When their names made President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list, many Nigerians, acquainted of their impressive resumes, were full of high expectations about the positive contributions they would make to the administration. But not so anymore, as just a little over a year after their appointment as ministers, they are seen to have gone into hibernation. This report spotlights those ministers that Nigerians have ‘forgotten,’ either on account of what is believed to be their poor visibility or underperformance.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi
Though the name of the ministry has since been changed from the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, observers believe that not much has changed or been witnessed in this sector full of economic potentials.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development Dr. Kayode Fayemi had on assumption of office pledged his commitment to developing the solid minerals sector, while ironically pointing at the government’s own inadequacies at identifying what is good for Nigeria and mustering the will to promote it.
He initially came across as one of the top five in Buhari’s cabinet that have the expertise and experience to see the government deliver on all its promises to the Nigerian voter.
Also, given the policy of the Buhari-administration on diversification, Nigerians expected his ministry to be in the lead in generating non-oil revenue for the nation.
He identified limited infrastructure, insufficient geological data, limited corporate federalism, illegal artisanal mining community challenges, weak institutional capacity and insufficient funding as the bane of the sector and promised to take these numerous challenges head on, and deliver on the Federal Government’s vision, of building a mining sector that Nigerians can be proud of 30 years or more from now.
However, with over a year in office, Fayemi has not recorded any visible success in addressing the challenges he identified as bedeviling the solid mineral sector.
Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau
A year after being appointed the minister to oversee the Ministry of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (Rtd), Nigerians are of the belief that nothing spectacular has changed in affairs of the ministry.
On resumption of office, the former Chief of Army Staff had vowed to stamp out corruption in the ministry, saying: “My leadership will have zero tolerance for corruption, indolence, sectarianism, cronyism, and most of all, impunity.” Many had expected that Dambazau’s experience and qualifications as a military officer, lawyer and academic will come in handy in overseeing the internal security of the country.
However, a year after, all the problems associated with the ministry like corruption, impunity, inefficiency, indolence, among others are still well rooted in the ministry. Under his ministry are the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Federal Fire Service (FFS), Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC).
Appointments are being given to relatives of those in the corridors of powers without following due process. Under his watch, the country witnessed unprecedented incidents of jailbreaks. Between January and June 2016 alone, no fewer than six jailbreaks, riots and attempted jailbreaks were recorded. Prison warders have been fingered in the smuggling of illegal substances into the prison premises while others were accused of abandoning their duty posts.
Besides, there have not been any changes in the condition of prison facilities all over the country as most of them are still overcrowded with the ‘awaiting trial’ inmates still having over 70 percent of the population.
In the Immigration Service, there have been complaints of scarcity of Nigerian visas in foreign countries with most people intending to visit the country finding it difficult to undertake their journeys.
Perhaps, the only cheering news is that in the Federal Fire Service the Dambazau- led administration has ensured the procurement of new equipment for the Service.
Senator Aisha Alhassan
Senator Aisha Alhassan shot to nationwide fame while contesting for the governorship seat of Taraba State in the 2015 general elections, but her popularity soared with the close-call elections and subsequent petitions.
However, Senator Alhassan’s reappearance at Aso Rock Villa and her first meet-the-press after a Federal Executive Council meeting few weeks later was a delight. Disappointment soared that Alhassan didn’t hit the ground running. She visited her home state, first, and then got to work.
The ministry was involved with a plethora of legislation affecting women and children; one prohibiting violence, another guaranteeing child rights and a third ensuring gender equality.
Her most prominent engagement has been to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of women on camps for displaced people.
Many Nigerians, however, believe that after a year in office Mama Taraba has done little to confirm the high expectations that greeted her appointment as a minister.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, assumed office with high hope from Nigerians that the country’s battered image abroad would be redeemed and the nation would regain its true position in the comity of nations.
Onyeama had been involved in diplomatic shuttles, either with President Muhammadu Buhari or alone, globetrotting the world to meet foreign counterparts to discuss security and economic matters affecting Nigeria.
On assumption of office in Novermber 2015, Onyeama rolled out his strategy to reform Nigeria’s foreign missions, block economic leakages, expand relations with neighbouring countries to address insecurity and work closely with foreign partners to fight corruption and recover looted assets.
He had promised to set the wheel of economic diplomacy rolling, saying efforts would be made to engage Nigeria’s mission abroad and turn them into economic hub for the country’s development.
While the efforts to securing international commitment in the fight against terrorism have been largely successful, such was not the case with the repatriation of stolen assets. Though efforts had been made in this direction with series of meeting with foreign governments where Nigeria’s loots are stashed, this yielded no positive results as no money has been returned to the country.
Also, many Nigerians have always complained of the ineptitude of foreign missions’ officials to address their problems or even swiftly respond to request put forwarded to them. This has not changed significantly one year after Onyeama took over the management of the foreign ministry.
A number of Nigerians abroad have been victims of abuse in their countries of resident with some either killed extra-judicially or suffered injuries due to physical abuse, while the perpetrators, most times, were left unpunished. On economic diplomacy, checks revealed that Nigeria’s foreign missions have been unproductive in marketing the nation’s investment opportunities as there are no substantive ambassadors in place to follow up most of the actions.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, has been overseeing a sector that is witnessing huge downturns since the start of 2016. Under Enelamah’s watch, several industries have shut down this year and many that are still operating have retrenched many workers.
Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that in the third quarter of 2016, real Gross Domestic Product growth of the manufacturing sector slowed by 2.63 percent points to minus 4.38 percent (year-on-year) from minus 1.75 percent growth recorded in third quarter of 2015.
