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Published 9th October 2015

Vol 56 No 20


Nigeria

At last a cabinet, and now for the policies

President Muhammadu Buhari | Picture by: Liewig Christian / ABACA/Press Association Images
President Muhammadu Buhari | Picture by: Liewig Christian / ABACA/Press Association Images

After balancing political interests and restructuring ministries, the most urgent issue facing President Buhari is economic strategy

At his self-imposed eleventh hour, President Muhammadu Buhari submitted his list of 21 ministerial nominees to the Senate on 30 September. On 8 October, the Senate was to start vetting the names but it will not know the portfolios that Buhari intends to give to his nominees. That means that most of the questions will be about personal integrity and political loyalties rather the technical competence required in a specific portfolio. The list is the outcome of a tricky political balancing act which has taken far too long – he was inaugurated on 29 May – but has at least succeeded in not alienating critical constituencies in the political and business worlds. In addition to the complexity of mediating among and sifting through the myriad interest groups which descended on Abuja to press their claims to run ministries, Buhari has been trying to restructure the government at the same time. Not only does he want a leaner government – the 21 nominees are likely to be the substantive ministers and the next 15, so far unnamed, will be the deputy or state ministers – he also wants to cut the ministers' scope for patronage.

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BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

This year’s Index of African Governance from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation shows that since 2011 – the year of the Arab Spring and the United States’ financial recovery – human development and rights, and participation have improved but security and economic opportunities have not.

Over the same period, 21 countries, including five of the ten best performers, have fallen in overall governance performance...

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Over the same period, 21 countries, including five of the ten best performers, have fallen in overall governance performance. The six countries that have shown consistent improvement are: Côte d’Ivoire (recovery after electoral crisis), Morocco (monarchy avoiding regional uprisings), Rwanda (authoritarian but economically efficient), Senegal (pluralist and pragmatic), Somalia (a regional intervention evicted Al Shabaab from the main cities and imposed a new government) and Zimbabwe (the power-sharing government’s achievements).

There has been some shuffling of the top five, which includes four of Africa’s smallest economies and its second biggest: it is headed by Mauritius, Cape Verde and Botswana (all of which have lost points) followed by South Africa and Namibia (which have gained points). The worst performers are brutally predictable: Somalia (still the lowest ranked despite gaining 1.2 points since 2011), South Sudan (torn apart by civil war), Sudan (Khartoum fighting on four fronts since the secession of the South), Eritrea (closed regime with the highest percentage of political refugees) and Chad (poor national governance as the president rents out his army to quell regional insurgencies).

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