It is therefore conceivable that a 72 year old president will stick to aids and political appointees closer to his age than those farther away from it. After all, the younger generation though energetic and more suited for Nation building have not shown the right maturity required to lead.
President Buhari is said to be very wary of people especially if you have not been a long term acquaintance. When quizzed about his appointment of “more Northerners” the president responded that he can only appoint people he could trust and had worked with for years. For example, President Buhari, appointed, his long time political associate, Engr. David Lawal as Secretary to the Government of the Federation and former banker, Alhaji Abba Kyari as Chief of Staff.
Four of the names that also made his Ministerial list were also part of the members of the transition committee names immediately he won the election.
The President has also shown a strong likeness to party loyalty. He has also chosen to reward the loyalty shown to him by those who stood by him when he started running for presidency in 2003. In a recent BBC Hausa interview he said
If I select people whom I know quite well in my political party, whom we came all the way right from the APP, CPC and APC, and have remained together in good or bad situation, the people I have confidence in and I can trust them with any post, will that amount to anything wrong? I have been with them throughout our trying times, what then is the reward of such dedication and suffering?
They did not defect because of positions, they did not involve themselves in the pursuit of personal gains, and they accepted their fate throughout our trying moments. What is wrong if I make you the secretary (of the federal government) because I have confidence that things will go normal?”
This needs no further explanation.
The President could also have gone for experience when nominating some of the people on that list. The nominees have a combined experience in the public and political scene of over 300 years. Some of them have cross carpeted political parties severally and made political irrelevant at one time. Some have bowed to God Fathers, fought them and reconciled with them. Some have gained requisite experience in fighting with the center even going as far as fighting to rid them off power through the polls but in their home states and in Abuja. He recognizes these experiences and believes he can harness it in fulfilling his many lofty campaign promises. How he intends to achieve that with men perceived to have past their prime and full of resentment is a subject for another day.
Power in Nigeria is a very dirty game and one that requires the best hands around to hold it together. When President Obasanjo took over in 1999 his original cabinet included names like Adamu Ciroma, Theophilus Danjuma, Jerry Gana, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau to name a few. In fact,Gusau also served as National Security Adviser to President Jonathan.
Buhari is apparently following the same trend by appointing politicians who are seasoned at when they know how to do best. No matter how sincere and upright the president might be in his many anti-corruption battles, he still needs the help of some of the people in his cabinet to help ensure the politics of his presidency is intact and well protected. After all, there are still some state elections to come. 2019 is also just around the corner.