The YNaija Ministers’ Ranking: Worse or good, COVID-19 exposes the competence level of Buhari’s cabinet

From the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country on February 27th, virtually every aspect of national life has been affected and the competence of public officials or otherwise have been called to question in the last one month of the pandemic holding sway. This development and sundry issues forms the background for our March 2020 Ministers Ranking.

We rank  the effectiveness of 10 Ministers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s 43-man cabinet, from worse to good:

Worse:

10.Rauf Aregbesola (Interior)

One of the key issues the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore, is the absence of a viable database in the country. At a time when there are ongoing conversations about a stimulus plan for citizens across the globe, it is clear that this will be difficult to achieve in Nigeria without corruption rearing its ugly head. This is evident in the case where contact tracing for suspected coronavirus patients is difficult because of the unavailability of a reliable bank for citizens’ data.

Nigerians currently have multiple means of identification from the International Passport, to the Voters Identification Number and Bank Verification Number (BVN). Others include the Tax Identification Number (TIN) and the Drivers’ Licence. In spite of this, nothing has been done to harmonise this data for development purposes or even ensure that citizens who have registered for the National Identification Number (NIN) get their cards after six years. There are also no obvious plans to conduct another population census since the last was conducted 14 years ago.

We consider this a major failure on the part of the Interior Ministry under the leadership of Honourable Aregbesola, considering that this ought to be a major assignment he should have considered a top priority over the next four years. We will continue to rate his ministry poor to draw his attention to this major issue.


9. Paulen Tallen ( Women Affairs)

It is difficult to see or understand the major antecedents of Mrs. Tallen that made her the most suitable fit for the Women Affairs Ministry. While she is reputed to be the first female Minister of Science and Technology in the country as well as first female Deputy Governor in her home state of Plateau, it is worrisome that month-in, month-out; the impact of her leadership is underwhelming in what should be one of Nigeria’s most powerful ministries in the light of global shift.

Most critically, the International Women’s Month 2020 comes to an end days from now and not much was heard from this all-important ministry about its achievements and/or plans towards bringing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 5, for women and children in the country to reality. Worse still, the UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, has warned that with the pace of things with regard to the disparity between men and women in the area of governance, development and economic opportunities, it will take over 200 years to achieve gender equality in Nigeria.

There are also countless injustices against women and girls (minors especially) across the country almost on a daily basis and policies alongside legal framework championed by the Ministry will go a long way in urgently addressing these issues squarely and promoting gender equality.


8. Timipre Sylva (State, Petroleum Resources)

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the economy especially with a dip in global oil prices, and what this portends for the country in the coming weeks if the fall continues (as predicted), can only be better imagined. This is especially as Nigeria relies on revenue from oil exports to survive.

Minister Sylva’s role in all of these would be to ensure that Nigeria is at least able to achieve self-sustenance in oil production for domestic use. As at this month, nothing substantial is on ground to ensure that the countries four refineries work at optimal capacity in order to halt the country’s worrying expenditure on petrol subsidies. Closely linked with this, the Minister disrespected Nigerians while briefing journalists at the end of a recent meeting at the State House, Abuja by saying that the President “graciously” approved the reduction of petrol prices, when in reality a drop in crude oil prices should inevitably impact on product prices.

It is commendable that the Minister has declared 2020 as the ‘Year of Gas for the Nation’ and is spearheading the federal government’s drive for the full exploitation of the country’s gas reserves including deepening the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) as well as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in the country, but it is apparent that there are no concrete policy measures on ground to make the deployment of CNG at retail outlets a reality for the country in the shortest possible time.


Fair:

7. Sadiya Umar Farouq (Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development)

Quite commendable this month for Minister Sadiya Umar, is the series of step-down training workshops for teachers and caregivers of children with special needs held in Ibadan and her disclosure that persons displaced by Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East and living in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps in the Federal Capital Territory, may not return to their ancestral homes again, following government’s application for land in the FCT to resettle them permanently is also crucial.

Considering the hygiene situation and general state of these IDP camps, we are watching closely to see how this ministry will contribute to solving the issues associated with the recent Soba/Abule -Odo Gas Explosion as well as carry out sensitization and provision of medical needs to IDPs in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is however, discomforting to note that beneficiaries of its youth empowerment programme, N-Power under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) which targets vulnerable groups, were not paid their monthly stipends owing to verification process in the ministry, which largely was connected to a delayed understanding of the programme since her inauguration as Minister in October.


