Minister of States for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, and his FCT counterpart, Ramatu Aliyu,who have served out their tenures yesterday raised their voices against the appointment of Ministers of State in the
Speaking during the valedictory Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the
Presidential Villa, Abuja, Keyamo said that the appointment of Minister of
State was a constitutional aberration.
While thanking President Buhari for giving him the opportunity to serve as
a Federal Minister, he said it was difficult to assess the individual performances of the Ministers of State since their discretion was shackled under the discretion of the Ministers as any original ideas developed by a Minister of State are subject to clearance by another colleague in Cabinet before they can sail through for consideration by Council.
Keyamo noted that some other Ministers of State have been grumbling and unable to be bold and speak out.”What I am about to say, therefore, is not and should
not be construed as an indication of ingratitude. Far from it. What I am about
to say is just my own little contribution to our constitutional development as a
relatively young democracy and to aid future governments to optimize the
performance of those they
appoint as Ministers.
“Mr. President, the concept or designation of ‘Minister of State’ is a constitutional aberration and is practically not working for many so appointed. Successive governments have come and gone and many who were appointed as Ministers of State have not spoken out at a forum such
as this because of the risk of sounding ungrateful to the Presidents who appointed them. However, like I said
earlier, this is not ingratitude”, he explained.
On the way forward, he said, “Many Ministerial Retreats have been held to
try and resolve the issues between Ministers and Ministers of State. President Obasanjo held four of such
retreats, with the last one holding at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, from 23rd to 25th February, 2001. Yet, the problems persisted.
“Mr. President, unknown to many successive presidents and the general public, these conflicts gravely affect the optimal performance of governments.
What is the way forward?”Obviously, the argument that two ministers are cramped into some ministries in order not to unnecessarily proliferate ministries and therefore save Government’s money is no longer
tenable. This is because the government does not need any extra infrastructure or more money to maintain all Senior 36 ministers or even a bit more appointed as is now the custom.
“This is because the present Ministers and Ministers of State have their separate offices, cars, security personnel, and personal aides. So, what is the point?” Similarly, his counterpart
in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministry, Ramatu Aliyu, described the office of Minister of State as a limiting factor on the capacity of Ministers of State.
“If you are appointed, if you serve your state, if you underwent the same training, you attend the same FEC representing your people. Why then is your voice hinged upon another minister’s voice? Why is the lack of planning on another minister’s part an
emergency on yours? Why is the label ineptitude now the label you will carry if he should fail?