Nigerians have demanded economic growth as President Bola Tinubu is expected to submit the much-awaited ministerial list to the National Assembly in the next 24 hours for screening.

A presidential aide, who demanded anonymity in a chat with The PUNCH, on Tuesday, said the President stretched the submission of the list to the last days to ensure that the list was inclusive and reflective of what was best for the country.

The list, which is expected to be a mixture of technocrats and tested politicians, the source revealed, would have more technocrats who would help drive the President’s Renewed Hope agenda for the next four years.

Advertisements

The Fifth Amendment to the 1999 Constitution mandates the president and governors to submit the names of their ministerial and commissioner-nominees within 60 days of taking the oath of office for confirmation by the Senate or state House of Assembly.

Tinubu, who was sworn in as President on May 29, has to submit his ministerial list to the Senate before July 29 as stipulated by law.

Speaking against the backdrop of the constitutional deadline, the presidential aide said, “President Bola Tinubu will transmit the ministerial list to the National Assembly tomorrow (today). He has stretched the transmission of the list to the federal lawmakers to ensure that he gets it right. One thing is certain, the list is going to be a mixture of technocrats and tested politicians.

“The President has made it clear that his decisions for the next four years, starting with the ministerial list, would be guided by what is right for Nigeria and not political considerations.”

Advertisements

When pressed for the names on the list, another aide, who did not want his name mentioned, said, “One thing we have been told is that the ministerial list is something the Commander-in-Chief is keeping close to his chest.”

However, in the last few weeks, various names had been bandied around as possible ministerial nominees, including former Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai; ex-Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike; Wale Edun; the Special Adviser, Monetary Policies and a host of technocrats and politicians.

Tinubu sought prayers

Meanwhile, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, on Tuesday, said the President sought prayers of Nigerians for him to make the right choice.

Bamidele disclosed this while speaking in Abuja at his 60th birthday lecture and book presentation titled: “Leadership through Communication.”

Advertisements

Bamidele said Tinubu, who was billed to be the father of the day, called to say he could not make it to the event because of ongoing work to ensure that the ministerial list is delivered to the Senate in the next 48 hours.

He said, “At 10.03am this morning, Mr President, was on the phone. He said to me ‘Opeyemi, I need to make myself unavailable in the next 48 hours because a correspondence must come to the Senate, a very crucial correspondence.’

“Mr President prayed for me. He asked me to give the phone to my wife and he prayed for my wife.

“He said the two of us should join the rest of Nigerians and pray for him to be able to make the right decision on the list in 24 hours so that when Nigerians hear the list of his ministers they will say ‘yes, this is uncommon.’”

Agitation in Bayelsa

Meanwhile, some stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State have kicked against alleged desperate attempts by former President Goodluck Jonathan to nominate the person for the state’s ministerial slot in Tinubu’s cabinet.

The stakeholders under the auspices of the Bayelsa APC Elders Council condemned Jonathan’s move, saying it was wrong for him to reap where he did not show.

Speaking in Yenagoa on Tuesday, the chairman of the elders’ council, Chief Michael Adomokeme, wondered why the former President was angling to produce a minister after actively and openly supporting the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, during the 2023 presidential election.

He said Jonathan was threading the path of unfairness and injustice, stressing that his desperation could be likened to someone seeking to receive salaries from a company he did not work for.

Adomokeme, however, expressed confidence that Tinubu, as ‘’a known rewarder of hard work, would not allow a situation of ‘monkey work, baboon chop’.”

The APC elder said, “People shouldn’t try to reap where they have never sowed. Some of us have been here since the early days of this party when it was considered to be taboo just by being a member.

“You all remember, APC in Bayelsa was called either Islamic party or Hausa party by these same people; I mean, Jonathan and his people. Fast forward to the 2023 elections, President Jonathan did everything to make sure we failed, but we didn’t as God would have it. What right has he to suddenly want to now nominate the minister from Bayelsa State?”

Some capital market operators, on Tuesday, stated that the ministerial list and the portfolios of the ministers would have an impact on the sustainability of the bullish run of the market.

Nigerians set agenda

The Nigerian Bar Association said the President and his ministers must improve the security situation in the country.

