How to Become a Minister in Jordan

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Tue 3 January / Jan 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

A book came out some days ago, in English, titled “How to Become a Minister in Jordan”, authored by Saeda Kilani. It is a PDF book, bought through the internet, and it support to be available in Arabic soon.

It’s a plausible book, packed with analyses and depictions worth the attention. And its idea is as funny as it is unconventional and deep; Kilani analysed consecutive Jordanian governments over the decade (2006-2016) on the basis of Gender, Religion, Age, and Geographic distribution, which may not be out of the ordinary, given the statistical aspects of it.

However, Kilani added to all of the above other variables which gave her analyses a special flavour, including her innovation of the following categories: “Family and Surnames”, people who come from families of officials and ministers; and “competency”, measuring up ministers resumes to the requirements of positions they filled during the decade.

So, the author coined a new category: “Ministers by Birth”, adding it to the multitude of measures on qualification and competency, in regards to favouritism and personal relations, all the while admitting to it not being a matter of absolute measurement; not black or while. A minister could come to office through a strain of favours and relations but still perform well. However, the problem lies in the foundations of the measures and criteria on which Ministers are selected, which usually have something to do with geography, religious, age, and gender related factors.

The book starts with Dr Marouf Bakhit’s 2006 government, and closes with Dr Hani Mulqi’s. in 10 years, Kilani found that there have been 9 governments, 8 Cabinet reshuffles, 6 premiers; Marouf Bakhit, Nader Thahabi, Samir Rifai, Oun Khasawneh, Fayez Tarawneh, Abdullah Nsour, excluding the current Prime Minister, in addition 301 ministers, 22 of whom are women. All that over the course of only 10 years.

Through the social background and career proficiency study, Kilani also shows that almost one third of our Country’s ministers were born into their offices, and that 76 ministers have degrees and expertise that are at best incompatible with their Ministerial positions.

Accordingly, only 19 per cent of our ministers have been placed in office for reasons related to competency, qualifications, or expertise.

As indecisive and inconclusive as the results her book gives us, Kilani maintains a balance between fun and notably credible; and there is no one perspective! One minister may not have the extensive expertise in their department but still have the administrative skills and the drive to achieve.

The book, notably, puts us before an internal schizophrenia; between the public and official rhetoric condemning favouritism and criminalising it by law and populace; as 87 per cent of the people consider favouritism a form of corruption, all on one side, and the confession of 91 per cent of the people that they would use whatever favour they can get! The book also depicts contradictory statements by ministers and premiers.

Generally speaking, the book highlights a real and disturbing predicament in the process of assigning government and the absence of objective measures and criteria. And so long that there remain no political criteria, in the party-sense of formulating governments; as in parliamentary governments comprised of party members, then our governments will seem mostly technocratic, while not being exactly so!

A disparity in this sense will always lie in whether or not our governments really are technocratic or just flavourless and shapeless! Of course, were it the latter, then there will always be a vital part of our political dynamic, governed by social status factor and favouritism.

Funnily, some of our Ministers were appointed by chance; neither by personal relations nor via entitlement by birth, but more or less due to similarities in names, sometimes, and in other times, because of minor political miscalculations!