By Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye

On May 29, 2024, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu marked one year in office. In this piece, The Sun x-rays performances of five ministers appointed by President Tinubu.

Reforms beckons

The ministries, agencies, and departments (MDAs) advance the government’s programmes and services. Five MDAs in view in this piece are Federal Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment; and the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

Reforming justice system

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagebemi, (SAN).

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Lateef Fagbemi, has his job cut out for him, with decades in private practice as solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. His position as a member of the inner bar prepared him for the task ahead.

Leveraging on the Renewed Hope Agenda on legal reforms, the minister has made considerable efforts leading from the front. Within one year, there were several far reaching reforms in the justice sector, which invariably impact on economic development, achieving an equitable society, and drive inclusive development.

Fagbemi remains focused on core objectives of reforms of the sector, by firstly insulating the office of the attorney general from politics, unlike some of his predecessors who meddled into the murky waters of politics, rather embracing professionalism, and decorum in delivering the remit of the office of the AGF.

Litany of reforms in the justice sector includes President Bola Tinubu’s appointment of the first time in eight years, the full complement of justices of the Supreme Court as required by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 230 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution states thus: “The Supreme Court of Nigeria shall consist of such number of justices not exceeding 21 as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

The resolve to adhere to this constitutional provision has given a boost to the justice sector as the apex court in Nigeria would effectively discharge its functions in timely manner, and unhindered by work load.

This feat has brought back smiles on the faces of litigants whose cases tarried for long in dockets of the courts, for at times up to a decade as their lordship the justices of the Supreme Court were overwhelmed by the number of appeals pending before the court. Hence, the joy expressed by Nigerians when finally, the jinx was broken by President Tinubu.

It was the first time in the history of Nigeria’s Supreme Court that it attained its full complement of 21 justices, with the swearing-in of 11 justices appointed by President Bola Tinubu.

The minister’s vigour on the rule of law and dispensation of justice made it possible for the strengthening of anti-corruption institutions, including the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau.

Nigeria leads on the world stage

Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Yusuf Tuggar, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Yusuf Tuggar, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs minister, continues to make giant strides aimed at nurturing and sustaining Nigeria’s image abroad through various diplomatic initiatives which place the country on leading role among the comity of nations at the regional and global scale. As Nigeria’s chief diplomat, he demonstrates thought leadership and foresight, signposting the country’s lead role among the comity of nations. Nigeria’s active participation in international arena including United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in September 2023 in New York, United States clearly indicates the return of the largest country in Africa.

On the sub-regional front, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu as the current chairperson of the 16-member sub-regional group, key initiatives led by Nigeria continues to shape the future of the group and receiving wide acclaim and support from the international community including the United Nations, European Union, United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, and other strategic partners globally.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the watch of Tuggar, is working collaboratively with multiple partners to promote and advance stability, good governance, peace, and stability in West African sub-region, and ramping up efforts to defeat extremism and terrorism, foster partnership with bilateral partners as well as multilateral partners, among many achievements.

Analysts posit that Tuggar’s transformational leadership, is attributed to his pedigree as a diplomat, political strategist and globalised worldview providing a good understanding of the diplomatic turf, actors, and player as well as good negotiation skills, which positively rubs-off on his deliverables and benefit of the nation as the number one envoy. In the last one year, he has facilitated partnership with foreign missions in Nigeria with many postings from their countries advancing partnership between Nigeria and other nations, and collaboratively promote democracy, peace, and security.

Years of experience on the diplomatic circuit as Nigeria’s former envoy to Germany between 2016 to 2023, prepared him for the present assignment. He deploys constructive engagement, in facilitating relations with Nigeria’s international partners. The 4Ds mantra of President Tinubu: Diplomacy, Democracy, Development and Diaspora, is in sync with Nigeria missions abroad remit of providing duty of care to citizens across the six continents. The 4Ds received wide acclaim from Nigerians in Diaspora as direct beneficiaries of improved service delivery by the missions.

Nigeria partners other countries through bilateral and multilateral agreements, focusing on shared commitments. Recently, bilateral engagements with several partners including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, China, among others are yielding results.

Recently, the president approved the appointment of 12 consuls-general and five chargés d’affaires to represent Nigeria in 14 countries. This milestone will strengthen service delivery by the missions as Nigerians who live outside the capital city of these countries where the Embassy or High Commissions are located would be able to access consular support without having to travel far again.

Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation

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The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has recorded myriads of achievements since assumption of office as the chief spokesperson of the Federal Government of Nigeria in August 2023. As media professional and entrepreneur, prior to his current position, it was easy for him to hit the ground running effortlessly, having been assigned by President Bola Tinubu on a familiar turf, the information and national orientation space, where he had a considerable experience.

The minister has initiated far reaching reforms aimed at reinvigorating Nigeria’s media landscape, information management apparatus of the Federal Government and strategic engagement of Nigerians across the country. Additionally, he provides the much needed perspectives on policies, winning hearts and minds of Nigerians through public engagement, awareness creation, building consensus and better appreciation of rationale for public decision making process. He equally facilitated government/citizens joint forum between the government, media actors, and other stakeholders, civil society, and traditional institutions nationwide.

Idris believing in the power of collaboration and partnership, in furtherance of promoting better understanding between the media and government agencies organizes media parleys that provide opportunities for public officials including ministers to provide stewardship and accountability report through the regular media forums to explain their achievements as well as challenges to the citizens through the media. This initiatives continue to win trust of the media and citizens alike.

He is a champion of free press which is a cardinal ingredient that makes democracy to flourish. The minister has facilitated improved relations between the media and key agencies of the government, highlighting the collaborative partnership that are envisaged between media and the government institutions in advancing a democratic society and free press.

To combat the menace of fake news which has destructive tendencies of harming peaceful and harmonious co-existence in the country, the minister engaged with multi-stakeholders including professional groups such as Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NEPAN), International Press Institute (IPI) Nigeria, civil society and donors on tackling fake news and adverse effect on the country’s overall wellbeing.

He works hard in promoting national initiatives, providing the much needed support through mass media visibility across the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), News Agency of Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria (VON), and National Orientation Agency (NOA) and private and public media entities to sensitize Nigerians on the need for peace, unity and national ethics of hard work, honesty, and brotherhood.

Reinventing Industry, Trade, and Investment as engine of growth.

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite

The Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment under the watch of Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite embarked on series of reforms in the sector aimed at reinvigorating the nation’s economic mainstay, namely industry, trade and investment which drive economic growth and industrialisation.

Firstly, the ministry launched the Nigeria Trade Policy 2023 – 2027, which outlined the road map for bilateral trade relations with other countries over the next five years, providing clear cut policy direction as well as deliverables on the role of each stakeholder in ensuring the success of the new policy. It is instructive to note that the policy is in sync with the Renewed Hope agenda for the trade sector.

This is further to President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s avowed commitment to remove all bottlenecks, simplify all trade apparatus and incorporating wide-ranging reforms, and growth strategy aimed at unlocking economic potentials, fostering diversification of the economy especially the non-oil sector.

The Renewed Hope Agenda targets economic reforms, identifying factors mitigating efficient delivery of trade framework as well as opening opportunities through trade as instruments for inclusive growth.

Additionally, the minister has been driving the Renewed Hope Agenda core objectives of creating incentives to attract foreign direct investment, boost non-oil exports, and job creation via stable, transparent, and open regulatory framework.

Also, it equally seeks to create an enabling environment for harnessing the abundant natural and human resources with a focus on prioritizing value-addition in non-oil exports, enhancing competitiveness, increase foreign exchange earnings, leveraging on the population valuable assets as well as support to emerging young and tech-savvy young people.

Also, several MDAs in the ministry including Bank of Industry (BoI), National Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), among others are lead agencies in the ongoing reforms agenda of the administration that is making a difference in the lives of Nigerians.

It is instructive to note that Nigeria continues to engage actively with bilateral and multi-lateral partners on trade agreements and frameworks including African Union’s Africa Continental Free Trade Areas (AfCTA), Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and World Trade Orgnisation (WTO), the European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth of Nations among others.

Path to digital public service for results

Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan as the new acting head of service of the federation

Though inherited from the immediate past administration, her commitment to service and thought leadership sets her ahead of her peers. Yemi-Esan, as the number one civil servant of the federation, has made compact service delivery her guide post, which is derived from the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

The key achievements of the office of Head of service in the last one year are the strident efforts to reform the public service for efficient and result-based service delivery. There have been initiatives at upskilling of capacity of the civil servants at the federal public service, to reposition the service for transforming it to an efficient institutional capacity and capability to provide services to Nigerians.

One of these ongoing initiatives is digitalization of the public service to ensure seamless work flow in sustainable manner. With 2025 target for a fully digitalised service in Nigeria, the Tinubu administration continues to demonstrate uncommon commitment to give Nigeria a resilient public service that is enviable in Africa and beyond.

Yemi-Esan as a change agent is driving this process along with her team and Nigeria’s public sector stakeholders with a consensus that it can only get better through technology application, incentives as well as regular upskilling to infuse innovative ideas and deliverables.

As surmised by Yemi-Esan, digitalisation of public service would cut cost of governance within the MDAs, as enhancing service delivery.

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