If President Buhari likes he can function without ministers. The Constitution states that: “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.”
It doesn’t state that ministers should be appointed immediately. The “shall” in the statement makes it mandatory to have ministers, but the “may” allows for some presidential discretion.
So while nearly one month into his administration, the president has not nominated any ministers, it is not such a big deal because each ministry has Permanent Secretaries, directors and senior officias, who should be capable of providing strategic leadership and carrying out any presidential directives. In reality, the running of ministries is by civil servants and the ministers are just figureheads that provide the political steer.
So the hoopla from commentators about the president’s failure in nominating ministers is just a storm in a teacup, as the business of governance can go on quite well without ministers.
In an attempt to calm the storm in a teacup, the president’s spokesman said the delay in making appointments was because: “As he has said himself, he wants to scrutinise and make the right kind of appointment. He doesn’t want to appoint one today and make changes tomorrow. Given this war for the recovery of stolen funds, that will have implication for the people who are going to be appointed. If he appoints you today and maybe in the drive, you are implicated, he will fire you.”
This excuse is more worrying than the fact ministerial appointments have not been made.
The president won the (s)election three months ago. He ran for president three times previously. This means he has had enough time to have an idea who he wants on his ministerial team. Three months is more than enough time to have done his due diligence and had his choices vetted for the potential for embarrassment.
The fact that he is allegedly only scrutinising potential appointees now suggests that despite the posturing during the campaign, the president was not really ready for governing. It is actually evidence of incompetence because he talked a lot during the campaign about how bad things were, but did not spend that much time in building the team that would help him address those problems.