Barely a month into his inauguration, President Bola Tinubu has hit the ground running by making swift appointments in key sectors of his administration.
This demonstrates his realpolitik approach, signalling his understanding of the substantial challenges ahead, and his need for capable individuals to support him in the task of refurbishing Nigeria.
Realpolitik refers to the approach of making decisions in politics based on what’s happening in the real world, rather than just following a set of rules or ideas. It means looking at the situation and making choices based on what will work best, even if it doesn’t always match up with what we think is right or fair.
For some perhaps, President Tinubu’s action sends a message that he understands the enormity of the task ahead and that he needs the right hands and heads around him towards confronting the task of repositioning the country.
Although some observers say that the President has never hidden his intention to compose his team shortly after assuming office, others said he had the option of doing a one-man show for some months just like the former President Muhammadu Buhari and some state governors.
President Tinubu’s style is different from that of the previous administration of Buhari, where the former President waited for six months before making key appointments in his administration.
Experts say Buhari’s indecisiveness and delay in making key decisions, partly contributed to his perceived failure in the two terms he ruled the country.
But Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, who many assume to have more political sagacity than Buhari, also tactically better and a charismatic leader, appears to be plotting the shape of his cabinet by making some influential appointments in recent days.
The President last Friday appointed House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila as chief of staff, while also announcing the appointment of former Governor of Benue State and immediate past Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The President also appointed Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia, a former Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, as Deputy Chief of Staff and current lawmaker in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Gbajabiamila was re-elected as a House of Representatives member for Surulere Constituency in Lagos State during the February National Assembly elections.
Since the election which took place on the same day as presidential election won by Tinubu, Gbajabiamila has been tagged the president’s right hand man due to his visibility in majority of the President’s engagements.
Although, it is still early in the day, many Nigerians have applauded the President for not just focusing on a section of the country or his inner political circle in choosing the officials. They said the scenarios appear different from what the country was subjected to under the previous administration of Buhari where most appointments favoured a particular section of the country, an action that gave rise to agitations of marginalisation by other regions.
The glaring nepotism in Buhari’s appointments and undue preference for some sections of the country over others in national cake-sharing as it were, were so obvious that there was the fear that the country risked sliding into crisis.
Many observers said that his style of governance, especially in appointments, left the country more divided, fuelled ethnic tension and secessionist agitations.
Due to former President Buhari’s obvious nepotism, several notable Nigerians on different occasions criticised and warned him of the implication of his action.
Buhari’s sectional appointment, was more glaring in the leadership of the nation’s security services.
However, with the enthronement of the Tinubu’s administration, many Nigerians are hopeful that his administration would be a sharp departure from the past.
Political, regional and opinion leaders are of the view that President Tinubu should take steps towards correcting the injustice in appointments and other anti-people policies of the Buhari administration.
But there are some pundits who said it may be too early to judge President Tinubu based on two or three appointments so far, noting that the appointments made were kitchen appointments, where he was expected to go to his close political associates.
Anayo Owuru, political analyst said unlike Buhari, he expects Tinubu’s appointments to have a more national outlook due to his vast political network across the country.
“Tinubu is a democrat and a nationalist who believes in the unity of Nigeria. It is also expected to reflect in his appointments because he has loyalists and trusted friends across the country.
“I think that his appointments will have more national outlook than Buhari’s appointments because of contacts and connections. But I’m not surprised by his appointments so far,” he said.
Anayo stressed that the few appointments made by Tinubu was to reward inner close political associates who had stood with him for decades.
“The two key appointments he has made so far are rewards for loyalty and trust. George Akume, the new SGF, is a former governor who served with Tinubu between 1999 and 2007 and he has been a member of ACN that formed APC since 2007.
“For me, Tinubu is just rewarding him for believing and standing with him since 2007. I expect most of his kitchen cabinets to be his trusted and loyal friends and subordinates.
“So, we cannot judge the President based on the appointment of his kitchen cabinets. It is only his ministerial appointments into key ministries like ministry of finance, petroleum, works, FCT, among others that we will know if his appointments would be different from Buhari.”
Also, Dele Odufwa, a Lawyer, said there would be no government that would be as nepotistic as the Buhari administration for a long time in the country’s history, stressing that the country was thrown into division and crisis due to his sectional appointments.
Odufa said he expected Tinubu to constitute his cabinet on time, knowing how bad things have been in the country if he was serious about repositioning things.
He said that although he expected that the President’s appointments would favour the South-West region, he was optimistic that things would not be as bad as they were under Buhari.
According to him, “Well, I think it was by the grace of God that we survived the Buhari administration because most of those things he was doing were terrible and unimaginable for a federal state like Nigeria.
“Going forward with this new administration, what they need to do is to start early. If I were Tinubu I would make most of my appointments in the first one month and set it to work.
“I must tell you that things are so bad in the country. Name the sector that is thriving now? Let him appoint credible people and professionals into office as ministers, not all these people who have failed us in the past. Whatever you say I don’t expect Tinubu to go so low in making most appointments sectional like Buhari did.
“I would assume that Tinubu is more political knowledgeable and understands the game better than Buhari, who is more of a sectional leader.
“Tinubu’s appointments of course, may favour South West where he hails from but people from other regions would also be appointed.”
Kunle Okunade, political analyst, expressed the optimism that Tinubu would correct the wrongs done by Buhari in appointments across the country.
“I expect Tinubu to do the right thing considering how he got there, but it may be too early to judge; I am sure, just like you have seen those who keep faith with him will be rewarded. His cabinet would have national outlook, I am sure of that,” he said.