6. Zainab Ahmed (Finance, Budget and National Planning)

 

Good:

5. Ali Isa Pantami (Communication and Digital Economy)

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, perhaps the most commendable achievement of the Minister this month is the Federal Government’s introduction of the Unified Communication Services (UCS) platform to provide reliable, secure audio and video communication, so as to minimise the need for physical meetings while performing the day-to-day functions of government.

Also worthy of note is the resolve by the Federal Government to pursue a legislation necessary to assist in achieving its goal of promoting the use of local skills as well as the development of indigenous software in Nigeria.

Rumours of a proxy war between Pantami and the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, is something the Minister has to check and retrace his steps if the allegations against him is true, as all of the bickering would not augur well for the growth of the Ministry.

4. Hadi Sirika (Aviation)

What we consider unique for Sirika in this month is the successful partnership between his ministry and the federal health authorities to ensure that proper screening for symptoms of coronavirus took place at the nation’s major airports.

With signs of the case rising, it remains questionable however why the aviation ministry initially delayed in banning flights from high-risk countries into the country, but we consider as ‘alibi,’ the excuse by the Information Minister that the delay in the implementation of flight restrictions was to enable airlines put safety measures in place in what he described as NOTAM – Notice To All Airmen

While the measure is now in full force, with a closure of the entire airports to air traffic, the Minister earns credit for the contributory role of his ministry in keeping the numbers low compared to other climes, due to the thermal screening that was put in place early enough.


3. Sunday Dare (Sports and Youth Development)

In the wake of the coronavirus on the shores of the country, the Minister displayed foresight and acted swiftly by suspending the kickoff of the National Sports Festival scheduled to hold in Benin City and cancelling the Orientation exercise of the National Youth Service Corps which had commenced days earlier. These ‘timely’ actions have contributed immensely in ensuring that the spread of the pandemic is effectively contained, considering the state of our health facilities in the country and the wanton effect that may follow an outbreak in such places if leadership at critical sectors fails in times like this.

Also worthy of note is the recent signing of partnership agreements between the Ministry and private organisations to help critical parts of the sports sector. One of such is the appointment of Nilayo Sports Management Limited as the official marketing consultant to Team Nigeria for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as a solution to helping the government solve the problem of over-dependence for funding.

The other is a Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U) between the Nigerian Tulip International College (NTIC) on the 100% scholarship given to 20 Nigerian students in five different sports, based on the Minister’s philosophy that young athletes need quality education to be good sportsmen. Such partnernership will indeed get more of Nigeria’s talented youngsters on the right path even as they participate in sports.


2. Olorunimbe Mamora (State, Health)

As the Senior Minister, it is totally fair that the praise for the effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic is shared between both men who have worked in concert with the Lagos Ministry of Health under the leadership of Prof. Akin Abayomi.

While there is no singular role available in the public domain that is traceable to the Minister of State in the scheme of things, by just doing his work in ensuring that things work well and sitting on the Presidential Task Force for the Control of the Coronavirus-19 Disease (COVID-19), we commend Dr. Mamora and his team for their efforts.

1. Osagie Ehanire (Health)

Ever since the outbreak of the Coronavirus on the continent, the Federal Government showed some level of preparedness towards preventing Covid-19 from entering the country and with the eventual outbreak in the country on 27th February, there have been increased efforts by federal health authorities to ensure it is effectively contained. The Honourable Minister of Health sits at the centre of this very laudable effort.

Working round the clock to update Nigerians on latest from the primary agency handling the situation, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) coupled with the absence of a father figure to douse the tension, the Minister did creditably in ensuring that Nigerians did not just stay informed but that they are properly enlightened about the way forward.

Along with the pragmatic partner in Lagos Government under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, although Nigeria (Lagos) recorded the third reported case of Coronavirus in Africa after Egypt and Algeria; and in spite of the increasing deaths and cases from the pandemic across the continent, Dr. Ehanire and his team played a major role in ensuring these numbers remain low in the country.


Editor’s Note: The YNaija Effectiveness Ranking is a perception index by our special editorial programme as determined by correspondent assessment, news reports, and opinion surveys. It is graded on the following parameters: campaign promise, social impact, and infrastructural development.

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