President Bola Tinubu’s delay in releasing list of the Federal Executive Council 52 days after taking office, has raised questions and increased citizens’ anxiety as the economic crisis in the country deepens with a spike in inflation.
The Fifth Amendment to the Nigerian Constitution mandates the president and governors to submit the names of their ministerial and commissioner-nominees within 60 days of taking the oath of office for confirmation by the Senate or state House of Assembly.
The cabinet gives a glimpse into the President’s governance style, policy direction, and the team executing the administration’s agenda.
The Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly matters (House of Representatives), Olakunle Olanrewaju, confirmed to The PUNCH on Wednesday that the President has yet to forward his ministerial nominees to the National Assembly.
But commenting on the situation, the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Francis Meshioye, said the delay in the announcement of the President’s cabinet was becoming a cause for concern.
According to him, with regard to appointing cabinet members that will oversee the organised private sector, it is crucial to make sure that the president places ‘a round peg in a round hole.’
Meshioye said: “Naturally, when you have an expectation and the expectation is yet to be fulfilled, you will be worried. So, definitely, everyone, including the business community, worries about this. But we have confidence in the new administration. He needs to be very diligent in appointing whoever will hold any office. We implore him to do this and we believe that he is going to do this within the timeline.”
On his part, the National President of the Association of Small Business Owners, Femi Egbesola said it was worrying for the President’s cabinet to remain a mystery only few days to the time allotted by the constitution for cabinet appointments to be made.
“It is the talk of the town; everybody is talking about it. Not just the business community alone. We heard the news that it would be announced today (Wednesday), but up till now we have not heard anything. Quite a number of businesses base their planning on the body language of businesses. Now that it has not been announced, it is actually holding businesses to a standstill because businesses cannot plan,’’ he lamented.
Also speaking, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa said that it was important for the president to appoint cabinet members with not just the right credential and expertise, but the character needed to make decisions that will echo positively on organized business.
He said: “Everybody expects that we will have appointees with good character, that they do not have a well-known record of bad conduct. That is the general expectation.”
But the Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Mr Wale Oyerinde, observed that the delay in appointing ministers may be slowing business activities, the president is still within the constitutionally guaranteed time.
He said that for the organized business, the president should have hit the ground running after the election.
Oyerinde stated: “The law says 60 days, he has not broken any law, we will be pre-empting. While the inability to immediately appoint a minister may have caused the delay in actions, the reality is that he is still within the constitutionally guaranteed time. The organised business expectations were that the president should have hit the ground running since the elections were over, he should have known those that will work.
“He should have been operating within the context of putting round pegs in round holes. But having said that, we will also be jumping the gun if we now start making issues when the constitutionally guaranteed time of making appointments has not passed. Yes, it can slow down activities within the context of getting the proper person to engage in policies but in our own understanding he is still within the constitutionally guaranteed time.”
A facilitator with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Dr Ikenna Nwaosu, argued that the president is compounding the many problems he inherited from his predecessor.
He noted: “The president has been preparing for the presidency even before the election; he has been looking for it so why is his list of ministers pending? Secondly, he knows that he is inheriting a lot of problems and the solution to all those problems should be at his fingerprints. And even as he has taken over power, he is adding more issues like the foreign exchange, fuel subsidy, and tuition fee for students and all that.”
He maintained that the President should have been able to appoint his cabinet members within the first 30 days after his inauguration.
‘’Because he has been preparing for this presidency for years, so I will agree with any business owner that is saying that the president not being able to come up with his ministers by this time is negatively affecting their businesses and socio-economic development,’’ he declared.