OPINION: Ministers of the Government of Federation by Faith Berewa

With the President’s appointment of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as provided for in Section 147 of the constitution, men and women that will drive his Renewed Hope Agenda, the business of governance is on course.

The Executive Branch is the most evident of the three arms of government and on it hinges the direction of our foreign and domestic policy as stated in section 148 (2a) of the constitution. Expectedly, reactions to the appointments have been mixed but largely skeptical, and rightly so. Government, whose primary purpose is our security and welfare has done the exact opposite.

The distrust for politicians and government is so immense; we do not have faith in our leaders. We see them as being insincere; The president himself acknowledging this while swearing in the ministers saying “your highest obligation is to restore public faith in government so that our people can once again believe that government can be a positive force for transformation and a vehicle for collective progress of all citizens of this great country’’.

Mr. President Sir, we are watching. Promises have been made in the past, expectations have been crushed. Nigerians are asking, what difference can the new ministers make?

What new ideas are they bringing to the governance space? How are they going to do things differently given the fact that quite a number of them have been around, serving in various capacities in the past, and are seen as not just part of the country’s problems but as the creators of the socio economic mess at State and National levels.

Various words have been used to describe these ministerial appointments- rewards and compensation, mismatch, bloated, insensitive. The largest number of ministers ever, at a time the country is facing deep socio-economic crisis. Contradictory signals on intention of this government to not only reduce the cost of governance, but fight corruption and fix Nigeria.

The question one will ask is: Do the ministers possess the competence and character to perform? We are masters at formulating policies, agendas, manifestoes but no programme, no agenda, no policy will transform a nation without these two key elements..

Nigeria has become the most powerful case study of how elite affinity to vices is inimical to national development. The core of leadership is character and competence which are both foundational and pivotal to organizational success in private or public sector.

For any organization to succeed, its leaders must be the epitome of character and competence. No organization can rise above the competence and character of its strategic leaders and key actors. No matter the financial and human resources at the disposal of an organization, if its leaders lack character it will never succeed. On the other side of the same coin if the leaders are incompetent, the organization will surely fail.

This has been the bane of our governments-local, state, federal, since God knows when. Nigerians are regarded as some of the must intelligent people on earth but in our own country we have deliberately ignored the practice of what turns intelligence into competence, and how competence translates into impactful performance and organizational success.

Government is an organization, and the most important organization in any society. So when government leaders are incompetent, government as an organization fails. When the same government leaders ignore the practice of virtues in the discharge of their duties, the government cannot deliver successfully.

We have seen this over and over in the last 24 years of democratic rule, especially in the last 8 years of APC rule. A tenure of blatant disregarded for competence and character in government business. The public already knows the weaknesses of the ministers appointed, and therefore are either not hopeful at all, or cautiously optimistic that they can deliver on the promises of Renewed Hope.

The trepidation is that most of these ministers have been active players of a democratic dispensation that has been woeful, with a frightening customary affinity for vices. I do not envy the ministers in the position they are because they are now going to be facing the rots created by a system in which some of them have been protagonists.

This is the harsh reality of our current situation as a country – character crises predicated on deliberate disdain of virtues that underpin human and societal flourishing regarding governance and public good. Good Governance is virtuous and can never answer to vices.

Development is virtuous; it cannot happen in a culture of selfishness. These ministers must just be ready and willing to embrace virtue for the sake of public good. They should see their appointment as a call to selfless service.

What Nigeria desperately need are individuals standing up for what is right, acting with integrity in government business and taking full responsibility for serving the interest of the common man. Do these ministers fit the Bill?

There is little room for optimism right? For if of all 200 million of us, these are the best the Prresident could assemble, so be it.

We can only hope. With the dire straits we are in as a nation, failure is not an option.

We can only hope the ministers will put into action the President’s admonition; “….in this moment of abundant peril and renewed hope in equal measure, all of you that has been sworn in has been called to distinguish yourself”.

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