The Minister is also overseeing a trade sector grappling with high inflation rate, jumping from 9.6 percent recorded in January to 18.3 percent as at October, 2016, being the highest rise in prices of commodities seen in Nigeria in the past 16 years.
Until recently when he announced the readiness of his ministry to implement the National Industrial Revolution Plan, the fate of the plan had been uncertain, and the implementation delayed beyond the first quarter of the year.
Even with the announcement of the implementation of the plan, the details have remained sketchy.
Similarly, the Ministry has been dragging foot on the full implementation of the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy launched by the then Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, in Abuja, and witnessed by stakeholders in the textile industry and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
Textile factories still remain moribund as the policy, aimed at developing the entire value chain in the industry with a target of over N566 billion export earnings, gathers dust in the Ministry’s shelves.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the printing sector also suffered a major setback under Enelamah, as the federal government banned agencies from printing souvenirs and conference materials. He failed to advise the government on the number of printers that the policy would affect.
Importers have continued to grumble under the Minister as their backlog of the suspended Export Expansion Grant (EEG) amounting to over N150 billion remained unsettled.
Prof. Isaac Adewole’s tall promises
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole was appointed in November 2015, and when he resumed work at the ministry headquarters in Abuja on November 11, 2015, he promised to ensure changes in the health sector that will benefit Nigerians.
But over a year after, not many Nigerians have felt the changes in this critical sector.
“There are quite a number of restructuring that we need to do. We will need to look at how to work with the secondary and primary health care systems because the tertiary tier is not all that we need to promote and bring good health at the doorstep of our people, so we need to work with the state and local governments,” he stated on his first day of resumption”, she reportedly said.
Since then he has made a lot of other promises on improving healthcare for Nigerians. While few of these promises have been fulfilled many others are yet fulfilled.
The Minister had on many occasions said that the federal government would rehabilitate 10,000 primary healthcare centres within two years.
He said: “The Federal government will build, renovate and revitalise 10,000 primary health facilities in the 774 local government areas across the country.”
On May, 1 2016, the minister said during an interview on Channels Sunrise show: “We will deliver one new PHC a day delivering 101 PHCs in the 90 days from May 1…”
But the Minister has not delivered on the promise of one PHC a day; rather he set up a committee to map out all the primary health care centres in the country. Only renovations have been ongoing on in some PHCs across the country.
The health sector remains in serious distress with medical tourism at its peak. Many health workers are disgruntled and seeking greener pasture overseas even as hospitals are inadequate, ill-equipped and incapacitated to handle basic diseases.
Brig-Gen Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd)
Although Brigadier-General Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd) surprisingly got the Defence portfolio ahead of the much popular Abdulrahman Dambazau, many Nigerians saw him as no less a distinguished military officer.
Having served as Acting Director Military Training (DMT) retired as Commander of the 32 Artillery Brigade, Akure in August, 2013 many felt he was still very much acquainted with field military operations.
But his greatest challenge in the past one year was how to motivate troops to overcome Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East. The Defence Minister had the challenge having to deliver on the December deadline to Military chiefs to flush out terrorists out of the nation.
The renewed offensive by Boko Haram which has resulted into ambush targeted at military troops in the North-East, leading to huge casualties has also raised questions over the role of the ministry in addressing security challenges.
But for the Zamfara-born retired general getting this remains a huge challenge even as oil theft, kidnappings and other security challenges such militancy in the Niger Delta have remained a hard nut to crack.
To many pundits the importance of the Niger Delta region to the country underscored the retention of this ministry by Buhari and the subsequent assign-ment of Pastor Usani Uguru as minister.
The creation of the ministry by the late Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration followed the need to end militancy and develop the region.
In the past one year, however, the Niger Delta ministry had faced enormous challenge delivering development in the region.
Although the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was not good enough to push the issues in the region as it was not a policy making and cabinet body, many observers say the current minister has so far failed to meet up with the security challenges there as well as rolling out and pursuing policies that would speed up the development of people and environment in Niger Delta.
The activities of militants have continued to cripple the economy while the minister appears helpless. Instead of him leading the peace process in the Niger Delta, Uguru has abandoned that role to the minister of state for petroleum, Mr Ibe Kachikwu, to handle.
With a staggering unemployment market hitting over 70million, former Anambra State governor, Chris Ngige’s headache on assumption of office was how to provide jobs. As the minister for labour and employment, many believed that Ngige, an acclaimed performer had his hands full.
His major challenge had been how to deal with the army of unemployed Nigerians. The All Progressives Congress (APC) promised a monthly stipend of N5,000 each for unemployed youths, but many say Ngige’s has failed in his responsibility to deliver on this.
The labour unions have also been agitating for better working conditions even though the frequency at which the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union of Nigeria (TUC) embark on industrial actions has drastically reduced.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, came into office with a promise to put the science and technology sector in the driver’s seat of the Federal Government’s diversification drive.
He said: “We should move from assembling to manufacturing; we are not satisfied only with assembling, we want real manufacturing here because that is what will make our economy grow, that is what will help us create jobs.”
He said the country would start producing pencils locally by 2018 and that 400,000 jobs are expected to be created through the production of pencils.
But Onu’s science and technology ministry has only succeeded in producing and commercializing high-nutrient biscuits.
However, many believed that minister is not doing enough in leading the Federal Government’s diversification drive.
On assumption of office, water resources minister, Suleiman Adamu, promised to reposition the nation’s dams for irrigation purpose in order to boost food production.
He also promised that some of the dams will be used to generate electricity but this is yet to be seen.
He visited the Tiga dam in Kano State, Galman dam in Kaduna State and many other dams in Kogi, Sokoto, Anambra and Ogun States.
Apart from the visit, not much is being done to reposition the dams, even as the dry season sets in.
Source: Daily Trust