Last week’s appointment of Usman Alkali Baba as new Acting Inspector General of Police has fuelled the discontent in Nigeria’s South, especially South-east, and South-south over perceived marginalisation in key appointments by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
This is comes even as some have argued that the appointment violated the Nigerian Police Act 2020, signed into law by the president last year. Among other things, the Act provides that the appointment of new Inspector General of Police and removal of an appointed IGP must be on the recommendation of the Police Council.
Part 111, section 3, of the new police Act, for instance, states that, “The inspector general of police shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the police Council from among serving members of the Police Force.”
Some argue, therefore, that it is against the law for the president to have unilaterally appointed the new IGP.
“By appointing an acting IGP without Police governing council, once again Buhari violated the Police Act 2020 he signed himself,” noted social media commentator, Ayemojubar, @ayemojubar.
A legal practitioner and president emeritus of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think tank, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, however, told our Correspondent that the president did not necessarily violate the new Act.
“The law says ‘consult’ not ‘consent’; that is, he should consult them, not that he should seek their consent,” Uwazurike said. “So if he consulted them, maybe by phone before he travelled, that is fine. It is only when they come out to say that they were not consulted that anybody can make an issue out of it. But for now there is really no issue.”
However, beyond the constitutionality or otherwise of the appointment, what has infuriated many is that it has, in their reckoning, further heightened the perceived marginalisation of the Southeast in particular in appointments into key security and economic sectors of the economy.
“I am very disappointed with the appointment of the new IGP. The security architecture of the country is supposed to reflect the diversity of the country. He overlooked the Southeast again in the appointments of service chiefs. The least what I would have expected him to do is to appoint the next IGP from the zone for balance, but that did not happen,” Chief Anselm Njoku, leader South East APC forum, Lagos told our correspondent.
“The truth is that if you really want to end insecurity in the country, you can’t let one section of the country dominate the entire security architecture. Because when that is the case, there is hardly any accountability and it also breeds corruption. There are no checks and balances because it becomes family affair. It is not right.”
“On the other hand, when the security architecture is balanced and every part of the country is accommodated, you have different shades of ideas and better accountability.”
Njoku said this lack of accommodation for the South East, is partly to blame for the rising agitations in the zone, and the consequent security challenges it is posing.
He cited recent attacks on police facilities in Imo State as examples of the unfortunate escalation of insecurity in the zone, while insisting that the best way to tackle the challenge and the insurgency in other parts of the country is to ensure that everyone is given a sense of belonging.
“Look at what is happening in Imo State for example,” he said. “It is a very sad development that is condemned. But I feel that one good way of helping to douse tension would have been to appoint someone from the zone as IGP. Apart from helping to douse the feeling of marginalisation, the person would know better how to engage the situation.”
Indeed, as at today, of all the heads of 16 federal security agencies, 12 are from the North divided among North West, North East and North Central; while only four are from the South, shared between South West and South South; the South East has none, even as nobody from the zone heads any of the military or police formation in the zone.
These include Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff, North West; Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff, South South; Islaka Oladayo Amao, Chief of Air Staff, South West; Awwal Zubairu Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff, North West; Usman Alkali Baba, Inspector General of Police, North East; Yusuf Magaji Bichi, DSS Director, North West; Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, NIA, North Wes, and John Mrabure, Nigeria Correctional Service, South South.
Others include Muhammed Babandede, Nigeria Immigration Service, North West; Hameed Ibrahim Ali, Nigeria Customs Service, North East; Ahmed Abubakar Audi, NSCDC, North Central; Boboye O Oyeyemi, FRSC, North Central; Dr. Liman Alhaji Ibrahim, Federal Fire Service, North Central; Abdulrasheed Bawa, EFCC, North West; Bolaji Owasanoye, ICPC, South West and Buba Marwa, NDLEA, North East.
“The current security arrangement for South East is unconstitutional,” argued lawyer and activist, Mr. Aloy Ejimakor.
“The ‘expanded’ security meeting on South East held recently with South East Governors had an interesting posse of security chiefs in attendance, including the following: Maj-Gen Abubakar Maikobi (GOC, 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu); Air Vice-Marshall Idi Amin (Air Officer Commanding); Yusuf Ishaku (Director, DSS Anambra); A. J. Ibrahim (Director, DSS Abia State); H. E. Abdullah (Director, DSS Ebonyi); B. Likinyo (Director, DSS Enugu); Baba Tijani (AIG, Zone 9, Umuahia); Awosola Awotinde (CP, Ebonyi State); Ahmadu Abdulrahman (CP, Enugu State); Rabiu Ladodo (CP, Imo State).