Speaking in an interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday, the NBA Publicity Secretary, Habib Lawal, also urged the President and his ministers to scale up investment in agriculture.

Lawal said, “They must look critically at the peculiarities of our security situation and design bespoke measures to deal with them while ensuring that continental, cross-border and international collaborations are carefully exploited to deal with our security challenges.

‘’We must consider diplomatic strategies to address these issues because of the global trends in security. Also, the government must deliberately and heavily invest in agriculture among other sectors of our economy. We expect that commensurate investment will be made to actualise the enthronement of the rule of law and to build that judiciary that can be trusted to deliver justice and strengthen our institutions.”

TUC speaks

The Trade Union Congress on its part advised the incoming ministers of labour, finance and budget planning to ensure industrial harmony, stressing that “a country surmounted by industrial actions will not grow.”

The National Deputy President of the TUC, Tommy Etim, who stated this, admonished Tinubu to assign the labour portfolio to a labour-friendly person.

Etim said, “It is expected that the President will assign the labour portfolio to an individual who is labour-friendly, a minister who will take workers’ welfare as a priority; who can build a block of the relationship between the government and the workers.’’

Underscoring the centrality of labour to national economic development, the labour leader argued that no amount of infrastructure could replace workers.

“Any nation surmounted by industrial strike can never grow. Labour plays a very important role. The ministers must understand that labour has a very important value. These are critical areas (finance, budget, labour) that have to do with the well-being of the economy.

“Ministers that will tell the government the truth about labour relations so that the positive agenda will be spilt over to the states because issues that affect labour are in the exclusive list and it shows that whatever happens at the federal level will spill to the states,’’ Etim submitted.

The National Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Solomon Aderoju, outlined infrastructural deficiency, capacity building, funding and poor power supply as key issues that must be resolved to boost the viability of small-scale enterprise in the country.

Speaking in a telephone interview on Tuesday, the vice president said, “The (trade) minister has to be proactive and pragmatic enough to handle some of the challenges facing Medium and Small Enterprise. The minister’s appointment must not be based on political jamboree.

“He/she must be able to resolve basic issues such as infrastructural deficiency and low power supply to help our local markets. We have an influx of goods coming from other countries even when they are not of better quality than what we produce here.”

Aderoju further said the incoming cabinet members must address the increasing operational costs of business.

He added, “Cost is mounting, talk of diesel or forex. He/she can be instrumental in solving these challenges if it isn’t under his purview. Capacity building and funding is also very important for small business owners for their training and retraining.

HAVE YOU READ?:  Nigerian govt asks all workers to resume December

“We must re-strategise our research department so we can compete favourably with other nations, especially under the newly-signed Africa Continental Free Trade Area.”

On his part, the President of the Association of Small Business Owners, Femi Egbesola, demanded that the finance minister must be an experienced entrepreneur.

He said, “We expect that the new minister should be someone who has been an entrepreneur over the years and has felt the pain and identified with the problems faced by an average small-scale business owner in Nigeria. We don’t want a lawyer or any profession not related to trade and investment.”

The business owner also stated that the trade ministry must shift policy focus to small businesses which formed 96 per cent of total businesses in the country.

He stated, “The ministry must shift its policy focus to MSMEs. Most times, it has concentrated its efforts on satisfying the yearnings of large corporations and businesses at the expense of the nano, small micro and small businesses.

“Most of the policy direction of the ministry has always been to cater to the big companies and that must change. We expect a lot of collaborations with the private sector; they should not come up with policies without our input.”

Speaking with one of our correspondents, the Head of Information, National Union of Pensioners, Bunmi Ogunkolade, urged the prospective ministers to be willing to learn and understand the system.

He further stressed that the federal cabinet must not take the issue of pensions lightly, insisting that the President must appoint the best hands to deliver good governance to all categories of Nigerians.

He said, “For the incoming ministers especially as it affects pensions, it has to do with the ministers of labour, finance budget planning and the accountant general; the first thing is that ministers that will handle these portfolios must understand our plight. He must know pension issues.

“Anyone who is not conversant with pension issues will not understand. Some people think it’s just about paying a monthly pension. The challenges of pension differ from one ministry to the other; from one agency to another. For instance, salaries are different.”

