A Nigerian writer and columnist has penned a thought-provoking and explosive piece which was inspired by the recent appointment in Imo state and other happenings in the polity.
For the second time in as many months, Imo State governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha has blazed the trail in Nigerian governance by thinking out of the box. Only a month ago he won accolades from Imo youths [in the form of stones, broken bottles and social media insults] for erecting a statue in Owerri in honour of South African President Jacob Zuma. Okorocha has now blazed three more trails, first by creating 28 state ministries, six more than the Federal Government.
He blazed a second trail by creating a Ministry of Happiness and Couples’ Fulfilment. This is very important because in nearly 60 years since independence, Nigerian federal and state governments still have only old-fashioned ministries such as Works, Agriculture, Education, Health and Justice. Our economy and society have evolved far beyond the remits of these ministries. No wonder that there are many new problems in our country which no ministry is capable handling, such as Yahoo Yahoo, rural banditry, industrial-scale kidnapping, several million IDPs, illegal migration through the Sahara Desert, militancy and insurgency.
The third important trail that Okorocha blazed was that he appointed his sister, Mrs Ololo as the Commissioner for Happiness. Some other state governors in Nigeria would have wanted to appoint their sisters and daughters as commissioners but they are afraid of their citizens.
The Federal Government and most state governments in Nigeria are grappling with unique problems that were not envisaged at the time the current ministries were created. That is why many of our ministries these days do not know what they are supposed to do. In the olden days, government used to publish every ministry’s duties in a gazette but I have not set my eyes on a gazette, federal or state, for many years now. That is why civil servants sit around just counting the days before the next salary.
It is for this reason that I recommend to the federal and state governments to take a cue from Okorocha and create forward-looking ministries that are appropriately named to address modern day problems. I want us to take a cue from Egypt and call a spade a spade in naming our ministries. As a very young student I noticed that every military force in this world was under a Ministry of Defence. I wondered, if all soldiers in the world are on defence duty, why are there wars all over the place when no one is attacking? It was only Egypt that appropriately named its own as Ministry of War.
Lest some people say that I am not giving constructive suggestions, I will like to suggest a few ministries that some governments can create in order to call a spade a spade and also tackle modern problems. For example, Kano State government recently spent N208m to empower 5,200 masu shayi [tea sellers] in the state. Each tea seller got cartons of noodles, beverages, liquid and powdered milk, tea, crates of eggs, white sugar, spaghetti, bread and N40,000 to assist his trade. I even saw the video of a beautiful dance and song by a dancing troupe in support of the program.
The singers said Baba Ganduje has instructed every Kano man and woman to drink tea. I therefore advise him to create a Ministry of Tea, Bread and Butter in order to realise this goal of massive tea drinking in Kano State. In neighbouring Katsina State, the government has distributed 4,500 goats to secondary school students under its Goat Empowerment Program. KTSG should create a Ministry of Goats and Small Ruminants in order to ensure that everybody gets a goat. It should however be aware that goats were listed as a factor in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Borno State government is busy rebuilding shattered towns in Bama, Monguno and Damboa and I read recently that United Nations is shopping around for $1billion to assist it. I think the problem is that the name of Borno State’s Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement does not impress rich donors. If it is renamed Ministry of Boko Haram War and Fall-Out Mitigation, it will open more Western donor purses. Some years ago I accompanied a friend on a visit to rural Plateau State and was puzzled to see deep potholes all over the landscape, many of them full of water.
When I asked, I was told that they were left overs from the days of tin mining. Sure, when we were kids, tin mining in Plateau was a more popular topic in Geography than oil. I therefore suggest the creation of a Plateau State Ministry of Former Tin Mines. It should fish out all the British and other European miners that scarred the land and drag them back here to fill the holes they left behind.
Benue State should immediately create a Ministry for the Redirection of Popular Aggression. The state government is months behind in salary payment and Governor Ortom said he needs N40billion to clear the backlog. Suddenly he got a saving grace in the Anti-Open Grazing Edict and all the people’s fury was redirected from salaries to herdsmen. The new ministry will consolidate on this huge political gain.
On the other hand, Kaduna State has this year alone sacked 4,000 district and village heads, 21,000 teachers, 4,000 local government workers and is planning to “rationalise” the state civil service. Rumours are that it intends to replace all of them with computers. KDSG should create a Ministry of Digital Teaching, Chieftaincy and Local Government Service. If a computer is installed to replace a village head, it will perform much better because it will make a more scientific decision on every local matter that is brought to it.
Insofar as most Nigerian slaves brought back from Libya took off from its territory, Edo State needs to create a Ministry of Trans-Saharan Trafficking and Mediterranean Affairs. This ministry should take over the journey from traffickers and pirates and regulate it along the lines of the Pilgrims Board. Zamfara State must create a Ministry of Rural Banditry and Cattle Rustling because none of its old-fashioned ministries at present could rise to the challenge of the new phenomena.
Adamawa State should create a Ministry of Divided Loyalties, which is its biggest problem since Atiku Abubakar defected to PDP. Governor Mohammed Bindow is in quandary; eight commissioners were allegedly preparing to defect to PDP and Atiku’s daughter continues to be the Commissioner of Health in an APC cabinet. I urge the Cross River State government to create a Ministry of Missed Opportunities. CRSG serially lost Bakassi to Cameroon, lost all its oil wells to Akwa Ibom and also lost Tinapa Resort to abandoned projects. The new ministry should explore every opportunity for a second chance. Ekiti State on the other hand should create a Ministry of Political Bluster and Anti-Malu Posturing.
As for the Federal Government, it should please create a Federal Ministry of Promise Fulfilment and 2019 Affairs in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle. Among the ministry’s gazetted schedule of duties, it should end the Boko Haram war, resettle all IDPs; apprehend all kidnappers, bandits, militants and cattle rustlers; end all migration to Europe through the Sahara desert and Mediterranean Sea; increase power supply to 20,000 megawatts at lower tariff; end fuel importation; bring the naira back to parity with the US dollar and complete all projects that we have been hearing about since our childhood including Ajaokuta Steel, standard gauge railway, inland container terminals, Baro inland port, Mambilla Dam, Oso condensate, Second Niger Bridge, Lake Chad rejuvenation and Niger Delta clean up, all before 2019. I know the right person who should become the Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Promise Fulfilment and 2019 Affairs but I have run out of space.