One year after inauguration, an assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet reveals that some ministers performed below expectations, majority averagely, and only a few did well.
PREMIUM TIMES rated 21 ministries and reviewed their successes and failures under the management of the ministers inaugurated on August 21, 2019.
The analyses, though subjective, also featured commentaries from experts and public affairs analysts.
According to these reviews, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs manned by Godswill Akpabio, ministry of interior under the leadership of Rauf Aregbesola, the ministry of education under Adamu Adamu, and the ministry of information and culture headed by Lai Mohammed were rated low in terms of delivery.
While the majority of the ministers scored ‘average’, only the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, and the minister of youths and sports development, Sunday Dare, were rated as performing above average.
Nevertheless, Mr Buhari, during a retreat with the ministers, said the scorecard of the cabinet members shows that “progress has been made on all fronts, in spite of the multiple challenges.”
Reacting to the various criticisms against his government, Mr Buhari brushed them off, describing them as “politically motivated.”
“I have to charge all of you to defend the government vigorously and not allow any irresponsible and politically motivated statements to keep spreading falsehoods about this government. Information to the public should be better packaged, go on the offensive, we are proud of our achievements and we should blow our own trumpets,” he said.
In this round-up, PREMIUM TIMES highlights the ministers’ scorecards, noting their successes and failures.
The ministry of Niger Delta Affairs headed by Mr Akpabio was overshadowed by corruption scandals in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which it supervises, although some of the cases predate his appointment in 2019.
Some of these scandals did not however exclude Mr Akpabio, who was an active figure in some of these allegations of fraud. In fact, a former acting managing director of NDDC, Joy Nunieh, said Mr Akpabio had wanted her to take an oath which would have restrained her from exposing fraud at the commission.
Asides the scandals, the ministry, seen as a ‘project’ ministry, has failed to deliver on some of the projects meant to take roads, jetties, bridges, modern school and hospital buildings to the nine states that make up the Niger Delta region.
Several people who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said, in the past one year, the ministry has not created any noticeable impact in the Niger Delta.
The ministry of power under Mr Mamman also performed below expectations. The minister replaced former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, who was not just minister of power but also in charge of two other ministries – works and housing in 2015.
It was at the beginning of his second term that President Buhari perhaps realised the enormous challenge of power supply, which had defied the efforts of all governments before him, hence the need for the separation of the ministry from Mr Fashola’s portfolio.
There has been no significant improvement in electricity supply across Nigeria.
A recent investigation by PREMIUM TIMES showed just how Nigeria’s electricity problem cripples small businesses across the country.
Nevertheless, salvaging Nigeria’s power challenges is now largely hinged on a deal the government struck with German firm, Siemens.
The plan, designed by the German company, has three phases, and ultimately targets 25,000 megawatts (MW) of operational capacity long term, from 7,000MW and 11,000MW that are to be achieved by 2021 and 2023, respectively, through the first two phases. The ultimate target is roughly at par with the country’s current peak demand of nearly 26,000MW.
However, concerns still remain about incurring debts to fund development in an industry that suffers from a heavy liquidity crisis.
The ministry of information and culture headed by Lai Mohammed has not been able to change the perception of Nigerians about the government.
One of the failures of Mr Mohammed is the inability to implement the much acclaimed digital switch over six years after it was launched in some six states. The project aimed at transforming the television broadcasting system across the country from the current analog to digital mode will yield $1.1 billion for Nigeria once completed.
More so, as far as the tourism and culture sector is concerned, all that has happened in the last one year is more or less a litany of promises with little action to bring the promises into fruition.
While rating the minister’s performance, a knowledge management expert and communication specialist, Ariyo Atoye, said “he is a minister Nigerians have resigned to fate about what will eventually be his legacy.”
Although Nigeria’s Ministry of Interior under the former governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, has introduced some policies during his time at the helm, the ministry is still dwarfed by internal security challenges.
The ministry has supervisory control over the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigerian Correctional Service, Federal Fire Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
A year after Mr Aregbesola promised a beef-up of the country’s internal security, Nigeria is still bedeviled with a myriad of security challenges ranging from banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, violent protests, to Boko Haram, ISWAP insurgency in the northern parts of the country, among others.
Also, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on behalf of the federal government with the Belarusian minister of internal affairs, Yuri Karayev, in Minsk, with actions planned towards ending poverty and inequality in both countries by leveraging on each other’s experience.
