Professor Oluremi Sonaiya was the only female presidential candidate in the March 28 presidential election. She contested under the umbrella of KOWA party. In this interview with Adeleke Adesanya, she spoke about the incompetence of the Nigerian judiciary and her opinion of two ladies in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet. Excerpts.
What is your view about the new cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari?
Well, to be honest with you, when the list first came out, it was a sort of an anticlimax. There had been high expectations that the President would assemble a team that would be a departure from the regime of recycled politicians, only for us to be presented with the list of people that we already knew. It was such a deflation of people’s expectation.
Although personally, I would not say that I was terribly surprised. I think that is probably Buhari’s style. I don’t see him as a person who would make a clear departure from the Nigerian traditional politics. I think what goes for him is his integrity and credibility with his stand of not wanting to tolerate corruption and all that. And if that is diligently pursued, it would amount to a lot in the public life of Nigeria. However, I hoped the screening would be thorough. But what kind of thorough job could the Senate do when the list was submitted without identifying the nominees’ portfolios? How would they have determined their competence for the particular ministries they would be heading? I think we should begin to change things in this country. People should have known from the beginning the ministries they were being nominated to head. That is how it is done elsewhere and it makes sense that way.
What were your expectations?
What I have highlighted is a fundamental issue. Also, there should have been a change in the way the nominations came up. There are Nigerians doing credibly well in their various fields. Why can’t you consult the public for credible people? And again, I was reading the newspapers recently and I saw Olisa Metuh saying that he thought Buhari would bring in people from the United States of America, but now he has sent us the people we knew before.
It is a pity that at the helm of leaders, they think there are no good people in Nigeria. They are wrong. Some of us in this country, in spite of all the obstacles that poor leadership has brought to us, are at the top of our professions. And I am saying, when put side by side with other people in the world, there are good Nigerians. I felt disappointed when they said they would bring Nigerians in the Diaspora. Does that mean we in the country are not competent? I think there should be a reorientation, a new way of thinking, in recognition of human resources to serve the country. There should be a strong desire to find them out and put them to use for the country. If I were in Buhari’s shoes, I would have called for recommendations of credible people, while I scrutinise them thoroughly.
The political class has cornered the positions, and that is what people are complaining about. We keep recycling the same set of people as if the whole country contains dumb heads that don’t have any ideas. And it is a pity that each time the opportunity arises for us to demonstrate a radical departure, to depart from poor governance, we retreat. It’s like we are unable to take that quantum decision that will shoot the country into a totally new era. And we end up not inspiring our people. That is not what should be happening to us in this country. We
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