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‘’JUICY OR NOT JUICY/LEAN’’ MINISTRIES/DEPARTMENTS/AGENCIES OF GOVERNMENT – BALANCING PERSONAL & PUBLIC INTERESTS

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” Requesting a President/Governor to attach portfolios to names of appointees being screened could be meaningless since they could be changed the following day after confirmation. The President/Governor have no input into the appointment of committee chairmen. Whoever leads knows who he/she wants and where they would be useful. If the appointing authorities so decide, he/she could appoint Hon. Ministers that may operate from home. That is the prerogative of the appointing authority who is answerable for all actions of his/her appointees. Over 20 years ago in the Gen. Sani Abacha regime, famous Alhaji Wada Nas, a Minister of Special Duties had a special role of appropriating part of the duties of the Information Minister. ”He was always the first to react.” No one knew if he was so authorized. But since he was never sanctioned, the boss must have approved the arrangement.
The scenario created after confirmation or appointments into top sensitive positions in our clime, is always interesting. Bureaucrats and technocrats are involved; and nothing is spared in running around for postings to strategic Ministries/Departments/Agencies (MDAs) that the media classify as ”juicy and not juicy” (parametres unknown) by people lucky to be named by the appointing authority. The doctrine of the separation of powers gives wide latitude the heads of Executive arms of government at the three tiers, to appoint their preferences. However, these political appointees of Cabinet rank are considered fit and appointed only after being passed as suitable by the Legislative branch of government. Requesting a President/Governor to attach portfolios to names of appointees being screened could be meaningless since they could be changed the following day after confirmation.
The President/Governor have no input into the appointment of committee chairmen of the Legislative branch. Similarly, state governors don’t allow their local government chairman to dictate appointees to them. Therefore, it might seems improper for state governors to impose candidates on the presidency. Whoever leads knows who he/she wants and where they would be useful. If the appointing authorities so decide, he/she could appoint Hon. Ministers that may operate from home. That is the prerogative of the appointing authority who is answerable for all actions of his/her appointees.

POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT & GOVERNOR: The constitution makes the president the chief executive and commander in chief of the armed forces in S.130. The constitution of 1999 vests all the executive powers of the federation in the person of the president which can be exercised directly by him or his vice president or members of his cabinet. It also makes provisions for the appointment of ministers subject to confirmation by the senate. S.147 3) provides that in appointing ministers consideration should be given to the federal character of Nigeria. S.147 (4) provides that a person cannot be a member of the cabinet and the legislature at the same time. S.147(5) provides that the qualification for appointment as minister is the same with the qualification for election into the house of assembly. S.148 (1) provides that the president may assign to the Vice President or any minister, any of the executive duties of government.

Similarly,  power of appointment of the members of States Executive Council is  vested in State governors, who delegate responsibilities to the Deputy Governor and State Commissioners as they may wish. Mr. President enjoys a nationwide mandate that empowers him to take decisions on behalf of every Nigerian with regards to governance. Under the constitution, he/she takes responsibility for all actions of his appointees.  The President takes the credit for good performance, and vice versa, any flaws that may arise. Accordingly, the President requires a cabinet that shares his vision of development for the country. Observers of Nigeria’s presidential system of government have canvassed the argument that the occupant of that office, by virtue of powers allocated by the constitution is one of the most powerful personalities in the world.

APPOINTMENT OF MINISTERS OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC: The extant constitution provides that here must be one Cabinet member from each of the 36 states in Nigeria. The president has the power to appoint more than the minimum required; which is why names of 43 personalities were sent to the Senate of the Federal Republic by Mr. President.  Essentially, Ministers posted to government offices function in those capacities as representatives of Mr. President, who allocates offices to his appointees. Sub-section (2) of the constitution states inter-alia: The President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice-President and ministers for the purpose of determining the direction of domestic and foreign policies of government and coordinating the activities of the President, the Vice President and the ministers in the discharge of their executive responsibilities.

The Cabinet’s role, as written in the Ministers’ Statutory Powers and Duties (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) Act  is to serve as an advisory body to the President. Power flows from that office. Members of the Cabinet are appointed and report to the President/Governor, who can dismiss them at will. Mr. President, accordingly delegates power to his appointees in the Executive branch, who are his bona-fide representatives in MDAs. The constitution, for the purpose of good governance asserts most unequivocally that the President shall (under compulsion) hold regular policy meetings with ministers. The responsibility of the Executive is to make policy in the best interests of its citizens and in terms of the Constitution. They are empowered to implement legislation, develop and implement policy, direct and coordinate the work of government departments, prepare and initiate legislation and perform other functions as contained in the Constitution. Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution, the President shall establish offices of ministers and nominees to the offices shall be confirmed by the Senate. The equivalent state level provision is Section 192 of the constitution.

