It is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari is proposing (or has made up his mind) to have Cabinet Ministers without portfolios. And different persons have given their take for and against what seems a first of its kind in our Democracy.
Chief among the President’s reasons as asserted by him during the presentation of the Report of Ministerial Conformation by the Senate President is the state of the Nation’s economy. And truly the signs are everywhere that there is a decline in accruals to government and certainly this will or should call for measures to cut financial spendings on the part of any forward looking administration. But how exactly is the amount government spends on say a total of 36 Ministers assuming the package enjoyed by the last Cabinet? Many believe the pay wa(i)s draining the coffers. But isn’t a cut in their salaries/allowances a better option?
So if financing 36 plus Ministers is the President’s headache what happen to a bit of sacrifice on the part of his Cabinet? After all we have news gossips about some would – be Ministers who said they are ready to work for free. The President needs to explore this offer.
The second reason being pushed is the needlessness of the 36(7) Minister as called for by the Constitution. It is true that a lot of the Ministries and Agencies at the Federal level are more or less a split of another and; therefore the need to reduce their numbers. Now with say 17 or 18 Ministries one should have expect each to have a Minister and that of State. And I think the President could have bought the commitment of his Team to tow this line without necessarily putting pressure on the Federal purse instead of having a Cabinet of non portfolio holding Ministers
In the alternative since the Constitution didn’t say in black and white when a President should appoint his Ministers or the tenure of Office of same, Buhari should have used the last five months in pursuing a Constitutional change to effect a reduction in the size of a Federal Cabinet. And one sure way to ensure Federal Character and spread is to say give each of the Six Geo – political Zones say Three slots.
An argument is also brewing that the President cannot have Ministers without assigning them portfolios. Then he have the Nigerian past time of ‘marginalization’ to battle with because definitely cries will come from some quarters how their indigenes are made ‘redundant’
In conclusion, what President Buhari needs are COMPETENT and HONEST Advisers to guide him in settling down for the best option.
Philips M. Ndahi,
Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates