In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari took four whole months to appoint his Ministers. That was the longest time-frame it took a Nigerian President to release his cabinet team since 1999. Fast forward to 2019, the President seems to be gearing up to extend the record. This time, four months might not be enough. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of capital projects which are mostly grounded at the moment.
The current situation: The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, had hinted that President Buhari will submit his Ministerial list this week. However, that might no longer be the case because the President is reportedly fighting back the pressure that forced him into appointing his cabinet team within four months after inauguration four years ago.
This is not good for Nigeria’s economy which has already been projected to record a sluggish growth of 2.1% by The World Bank. Already, work on capital projects are reportedly grounded due to lack of funds.
Without the appointment of Ministers, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies cannot access funds because of the low approval limits of Permanent Secretaries. The capital dilemma is apparently affecting them all and restricting work on on-going projects; including those which are considered critical projects.
Stock market taking a hit: Also, the President’s failure to appoint his Ministers on time is fueling uncertainty among investors. Usually, the stock markets respond either positively or negatively to pre and post-election activities. Therefore, in view of the low growth already projected for Nigeria’s economy, coupled with the delay in the appointment of critical Ministries, investors’ confidence has continued to be affected.
In all, the delay will affect the implementation of policies.
Breaking 2015 record: President Buhari’s second term began in May 2019. Almost three months on, there is no Ministerial list yet. President Buhari is not in a rush. According to him, he doesn’t want to make the same mistake he made in 2015, when was reportedly hastened into appointing those recommended by his party, the political party – the All Progressive Congress. Instead, he needs more time to select the right candidates for the job.
In other words, Buhari wants to be in control of the second term Ministerial list. He doesn’t want to be placed in such a situation again. Therefore, he will be taking his time to appoint people he personally knows are capable. During a dinner between National Assembly and the executive yesterday, July 11, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari said the following;
“I’m under tremendous pressure on it. But the last cabinet which I headed, most of them, the majority of them I didn’t know them. I had to accept the names and recommendations from the party and other individuals.
“I worked with them for three and a half years at least – meeting twice or two weeks in a month. So, I know them. But, this time around, I’m going to be quit me –me in the sense that I will pick people I personally know.”
Will the delay hurt Nigeria again? The prolongment of the Ministerial list is apparently a classic case of the past repeating itself. In other words, it is reminiscent of 2015, the same year that eased the country’s economy into recession. Needless to say that this situation didn’t favour the Nigerian business environment in back then just as it certainly won’t this time around.