However, after a year in office, the MoU with Belarus is yet to generate any positive returns to the country. Perhaps implementation of the MoU is still in the pipeline.
Ndubisi Nwokolo, the team lead for Nexitier and a security expert, said Mr Aregbesola’s performance can be rated as below average.
“I don’t think he will score up to 30 per cent, I think the security situation in Nigeria is nothing to write home about,” he said.
Mr Bello’s return as the FCT minister generated controversy among residents of the FCT as many said his administration, in the first tenure, looked on as infrastructure and other public utilities in the city decayed.
PREMIUM TIMES’ analysis of Mr Bello’s work in the past shows that he performed below average – even though he claimed to have fulfilled his promises.
Despite commencement of some projects and the approval of nine projects by the federal executive council in the past one year, most FCT residents believe infrastructure in the city is deteriorating, particularly due to poor maintenance.
Besides bad roads in different towns of the city, traffic lights at major points in the FCT are either not functioning or malfunctioning.
There is also the absence of street lights on some major highways leaving streets dark and dangerous to FCT residents, who have often complained about the darkness in the city while driving around town at night.
Road mishaps and crime rates have also escalated as a result of lack of these utilities, and the absence of CCTVs has made it worse to detect these crimes.
When asked to rate the ministers’ performance, Samson Itodo, activist and executive director of Yiaga Africa, said Mr Bello performed below average.
The minister of education, Adamu Adamu, was amongst those retained for President Buhari’s second tenure.
Meanwhile, the minister has not been able to resolve the issues that led to strike actions in the Nigerian tertiary education system. These strikes coupled with COVID-19, leading to the closure of schools, has further crippled the sector.
The major failures are ripples from the inadequate funding of the sector. The funds allocated to education is below the stipulated 15 to 20 per cent proposed by UNESCO. For instance, only 6.7 per cent of the 2020 budget was allocated to the education sector.
Also, the issue of out-of-school children remains a big challenge which the minister has not been to resolve.
Despite Mr Onu’s clamour for patronage of local manufacturers and inventors in his first campaign, his performance as the minister of science and technology, a year after inauguration, still reflects a ministry lagging behind in the promotion of indigenous products.
While Nigeria continues to largely depend on assemblage, importation rather than manufacturing, the minister’s promise of delivering nuclear technology for power in the country remains uncertain.
Idowu Farai, a professor of physics at the University of Ibadan, told PREMIUM TIMES the country has not been living up to its potentials in terms of science and technology.
Mr Farai said Nigeria’s science and technology industry is not the way it is not due to lack of local inventions and innovators “but lack of enough industrialists.”
“We are not lacking in inventions, we are lacking industrialisation. The inventions are there in our research institutes and universities gathering dust because our local industrialists do not want to take risk with our local inventions to produce them for commercial usage,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES’s review showed that Mr Abubakar’s impact as the minister of environment is yet to be felt a year into his time in office.
The country is yet to meet up with the Paris Agreement on climate change, which committed Nigeria to reducing “greenhouse gas emissions unconditionally by 20 percent and conditionally by 45 per cent.”
From emissions to gas flaring, spills, soot, and improper discharges of drilling mud during petroleum prospecting, among others, Nigeria is still a major victim of pollution due largely to unregulated activities across major sectors.
Also, the Ogoni clean-up project, which is yet to gain significant progress to the satisfaction of stakeholders, is another factor that drew back the rating of Mr Abubakar.
One year after he was re-appointed as the minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu has been rated below average by key players in the water sector.
Mr Adamu, who has been the minister since 2015, has little or no achievements or success stories in the sector, experts opine.
This paper reported how the ministry had been focusing more on advocacy visits to states across the country to campaign against open defecation in the last one year.
One year after his reappointment, the minister’s performance was described as “woeful” by an expert in the water sector. Other experts, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said they were unable to rate him high, due to his dismal record.
The ministry, in its response to the analysis, said the rating was not fair, claiming it implemented the WASH Action Programme in the last 12 months where 34 water supply projects have been completed, 159 rural water supply schemes in the North East, IDP camps, and some federal institutions and establishments were constructed, and 895 water supply schemes in 10 states.
It added that the river basin development authorities have now been strategically placed to facilitate national food security and support employment opportunities.
Ministers WithAverage performance
Chris Ngige was reappointed the minister of labour and employment in 2019 with Festus Keyamo deployed from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to assist Mr Ngige as the state minister of labour and employment.