ALLOCATION OF DUTIES: The call for the President/Governor who sends his/her nominees to the legislature to attach Ministries to which they would be posted seems unnecessary. Legislators are right to examine professional competence and other issues pertaining. The fact remains that should Mr. President decide to re-jig his cabinet members one day after clearance of Ministers/Commissioners by the Senate/House of Assembly, the Legislative branch has no power or control over allocation of offices. Section 148 (1) of the Constitution empowers the president to assign ministers for any business of government including the administration of any department of government.  Whoever is posted to any government establishment is, therefore,  representing the President/Governor/Local Government Chairman and not his or her locality.

LOYALTY TO THE NATION & OFFICE & APPOINTING AUTHORITY: It would seem appropriate for any appointee of Mr. President/Governor to realize that his/her loyalty is to the appointing authority; but this is subject to constitutional provisions. Loyalty is important as it assists smooth implementation of directives. Any appointee that is disloyal has no business serving the appointing authority. But there is difference between allegiance to Nigeria and allegiance to the appointing authority. The oath contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; for state governors is the reference point. It reads:  states: ‘’I, ……… do solemnly swear/affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that as the Governor of ……… State, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will exercise the authority vested in me as Governor so as not to impede or prejudice the authority lawfully vested in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and so as not to endanger the continuance of Federal Government in Nigeria; that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions; that I will to the to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will abide by the Code of Conduct contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; that I will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as Governor of ……… State, except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as Governor; and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria.

DISREGARDING ILLEGAL ORDERS: The foregoing invites attention to the need to respect the provisions of the constitution scrupulously. This might be good for the purpose of an academic exercise in the developing world where appointees are usually afraid to speak truth to power. This does not translate into encouraging subordinates to disobey their principals. Commentators have argued that: ’’Any order that is directed at an appointed official by his superior could be disregarded if contrary to the constitution”  The official who decides not to implement an unlawful order would only be told to go home.”  However, the appointee may be lucky in the developing world for the boss to reason with him/her; if attention is respectfully drawn to the issue under reference. The boss and the official may be held accountable in the course of time. This is why care must be taken in putting pen to paper.

SUBORDINATES DISOBEY PRESIDENT TRUMP: In advanced democracies, this is not a novelty. In the United States, several directives by President Donald Trump have been disobeyed.  The Atlantic, a tabloid informs the public that: ‘’In the executive-branch, employees are hearing orders from Trump and responding, ”I don’t have to listen to you—you’re just the president. ‘’On the one hand, the constitutional system depends on the president executing the law and executive-branch employees following his directives; after all, he is the elected representative of the American people, and they are civil servants. ”On the other hand, so many of Trump’s orders are in fact illegal or dangerous that it’s difficult to fault staffers who don’t want to endanger the country or legally expose themselves by executing them” It is not known what workers would do if they are sacked on account of insubordination; but it seems likely that anyone who is able to prove before the courts that he/she was sacked for refusing to carry out an illegal order might be compensated. But at the same time, the head of government reserves the right to pick his/her appointees.

THE SCRAMBLE FOR JUICY APPOINTMENTS: This is a common feature in both the Executive and Legislative arms. What is the essence of lobbying for perceived juicy positions? What is the interest of anybody lobbying to the posted to strategic committees in the Legislative branch, and MDAs in the Executive branch.  Even socio-cultural organizations fight on behalf of their tribes for juicy positions. Pray, is the appointee going there for juice, or to carry out the directives of the big boss who is the appointing authority, and whom he or she represents? If I fight dirty for a juicy position on behalf of anybody, that means I expect to be compensated in one form or the other. Additionally, anybody representing Mr. President and Mr. Governor in any Ministry/Department/Agency of government could not have been appointed to champion the cause of a defined territory.  Those who should do so are Members of the National Assembly who are elected by their constituents to represent them. Appointing authorities should know where best they require the services of their appointees.