Speaking further, Ogunkolade noted, “Those working in core ministries earn lower than those working in Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Central Bank. We need explanations. Is it a crime for someone to be working in ministry while others in Customs and others go home with bumper pay?

“The salary structures were released by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission. I don’t know of any other countries in the world where there are such discrepancies. Pensions are now being calculated based on where you work.

“Therefore, there are different categories of pension and pensioners depending on where you work. So, the person coming in as the minister of labour must have contemporary knowledge of these issues so that when you explain, he would understand.”

Weighing in, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, said the government needed to appoint officials with a clear understanding of the private sector into ministerial positions that pertain to the private sector.

Idahosa said, “They should have a sense of what is required, even if they don’t have deep knowledge. They have to understand that it is extremely important to support the private sector to flourish.

“They should not see the private sector as a competitor to the private agenda of some of these government officials, or see the private sector as people who are making a lot of money by exploiting the government from contracts.

“We need government officials who have a deep understanding of the private sector and its issues, not just what they read in the papers or the general feeling about business people.”

In his comments, the National Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists, Segun Kuti-George, urged the President to put ‘round pegs in round holes.’

He emphasised that the appointments should not be based on political considerations alone, stressing that having the right people is key.

The entrepreneur stated, “We expect that these appointments are not informed by political affiliation or political compensation, but based on knowledge and merit. It should be based on what they can deliver. What we need now is efficiency. Let’s have the right people.

“For example, in the Ministry of Trade and Investment, let’s have people who know about manufacturing and entrepreneurship. We should have people who have been through it, who know where the shoe pinches and not just technocrats who do not have experience.”

But a facilitator with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Dr Ikenna Nwaosu, said Tinubu should have appointed his ministers within 30 days of taking office, describing the 60-day window as the upper limit.

He complained that the delay in unveiling the federal cabinet has slowed economic development and revenue generation.

“The list should have been out in 30 days not even 60 days; the 60 days is an upper limit. So there is no reason the President should even wait for that upper limit. Every day there is no minister for any ministry, it slows down the economy, it slows economic development and revenue generation. For every day there is no minister, it slows down governance so it is not even 60 days, it is 30 days.” Nwaosu explained.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Mr Wale Oyerinde, simply asked Nigerians to wait for the announcement of the new ministers.

Capital market operators

Some capital market operators, on Tuesday, stated that the ministerial list and the portfolios of the ministers would have an impact on the sustainability of the bullish run of the market.

The market capitalisation of the Nigerian Exchange Limited recorded the highest daily profit in two years; a day after Bola Tinubu was sworn as President of Nigeria. Tinubu took over as Nigeria’s President on May 29, 2023.

Market capitalisation grew by N1.51tn, from N28.844tn to N30.349tn, a day after Tinubu was sworn in. At the close of transactions, the All-Share Index rose by 2,764.47 points or 4.96 per cent to close at 55,738.35 points.

According to the macroeconomic report of Arthur Stevens Asset Management Limited for May 2023, this positive run of the equity market on the first day after the inauguration of a new President was the highest since 1999. It was 5.22 per cent higher when compared to the previous trading day.

Speaking on investors’ behaviour and impact on the market capitalisation, the Head, Financial Institutions Ratings at Agusto&Co, Ayo Olubunmi, said that the policy direction of the new administration excited the capital market.

He said, “There has been a bullish run on the capital market since the President came into office. One thing we need to have at the back of our minds is that a lot of people were concerned about the policies of the Buhari administration, so the new administration was like a breath of fresh air.

“This is not the first time we are seeing this. When Buhari won the election, we saw a bullish run on the stock exchange. But now, investors are particularly excited by some of the policies that the President also stated.”

From the minority shareholders community, the President of the Pragmatic Shareholders Association, Bisi Bakare, projected that good days are ahead for investors.

She said, “Considering what is happening in the capital market for the past six weeks, the prices have gone up. As an investor, we are very happy about it because the essence of investing is to get returns on our investment, either in terms of capital appreciation, dividends or bonuses.

“For some of the companies who have released their first and second quarter results, the results have been very good. Compared to what it was in the second quarter of 2022, the prices of stocks are higher. On the whole, we believe that during this Tinubu administration, investors are going to enjoy capital appreciation and we hope that the trend will continue for the remaining two quarters of the year.”