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Ministerial screening, the bowing tradition, and Nigeria's underdevelopment




The Nigeria Senate in a matter of days if not hours will draw the curtain on the screening of ministerial nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Characteristic of everything human, the list as well as the screening process have not been without more than enough criticisms or conversations if you like from both the everyday Nigerians as well as rights activists of different shades and leanings.

For instance, the women rights activists criticized the list as falling short of their expectations. First of all, the female appointees of the president are just seven out of a 43-man list. It is only one more than the 2015 list which has a total of thirty-six ministers.

The women rights activists and their supporters, therefore, believed the president didn't do well at all.

 The population of women in Nigeria is well over 50 percent of the entire population, they argued. As such the list should actually be a reflection of that and not the contrary.

All over the world, they also argued that government and governance are going feminine and that this has been impactful on societal developments where such a model is adopted.

The young ones in line with the recent Not- Too-Young-To-Run trends have also been speaking. They criticized the fact that only one nominee out of the 43-man list is actually 44 years old which is even not young going by the U.N definition of a young person.

The list is also criticized for containing names of politicians which many considered as spent forces. Above all, the appointment of some was also considered as down to political compensation or patronage if you like and not competence.

Now let's get down to the screening exercise itself. The senate in line with a long-standing tradition of the house gave a significant number of the nominees the privilege to just take a bow and go.

Going by the tradition, the only set of people that ordinarily should have benefitted from this automatic endorsement are ex-senators. 

But this honour was surprisingly extended to appointees who were neither lawmakers at the federal level like Amaechi Chibuike, the returnee minister of transport and aviation nor were lawmakers at all.

This some critics believed has robbed the entire process of expected rich conversations by way of interrogation of each nominee's on issues relating to their experience and portfolio.

However, this would not have been helped at all because the list didn't come with an attached portfolio like it was in 2015.

This some political observers have pointed out is contrary to equally a standing resolution of the house that the president must attach portfolio to the ministerial list when else he is sending such to the house in the future. 

It is understandable that the resolution is not a law. Perhaps that explains why mister president is not duty-bound to obey it. More so, the senate also perhaps realized it would amount to going on a wild goose chase to have insisted on the president following its resolution.   

And in the opinion of many, the absence of intense interactions with the nominees is among others an endorsement of mediocrity and a prelude for incompetence and pervasive underdevelopment in the country.

But I beg to disagree that the absence of interrogation of qualifications, experiences, and knowledge of the assignment before the nominees is an endorsement of mediocrity and incompetence nor is it responsible for Nigeria's underdevelopment as it were.

I don't think the nominees will not have been unable to cope with any question the senate would have thrown at them. From a cursory look at the roll call of the nominees, it is clear they are at par with those who are to grill them in terms of education, experience, and political trajectory.

My belief is that when a process is moderated by people of the same class, there is a high tendency to behave alike.

Besides, interrogating these nominees, in my opinion, would not have altered their fortunes in anyways though I agree such an exercise would have avail Nigerians the opportunity to interact with their response and submissions before various committees.

But I make bold to say the die of their nomination is cast in the mind of the president as well as the political interest they all represent. 

Continuing in the path of Nigeria's underdevelopment, what this Senate or the ones before it do or didn't do is not the root cause. Nigeria's underdevelopment is down to a number of issues which I delved into shortly.

Number one, Nigeria's underdevelopment is because of greed. Greed we all know is craving for more even when it appears not needed. When ruling class make a competition out every opportunity and privilege to serve.

Number two, Nigeria’s underdevelopment is as a result of decades of transfer of states or institutional responsibilities to individuals. A perfect example of this is the money senators or reps. collect for constituency projects. This wouldn't have been necessary if various institutions of the state are up and doing.

Number three, Nigeria’s underdevelopment is arisen out of the political patronage it politicians and the electors' practices. And this can be illustrated by the manner the electors, friends, and family respond to both the electoral victory of politicians and their appointments.

As we speak, homes of successful candidates in the last general elections have become a mecca or tourists destination of choice if you like for political grabbers who see the emergence of the candidates as their time turn in an ever-turning wheel of Nigeria's political fortunes. 

And the politicians too, have very limited choice. After all, they want to be in the good book of the people and doling out cash and the likes are the ways to achieve that.

So, they use the peoples' commonwealth to buy favour from them which, interestingly, the people are aware of but are helpless to stop because they have been entrenched in ignorance and lack.

Indeed, politics in Nigeria has been aptly described as a national cake of sort at which people will do just anything to have a bite.  And the effect of this is what has consistently rubbed off on electoral processes over the years.

Number four is the belief that justice can be bought and sold in the marketplace of the Nigerian judiciary. In fact, justice is a commodity for the highest bitter. And that explains why it is often delayed through sponsored antics of judicial officers and members of the bar.

Number five, Nigeria's underdevelopment is down to the hypocrisy of its people who see black and call it white, who label something as evil because it is not beneficial to their socio-economic and political cause, etcetera etcetera.

Number six is religion. Religion thrives on sentiment and feelings and this has been used to the greatest advantage of the political class who tweaked the fault line when it suits their interest. And truly the country is today sharply divided religious lines and from which Frankenstein’s monsters like Boko Haram and Islamic Movement of Nigeria are daring it with violence and deaths.





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