by Joachim MacEbong
This is the second and concluding part of the review of federal ministries in 2012. You can check through the first part HERE.
Mines and Steel: We always hear about how Nigeria is rich in mineral resources, but little has been done to exploit it. The truth is that there’s no real incentive for the states to develop their solid minerals, since much of the money will go the federal government. The regulations to aid orderly development of the sector have only just been put in place in form of New Mining and Mineral Regulations (2011), and this is important to prevent incidents like the lead poisoning in Zamfara state. Musa Sada will have to do his best to entrench these new regulations, in order that the nation’s mining potential can be realised.
National Planning: What this ministry is supposed to do – provide a strategic road map for Nigeria’s development – looks good on paper, but there is little evidence of their impact in practice.
Niger Delta: In a region that already has the Niger Delta Development Commission catering to it, as well as huge allocations to its state governments, the addition of a ministry should have the South-south improving rapidly. But it isn’t. Apparently, just throwing money at a problem doesn’t work.
Petroleum: Diezani Allison-Madueke was a key actor in January’s subsidy protests, as well as the hearings that followed, which exposed the rot in the petroleum sector. In many ways, she is a poster child for everything wrong with the Jonathan administration, running a ministry that has historically been a law unto itself. This shows no sign of changing under her leadership because the several probe reports submitted this year are unlikely to be implemented, and the crucial Petroleum Industry Bill – yet to become law – supposed to bring transparency to the industry has been watered down considerably.
Police Affairs: This ministry has spent the year upgrading the equipment of the police, but where policing really needs to change is at the grassroots, the places closest to the people, and policemen need to be retrained to give better service, which will improve their ability to check crime.
Power: Barth Nnaji resigned as minister on August 28th, due to a conflict of interest in the ongoing reforms in the power sector, and has not been replaced. He had taken the process a considerable length – after constant battles with electricity workers – though not past the point of no return. An important example is the contract given to Manitoba Hydro International to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria, but was nearly cancelled by special interests. Several companies owned by highly placed Nigerians have placed bids for the distribution and generation assets of the PHCN, and the hope is that this process is completed as quickly and transparently as possible. Lord knows we need it.
Science and Technology: The major achievements of this ministry have to do with launching observation and communication satellites, Nigeria Sat X, and NigComSat 1-R respectively.
Sports: Bolaji Abdullahi held this portfolio jointly with the Youth Ministry until May when he assumed full charge, and as such cannot really take credit or blame for performances at the Olympics and Paralympics. He has however presented a plan that is supposed to help the nation do better in future international tournaments, as well as trying to improve the standards of the National Sports Festival, and reviving youth competitions.
Tourism: Edem Duke’s ministry has just a Tourism Master Plan to show for its efforts. Hopefully this plan is implemented, as Nigeria does not lack for tourist attractions.
Trade and Investment: The sole focus of this ministry is to improve the investment climate of the country, making it more business friendly. It makes sense for a country ranked 131st out of 185 countries in the Ease of Doing Business index. They claim a 24 hour timeline for registering new businesses, and give a total of 6,838 registrations in the second quarter of 2012. An upward climb in the rankings will be evidence of progress.
Transport: The railways have undergone a renewal, with the rehabilitation and commencement of operations on the western corridor (Lagos – Kano), with the eastern corridor (Port Harcourt – Maiduguri) to follow, and other proposed rail lines in the works. A number of ports are being rehabilitated as well. It’s been a Solid year for Idris Umar’s ministry.
Water resources: Sarah Ochekpe is in charge of a crucial portfolio, and she has gone about her duties in a quiet but effective way, making an impact in every area from water supply and sanitation to proper management of water resources to mitigate the effects of climate change. Aside from the various ongoing and completed projects, six new water laboratories are near completion in different parts of the country.
Women Affairs: This ministry continues to push for the inclusion of women at all levels of governance, as well as advocate for them on all kinds of issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to protection from violence.
Works: The Third Mainland Bridge underwent maintenance this year, but for some reason no one thought to install lights. Mike Onolememen’s ministry also lays claim to 11 projects completed in the last 9 months, with construction/dualization ongoing in dozens of other locations. Whether they will all be completed is another matter entirely.
Youth Development: Bolaji Abdullahi put forward reforms in the NYSC, which included ending posting of corp members to private firms. This was highly divisive, especially as calls for the scrapping of the scheme are at an all-time high. He did not get to implement these reforms, as he left for the Sports Ministry in May. In came Inuwa Abdulkadir, who soon courted controversy by reversing an order from the NYSC DG ending posting to violence prone Northern states. About 90% of this ministry’s budget is for the NYSC, which only a few thousand youths pass through each year. It raises the question about whether the Ministry of Youth development should exist in the first place.