Home / News / Local / ‘Where Is Tinubu’s Government of National Competence?’ By MARTINS OLOJA
President Bola Tinubu

‘Where Is Tinubu’s Government of National Competence?’ By MARTINS OLOJA

Martins Oloja

While still basking in the glory of realising a lifetime ambition in March 2023 as president-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had then assured Nigerians that his administration would not only be a government of national unity but also of national competence.

Specifically, there was a statement to that effect on March 16, 2023. In that remarkable message, there was a glimmer of “hope of a better tomorrow” which Ngugi says, “is the only comfort you can give to a weeping child”. As I was saying here, in what looks like Buhari’s “I-Belong-to-no-body” famous speech on inauguration day on May 29, 2015, the president-elect then promised to assemble competent men and women and young people from across the country to build a safer, more prosperous and just Nigeria. The statement titled: “Nigeria: At the cusp of renewed hope” unveiled what Nigerians should expect under his watch. Enunciating his commitment to an economy of double-digit GDP growth, greater food security and a strengthened manufacturing base, the President-elect said his administration would pursue an active digital economy where young people would have ample space to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. With the elections over, he stressed the need to shun partisanship and join hands with him to build the Nigeria of our dream.

While assuring the people of his readiness to serve, the former Lagos Governor said, “I have set my course and mind on the leadership of this nation. We have important work to do and I am committed to getting that work done for the benefit of all the people, whether or not they voted for me or even voted at all. This is not the time for continued acrimony and partisan recrimination. These negative things can incite strong passions, but they are not the pathway to a better nation. Only unity and national commitment can serve that purpose”.

He further noted: “I realise that I am the servant of a larger purpose. As such, I have gone straight to work…My team and I have been daily engaged in discussions and meetings refining our ideas and policy solutions so that we can begin actively working toward the common good the very first day we assume office…This great project called Nigeria beckons to us all…I ask that we work together as Nigerians for Nigeria. Those who voted for me, I ask that you continue to believe in our policies and plans for the country. I also ask that you reach out to your brothers and sisters who did not vote as you did. Extend to them the hand of friendship, reconciliation and togetherness. To those of you who did not vote for me, I ask you to believe in Nigeria and the capacity of your fellow citizens, even those who voted differently than you. The better Nigeria I seek is not just for me and my supporters. It is equally yours….”

On sundry calls for government of national unity, he adds another concomitant: Competence. His words:
‘As your incoming president, I accept the task before me. There has been talking of a government of national unity. My aim is higher than that. I seek a government of national competence. In selecting my government, I shall not be weighed down by considerations extraneous to ability and performance. The day for political gamesmanship is long gone. I shall assemble competent men and women and young people from across Nigeria to build a safer, more prosperous and just Nigeria. There shall be young people. Women shall be prominent. Whether your faith leads you to pray in a church or mosque will not determine your place in government. Character and competence will. To secure our nation and to make it prosperous must be our top priorities. We cannot sacrifice these goals for political expeditions. The whims of politics must take a backseat to the imperatives of governance. We have bridges and roads to build not just for commerce and travel but to connect people of different faiths, parties and different outlooks in harmonious dialogue and common purpose….”

Mr. President, let’s continue to raise the bar of deconstructing your first year in office. As some of us have noted, don’t pay too much attention to sycophants who want to get your attention for their selfish interest. Listen to feedbacks from The Office and Sanctuary of the Citizens, the people who cry daily here that most people can no longer afford food prices across the country. There have been too many economic challenges your administration isn’t addressing.

So, we need to repeat some of the inconvenient truths to you, Sir: that you still haven’t got a government of national competence to complement government of national unity you promised. You have too many public relations and communication ‘experts’ in the presidency. In fact, some of them are mere noisemakers who daily read newspapers to attack opposition figures who point out some gaps that should be addressed. Mr. President, you don’t need some of the commissioning they get you to do in the name of quick wins. You should be pursuing significance, not prominence even in Africa.

