I do not envy President Buhari's ministers at all. I rather pity them, especially those who came on board with the same rickety mindset as we had here before May 29. I really spare a thought on those that want to be ministers under a man who, as a former Head of State, a former Minister of Petroleum, a former Military Governor, a former PTF Chairman, a former GOC, declared an asset of a mere N29 million in a land where house boys of ministers that were rusticated the other day, command assets in hundreds of millions of Naira. I do not envy the ministers a man whose impeccable identity of integrity spawned a pan-country and global acclaim that still resonates beyond the shores of the country. I pity them who are coming to be Ministers with the hope that the kind of larceny that brought the country to its knees will be allowed under President Buhari's government. I pity those who see the ministerial office as a license to feed freely from the common trough and leave the masses empty-handed, as the last batch of minsters did under a regime founded on the most corrupt keystone ever.
Often, I wonder. Are those who are going to become President Buhari's ministers aware of the fact that it is not going to be business as usual? Are they aware that it is not going to be the same old song of relentless lifting and influence peddling? Are they aware of the disposition of the man they hope to work under on such primitive despoliation as happened under Jonathan? Are they aware that they are going to work under a man that sees a bounded duty to protect the treasury from such rapacious influences that flowered under the previous regime and under which so-called ministers and their stand patters luxuriated? Are they aware that they are going to work under a President that has not only whittled down the capacity, influence and hunting grounds of ministers? Are they conscious of the fact that their principal is a man that abhors such dirt, such shenanigans and such ancient wily ways that thrive official graft and plundering that accounted for the needless interests shown by those that thought they can move President Buhari by their syndicated hoopla about not appointing ministers even before he was sworn in? Are the impending ministers quite cognizant of the fact that the old order has changed, yielding to a new and scrupulous one? Are they aware that a New Sherif that wants to rescue the country from the quagmire it was plunged by rudderless and ethically crumbled leadership is in town? Are they aware that the man whose government they ogle to serve sees ministers as mere noise makers and has in four months, shown that the country can work and walk without ministers?
Often, when I observe the unmitigated syndication of vacuous noise about non-appointment of ministers and who and who were appointed ministers, I have cause to doubt whether such Nigerians, still trapped hopelessly on the fringes of selfish accoutrements of governance, understand the man piloting our affairs at present. Mercifully, majority of Nigerians not given to such predictable clap-trap that has become the pastime of the idle politicians and their minions who were loaded off power just the other day, know very well the man they voted to power on March 28. Nigerians that defied the most destructive, most divisive, most desperate, most expensive, most deadly political onslaught to elect President Buhari know that they elected him principally for what he is doing at present to wit; deal corrupt free loaders a big gash and inflict corruption a deadly blow! So, I often wonder if those that have transferred their feeling of loss of political relevance at blindly lurching at anything Buhari know that the man we have at the helms is neither scratched by their mischievous antics nor moved by their wily ways. Most importantly, I doubt if those that have been weeping their eyes out over not being made minister or not given one appointment or the other know that Buhari has carved an unmistakable path of rectitude and service and not that of purloining for whoever will work with him.
Good enough, President Buhari has shown that Nigeria can run for four months without a truckload of minsters and Nigerians will have the elusive power supply that scandalously eluded us for the past sixteen years. President Buhari has shown that without ministers, all nooks and crannies of the country can access petroleum products at a uniform price, that rural dwellers are beginning to have kerosene at their reach, that price of diesel will crash without us regaled with made-up stories of trillions of Naira to be paid ravenous party men who front as fuel importers. Without ministers, Buhari has shown us that our discarded refineries can be brought back to life. He has shown that without ministers, endless tales of remorseless looting and plundering that overwhelmed this country can be a past tale. Luckily for us, President Buhari has taught us in four minister-less months that we can survive without gushing oil inflow and that we could replace waste and prodigality with frugality that only comes with honest and capable leadership.
President Buhari has shown that without ministers, states that were rendered bankrupt when the country was swarming with all manners of ministers and enough oil money, could be rescued from a fatal social crisis when oil revenue has dropped to mere pittance. President Buhari has taught Nigerians that without ministers, the elusive stability that eluded all sectors of governance, could be reinstalled. President Buhari taught us that without ministers, what remains of our foreign reserve that was relentlessly plundered in a six years we had all manners of ministers and oil prices reached high heavens, can be injected with a hefty $3 billion in a month when oil prices nose dived. Buhari has, without ministers, shown us that we can have a responsible and credible government the whole world will be eager to not only deal with but work with. He has shown in four months that the culture of prodigality and stealing could be preened from public service in Nigeria. I wonder why those about to become ministers, those jostling to become ministers and those who are eating their hearts out on whether Buhari appoints or does not appoint ministers know these.
Yes, we know that relentless practice of corruption in public service has so blurred the national perception and imbued the belief in Nigerians that somehow, anyhow, public officers must find their way to do what they know best. It is this same never-say-die feeling that is driving the noxious anxiety being generated over the appointment of ministers and which offices who occupies. But certainly, there is little doubt that in President Buhari, Nigerians that nurse this mindset have a bad customer; a horrible one at that as they are set to battle a man that is neither moved by acted piety nor syndicated crap-trap to bend to accommodate the kind of license that glamorize Nigerian ministerial offices. What better way for President Buhari to send the message than dismissing ministers as noise makers? Such crunchy kicks should inform whosoever that is coming on board his much expected cabinet that the days of gluttony is over; that they have no option than to serve. Yes, service is the corpus of ministerial position although this has been completely obliterated by that ancient urge to steal what belongs to all and reign as lord over others. Whoever does not read of the disposition of President Buhari that ministers are now very dispensable will rue having elected to serve with this President. This is writ large in all President Buhari's actions and words thus far so I don't think it is too late to opt out for anyone who feels he is going there to continue the Byzantine license of the recent past.
In a few months, those Nigerians that have boxed themselves into the predictable auto-position of protesting and wolf-crying every of President Buhari's moves, will have cause to admit, even in their embedded closets, the revolutionary feats he is doing today to demystify ministerial and public offices and shred them of the corruptive aura that is firing the misplaced outcries of the present. In a matter of months, those inconsolable scoffers who are trapped in the boring art of riding against the wind, just because they lost their points if stealing, will admit that President Buhari, in removing the garb of impunity, corruption and irresponsibility that has made ministerial positions so attractive in corruption-prone Nigeria, is rescuing the lost soul of public service in Nigeria. Because President Buhari's ministers are coming from the prevalent public mindset that public offices are for self-fending, I honestly don't envy them as they prepare to come on board what promises to be a very tricky but patriotic call to deny self, forsake traditional luxuries and shun age-old allurements to save Nigeria from the ruins of a lost past.
Peter Claver Oparah
E-mail: [email protected]