UNQUALIFIED DISCRETIONARY POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT/GOVERNOR: Celebrated constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze has pointed out that Ministers might not even have portfolios: ‘’The discretion of the President under Section 148(1) is an unqualified one, in that it does not oblige him to assign to ministers, responsibility for any business of the government. This flows from the word “may” used in the subsection. He may choose not to assign to ministers, responsibility for any business of the government. His right or power not to do so is derived from, and is affirmed by, Section 5(1), which vests the “executive powers” of the Federation in him, and then goes on to provide that the executive powers so vested in him, i.e. the executive powers in their entirety, may be “exercised by him, either directly or [BY HIM] through the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation”. The word “BY HIM” in capital letters are interposed by me in order to bring out the meaning of the provision more clearly. Under Section 5(1), therefore, the President is within his constitutional right to exercise the entirety of the executive powers of the Federal Government by himself directly, without assigning any part of them or any business of the government to ministers, subject to what is said below about the manner or form for exercising the powers. More explicitly, he can keep all the ministries or departments under his direct responsibility and use the ministers for general duties as ministers “without portfolio”. This accords with the letters of Section 5(1), though not with its spirit.’’

FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, states emphatically that the primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of the people. It is, therefore, incumbent on political actors in government to regards the constitution as a sacred document whose provisions must be followed to the letter in the interest of good governance and the attainment of set-objectives.  For instance, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria devotes its Chapter 11 to the obligations of both the government and the governed, which gives vent to the fact that the involvement and contributions of both parties are required for the development of any society. The relevant section is titled: FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY and states in clear and unmistakable terms the duties and responsibilities of all arms of government as well as those of the citizenry: Section (13): It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.

14- (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.

(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:

(a)  Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this  Constitution derives all its powers and authority;

(b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and

(c) The participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance  with the provisions of this Constitution.

FEDERAL CHARACTER:  It has been fiercely argued that the application of federal character negates the principles of natural justice and other relevant parts of the Constitution which abhor unjust or unfair treatment on account of circumstances of birth, sex, creed or religion. This provision of the Constitution has promoted mediocrity over and above competence in some instances and has led to complaints and frustration on the part of others. It has equally led to calls for rotational presidency, governorship and the other political offices. Proponents, on their parts, have argued that federal character exists to promote national integration: Section (3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies. (4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognize the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation. No one knows for how long this clause of special circumstances will remain in the constitution on account of promoting merit which is treated below.

MERITOCRACY: Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chukwuma Soludo, writing in Thisday Newspaper points out that ‘’When people talk about the successful Asian countries, they ignore or forget that the critical success factor was a meritocratic public service cadre that attracted and retained the best. In the case of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew actually deliberately groomed future politicians and leaders by recruiting the best minds from the best universities in the world, including Ph. D holders and encouraging them to run for elections so as to better understand the ‘real world’. Soludo continues:  ‘’That way, the quality of human capital that made up the parliament and cabinet in Singapore was second to none. ‘’Also the civil service salary and conditions of service were such that attracted the best and the brightest to the service. It is only when people are given public responsibility on merit that you could charge them to act in the ‘best interest’ of the country.

If they get to positions to represent their ethnic group or state of origin, it is only natural that they act to protect those narrow interests first, and those of the nation only accidentally. The message is simple: if we want to learn from the Asians, we should go for the full menu. ‘’Successful First World nations did not attain the heights they reached by any magic wand. Leadership may have the responsibility of directing affairs but, fostering growth and development is responsibility of the general populace.’’  Elsewhere in his address to a meeting of the Global Coalition for Africa, in Gaborone, Botswana on 25th October, 2001, President Olusegun Obasanjo asserted that ‘’Governments can be more competent only if the great prestige of the civil service attracts the best educated people.

COMPETENCE: Governments must attract very skilful people into their ministries, and the leadership of the public sector must have both personal and institutional legitimacy, if government is to play the role of the provider of public goods. He noted further that‘’ the cardinal elements of good governance for economic efficiency and growth include transparency in government accounts, effectiveness of public resource management, and stability underpinned by regulatory policies for private sector activities.’’ Therefore, said Obasanjo, government must encourage ‘’ the building of effective policy-making institutions, and improve public sector accountability, through transparency in government budgeting process and execution, general public sector expenditure management, including improved public sector accounting and auditing. Building a Greater Nigeria is a collective task that should not be abandoned. Nigeria is the largest black nation in the world, harbouring over twenty percent of the population of Africa.

THE BUREAUCRACY: Seniority, merit, competence and inherent capabilities should be the overriding consideration in allocating offices, and not place of origin. After all, the quality of inputs of these public officers would ultimately affect the general citizenry and not any particular part of the state. I want to advocate a style that would make heads of governments sack immediately, public servants who offer guidance with the objective of misleading their bosses to act in a way that favours their areas to the detriment of other areas which should naturally be affected by such recommended actions. Regrettably, it is now possible indolent public servants to rise to the pinnacle on account of quota or federal character while intelligent, efficient and brilliant hands are superseded by their lazy contemporaries and juniors. The result is that there is always serious lobbying by public servants due for promotion, especially at the top echelon of the service. It should be naturally expected that civil servants know one another’s inherent capabilities, thus making it impossible for those who maneuver to bag top appointments to be respected by their peers and superiors.