There are too many distractions along the concourse of the many promises you made on nation building, national cohesion, protection of our freedom, national security and indeed fixing the broken walls of the economy inherited from your incompetent predecessor. Here is the thing, Mr. President, you are leading Africa’s most populous nation, indeed the hope of the black people of the world. Don’t let them watch you on global platforms commissioning road networks even in the nation’s capital. The leader of Africa’s richest nation should not be dragged to be celebrating roads completed by the previous administration. After all, a state government has through a successful public private partnership (PPP) set up an airline that is very competitive in the country. Akwa Ibom state also boasts of an airport, showcasing the promise in federalism. Yet the almighty federal government promised a national carrier nine years ago. They delivered a repainted Ethiopian aircraft as the national carrier 24 hours before leaving office. The minister of aviation who perpetrated that fraud against our country isn’t in prison anyway. But the point is: I didn’t witness elaborate ceremonies of Ibom Air that is growing luxuriantly like yam tendrils in the rainy season. Let the projects be delivered for the people to proclaim them. Who doesn’t know Ibom Air in Nigeria?

So, Mr. President, the report most of your allies and supporters give you is that it is well, you are just planting. But then as the ancient word teaches us, you need to plant good trees now as only good trees can produce good fruits. When commentators and critical observers are claiming that only three ministers out of more than forty may have done well, that should be a source of concern that there may have been too many bad trees in your vineyard. You need to do some rejig and weeding in good time. There is indeed a credible report that there is a very bad tree even at the Central Bank’s executive cadre who is said to have artfully mismanaged so many portfolios there.

What of the federal civil service? How many contextual articles and features that have to be written before overhauling the federal bureaucracy that even your office claimed the other day hadn’t been supporting policy thrust for service delivery of your government? How many times should public policy experts cry out to Your Excellency that without a vibrant civil service supported by a competent presidential bureaucracy, there will be no hope renewed in any agenda? Is this not the reason the opposition voices have been consistent that your one-year government has been overshadowed by “trial-and-error” policy thrust? Are they not telling the public consistently that “your government should do due diligence before projects or policies are announced? What happened to the Landmark Hotel facilities on a sprawling plot of land in Lagos that was partly demolished for coastal road project? It was discovered that there was no environmental impact assessment report that would have raised issues on submarine cables. Whatever happened to the old practice of interagency cooperation between the ministries of works and environment? Or can we understand this to mean that your administration doesn’t involve the presidential and federal civil service agencies that are supposed to be carried along in the organic value chains? I have covered the highest levels of government for more than three decades. No matter what we would like the public to know about the federal bureaucracy, the service if well managed, still has in its establishments competent officers who can deliver on mandate promise of political office holders. What is needed is good leadership, good communication policies within the talent management cadres in the same bureaucracy. In all these, where do we place those who teach public administration and policies in the universities? How have they been involved in this regard? How did a panel to recommend options on national minimum or living wages get to apply for a whopping N1.8 billion to do its work and get N1 billion approved for them to sit and write report? Can they explain to the taxpayers in Nigeria what they used the N500 million they got for? Where are the fine details of transactions, in this regard? Who are those leading the policy-co-ordination arm of the presidential bureaucracy?

So, Mr. President, if you would like to live up to the promise of leading a government of national competence, you will also have to pay attention to the human capital development sector, notably education and health. The way this administration has been treating education in the 21st century doesn’t renew any hope that Nigeria can lead even the West Coast, let alone the continent that we are being told is rising.

In the main, our leader, you need to realise that you cannot build any national competence without comprehensive and robust funding of quality in education at all levels. How many Nigerian universities offering computer science and engineering can play host to Artificial Intelligence Centres and teach Robotics, for instance in this age of the AI? Your Excellency, for instance, you need more vibrant leadership and bureaucracy in the Ministry of Education that can prepare Nigeria properly through quality in education beyond a meretricious student loan noise level. Let me here ask this: how long will it take for the Federal Ministry of Education to recommend a substantive Executive Secretary for the all-important regulator of the university system, National Universities Commission (NUC), eleven months after Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed resigned and returned to the Bayero University Kano. Rasheed resigned in July 2023. How long will it take the same Ministry to conclude activation of Adeyemi Federal University of Education, Ondo and Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education Owerri? They appointed their old Provosts as Acting Deputy Vice Chancellors long ago. Where did they get that kind of nomenclature in the university system? Mr. President, who are those monitoring and coordinating policies for your ambitious government of national competence?

 First published in The Guardian, Nigeria 

About Global Patriot Staff

Check Also

Contributory Pension Scheme and government as renegade? By Obike Ukoh

When the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS)  came into force via the Pension Reform Act (PRA), …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *