Written by Segun Aluko
Their relentless commitment to getting the job done, their unquestionable dedication to duty, their creative approach to highly complex issues, and most importantly, the fact that they are all women. These are among the many reasons the phrase ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ was coined for the Ministers of Petroleum, Finance and Aviation. But you can t blame the name selection approach of the common-folk, clearly these women have shown a level of paranormal activity that is attributed to extra-terrestrial beings.
Known for being clinically thorough, detailed and energetic, these Ministers have taken huge and bold steps towards building machineries that drive the Nigerian economy. Steps, which are undoubtedly necessary in some ministries, and completely lacking in others. But having clearly put forward the capacity of these women to drive the economy and even do greater things in ministerial appointments, the question which often begs is which of these ministers is charged with the most complex of tasks and how have they fared.
On Popularity the highest consideration would go to the Minister of Petroleum, and credit for that goes to the ‘Great March’ of the fuel subsidy scandal in 2012. The Minister of Finance isn’t that popularly un-lucky, though also conveniently shaded by a wall of complex economic yardsticks that fail to inform Nigerians of their effect on bread and butter, her popularity was stained when acting as the Finance Minister in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, she requested full deregulation which would result in the sacking of over 50% of the government work force. The Aviation Minister is the least of the folk in popularity. Were it not for on her part in the opposing a huge network of self-interest stakeholders in Aviation Business few media houses would no doubt had marvelled at her approach.
On Performance, Finance Minister Okonjo Iweala maintains her argument that Macro-economic stability has been restored in the country. But the consistent delay in payment of government salaries, budget deficits and dwindling currency rates mocks that stability. Paper tricks and complex calculations only go further to annoy the teeming hungry masses of people. The Aviation Minister however has exceeded the limits of performance not only in comparison with the performance of past ministers in the same sector, but also with the most basic economic yardstick of ‘believing what you see’. New and renovated airport terminals in over 2/3rd of the country, renovated payment system and reconfigured tariff systems which not only help generate revenue for the government but also meets the standards of rational economic pricing.
The least lucky in terms of development is the Petroleum Minister. At current calculations, the oil theft rate is 150,000 barrels a month (at least that’s what the Finance Minister says). Diezani is also recorded to have completed a Petroleum Industry Bill with prickly bones and thorns of contention for many. Oil spillages have sky-rocketed and it is still uncertain what the correct figure is as regards number of barrels extracted per day.
In Politics however, the Minister of Petroleum plays a predominantly active role in the affairs of the country, but of course what else would be expected of a minister who heads the leading revenue arm of the country. But compared to Okonjo Iweala, who with Head-tying skills as complex as her financial computations has been appointed in two administration and cashes in on her global advantage as a World Bank contender, it is a difficult tie. The Aviation Minister is clearly the least political of the lot, her achievements are simply the marks of a technocrat.
There is no question as to whether these ministers have held their turfs, the Nigerian political terrain is undoubtedly unique to all known forms of economic, social and political yardsticks. The Minsters of Petroleum, Aviation and Finance have done great work and shown their commitment to work, and resilience against opposing mechanisms.
Of course the real question which begs analysis is that, although decline and failure takes place in all forms of government institutions if not properly managed, why is there a lack of sanctions for inefficiency. How can the other Nigerian ministers get away with their lousy performances? Why do the ministries endure? How can politically oppressive and exploitative people remain broadly unchallenged in their territories or in their fundamental existence as ministers? How can they simultaneously display decay and stability, weakness and resilience?
These questions are no doubt absent in the analysed ministries as the fundamental nature of such entities leaves no room for dormancy. It is the first time in the history of Nigeria that women have been awarded such key national positions simultaneously and it is undoubtedly a success to womenfolk as it is to Nigeria. It is a tale to tell, a tale of three ministries, a tale of popularity, performance and politics.
Olusegun Aluko is a public affairs commentator. He believes that one day Nigeria will rule the world and that Goodluck Jonathan is the best thing to happen to Nigeria since sliced bread and crude oil.