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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ministerial Portfolios: Restructuring The Federal Executive Council

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One of my favorite’s books, Frans Johansson’s ‘The Medici Effect’, published by Harvard Business School Press, makes a strong case for stepping into the intersections of fields and disciplines to create extraordinary new ideas.

After seeing the portfolios of Nigeria’s new ministers, I began to question if a Federal Executive Council (FEC) with 45 ministers could function effectively, particularly in terms of coordination. Then, it dawned on me that perhaps I was thinking about it in the wrong way — in terms of the number of ministers, not in terms of their potential impact.

Re-situating my perspective, I came to the conclusion that the biggest challenge of the new FEC would likely come in the form of the interaction among all the ministries and ministers.

How can this be fixed?

Drawing inspiration from the Medici Effect, I began to conceptualize the possibility of intersections and the formation of clusters that could be created within the FEC to achieve greater efficiency, better service delivery, and ultimately, enhanced accountability. From this, I came up with the following two-step plan.

STEP 1: Establish five Sub-Councils under the FEC, each with distinct responsibilities:

A. A National Security Council, with its composition aligned with the Third Schedule (Part K) of the Constitution. Its members should comprise the following Ministers:

– Minister of Defence

– Minister of State for Defence

– Minister of Police Affairs

– Minister of State for Police Affairs

– Minister of Interior

– Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs

-Minister of Justice & Attorney General of the Federation

-Minister of Foreign Affairs

While reviewing the Third Schedule of the Constitution, it was interesting to note that both the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice, despite the enormous responsibilities of their roles in the context of national security, are not listed as statutory members of the National Security Council. The National Assembly should look into this.

B. An Economic Growth and Planning Council, overseen by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy. This Council should include the following Ministers:

– Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment

– Minister of Budget and Economic Planning

– Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

-Minister of Gas Resources

-Minister of Water Resources

– Minister of State for Petroleum Resources

-Minister of Labour and Employment

The role of this Council will be to shape a resilient economy, in order to ensure the optimal allocation of scarce resources and foster efficient coordination among all other sectors. This Council will closely collaborate with the National Economic Council, led by the Vice-President, to facilitate comprehensive cooperation and coordination across the 36 states and the federation.

C. An Infrastructure and Development Sub-Council, chaired by a Minister appointed by the President. This Council’s ministers should include

– Minister of Power

– Minister of Works

– Minister of Transportation

– Minister of Housing and Urban Development

– Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development

– Minister of Steel Development

– Minister of State for Steel Development

-Minister of Environment and Ecological Management

– Minister of Federal Capital Territory

The main collaborative duties of the ministries under this Council should involve devising strategic plans, formulating policies, and coordinating initiatives that are aimed at enhancing or developing vital infrastructure sectors nationwide. This team should also work with all the other ministerial teams to identify infrastructure gaps and propose projects to improve the lives and well-being of all Nigerians.

D. The Social Development Council, to be chaired by the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare. This Council should include the following ministers:

– Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare

– Minister of Women Affairs

– Minister of Youth

– Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation

– Minister of Education

– Minister of State for Water Resources and Sanitation

-Minister of State Environment and Ecological Management

The primary tasks of this Council would involve leveraging insights and resources from the various ministries under the Council to design and execute a comprehensive and coordinated social welfare programme for the nation. Collaborative efforts would focus on addressing matters of gender equality, youth engagement, poverty alleviation, quality education, and access to clean water and sanitation.

E. The Emerging Opportunities Council, preferably chaired by a Minister designated by the President, although I lean towards having the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy assume this critical role due to his ministry’s intersectionality with all the other ministries in this proposed Sub-Council.

Council members should include:

– Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy

– Minister of Sports Development

– Minister of Marine and Blue Economy

– Minister of Tourism

– Minister of Innovation Science and Technology

– Minister of Art, Culture, and the Creative Economy

– Minister of Information and National Orientation

– Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development

– Minister of State for Education

This Council will bear the primary responsibility for strategic planning and policy formulation to promote innovation, technology usage, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development across diverse sectors.

Its focus should be on positioning Nigeria as a competitive global player within the purview of its constituent ministries. Moreover, this Council should be tasked with identifying and harnessing new avenues for growth and prosperity.

STEP 2: With these five Councils established, the FEC could potentially reduce the frequency of meetings to twice a month, or as deemed necessary by the President.

Nevertheless, a standing order should be issued requiring the five Councils to convene at least twice a month to review proposals from the ministries under their jurisdiction before presenting them to the full FEC.

By adopting this approach, ideas can cross-pollinate more readily, leading to increased intersectionality among proposed implementations — just like the Medici Effect.

Despite the cumbersome nature of its current composition, it is possible to make the FEC work. However, as I always say, governance isn’t rocket science. Neither is it guesswork. It’s intentional, dynamic, and malleable to attain desirable outcomes.

With these considerations in mind, all we can do now is to watch and hope for efficient and effective service delivery for the sake of all Nigerians.

With that being said, I rest my case.

By Oluwole Onemola

Mr. Onemola is a public policy and strategic communications expert. He writes from Abuja and tweets at @Onemola

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