IT is rather perturbing that President Muhammadu Buhari is caving in to pressure from his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, to expand the size of his government as the march to the 2019 electoral season gathers momentum with the various political parties raring to go.
The economic recession set in just as Buhari was about to constitute his cabinet in 2015, and in order to save costs and run a lean cabinet, he reduced the number of ministers from 42 in the previous government to 36.
He demurred in reconstituting the boards of federal agencies. Efforts were also made to cut down the number of parastatals through mergers and outright scrapping.
After the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the ruling party last Monday in Abuja, Buhari promised to “expand” the “compressed” Federal Executive Council, FEC. He also promised to reconstitute the boards of parastatals because “our supporters are very eager for these appointments to be announced,” adding that he would do so, “especially now that the economy is improving, we will have more resources to cater for the appointees.”
Immediately after making this promise, a vote of confidence was passed on him and some even wanted him granted automatic ticket for the 2019 presidential run.
We find this rush to increase the size of government disturbing at a time the economy is taking its first shaky steps out of a debilitating recession.
It is very worrisome for the Federal Government to put the needs of politicians in the ruling party first before those of the generality of Nigerians if, indeed, the economy has improved to the point of putting the President in an expansive mood.
This gesture is bound to send the wrong signals, especially to the public sector workers’ unions, some of which are currently on strike over poor funding. Any move to pander to the needs of politicians is likely to make Labour very obdurate in its demands for a huge increase in the minimum wage.
Coming at a time that workers and pensioners in many states of the federation have not been paid, it sends very wrong signals about the government’s sense of priority.
We call on President Buhari not to increase the size of his government. What we need is a re-jig of the cabinet to bring in competent individuals to replace ministers who have failed to perform.
As we move towards greater political activities, it is actually time to reduce the number of politicians in the cabinet and bring in more technocrats so that governance will not suffer as the politicians hit the trail for the 2019 electioneering activities.
Bringing in more political jobbers will not add value to governance. Rather, it will increase corruption and constitute avoidable drain on the public treasury.