Although one of the major failures of the ministers is the inability to resolve the incessant strike actions from the labour unions, by mid-October 2019, the government and labour unions reached an agreement on consequential adjustments in salaries, one of the demands of the unions.
Several states have begun the implementation of new minimum wage for civil servants in their employment.
Another achievement of the ministry is the government’s plan to employ at least 1,000 persons from each of the 774 local government areas in the country, who will be paid N20,000 each monthly to carry out public works.
Despite the plan, Nigeria is battling with a high unemployment rate which the National Bureau of Statistics recently said has risen to 27.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020. It is an increase from 23.1 percent unemployed in the third quarter of 2018.
For two public affairs analysts who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, the ministry has not done badly in the last one year.
Under Amaechi’s watch as the minister of transportation, rail transportation received a boost. While the ministry has made some commendable progress in upgrading rail infrastructure, the situation in the maritime sector leaves much to be desired.
So, though the government plans to build a network of rail lines across the country (and connecting neighbouring countries like the recently approved Kano-Maradi in Niger Republic), actually, the Buhari administration could only deliver two of such rail lines – Lagos/Ibadan and Warri/Itakpe.
The completion dates for these two railway lines have been shifted so many times that even Mr Amaechi has stopped making promises.
To achieve its rail line dreams, as Mr Amaechi called it, the government needs to figure out why it has failed to woo investors to the sector and obtain loans from elsewhere apart from China.
Even the Chinese loan that the government seems only capable of attracting is not without problems.
Unlike his first stint between 2015 and 2019, the past one year was quite a busy one for Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister.
This is especially because of the COVID-19 outbreak which crippled economic and social activities, both locally and internationally.
He was to continue with plans on reforming Nigeria’s foreign embassies and consulates and improving global business relations for Nigerians, as well as creating more cooperation with neighbouring African countries, especially in the fight against corruption.
The ministry was heavily criticised for its handling of the evacuation process amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While many complained about the evacuation fee of N290,000, Mr Onyeama said the federal government had no resources to foot the bills of returning Nigerians.
At the initial stage of the evacuation, the minister, at a May briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the fee covered accommodation and feeding bills of the returnees who were taken in on a 14-day quarantine before they dispersed to their various homes.
Key players in the sector have opined that Mr Onyeama performed averagely in the last 12 months.
President Muhammadu Buhari reintroduced the police affairs ministry in tandem with his electoral promise to secure the lives and property of Nigerians. He appointed Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi to take charge of the ministry.
But a year after, these expectations have not materialised, PREMIUM TIMES reported.
Considering the period of existence, public affairs analysts have posited that the ministry has performed fairly in terms of recruitment and establishing the police trust fund.
Meanwhile, they proffered the improvement in security and welfare concerns of the police operatives as solutions to the force’s major challenges.
Sabo Nanono was tasked with the job of manning the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development but has not performed well enough.
Razaq Fatai, the policy lead for agriculture and inclusive growth at the ONE Campaign, said Mr Nanono’s performance can be rated as fair, but added that more effort should still be rolled out in order to achieve food security in the country.
Amongst other challenges, 17 years after the African Union passed the Maputo Declaration of 2003, which among other things, stipulates the allocation of 10 percent of federal budgets to development of agriculture, Nigeria is yet to implement the agreement.
Also, despite the continuous claims of subsiding farm inputs for easy access by Nigerian farmers in different zones of the country by the federal government, many smallholder farmers still lament lack of access to inputs and subventions.
It was not surprising when Mr Fashola’s name surfaced on the 43-man list, considering his performance as the head of three ministries— work, power and housing — during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term.
For his performance in the past one year of the second term, Mr Fashola was rated average.
Infrastructural development has been a focal reference point of the Buhari-led administration. A bulk of this has been piloted by the ministry of works and housing.
For the ongoing national housing projects in 34 states, the FCT inclusive, only a few state governments have not provided land for the projects. Funded by the Federal Mortgage Bank, the initiative has under its ambit about 5,301 mortgages worth N38 billion.
The ministry also saw to the housing documentation and issuance of certificates of occupancy. Mr Fashola said he has issued about 3,450 CofOs and granted consent to almost 2,000.
In terms of road construction, Femi Osuntokun, a Port Harcourt-based development expert, said relative to other regions, the South-south Still grapples with bad roads.
He mentioned Aba-Port Harcourt road, East-West road, Calabar-Itu Road as some roads that could open a massive economic avenue for the region if fixed.
On August 21, 2019, Mr Buhari created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development and appointed Sadiya Farouq to head it.
