Immediately President Buhari released the list of his 21 ministers, I noticed a barrage of criticisms from some Nigerians especially from the opposition, PDP. To them, the long wait to get the ministers list released is not just worth it. The wailing wailers raised some questions that prompted me to write this piece:“Is this their so-called first-eleven? Where are the Buhari’s saints? Is the list worth the long wait?” Some say they are page boys of corruption. Others say: Is this the list Buhari kept to his chest? Why should the President keep this kind of list to his chest? According to them there is nothing so special about the president’s list. It is just the recycling people who were part of the rot in the past.
Now, contrary to the insinuations from those who seek to hide and suppress the truth about the successful candidates, I make to say that I know some of them and I know they possess the required capacity and capability to assist President Buhari in rebuilding Nigeria. Those who do not know President Buhari very well may not understand this list. Those who are not in the know of what happens in the engine room of APC may not know this. The mockers and haters of this list are just mere spectators. They are angry. They are bad losers.
For record purposes, let me tell us a little bit of what I know about ten of these ministers, namely: Amaechi, Fashola, Fayemi, Ibe Kachikwu, Ngige, Onu, Audu Ogbeh, Lai Mohammed, Udo Udoma, and Aisha Al-Hassan. Those who know about the remaining eleven can help to tell Nigerians about them. Speaking strictly for myself, I know that there is no way Amaechi, Fashola, Fayemi would have missed this list. Given their deep involvement in the Change Project and their antecedents as trail blazers in the states where they served as governors, I know that the list will not be complete without them. Time and space will not permit me to recall their monumental contributions to 2015 change project of electing Mr. Buhari as President. Rotimi Amaechi took the biggest risk of standing for Mr. Buhari while ditching former President Goodluck Jonathan, his brother, in a country held by the throat by ethnic and primordial politics. This is remarkable and courageous at a time like this. Time and space will not permit me to showcase the achievements of these three musketeers as governors and their colleagues like Kwankwaso, Speaker Tambuwal and others. To all intents and purposes, these governors proved that Nigeria is not a hopeless or basket case. They showed serious signs of commitment to quality leadership, politics or no politics. Now, if I may ask: Did you witness the seamless primary elections that produced Buhari as APC candidate in Lagos? These men played a critical role to make it a reality. Please go to Ekiti, Rivers and Lagos to see their marks on the sands of time. One by one they started counting the APC governors until forces of history stopped PDP on March 28, 2015.
Ibe Kachikwu, who is the first person President Buhari appointed to head NNPC must be someone who knows what he has been doing in the oil industry. Mr. Kachikwu must have had track records of leadership competence and service delivery to attract Mr. Buhari’s attention. I may not have known him that much but his actions and deeds since he took up that prestigious appointment tells me that he must be among the best in the industry having worked extensively in the Mobil Producing and Exxon Mobil for years. His pedigree and carriage must have paved way for him to assume leadership of this critical sector seen by many as a cash cow to plunder with reckless abandon. Mr. Kachikwu is a huge brain and what he does not know is not worth knowing.
How many of us know that it was Chris Ngige that opened the eyes of people of Anambra that something good can come from government. Go to Anambra State today and you will see his monumental legacies. Succeeding governments have leveraged on his solid foundation to add values to that state. Chris Ngige has remained consistent and faithful to ACN and then to APC. He was lobbied by PDP several times but he stood his ground and remained committed .
What of Ogbonnaya Onu? This is one of the most consistent politicians I have ever seen in Nigeria. He remained with Buhari’s ANPP, CPC and APC without shifting ground. He did not betray his party despite its failings in 2003, 2007 and 2011 until Buhari won the election on March 28 2015. He was not bought with money. He was not lured with perks of office. He remained a man to be trusted, a man who saw tomorrow and a man who is not hungry.
How about Audu Ogbeh? Since this decent man left PDP, he did not look back. There was nothing PDP did not do to bring him back to the fold but not Audu Ogbeh. He remains a strong character, a disciplined politician with consummate experience to help President Buhari succeed. His strong character to keep his head when others were losing theirs endeared him to many including the leadership of APC. Audu Ogbeh is not a bread and butter politician. He can be trusted.
Now enter Aisha-Al Hassan, the woman called Mama Taraba. The former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Taraba State. A great woman who broke the vicious cycle and the jinx that governorship positions are not meant for men alone in Nigeria. In Taraba, this great woman battled men almost to a standstill and nearly clinched the governorship of state. They rigged her out at the dying minute but this Amazon will return. I am sure her courage and deep commitment to bringing service to her people in Taraba endeared her to President Buhari. We need her input and energy in the struggle for a new Nigeria.
How about Lai Mohammed? He remains undoubtedly one of the most articulate and versatile Publicity Secretary of any Party in Africa. He is soft-spoken, eloquent, tactical, resolute proactive and hyper active, who understands the rules of engagement and rules of law and deployed these great arsenals to demolish PDP. His nomination is a reward for hard work. He is my Oga-At-The-Top in this business and he deserves my respect.
In 1999, the late Bola Ige of blessed memory told me about Udo Udoma. He promised that he will introduce me to this great man who belongs to the honest and dedicated people that will reposition Nigeria for greatness. Even though I did not meet him eventually, what Bola Ige told me about him continues to linger in my innermost chambers. A good man remains a good man any and I am sure President Buhari brought him into the saddle as a result of his character and illustrious background.
I may not know the pedigree of the other 11 nominees, but I know that what informed the decision of President Buhari to pick these 10 must have informed his decision also to pick these 11. President Buhari will never make the mistake his critics, election losers and wailing wailers expect him to make. President Buhari has started well to the shame of his critics and miserable losers. Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. He has a powerful and formidable team who can make the difference at a time like this. All the President needs now is support and encouragement to deal decisively with the economic and political saboteurs who have held the nation hostage in the past 16 years. These people cannot go down without a fight but I know President Buhari and his ministers will be equal to the task. Nigeria must progress or we all perish. The choice is ours.
Joe Igbokwe is the Publicity Secretary of the ruling APC in Lagos State.