President Bola Tinubu has appointed the giant cabinet in Nigeria’s democratic history, and the leader of the country’s biggest labour group said the president’s justification was that it was a means of job creation during meeting with him.
Appointing forty-eight ministers along with their entourage of aides and special assistants, hiring their staff, furnishing their offices and paying their allowances means a significant uptick in the cost of running government at a time the government is inflicting on Nigerians, policies that have impoverished them. This suggests that the government is unwilling to share in the pain of cost-cutting.
Joe Ajaero, president of the Nigerian Labour Congress, in an interview televised on Monday night, said that cutting governance costs was one of the issues presented as part of labour demands, but the president said
“We talked to Mr President about the size of his cabinet and the fact that when he finished appointing ministers, the ministers will appoint special assistants who will appoint their assistants; the president said we from labour should look at it from the point of job creation,” he said on a Channels Television political programme.
“Many people are getting employment, and we should not see it as over bloated,” Ajaero said.
On his fleet of cars, he said the president admitted it was large and tried to reduce it, but his security raised concerns.
“He went further to say that he preferred to use his private jet, but the security people said no, he must use the government jet,” said Ajaero.
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As of Monday evening, lawmakers in the upper chamber had confirmed 45 of the president’s forty-eight ministerial nominees and 20 senior special assistants already appointed, many of whom would sit in cabinet meetings, and this would be the giant cabinet in the country’s history.
With only 24 ministries, Tinubu’s cabinet will have at least two ministers for each church, a situation that could create its own set of problems, prominent of which is redundancy and friction. Some ministries are also expected to be merged and new ones completed.
Many Nigerians have called on the president to implement the Report on the Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, submitted to the Nigerian government in 2012, known as the Oronsoye Report, and the president’s aides have said it is under consideration. Still, this bloated government runs contrary to such claims.
The president’s policy advisory council has proposed achieving a $1 trillion economy by 2030 that would be funded partly by implementing civil service reforms and recommendations in the Oronsoye report.
After Tinubu announced an end to petrol subsidies, pushing the pump price of petrol three times what they were and unifying the exchange rate windows, thereby devaluing the naira, shaving off over 60 per cent of its value, this has triggered a hike in commodity prices and import duties. Many Nigerians demanded that the government cut its own cost so they are assured the government shares in their pain,
With the cabinet set to provide jobs for jobless politicians and other hanger-ons safe for a handful of technocrats, the president seemed to have dashed any hopes that it won’t be business as usual.