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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Tinubu and his running Cabinet (1) – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

President Bola Tinubu

Elected on February 25, 2023, and sworn in on May 29, 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu or BAT hit the ground running in what can pass as a Cross-Country event. He took off from the starting block at the Eagle Square, leaving many to wonder if it was advisable to hit the ground running instead of walking, given his perceived state of health and fitness.

Curiously, all those traits of frailty, missteps and vaccilation vanished after the inauguration. His traducers and ill-wishers are still wondering whether this BAT was the very one they beheld during the pre-election period. Who healed him?! Some might have wondered aloud. Tinubu simply confounded everyone in the manner that bats confuse their fellow creatures in the Animal Kingdom.

A story is told that when tax collectors approached bats to pay their levies as birds, they gathered their wings to their bodies and bared their teeth. And then they asked the tax collectors whether birds had teeth. They insisted they belonged to the family of rodents. The collectors apologised and left. When it was the turn of the rodents to pay their taxes, the collectors came around for the levies. But the smart alecs spread out their wings and flew away, advising that the collectors should go and learn one or two things about ornithology. Rodents do not fly!

It seems from whichever angle you corner BAT, he would always leave you flummoxed and stranded. The February Presidential election outcome became the 10th WONder of the World. After the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the presidential poll, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party both cried foul and claimed that they also won the election. Is that not WONderful? The other 16 political parties, save the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), that featured in the contest, raced into oblivion.

The Labour Party (LP) that placed third in the presidential poll was even more strident than the second-placed PDP in its approach to claim what it described as “our stolen mandate”. Consequently, the two parties contesting the BAT/KSM victory approached the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to study or take a closer look at what transpired in the electoral field nationwide. PEPC is to the poll what VAR or Video Assistant Referee is to soccer proceedings.

After 12 hours of review of what transpired on February 25, 2023, the VAR operators on Wednesday ruled that BAT/KSM won the election. It is said that the proceedings would go down in history as the longest and the most soporific electoral judicial exercise in the country.

But the two main challengers, the PDP and the LP, are not done yet. They are both warming up to approach a more superior VAR, the Supreme Court, to represent their cases… to have the goal scored by Tinubu overruled.

In the words of Atiku Abubakar, “We lost the battle but not the war.” It is at the Apex Court that the war will be fought. But it is not always easy to win the war at VAR II. Remember what happened in 2007 when Buhari’s All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) took his petition against the incumbent President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the PDP to the Supreme Court? There was a tie: Yar’Adua had three Justices behind him, ditto Muhammadu Buhari. That stalemate left the Chief Justice, Idris Legbo Kutigi, with the burden of breaking the tie. Justice Kutigi swung the pendulum in favour of Yar’Adua who was already ensconced in the Presidential Villa, citing “national interest”.

Now that the VAR has affirmed BAT’s election and coming about a week and a half after swearing in members of his cabinet, his team can truly hit the ground sprinting without any distraction of looking over their shoulders for Atiku and Obi.

Upon assuming office, virtually all the ministers expressed their resolve to hit the ground running like their principal. On a lighter note, I will advise those of them who do not have molue experience to learn one or two tricks from BAT or they might hit the ground falling! Hitting the ground running is an art.

When I was sent to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos, for a Sub-Editing course in 1974, my cousin who hosted me laboured to school me on how to alight from the molue buses. This was because the drivers were never patient enough to pull to a complete stop to allow the passengers to exit from the vehicles. I assured him that as an experienced hunter, I had learnt a lot from primates like monkeys that were experts in hitting the ground sprinting.

All that is required of the passengers when they hit the ground is to run in the same direction as the moving vehicles for a few metres before screeching to a stop. Any attempt to hit the ground walking would result in a somersault. Throughout my stay in Lagos, I always wore a pair of sneakers with good grip.

Now that Chief Coach Tinubu has assembled his team and assigned them positions according to their abilities and capabilities, I will like to take a cursory look at some of the critical positions beginning from this week. First is the Ministry of Information and National Orientation manned by a player, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, whom I know too well like the route to my mouth. His initialism MM can stand for Midas of the Media. This is because anything he touches turns to words, written or spoken.

Upon the shoulders of the Midas rests the onerous responsibility of keeping the distraught Nigerians well informed about the policy and programmes of the Tinubu administration, using the instrumentality of the National Orientation Agency (NOA). The Agency morphed from the MAMSER or Mass Mobilisation for Self-Reliance, Social Justice and Economic Recovery. MAMSER was an exercise in political engineering and a brainchild of Military President Ibrahim B. Babangida.

The NOA is presently in a moribund state, a total departure from the vibrancy the body was known for particularly under the watch of the loquacious egghead, Professor Jerry Gana. MM must turn NOA around now. He also has to hit the ground running around the 36 states of the federation where the Federal Information Centres are in desuetude. Those centres should be revived for grassroots mobilisation and to rally support for the government that many have become paranoid about. Creativity and talkathonism are the key words here.

Of immense interest to me as well as the generality of Nigerians is the power sector. The player manning the position is Adebayo Adelabu, a scion of the legendary Ibadan politician of the First Republic, named Adegoke Adelabu, whose famous moniker was Penkele mesi. Penkele mesi is an onomatopoeia for peculiar mess. There is no doubting the fact that power generation has been in a peculiar mess for a very long time now, despite the billions of naira successive administrations have sunk into the sector, and all we are rewarded with is perpetual darkness.

Today, Nigeria is grappling with less than 4,000MW for a population of over 200m. The London Heathrow International Airport alone consumes 3,000MW! Adelabu must pull Nigeria from this pit of darkness. It is not just enough to say that a cabal is holding the sector captive. He has to decabalise the sector. This is imperative, considering the fact that electricity is the critical infrastructure that drives the economy. Many firms have shut down their operations or fled the country to nearby locations where power is more stable. Under the BAT administration, Adelabu must get it right. It must not be business as usual this time around. It is said that when you stay too long in the dark, you will begin to see. That maxim should not apply here.

In fact, the power sector now represents the Augean Stables that require a Hercules to flush away the (peculiar) mess. Is Adelabu the Hercules Nigeria has been waiting for? Time will tell.

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