A Deuced General !
The Benin Head of State, Yayi Boni, has reshaped his government last Sunday. In the strict sense of the word, out of technical revisions operated previously, this was the second government of the Beninese head of state since his election in marsh 2006.
The reshuffle is marked by the shift of number of portfolios from 23 to 26, the arrival of 17 new personalities and the presence of 6 ladies against 5 in the former cabinet.
According to analysts or commentaries one notices that many ministers left down were ousted for lack of result or notorious incompetence while others were used as mere political scapegoat by a President so skilful in the art of heads cutting.
Contrarily to what was rumoured previously in the press, there has been no religious representative in the new cabinet. Legitimate fears concerning the confusion between state affairs and religious affairs are removed. In this major area, President Yayi Boni remains in the line of rational legality and shows attachment to the main values of democracy.
However the singular arrival of a General in the new cabinet can not pass unnoticed. General Hessou Félix is indeed the new Minister of Internal Affairs and Public Security. The new Minister is not that new in the political field as he has been Director of planning in the last regime’s Ministry of Defence and was recently Principal Secretary of the Ministry of security of the late government.
Of course, this appointment appears like an application to the sector of security and defence of a technocratic conception of the role of the Minister to which President Yayi Boni is very much attached: that is the principle of adequacy between craftsmanship and office. An economist to the Ministry of Economy, A medical doctor for Minister of health, a Professor as Minister of education, etc… But the pragmatism engaged in such a principle may turn out to be mere illusion; shoemaker’s children being the worst shod. If indeed there is nothing more blameful than a Ministry unable to cope with his field of competence, a good Ministry is not obliged to be a professional in his sphere of action. There is a fair balance to find between the commendable search of efficiency and the due respect if not of the constitution at least of the jurisprudence or habits in connection with its application. Out of historical necessity soldiers must remain in barracks. As we saw it during last legislative elections, the involvement of the military command in the elections logistics has left many an observer – and not only the opposition – sceptical as to the political and practical pureness of this kind of association. As far as the Ministry of Interior will be in charge of elections both in their logistical and votes counting aspects, it would be much regrettable that such a responsibility be confided to a soldier. As it would also be regrettable that be renewed the king of genre confusion that has marked the last legislative elections.
Citizens will surely appreciate the effects of those apparently little infringements to democratic rules or constitutional habits. Besides, the presence of this military intruder in the second government of President Yayi Boni is not necessarily viewed as negative. In Benin security has become a major case of concern. Beninese, confronted to frequent attack in their daily life expects from the new Minister tremendous action for their security.
But the security at stake can also be viewed as a political one.
As a matter of fact, many observers think that the odd nomination of a General in a government of civilians may work as a military counter-fire to discourage vague impulses of push. Like sacrificing a chicken to Tolegba, a voodoo security deity.
There is no doubt that the new government of Yayi Boni is that of competence and efficiency; while abiding by democracy rules, it respects political balances. Besides, it realizes strategic arbitration in the long term in connection with the President political ambitions both for himself and for the nation. Through the vast renewal of ministerial personnel in which consists this reshuffle of cabinet, President Yayi Boni proves his skilfulness both as a heads hunter and a heads cutter. It just remains to hope that the hunted heads are at least as competent as the cut heads. Most certainly, this will avoid Yayi Boni to face the tragic dilemma of having to cut his own head.
Copyright, Blaise APLOGAN, 2007