One year after the inauguration of the federal cabinet by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 21, 2019, Nigerians are still waiting for the dividends of democracy to significantly trickle down to the ordinary man, in fulfillment of promises made by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government.
Federal ministers are expected to assist the president to deliver these dividends, and Buhari swore in 43 ministers to do just that. Last week, Daily Trust on Sunday chronicled ministers who are working behind the scenes. This week, we continue the review of activities of ministers who are not always in the limelight, despite their contributions to the government’s development agenda and pro-people activities.
Babatunde Raji Fashola is the Minister of Works and Housing who hails from Lagos State. Fashola remains one of the ministers in President Buhari’s cabinet who held three ministries in his first tenure. The 57-year-old lawyer by profession had served two terms as Lagos governor from 2007 to 2015. His impactful role as a minister in Buhari’s first term is believed to have paved the way for his return to the current position.
Daily Trust on Sunday learned that Fashola, though not known to be very vocal, is always on his heels to make the affairs of the ministry successful. He is one minister that is always on the move and in control of his works, inspecting and supervising both roads and housing projects among others in all the 36 states of the federation, but without necessarily advertising his activities or singing self praises.
Daily Trust Sunday gathered that Fashola has been trying to reposition some of the country’s housing and road projects, including the ongoing repair and restoration of the third mainland bridge in Lagos.
“Just a few days ago, Fashola in the company of Lai Mohammed and George Akume inspected the Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue between Benue and Nasarawa states, among other things. The minister doesn’t even have time to rest,” a reliable source at the ministry said.
Alhaji Mustapha Baba Shahuri
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mustapha Baba Shahuri, since assuming office, has not been very much in the news. Shahuri is hardly seen at major events as with the senior minister, Alhaji Sabo Nanono.
However, in July, he flagged-off the OCP Africa-a fertilizer company and distribution of COVID-19 inputs palliatives in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to smallholder farmers at the Karshi market in Abuja. He later in the month attended the Abuja International Housing Show where he sought collaboration between the housing sector and the agricultural sector to halt rural-urban migration.
Sources in the ministry said the main minister, Alhaji Nanono, takes charge of most of the ministry’s activities, a situation they said might have resulted in Shahuri’s absence from most events.
“Most of the ministry’s functions or signing of MoUs are done by the senior minister. Even the permanent secretary has more functions administratively than the minister of state. So, there is very little he can do,” a ministry source said. Efforts to get his aides or staff of the information unit for a reaction before press time failed, as the information unit was not disposed to comment on the matter.
The Minister of State in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, is another minister who is not known to magnify her activities as widely as those activities have spread or impacted on the people. Working vigorously behind the scene, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu is a force in the administration of the FCT and her position supports the saying that behind every successful man is a hard working woman. This unequivocally implies that she is a pillar behind the smooth running of the FCT, even as not much is always heard of her. Many residents and followers of the administration of the nation’s capital may be oblivious of the fact that Ramatu Aliyu, who is hardly ever in the news, has actively masterminded the building of 5000 units of affordable housing in the FCT, and helped complete a review of previous attempts at providing affordable housing, including pending relocation schemes (e.g. Gidan Daya Layout). She has also played a very active role in the establishment of a mandatory universal community-based health insurance scheme. Under her supervision, the FCT has flagged-off the FCT health Insurance scheme by ensuring the enrolment of staff of area councils in an effort to deliver key health interventions. Under her purview, youth empowerment is receiving priority attention as the administration has facilitated the acquisition of 33 Nissan Saloon vehicles for commercial taxi operations in Abuja, The FCTA’s provision of two separate packs of COVID-19 palliative food items which were said to have reached about a million vulnerable residents of the FCT in the course of the first round of the exercise in the six area councils between April 18 and May 3, was vigorously pursued by the minister of state, just as the FCTA under her supervision has also ensured the decontamination/fumigation of homes, (MDA) offices within and around the FCT, public spaces (including markets) and hotels, to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Territory.
Hajiya Zainab Ahmed supervises what used to be two ministries-the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. Although she’s not particularly loud, she’s not too silent on the activities of the ministry either. She seems to have shared official duties with the minister of State, Mr. Clem Agba, who practically runs the budget segment of the ministry. Hajiya Ahmed, who has run the ministry for a year, has appeared in the media, especially on television stations, to discuss her stewardship or clarify misconceptions around fiscal policies. Occasionally, her press team sends press statements. Ministry staff familiar with her said she is a quiet workaholic.
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD) which should be a hub of activities geared towards women and girls’ empowerment attracts a lot of people because of events of such nature.
Not much has however been heard from the ministry since the commissioning its headquarters by President Buhari on January 16 and the subsequent relocation to the new location. But the recent sudden surge in rape incidents and gender violence which attract wide condemnation across the country may have gingered more activities by the minister. Recently, criticisms trailed the appointment of the minister’s daughter, Violet Osunde, as a special assistant in her office, but she defended the action, saying she had the right to choose whoever has the capacity to support the efforts towards achieving the mandate of her office. The Director of Press in the ministry, Shehu Maikanti, said Mrs. Tallen was not available for comments as she was “very busy”.
Rauf Aregbesola is the Minister of Interior, the ministry responsible for the internal security of the country. He oversees all the services under the ministry-Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
A strong member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he was a two-term governor of Osun State. When he came in, he was quoted to have said that he knew nothing about the ministry. Though he has presented a figure of someone determined to make a difference, our correspondent observes that most of the projects and reforms going on in the ministry and its agencies are those initiated and started by his predecessor, Abdulrahman Dambazau.
The growing insecurity in the country is a challenge to the ministry as the paramilitary agencies under it need to form a proper synergy with the police and military to rid the nation of the menace, hence the task before the minister to improve his visibility. Aregbesola has promised to make life better for the staff of the ministry and its agencies by equipping them and giving them relevant training to motivate them for efficiency and productivity. The ministry has organized workshops for the staff of immigration services and Customs.
credit: Daily Trust