Thursday 22 June 2006

A Shuffle unworthy of a black jack table

Lame Ducks Blame Luck

It appears lame duck regimes have a penchant for doing the incredible and anomalous.

Besides getting bogged down in incumbency inertia and bereft of great ideas, the work at hand moves from the general purpose of governance to securing a legacy which should have been duly affirmed long before the duck went lame.

The rehash of ideas, achievements and prospects for a future that is already upon us is enough to bore into stupefaction, if only we could be spared the details.

In the UK, not many were convinced of the radical nature of the reshuffle after the drubbing of the Labour Party in the local elections of May this year.

However, some saw a bit of a spark of wisdom in moving Jack Straw to lead the House of Commons from the post of Foreign Secretary then wondered how Margaret Beckett would handle the rather volatile, if not delicate brief of Foreign Secretary - somehow, she seems to be finding her feet.

Financed for Foreign Outlook

So, the news came that there has been a reshuffle of the Nigerian cabinet, of a government, which has less than a year to run. The striking changes pertained to the Finance Minister who would move to Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Minister moving to Internal Affairs.

The erstwhile Finance Minister - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - is an economist of world class standing and repute who was once a vice president in the World Bank and as a technocrat has made strides in bringing transparency to our financial environment as well as securing extensive debt relief.

Olu Adeniji who is now the Internal Affairs Minister was also part of the UN programme to repatriate the best minds of the developing world in Diaspora to their indigene countries to help in radical change and development - he is a career diplomat who was until now in charge of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Election 2007 in auction

This reshuffle has had many crying foul play in anticipation of the looting the treasury for the impending 2007 election.

Now, one would really hope that this would not be the case, but the innate propensity of the ruling elite to loot the coffers of Nigeria with impunity could only be curtailed for as long as there is no political position to fight for.

A power tussle is ensuing within the ruling party for a successor to President Olusegun Obasanjo as he failed to cajole, persuade, coerce and importune enough support for the seemingly tacit third term quest.

If the ruling party is to retain power, the problem of not having developed to a point where people can be convinced of good intentions through the honest word of politicians would mean persuasion through looting the treasury which should now be bursting with the proceeds of high oil prices.

Second hand bad hands

The Minister of State in the Finance Ministry has been elevated to the position vacated by her boss, but she would not take over the position of chairman of government's economic management team or have direct dealings with the external financial institutions, which the new Foreign Minister retains.

One can only wonder at the competence of the new Finance Minister if she cannot fully assume the brief for a ministry where she has to date been Minister of State and the malleability of that person in the impending looting of the treasury as many expect.

In view of this reshuffle, I am of the opinion that any talking head can handle the Foreign Affairs brief, however, it is the financial, economic and fiscal issues that need a competent pair of hands and definitely not a safe pair of "forcible" hands.

Shuffle unworthy of a blackjack table

Beyond that, the whole reshuffle looks like a pack of cards not presentable to black jack table as ministers move to new ministries whilst retaining some influence in their old ministry as is the case for the Minister of Solid Minerals who takes over Education and retains her core portfolio with Education being shorn of both its former ministers.

The two things that need the most attention, the education of the masses to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and the management of the economy to provide the infrastructure befitting of a country of Nigeria's stature suffer in the face of an expediency in need of a decent explanation.

We would see as it all unfolds.

Bloodied and slightly bowed, Tony Blair battles on

Obasanjo moves Okonjo-Iweala to Foreign Affairs

Nigeria: Obasanjo Sacks Obaji, Moves Okonjo-Iweala, 4 Others

Gunmen and reformers

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