Part of the ministry’s responsibilities is to coordinate the administration’s Special Intervention Programmes, and superinted over the humanitarian policies of the government.
The ministry rolled out quite a number of palliative distribution initiatives during the total lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although considered laudable despite the pandemic induced-lockdown, the ministry failed to provide adequate transparency in respect to identifying the pupils and their respective homes that benefited from the palliatives, thus making the whole process prone to corruption.
Mr Adebayo had the mandate to lead the promotion of government’s policies of ease of doing business, job creation, poverty eradication and industrialisation as a minister of trade and investment.
The minister was also expected to implement policies and programmes to improve standardisation of bilateral trade agreements, stimulating growth of domestic micro, small and medium scale enterprises, and renewed roadmap to increase Nigeria’s foreign direct investment.
When Mr Adebayo assumed office, there were a number of challenges bedevilling the trade and investment environment, such as multiple taxation, high cost of power supply, difficulty with access to loans, poor infrastructure, high cost of doing business, among others.
PREMIUM TIMES analysed how these and numerous other factors culminate in the inability of Nigerian goods and services to be competitive in the export market, a year after inauguration.
Hadi Sirika was appointed as the minister of aviation by the president, after rounding off his tenure as the state minister of aviation under Rotimi Amaechi, who was the minister of transportation and aviation, during the President’s first term in office.
His emergence as the aviation minister was no surprise to all the major players in the aviation industry, given his experience in the aviation sector.
The delivery of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport upgrade is a key area the minister has been scored high by players in the aviation industry.
However, as one of his failures, the national carrier, which is to replace the defunct Nigerian airways, is yet to come through, two years after it was launched in London. This was tied to lack of investors and technical partners.
John Ojikutu, a retired captain and a former military commandant of the Muritala Muhammed Airport told PREMIUM TIMES that the minister’s performance is above average and he will score him as high as 75 percent.
“One of the areas I commend him for is the Abuja airport runway and the upgrade of Enugu airport. All these were completed within six months.”
On August 21, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Pauline Tallen as the minister of women affairs and social development.
The ministry, founded in 2005, has as its key objective, the stimulation of action to promote civic, political, social and economic participation of women, coordinating and monitoring women’s programmes; providing technical and financial support for women amongst others.
Ms Tallen was appointed at a time when challenges faced by women in the country were, and are at record high. Some of these challenges includes domestic violence, low inclusion of women in politics, child marriage, female mutilation amongst others.
On assuming office, the newly appointed minister promised to tackle these challenges and also advocate for increased girl-child education.
A PREMIUM TIMES review of the minister’s first year in office showed some efforts made, however, the spate of gender-based violence and non-inclusion of women in politics marred Tallen’s first year in office.
The national president of the Initiative For Women’s Accelerated Development In Africa, Evelyn Onyilo, said Mr Tallen’s performance can be rated as good, but noted that more milestones can still be achieved.
Few good ones
Mr Dare stunned his critics with his performance as the head of sports and youth development ministry, PREMIUM TIMES’ analysis showed.
It was not surprising that there were pockets of discordant tunes when Sunday Dare, a journalist, was deployed to the Ministry of Sports and Youth after his screening and confirmation by the Senate in 2019.
However, even though Mr Dare does not possess sports experience, he has an impressive curriculum vitae which saw him excel in his chosen field of journalism before detouring to politics.
True to his words that he would take sports away from being just a pastime or mere recreational activity to being business as it is done in developed countries, the minister appears to be serious in this direction.
There is a new Sports Industry Policy (SIP) in place. According to the minister, the new SIP will replace the obsolete 2009 version and will address four key areas “3 Is and 1 P” – Infrastructure, Investment, Incentives, and Policy, that will catapult sports in Nigeria to the next level.
The noticeable gains in the youth sector should be sustained and improved upon also in the years ahead, experts advised.
Mr Pantami, who heads the ministry of communications, fostered an image of confidence and competence in contrast to his predecessor, Adebayo Shittu, after having enjoyed a cordial relationship with other agencies in the ministry, as the DG of NITDA. As a technocrat, many felt he was the man for the job.
One year after, his performance appears to tally with people’s expectations, an analysis by PREMIUM TIMES revealed.
Amongst some of the laudable feats are; the SIM cards registration policy, suspension of telecom USSD charges, data cost deduction and the downward review of Right of Way (RoW) charges.
The RoW is a legal permit that allows telecom operators to use the state lands to lay their telecom infrastructures such as connectivity cables.