The need for Tinubu to appoint high-performing youth to his cabinet

A month after his swearing-in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu is yet to constitute the Federal Executive Council(FEC), otherwise known as the federal cabinet. But if the morning tells the day, it won’t be long before the President will assemble his team, taking into cognisance how he has hit the ground running since his assumption of office on 29 May.

The FEC is made of special advisers and ministers who are to assist the President in translating his vision, mission and social contract- including his and the party manifestos- entered with the people during electioneering into reality. 

Although President Tinubu has not yet broken any law by not appointing his ministers,  there’s a time limit to do that, as codified in the constitution. Still, there are high expectations, given the urgency to rejig and retool the structures and processes of governance, especially at the national level, for practical and optimal service delivery to the people in dire need of accurate and organic dividends of democracy. 

Beyond the number of advisers appointed so far and the ministers yet to be appointed, there are multiple portfolios in different parastatals,  ministries, departments and agencies of government that need to be filled with competent people who’ll also assist in transforming the President’s vision into reality for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of the Nigerian people. 

So far, it must be stated that the President has, once again, demonstrated his legendary knack for recognising talents and top-tier performers in the number of special advisers and presidential aides appointed. The President’s penchant for picking top talents and saddling them with responsibilities, as demonstrated during his time as the governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, was one of the qualities that endeared him to the Nigerian electorate in the February presidential elections. 

Interestingly, there has not been any dissenting opinion or scathing criticism of the new appointees from notable public intellectuals and critics, which is a pointer to one minimum: They are men and women with a track record of quality performance in their respective former portfolios, either in the private or public sector. Instead, the Nigerian media space comprising the conventional and the new media is awash with myriad articles praising the President’s selection as a radical departure from the past, where appointments were made based on mundane reasons rather than competence, character and capacity. 

In the same vein, the President has also demonstrated that he will bring quality youths into his administration, going by the few ones he has appointed, such as his special advisers on culture and entertainment economy,  revenue, policy coordination and energy, among others. Yet, there’s a crucial need for the President to appoint as many competent youths as possible to help drive his policies and programmes for maximum beneficial impacts on the Nigerian people. 

Bringing high-flying youths into his cabinet will undoubtedly promote inclusion, engender diversity and also add quality vigour and dynamism to the mix, apart from giving them a sense of belonging that they have a substantial role to play in the governance process and not as supporting staff or side aides to office-holders. Fortunately, the country is never short of top-performing youths who will meet and even surpass expectations when called upon to serve. 

One of the amazing discoveries of the immediate past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari is the current managing director and chief executive officer of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Engineer Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad,  whose sterling leadership prowess and competence have transformed the agency, which was hitherto redundant and comatose, into a special utility vehicle for enhancing electricity in rural parts of Nigeria and hard-to-reach places that are unconnected to the national grid across the six geopolitical zones. 

I bet many Nigerians had forgotten about the agency established in 2005 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo until former President Buhari appointed Engineer Ahmad in 2019 to reposition the agency to actualise its founding purpose. Between 2019 and now, it is safe to say without exaggeration that REA has become a federal agency of notable impact, all thanks to Engineer Ahmad, a Nigerian youth making a stellar difference in leadership. 

The story of how Engineer Ahmad retooled and reorganised REA through clinical staffing, the establishment of standard operating procedures and the delineation of functions and duties to avoid overlapping and duplication, among others, for optimal service delivery is one brilliant piece of evidence demonstrating the topnotch capacity of exceptional Nigerian youths to deliver when given the responsibility to do so.

Engineer Ahmad, who is yet to hit 40, with grit, illuminating intellect, and a prodigious capacity for rewarding engagements in service delivery, all predicated on his sound education acquired locally and internationally without equivocation, has demonstrated that there are Nigerian youths across the length and breadth of the country waiting to be given responsibilities to showcase their skills, competence and knowledge within the governance ecosystem either at the national or the subnational level. 

President Tinubu has a knack for engaging capable hands and brilliant minds regardless of their tongues, age, tribes, religions and beliefs. He is most likely to continue on this well-known trajectory, especially now that the collective destiny of over 200 million Nigerians is in his hand, which he cannot afford to mortgage on the altar of sloppiness and incompetence. He needs men and women of substance and character to help fix the country. The Nigerian youths deserve a significant place in his cabinet. Engineer Ahmad and those in his stellar crop of brilliant youths are available for the President’s pick.

Adebowale, a youth advocate, wrote from Lagos.