Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, November 20, 2015

New Nigerian cabinet

President Buhari has finally assigned portfolios to his new cabinet. Here are some names to remember.

Nigeria gets new cabinet after six-month delay
Choosing a cabinet in Nigeria is a complicated balancing act. One must juggle the need for skilled leaders with the requirement to repay political allies, while navigating the shifting alliances of internal party politics and eliminating accumulated deadwood. Then there’s the need to carefully maintain an ethnic and religious balance, and to make sure each of the country’s 36 states is somehow represented.
Buhari and (most of) the cabinet
No wonder it took newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari nearly six months to make his decision.

“Impatience is not a virtue,” said the president to his critics, who thought that the long delay in naming a new government was bad for business. Buhari was unmoved: “Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results,” he said.

Finally, on Wednesday, Buhari unveiled the results of his lengthy deliberations, swearing in 36 ministers at a ceremony in the capital Abuja…

The most notable decision involves Buhari himself. The president has taken charge of the ministry of petroleum, which for years has been associated with gross mismanagement and corruption on a grand scale…

The influential finance portfolio has been handed to Kemi Adeosun, a former investment bank chief who has a daunting task ahead of her. Collapsing oil prices have slashed the government’s revenue, and stunted economic growth, with analysts predicting more turbulent times ahead…

[S]he will have to work closely with the new minister of trade and investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, head of the private equity company African Capital Alliance…

Buhari, a military man himself, chose a retired brigadier-general as defence minister. The appointment of Dan Ali might rile a few feathers in the military, however.

Another minister to watch is Babatunde Fashola, who heads the new power, works and housing ministry. His job is to maintain and overhaul the country’s creaking infrastructure, an impossible task for most people.

But Fashola has a track record: as governor of Lagos, Africa’s largest city, until May this year, Fashola is credited with huge improvements in public transport, roads, affordable housing and security. Can he do the same on a national level?

Although it remains to be tested, Buhari’s first cabinet is a positive statement from the new leader, and a sign that he is, at the very least, paying lip service to the promises he made in his victorious electoral campaign…

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