Details of why Presidents Muhammadu Buhari is yet to release the full list of ministerial nominees have been revealed as the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the president, Mallam Garba Shehu described the names being circulated in the media as mere speculations.
According to Shehu, no list has been released officially to the public, either by the President himself or the Senate, adding “All names being bandied about, from our own point of view, they are speculations. Unless they are read on the floor of the Senate as coming from the President, we don’t consider these names as being authentic.
He explained that it took the president a long time to release the list because he was concerned about the systematic decay; the rottenness in the system which he inherited and didn’t want to build upon.
Shehu noted that it would have been a grave mistake to have appointed ministers two, three days or one week after Buhari had taken over. “That would have meant a continuation of business as usual and unacceptable foundation that he found in place,” he said.
Contrary to the criticism of many that the president delayed because he was searching for saints, Shehu debunked it, adding that the period of time was not used in looking for saints or people of high moral calibre.
“Probably, he is looking for such kind of people, but more importantly, he doesn’t want to operate a system in which revenues will be stolen and transferred to private pockets in either the crude oil sector or other revenue generating agencies that are allowed to keep accounts that they themselves don’t know how many existed. So, he is blocking all these leakages and trying to scrape the floor in order to make sure that if we are building something new, it must be something that would stand the taste of time. We don’t have to build on the rotten foundation that was found in place. So, it is a cleansing process that takes more of this time than any other thing,” he stated.
On why the lists were coming in batches, Shehu said it was not new that presidents could release ministerial lists in batches.
As he put it, “What is wrong with the list coming in batches? Let me be honest with you, in your own memory of this democracy, was there any President who gave you all the names of prospective ministers on day one? Former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan – they all presented ministerial nomination in batches. So, President Buhari is not doing something that has not been done before.
The appointment of ministers itself is not just as easy as appointing a new head boy for a secondary school. There are so many interests to balance in addition to the kind of quality that would measure up to the high standard that he has set for the administration. There are equally other challenges.”
He noted that apart from laying good foundation for the incoming ministers, the president had to make consultations with governors, who are very strong in their own states. “Who would feel good if people, for instance, who worked against the interest of the party in the state come to Abuja and get ministerial appointment? They will not be happy back in their states. Some chieftains of the party have labored at the center. But people from somewhere else are being considered and seen. Who will be happy? So, all these interests must be balanced. I believe that that the President has been doing quite a lot of that. He is quite conscious of the sensitivities of the entire population. He is doing as much as he can to give that sense of belonging to every part of the country,” he said.