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Here Comes President Buhari’s Noisemakers

October 13, 2015

The Nigerian Senate begins today to screen the list of noisemakers as sent by President Muhammadu Buhari. For those who are still wondering the title, it’s not mine – President Buhari had in an interview granted the news media in France said that Ministers were mere noisemakers and are there to help the politicians – including himself make noise.

Some Nigerians have applauded him for being “frank” and some even went further to say he had displayed the kind of courage not seen in Nigerian politics in a long while. A few have reserved their comments but for people like me, I think we are gradually beginning to see a disdain for established systems and processes. While I know and I think this is obvious to millions of Nigerians, that the constitution we operate is faulty, we are all bound by it until it is replaced.

To help us understand better: the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, at Section 147, directs the president to appoint ministers from each state of the Federation. Section 148 spells out the functions of the ministers and makes it clear that the President must meet them regularly. Now the President has sent in the names, if the Senate decides to keep the list forever, would he be bothered, your guess is as good as mine.

Ministers and civil servants have clear delineation of their jobs by law. Neither can take the place of the other. Even where we all agree that there are inherent lapses in our system, any needed change must follow the same democratic processes that elected the government not through the back door. We should be mindful of using or supporting the use of illegal means to correct a problem else we would be unwittingly supporting a democratic dictatorship.

While the Ministers are either politicians are technocrats appointed on term basis to help the President carry out his policy directives as it relates to their respective ministries, civil servants, on the other hand, are permanent staff of the state whose job is to carry out instructions issued by the political heads of their ministries and departments in line with the strict rules of the civil service. They are forbidden to belong to political parties or betray allegiance to any political group. This makes it possible for them to serve under the regime of any president and political party that wins the general elections so it is important not to taint that very foundation of the civil service.

Many have said that the civil service is indeed the engine room of corruption and I tend to agree to an extent. Like a commentator recently pointed out, the Ministers do not have the powers to release monies from the Government coffers – they need the civil servants to be able to do that and who other than the Permanent Secretaries. The debate will go on but one thing is sure – the noisemakers are part of us and are here to stay.

Back to the main topic before I digress further. A lot of people have expressed disappointment as to why it took the President 4 months to come up with a list that he could have released within one week of assuming power. There are a few names that maybe, and I say maybe with some reservation, might not have been there but the likes of former Governor of Rivers State – Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Lagos State – Babatunde Fashola, Former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Fayemi are classical examples of names that he could have announced immediately on May 29, 2015.

However, with all that has been said, I ask myself one question: why must it be the same set of politicians all the time? Why can’t these politicians groom someone to take over from them? Not to take anything from the nominees but it appears to me that my generation has failed so badly that a man who became president at 41 suddenly cannot find anybody under 50 that can serve in such worthy positions?

I have also read how some persons have queried that the President never said he was looking for saints – actually he did. Directly or indirectly, the President had earlier said only those who do not have cases to answer with any of the agencies – EFCC, ICPC, DSS, etc. That may have been the reason why in the case of Rivers State, there was an avalanche of petitions against the former Governor.

The Senate has a role to play and how they go about it will determine their independence as well as regain the trust of the millions of Nigerians. I would like to see healthy and policy-based discussions and not political vendetta; it would have helped if the President had also given an indication of cabinet positions to help tailor the questioning. As it were now, the questions will be far-reaching ranging from the obscene to the less factual. I am however happy that the Senate has said there will be no “take a bow and go” this time around.

The decision to air the screening live is welcome and we shall be following the events. You can also join by visiting There’s so much pressure on the Senate under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki with a Code of Conduct trial hanging over his neck but today is not about him but about his actions as Senate President and that is what we shall judge him on.

In the final analysis, whatever the case may be, I hope that President Buhari will not side-track his noisemakers and make them mere figureheads and passengers in his government. I have been worried lately with the audacity with which some kitchen cabinet members like the Emir of Kano and Governor of Kaduna State make some pronouncements and wonder if the incoming Federal Executive Council will have any work to do or better put: will they be really allowed to do their jobs without fear or favour. We need to have some stability and policy direction so the much-needed change can begin as Nigerians are waiting having waited for so long.

Time will tell.

From → Politics

One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Ok oo, we hear you. So Emir of Kano is no in kitchen cabinet? Maybe because Edwin Clark has decamped from PDP. So what is Obj? Bedroom cabinet?

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