President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday confirmed that ministers will not be appointed until September. He said the delay in naming members of the yet-to-be constituted Federal Executive Council (FEC) is to allow for critical reforms which will guide the conduct of the ministers when appointed.
President Buhari dropped the hint in an article published by the Washington Post. He said it will neither be prudent, nor serve the interest of sound government to have hastily made ministerial appointments immediately after coming into office without the necessary reforms.
Buhari, who criticised recent calls in some quarters about the slow pace of his administration said the task cannot be rushed, insisting that Nigeria must put new rules of conduct and good governance in place before making key appointments.
Buhari said: “When cabinet ministers are appointed in September, it will be some months after I took the oath of office. It is worth noting that Obama himself did not have his full cabinet in place for several months after first taking office; the United States (U.S.) did not cease to function in the interim.
“In Nigeria’s case, it would neither be prudent nor serve the interests of sound government to have made these appointments immediately on my elevation to the presidency; instead, Nigeria must first put new rules of conduct and good governance in place.”
The President who met with the U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday, stressed the importance of carrying out the critical reforms correctly before appointing ministers. He said it was also crucial to install correct leadership in the military and security services before fully taking the battle to Boko Haram.
He said: “There are too few examples in the history of Nigeria since independence where it can be said that good management and governance were instituted at a national level. This lack of a governance framework has allowed many of those in charge, devoid of any real checks and balances, to plunder.”
In the article which was published ahead of Buhari’s meeting with the U.S. President yesterday, Buhari said he would be seeking President Obama’s help in locating and returning about $150 billion looted funds.
“The fact that I now seek Obama’s assistance in locating and returning $150 billion in funds stolen in the past decade and held in foreign bank accounts on behalf of former corrupt officials is testament to how badly Nigeria has been run. This way of conducting our affairs cannot continue.”
He also blamed the inability of the previous government to defeat Boko haram on what he called the failure of governance.
He insisted that rules and good governance must be instilled in government, “installing officials who are experience and capable of managing state agencies and ministries; and third, seek to recover funds stolen under previous regimes so that this money can be invested in Nigeria for the benefit of all of our citizens.”
The President also revealed that Nigeria would seek the help of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism and corruption through the provision of the much-needed military training and intelligence. He spoke of plans to seek the increased investments from the US in the areas of energy and electricity.
While addressing issues around reforms and change, the President acknowledged that reforming Nigeria after many years of abuse cannot be achieved overnight, and therefore called for patience and support.
“I was elected on a platform of change. I know this is what the people of Nigeria desire more than anything else. I realise the world waits to see evidence that my administration will be different from all those that came before.
“Yet reforming my country after so many years of abuse cannot be achieved overnight. In our campaigns against both Boko Haram and corruption, we should remain steadfast and remember, as it is said ‘have patience. All things become difficult before they become easy.