 INTRIGUES: It is to be noted that intrigues and favouritism on account of race, tribe and religion may occur. When they rear their ugly heads, the society from  unfaithful implementation of policies and programmes. There have been instances of lobbying for postings to ministries and government departments considered juicy, when in fact public servants are expected to go round on transfer to be able to acquire wide experience that would prepare them for leadership roles. There are crooked people in every system; no matter their ages. They specialize in intrigues and can never thrive where there are no intrigues; no matter their ages. They are found in large numbers in churches, mosques, educational institutions with questionable reputation and integrity.  Many of them may never change until they are held accountable by the Creator with the smokescreen attitudes; as authors of confusion for which they have been noted for decades.

If the political class is found to have exhibited disdain for top bureaucrats, such may indeed may have been caused by these top civil servants whose rat race for appointments and promotions give the politicians the opportunity to disrespect them. The net result is that these public officers, who ordinarily should be able to put their feet down in guiding politicians to adhere strictly by regulations, have become very servile truly, they have become ‘your obedient servants’! The politicization of the civil service is equally one of the banes of the system. Ordinarily, a civil servant must be apolitical and maintain, at all times, a neutral stance on issues relating to policy implementation. This is no longer the case.  Nowadays, civil servants play politics and participate in politics openly, and with reckless abandon, all for the purpose of being compensated with one position or the other and for some other extraneous reasons.

The fact remains that there exists in the system some civil servants who are ‘untouchable’, by reason of their closeness to those who wield political power. The most logical and reasonable thing to do is for the supervisors and direct bosses of these civil servant-politicians to call them to order. When people talk about successful societies, they forget that there are some critical drivers of achievement that were embraced by these societies before recording considerable successes which they enjoy today. It is trite that visionary and purposeful leadership engenders the evolution of a near-perfect society where virtually everything works. Servant-leaders are bred by the society in which they live and the prevailing circumstances.

FAST-TRACKING DEVELOPMENT: According to Okebukola and Kana, Executive order is a command directly given by the President to an executive agency, class of persons or body under the executive arm of government; such a command is in furtherance of government policy or Act of the Legislature. The Executive Order may require the implementation of an action, set out parameters for carrying out specific duties, define the scope of existing legislation or be a subsidiary instrument. (J. Lehman and S. Phelps) The United States regulations allow for Proclamations and Executive Orders that allow Presidents to further engage in law-making without congressional approval or involvement either by Proclamation or by Executive Orders. A President may also issue an Executive Order, which has the full effect of law and is directed to federal agencies that are charged with carrying out the Order. In the United States, an Executive Order is a presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a federal statute, a constitutional provision, or a treaty without the requirement of congressional approval.  Incoming Hon. Ministers will find several Proclamations for the common good as they commence or re-commence the task of nation-building.

GOOD GOVERNANCE – THE ULTIMATE REQUIREMENT: The popular campaign all over the world, particularly in developing nations is that of embracing the principles of good governance in both the public and private sectors.  Governments generally, have come to realize the need to challenge negative tendencies that militate against good governance. There is also an increased urge on the part of humanity to liberate mankind from the clutches of economic hardships, environmental degradation, political instability, racial disharmony, and all forms of intolerance. It is, however, noteworthy that all nations of the world are jointly addressing pertinent issues such as poverty, external debt, trade policy reform, human resource development and the management of technical change. A new approach to economic cooperation and integration is constantly being worked out to effect global changes and foster development all over the world, especially in developing nations. The information generated on proposals for change is fed into the various channels of communication to Influence human conduct that would drive the agenda of government. Over the past few years, there have been growing concerns about the role of public servants as agents of change and the expectations of the government and the governed from both bureaucrats and technocrats, who manage the public and private sectors, that combine to serve as the engine for societal development. The roles of these two sets of professionals are so important that in situations where they are not able to perform efficiently and effectively, the society suffers tremendously. This has formed the basis of several reform packages introduced within, or induced from outside the system.

Please contact www.shop.terrificinvestment.com for books on Good Governance written by Femi Adelegan, the author of this piece. A substantial part of this treatise evolved from the publications. Copies of the books may be ordered in large quantities by contacting terrificheadlines@gmail.com & info@terrificinvestment.com.

 

 

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