By Col Hassan Stan-Labo (rtd)
I really don’t envy Mr. President at these trying times. His team is gradually exposing its deficits in competence, leaving behind a disappointing feeling of a rudderless ship on the high seas.
70% of the cabinet members have no business being in a 21st century digital Nigerian cabinet.
For a country that is in a haste to catch up with the rest of the world, having missed out on great opportunities due to serially failed leadership and lack of vision, we should have our best hands and brains on board.
All we see is a set of disorganized retinue of aides and ministers working at cross purposes and constituting opposition to one another to the detriment of the administration.
IBRAHIM MAGU – The suspended EFCC boss under investigation connotes a big dent on the anti-corruption drive because his office is expected to be above board.
MALAMI – The AGF/Minister of Justice is at the centre of all sorts of controversies with severe damage to his office.
AKPABIO – The Minister of Niger-Delta is enmeshed in allegations of corruption and sexual misdemeanor unbecoming of a cabinet member.
PATANI – Communications Minister embroiled in a war with the Chairperson of the Diaspora Commission over office space.
NDDC: Interim Management Committee set up to carry out forensic audit of Commission allegedly turned the place into a cesspool of corruption.
Presidential appointees write damaging reports to the National Assembly discrediting the President’s own nominee whose name has been forwarded for clearance.
Going through the list of ministers, you find spent forces and people fighting corruption allegations in an administration that says it is bent on fighting corruption.
As an ardent supporter and admirer of the President, I am tempted to ask, What value can these people bring to the table in furtherance of the C-in-C’s intent at delivering on his social contract with the people?
I genuinely feel disturbed as a concerned non-partisan ordinary Nigerian who celebrated the entry of this administration.
We cannot afford to see this President fail and exit with no positive impressions on Nigerians.
Mr. President, you rode on the tripod of security, economy and infrastructural development to the Presidency.
Security, I make boldly to say, is still a serious challenge despite all efforts by your administration. I have written extensively on what I think should be done.
The economy too, though of no fault of yours (but the buck stops on your table), remains in bad shape, with severe consequences for business and wellbeing of the citizenry.
Infrastructure has witnessed some bold attempts at flattening the curve, but given the depth of decay you met on ground, all efforts put in amount to mere scratch of the surface.
So, invariably what would the score card look like on your departure? This is my greatest discomfort for someone that admires you and I have loved you since my days as a boy soldier in military school and young officer.
Mr. President, my solutions:
- Rejig your cabinet.
70 % of your present cabinet members have no business in a 21st C. digital Nigerian cabinet.
- Scout for young, smart brains, technocrats with requisite exposure in governance and accountability protocol.
- Disengage Service Chiefs.
Pave the way for fresh hands, fresh thinking and initiative to strategise over the quagmire we have found ourselves in.
- Revisit the Big Five deficits of the military & paramilitary agencies viz: Funding, manpower, log/equip, training and welfare.
- Establish an Independent Special Forces Combat Borderline Patrol Force and avail it full accoutrements of a command chain, equipment and manpower holding. I have written extensively on the modality and framework of this with an available discussion paper.
- Conduct a nation-wide National Small Arms and Light Weapons mop-up Exercise with monetary incentives for every weapon submitted.
- Manpower deficit:
Establish three additional training depots with an annual capacity of 5,000 recruit intake each, in the East, West and NE to complement the one in Zaria.
- Banditry challenges:
Engage able bodied ‘reservists’ from the pool of retirees on very attractive contract terms to beef up strength and perform Rare Area Protection tasks in vulnerable communities while regular troops advance.
Mr. President your concern now should be “How would posterity judge me?” Have I left indelible footprints in the sand of history? Have I unified Nigeria beyond where I met her or further deepen her divide?
Sir, go out there and mobilise resources, human and material, from every nook and cranny, that can turn around the table for you, and let them give you results.
If you must, as a personal principle, restrict your team selection to the North, please do, but pick the best of hands and brains.
So far, 90% of your appointees from the North are push over and perfect examples of mediocrity and backwardness.
They give the false impression that this is the best the North can offer. Drop them now and make way for game changers.
Mr. President, your name and reputation is at stake. You have no other election ahead of you as a threat. So come out boldly and decisively to effect whatever changes you need in the best interest of this country.
Sir, we have very sound, young, well read, exposed and polished northern chaps even in your party, the APC, doing quite well in the private sector and internationally who could come on board as technocrats and turn things around within the last few years you still have in govt.
However, I will urge you to look beyond the North, because, as President, your constituency is the entire country.
Mr. President, I leave you with these few suggestions. If they ever get to you, do give some serious consideration to them.
I shall be visiting Daura after the handover in 2023 to have a personal feel of a man I have come to respect from childhood.
- Stan-Labo was Chief of Staff at Army Headquarters, Ministry of Defence