• Fear grips civil servants over restructuring
• Presidency unfair to Culture, says Soyinka
NEW ministers, new style.
Barely 48 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated his 37-member ‘round- pegs-in-round-holes’ cabinet to man the 25 restructured ministries, some of them are already raring to go.
They have been reeling out statements that indicate the direction of the present government.
Among such ministers is Power, Works and Housing’s Babatunde Raji Fashola, who has commenced inquiry into the problems of the power sector and why it allegedly failed to deliver the desired promises to the country.
Fashola, who met with directors at the ministry shortly after he resumed Wednesday wanted to know if some of the problems of the sector were systematic or man made.
He urged the management of the ministry to be open with information, as he was determined to find a solution to the lingering power issue.
“We are here to work with you, in solving problems on ground as quickly as possible. We want to know if some of those problems are man-made or systemic,” he noted.
A meeting that took place on the day of inauguration was attended by the Minister of State, Alhaji Mustapha Baba Shehuri, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Louis Edozien and directors.
The minister said his thoughts are on how to bring together processes and activities of all the ministries now under his supervision for effective service delivery.
He assured the ministry’s leadership of his willingness to learn from them as career people who had been on the job for a long time.
“We want information on what has been done, what remained to be done, and what are the future plans; we want to continue from there.”
Also speaking, Shehuri requested a detailed Ministerial Briefing Document to serve as guide for proper takeoff.
Director, Human Resources, Mrs. Grace Papka, gave copies of the requested documents to the two ministers, in addition to a timetable for proposed briefings by departments and agencies in the power sector.
Already concerned Nigerians have hailed President Buhari’s choice of Fashola as ‘placing square peg in square hole.
Speaking under the aegis of Gateway for Empowerment and Justice for Peace Initiative (GEJPI), the group at a media briefing yesterday in Abuja said that considering the requisite experience and records of performance in maintaining sustained economic growth and unprecedented infrastructure development in the last eight years in Lagos State, it is only appropriate that Fashola be given a heavy portfolio to handle.
Leader of the group, Jide Cole, an engineer said: “Yes, we are aware that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Buhari were determined to bring on board the best technocrats and administrators into the new government. Our expectations have been met and even surpassed as the President gave Nigerians a pleasant surprise.
“Therefore, we want to lend our voice, joining other well-meaning citizens of this great nation in thanking Buhari for such great show of wisdom and administrative finesse by putting square pegs in square holes.
We also congratulate Fashola for being best suited as minister for the combined portfolios he got because he is a hard working, unassuming and transparently so. He is a person who never gets tired of whatever he sets his eyes to achieve. He came in as governor of Lagos State in 2007, and after eight years turned Lagos into the state to beat in Nigeria.
“We also believe that President Buhari saw Fashola as a disciplined man just like himself who was ready to work assiduously. He ensured that he implemented his predecessor’s idea for a Bus Rapid Transport System which eased the transportation problems of Lagosians. And of course, this trait is one of the things Fashola will bring to bear in his new assignment.”
Meanwhile, there is anxiety among directors and other senior level workers in ministries affected by the restructuring like Aviation, Police Affairs, Housing, Urban Development, Power and Works, Youths and Sports even as Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday decried the fact the Culture Ministry was a victim of the exercise.
To him, the Culture Ministry is ‘missing in action.’
“We all know that culture is, at best regarded as an orphan, but does General Buhari have to make it so obvious? Even orphans are entitled to a foster home,” he lamented.
Culture is now subsumed by the Ministry of Information, while Special Duties was scrapped and the Department of Budget and National Planning excised from the Ministry of Finance and now a substantive ministry headed by Senator Udo Udoma.
However, the workers in the affected ministries, yesterday gathered in groups discussing the development as many expressed the concern that they could soon be rendered redundant.
But, it was a blend of joy and sadness in many of the merged ministries, while some workers wore long faces, others were happy that their arrears of salary had been paid.
The Federal Government had compulsorily retired 17 permanent secretaries from the Federal Civil Service, sending mixed signals to directors, deputy directors and other junior officers, especially cleaners.
In a related development, Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu had said that Nigeria could “not do it without science and technology.”
He spoke at a reception organised in his honour by Concerned Ebonyi State natives in Abuja, where he pledged to revive the Technology Village Project in Abia.
His words: “Science and technology will take Nigeria to a height unimagined today; we will do our best to be the instruments that Nigeria will use to get to that height. And I need your prayers; I need your support,” he said.
He noted: “One assurance that I will always give you and I have said it repeatedly, is that as your son, I will never do something that you will be ashamed of. It is better for me to leave politics than for me to do something for my own selfish interest that will make you to be ashamed of your son. I will continue to act in a way that Nigerians will know that Ebonyi State is truly the Salt of the Nation.”
Defence Minister expected to resume today
The newly appointed Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Mohammed Dan-Ali, will formally resume today.
A message from the office of the Department of Information and Public Affairs in the ministry to Defence correspondents yesterday evening said the minister would be resuming today at 8 a.m. local time.
It is expected that, like in all other ministries, Dan-Ali, on resumption, set the ball rolling as issues relating to the ministry form some of the major concerns of the present administration