Reassigned ministers: Concerns mount over President’s frequent decision reversals



Uba Group

For the umpteenth time, President Bola Tinubu has reversed himself on a previously publicised cabinet formation.

On Sunday, the Presidency doctored an earlier announced designation to ministers set for swearing-in this morning at the Aso Rock Villa Conference Hall, raising concerns about his penchant for abrupt policy reversals since he came into office about three months ago.

Presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale issued a statement conveying Tinubu’s
approval of the redeployment of Abubakar Momoh from the Federal Ministry of Youth to the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Development among other alterations announced by The Presidency.

However, a Mass Communication teacher at Baze University, Abuja, Prof. Abiodun Adeniyi, cautioned that although it is the President’s prerogative to appoint ministers, he “needs to be careful, so that frequent changes won’t be his hallmark, and then we can begin to be concerned about a flip flop decision making process.”

But, Magnus Onyibe, a public policy analyst and former Commissioner in Delta State, opined that President Tinubu was demonstrating the fact that his government was a responsive one by not being shy to respond to the feelings of Nigerian masses.

“Hence, he makes changes to his policies whenever any one of them rubs off on the wrong side of the critical mass of Nigerians,” Onyibe said.

The President also approved the redesignation of the Federal Ministries of Transportation, Interior, and Marine & Blue Economy.

In the reshuffled portfolios, the immediate past Governor of Osun state, Adegboyega Oyetola, was redeployed as the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy,
Bunmi Tunji-Ojo was redeployed as the Minister of Interior.

Sa’idu Alkali was redeployed as the Minister of Transportation.

Ngelale noted that both Ministers of State in the Oil & Gas sector were now domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources with Heineken Lokpobiri as the Minister of State (Oil), Petroleum Resources while
Ekperipe Ekpo is the Minister of State (Gas), Petroleum Resources.

Analysing recent happenings in The Presidency, Adeniji hinted that it gives an impression that the policies were not thought through before they were made public.

He said, “First, it might be a change we shouldn’t expect too early, considering expectations that it should have been well laid out before the initial announcement. Second, it might also be okay, if to strengthen things, ahead of their swearing-in, just so they could hit the ground running. Third, it might be a reaction to the emergent agitations in circles on the feared scrapping of the Niger Delta Ministry. Fourth, the juggling might be to strengthen the ministerial mechanism for central governance, flowing from the overall criticisms so far received.”

Onyibe catalogued instances that the Presidency adjusted its policies to meet public expectations.

“When Nigerians expressed indignation about the proposed N8,000 direct cash transfer to the poorest of the poor Nigerians as palliative that would help ameliorate the hardships arising from the withdrawal of petroleum subsidy, he rescinded the decision. When the business community felt that the 5% tax on imported vehicles and telecommunications services that the immediate past regime imposed before its exit was unnecessarily hurting the sector since it was unplanned for, the president promptly suspended it. Dr. Maryam Shetty, a minister nominee was also withdrawn at the last minute.

“Similarly, he has reshuffled his cabinet in response to the criticism about the age of Abubakar Momoh, a man that is over 60 years who had been assigned the role of Minister in the Youth Ministry. He sort of used one stone to kill two birds as it were by also responding to the clamour by Niger Delta people, particularly Ijaw Youth Congress, that the rumoured scrapping of Niger Delta Ministry was unacceptable. As a listening president, he has restored the ministry and promptly handed the job over to Momoh, who is an engineer.”

While Tinubu’s opposition have tagged his flexible approach to leadership as flawed, Onyibe argued, “Getting feedback from those that you are leading and addressing their reasonable concerns is a mark of strength as opposed to weakness. lt is an evidence of being a liberal leader as opposed to being a dictator or an autocrat.

“In fact, it is a demonstration of the fact that President Tinubu is not assuming that he is all-knowing and his decisions can’t be questioned or reversed, which is the common affliction of most leaders, particularly in the developing world.”