While defending the delay in the submission of the list of ministerial nominees to the Senate by the President, his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said: “Business need not be grounded at MDAs because the Permanent Secretaries and other technocrats are in place to take decisions.
Buhari had, before Adeshina spoke, attributed the delay in his appointment of Ministers to the late submission of his Transition Committee’s report to him, just as he said he was being careful in order not to make mistakes in appointing individuals especially to key positions such as in the finance and petroleum ministries.
To him , there was nothing wrong in delaying the appointment. “I don’t know why people are so anxious about Ministers. But eventually we will have (them),”the President said.
He also blamed the immediate past Jonathan government for not cooperating with his Transition Committee.
Sunday Vanguard x- rays the activities of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, presently operating with Permanent Secretaries and what Nigerians are saying with the non- appointment of Ministers by the President.
The country may not have missed much with the delay, but different reactions have trailed the bidding of time by the President to avoid making mistakes of the past, while the MDAs applauded the absence of Ministers as a measure by Buhari to carry out a thorough study of the country’s problems before he appoints Ministers.
While some people claimed that the delay in filling the important government positions has not, in any way, affected the smooth running of government agencies, others disagreed, saying activities have been brought to a stand still.
Investigations, however, revealed that the day-to-day operations of the MDAs have not been hindered except when it comes to approval for big projects.
At the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, the Permanent Secretary, Engr. John Chukwu, is in charge, giving orders, taking decisions, but the busy nature of the office of the Minister at Area 11 has been absent; no patronage by politicians, business men and women, religious leaders, contractors, administrators, among others.
The staff were not as busy as they used to be when the Minister was around and the blocks where both the Minister and the Minister of State occupy were deserted.
Only recently, the FCTA Permanent Secretary vowed to arrest, prosecute and send to prison Bureau de Change operators in and around Wuse Zone 4 in the Federal Capital City, FCC, if they failed to stop hawking foreign currencies.
Giving the warning during an emergency inspection tour of areas used by the Association of Bureau de Change of Nigeria (ABCON) and black market operators, under the aegis of Zone Four Traders Association, Chukwu stressed that the FCC has been well planned and designed with a Master Plan and that the laws of the land must be respected to make Abuja clean and safe.
Also in compliance with the directive of the Federal Government on the dissolution of the boards, agencies, institutions and government owned companies, the Permanent Secretary announced the dissolution of all boards of the FCT parastatals and agencies.
He also disclosed that the Special Task Team on City Management had impounded 56 bags of assorted hard drugs as part of government’s plan to fight criminal activities in the FCC.
The Permanent Secretary, who revealed that the Task Team discovered the hard drugs at a depot during its covert operation at Tura-Bura, behind Apo Roundabout, said, “The FCT administration is gladdened by the proactive activity of the Task Team for this major discovery which would go a long way in reducing crime in all its ramifications in Abuja and environs.
“These 56 bags of cannabis and sundry hard drugs seized by the FCT Task Team will surely have positive multiplier effects on the fight against criminal activities in Abuja because most crimes are committed under the influence of hard drugs”.
A government official, who spoke with Sunday Vanguard anonymously, noted that the country was moving slowly without Ministers, said, “The country can ill-afford further delay by the President to make these vital appointments.” The official, a Permanent Secretary, said: “From The Presidency to the MDAs, everything has come to virtual standstill”.
Another Permanent Secretary said, “Ministers are necessary but not essential. They are not essential for the proper functioning of government, but they are necessary for the political identity of the governing party.”
The official admitted that there are limitations to Perm Secs’ capacities to approve policy issues, particularly those bordering on big projects which, he argued, can endure a little while.
“The Permanent Secretaries are doing the work of Ministers for the time being though, they are looking up to Ministers to also play their part but salaries are not delayed, work has not stopped and activities of the MDAs are going on.”
At the Ministry of Trade and Investment, the Permanent Secretary, Amb. Abdulkadir Musa, was in charge until his retirement last Tuesday.
A source at the Ministry said: “All major activities of MDAs are still being carried out; salaries are paid on time and decisions are being taken regarding the growth and progress of the MDAs.”
A level 8 in the Ministry of Communication Technology said the absence of Minister had virtually crippled activities in the ministry and warned that people should stop pretending that Permanent Secretaries could cover the vacuum left by Ministers’ absence.