By Oludare Mayowa
Despite Nigerians quest for government to slash the cost of governance, President Bola Tinubu sent 19 fresh names as ministerial nominees to the Senate on Wednesday for approval, adding up to the initial 28 names he sent to the upper chamber last week.
With the new names, the president has a total of 47 names for approval by the Senate for his cabinet, marking it the biggest cabinet since the advent of democracy in 1999.
The action of the president contradicted the quest of many Nigerians for a lean government in tandem with the prevailing economic hardship in the country, which called for belt-tightening.
In his broadcast to the nation on Monday, President Tinubu offered Nigerians the assurance to “immediately reduce the burden our current economic situation has imposed on all of us, most especially on businesses, the working class, and the most vulnerable among us.”
He also pleaded with Nigerians to endure the pain of his reform with the hope that all the measures being put in place would work to relieve the pressure on the people at the end of the day.
“Our economy is going through a tough patch, and you are being hurt by it. The cost of fuel has gone up. Food and other prices have followed. Households and businesses struggle. Things seem anxious and uncertain.
“I understand the hardship you face. I wish there were other ways. But there is not. If there were, I would have taken that route, as I came here to help, not hurt the people and nation that I love,” the president told the nation during the broadcast.
However, his choice of a large number of cabinet members is not in sync with his promise to pursue lasting reform that would reduce the huge cost of governance in the country and the financial burden resulting from huge expenditures on social welfare.
The constitution provision allows the president to appoint one minister from each state of the federation, including one from the federal capital territory, making it 37 in total.
Analysts had expected that the president would intentionally reduce the burden of appointing political jobbers into his cabinet and focus on professionals who would help him achieve his agenda of economic prosperity.
The decision to load his cabinet with former governors, many of whom are deadwood, whose eight or four years in office were seen by their people as wasted years without much to show for them, is disappointing.
In a recent television interview, a renowned senior advocate of Nigeria and civil liberty advocate, Olisa Agbakoba, said “The government is too big; we need a limited government.”
From the look of things, it appears that Nigeria’s political leaders are not burdened by the economic challenges being faced in the country. From their attitude and lifestyle, it seems the state of the nation’s economy is only applicable to the masses, while the political elites are living big and flaunting their ill-gotten wealth stolen from the commonwealth.
There is a video currently in circulation showing the president of the Senate with his large entourage and a heavy-duty vehicle purchased from taxpayers’ money while the common man languished under huge economic burden.
Many Nigerians have hoped that President Tinubu will embrace austerity measures and also adopt the report of Stephen Oronsaye, which recommended reductions in governance and the scrapping of many ministries, parastatals, and departments to pave the way for lean governance and cost-cutting.
However, from his long convoy to the retinue of aides and hangers-on, it appears the president is merely preaching austerity and asking the masses to endure the pain of economic reform while they lavish taxpayer money on luxury living.
Nigerians are groaning, and the government must be willing to listen to the people in order to avoid social upheaval that could snowball into a major crisis in the country.
If the people are not convinced that the leaders are also willing to sacrifice some of their luxuries to ensure economic revamping, then it would be difficult to gain the support of the people for whatever program they intend to embark upon.
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