The poor performance of some ministers at the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and at other events may have exposed them to possible sack or redeployment, BusinessDaySunday has learnt.
The speed with which President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ordered a retreat for the ministers may have also suggested that he could have been briefed on the below-par performance of some of his cabinet members during the trip.
In the last one week, the media had been awash with the threat by President Tinubu to axe some ministers, which prompted insinuations in some sections of the media that cabinet reshuffle was imminent.
BusinessDaySunday was told that the President might have discovered that, indeed, there were some square pegs in round holes among members of his team, which may be impeding deliverables.
A private sector operator, who was in New York for the UNGA, recounted a particular case where a minister “blew a chance” to sell Nigeria to the world.
The businessman said he was disappointed at the inability of the minister to drill down on the huge offerings the new administration was bringing to the world.
According to him, a”We need an EXPERT on that beat as we scream out loud to the global community to bring their cash into our country. Compared to what other African countries are saying, it was clear we are not serious if we can’t aggressively tell our story and pull the billions of dollars into our system.
“This is not a conversation about ease of doing business, please; that is, once again, pedestrian talk. We need to move on to more serious strategic economic discussions, which is clearly beyond some of the ministers, if truth be told.
“I thought our strategic ministries will be led by experts only. We can do better under the circumstance.”
He also observed that the Nigerian delegates, indeed, had a number of quality interactions with some global companies and institutions that could bring in their money into Nigeria if the right things are done.
He however, said that one thing he observed was that most of those talks were led by Nigerians in those organisations.
“I think what happened was that the firms just sent those Nigerians working with them to go and talk to their people. That’s what I observed. Overall, we had a great outing,” he said.
Speaking to BusinessDaySunday on what may have warranted the President to issue sack threat barely six months into inaugurating his ministers, a former minister who craved anonymity said that it could be that the President may have heard about the activities of some cabinet members and believes he needed to “arouse them into action.”
Read also: Tinubu to ministers : Perform or leave
“If you look critically at the over 47 ministers, you hardly hear about the activities of many of them. If you look at the papers, listen to the television news or even on social media, only a few of them are vibrant. The President may not be comfortable with their style and so, decided to push them.
“He may have also heard one or two complaints from trusted allies about the performance of some of them that are not salutary. What he has done by threatening sack was a form of advance warning. It means the axe is up and can fall on non-performers any time.
“I think what may be restraining him is how that would be received in society- that he is sacking ministers less than six months after appointing them. That will send a negative signal that he was not thorough in choosing the ministers. That may have a negative implication on his administration,” the former minister said.
He warned about a repeat of what transpired in the Buhari era, where ministers were just left to cruise without calling them to order and without making changes even when it became obvious that the country was being run aground.
“I do not expect President Tinubu to follow the Buhari pattern. Buhari slept off on governance for eight years. His ministers did whatever they liked. The president must not allow non-performing ministers to keep rocking the chair. He must remove those who are not giving the country the needed service. Dead woods must not be allowed to hinder the growth and overall progress of the country,” he said.
A statement credited to a former minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, said: “With all due respect, President Buhari, from what I know is a more reserved person; when he gives you a job, he rarely ever asks for how you’re going about it; it is very unfortunate but I have to say it so that the governments coming after him will learn.
“If you don’t go and meet him for the next four years, he probably will not ask of you. But Buhari is not Tinubu, and Tinubu is not Buhari.”