“You will notice that there’s NO SINGLE IGBO or South East person at the helms of deciding matters of security (life and death) that concern people of Southeast. This is unconstitutional. It’s also wrong, ungodly and dangerous.”
Following the appointment of new Service Chiefs in January, with the South East once again excluded, various interest groups in the zone, such as the Ohanaeze General Assembly (OGA) and Intersociety through their various leaderships, Basil Onuorah and Emeka Umeagbalasi, appealed to the president to consider the zone for IGP, given that the ex IGP’s Mohammed Adamu’s tenure was already coming to an end.
Eventually Adamu’s tenure was extended by three months – a move many also argued was illegal. But when last week, Buhari decided to name his replacement, the zone was again snubbed in favour of Alkali Baba from Yobe, North East, a move that has continued to attract condemnations from stakeholders in the zone.
“The rest of the country is shocked that once more he overlooked the South East, when a simple appointment would have helped to douse tension in the zone,” Chief Uwazurike said. I think it is very wrong of him to have overlooked the southeast at this time. Obviously, the Southeast has not been unfairly treated by the president.
“When there is equity, it will be so clear that nobody will doubt it. But if the situation is such that there is one zone that has consistently not been part of any security meeting, then it is a problem.”
Similarly, in a statement last week, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary of the apex Igbo sociopolitical group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said it was unfortunate that Buhari had once again, opted to sideline the South East, even as he blamed the president’s perceived injustice against the zone for the rising agitations for secession in the zone.
“It is unjust and unfair to sideline the South-East in the security architecture of the country. Injustice promotes insecurity; it promotes all forms of crisis and problems. With injustice, there is no peace anywhere,” he had said.
“What is happening in South East today in form of agitations is as a result of injustice. So, we the elders are put in a great dilemma because the younger generation is attacking us and we have been telling them to hold on believing that the president would have a change of mind.
“We thought that the president would be concerned about the level of injustice, agitations and crisis we have in the South-East and would try to ameliorate these things but unfortunately, he is not thinking towards that direction. It is most unfortunate and Ohanaeze will come up with a stronger statement.”
Anger is also brewing in the South-South following an emerging allegation that a son of the zone, Moses Jitoboh from Bayelsa State, said to have been the most qualified and next in line for the post of IGP, was strategically promoted out of relevance to pave the way for Alkali.
Moses Jitoboh, an Ijaw man, was supposed to be the Inspector General of Police, but because he is not Muslim or from the core North, he has been denied that,” said Niger Delta activist Nu Bari, @Saatah. “Before the end of June, this country will hear from and feel the pulse of the Niger Delta.”
Making similar argument, political commentator, Babasola Kuti, @RealSolaKuti, said, “They not only bypassed DIG Moses Jitoboh, they retired him at just 52 years old so that they could impose a 57 year old Northern Muslim as IGP.”
A Familiar Pattern
The IGP’s appointment, observers say, followed a similar pattern. Last month, a former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, raised the red flag over what he described as plots by President Buhari to extend the tenure of secretary of the Federal Character Commission, Mohammed Bello Tukur, whose tenure was to end on April 7.
The former Minister had in a statement, argued that the planned extension would be a gross violation of the principle of federal character.
He recalled how he implored the Nigerian Senate not to confirm the then newly appointed chairman of the commission, Muheeda Dankaka, because such confirmation would violate the principles of the very commission he was being appointed to head, as according to him, both the chairman and secretary to the commission, cannot come from the North, but some senators argued that since the tenure of the secretary would soon end, a southerner would be appointed as his replacement.
Chidoka had argued that it was the turn of the South East to produce the commission’s secretary, since both South West and South South had held the position. However, despite his protestations, Tukur’s tenure was extended, meaning that for the first time both chairman and secretary of the commission are people from the same geopolitical region.
While governments in the past have delicately managed Nigeria’s diversities and contradictions by finding accommodation for everyone, the Buhari government, many say, has been very sectional, and the balance so distorted is breeding increasing animosity. Part of this, they say, explains the growing threat of secession in various parts of the country.
In a bid to forestall a situation such as the present, framers of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution imputed the principle of Federal Character as enshrined in Section 14 (3) of the constitution to the effect that, “The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies, and the conduct of its affairs shall be in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and to command national loyalty by ensuring that there is no predominance of persons from one sectional group.”
But Buhari has continued, as observable in various appointments to breach this constitutional provision. The policy of appointing people from his Muslim North constituency into most strategic positions in government, which began as soon as he took power in 2015, has continued unabated despite the continued verbal protests by the South and Middle Belt.
Recent events suggest the protests have entered the streets, and could yet get out of hand. “Buhari is a person who doesn’t care about other ethnic nationalities in the country,” said Afenifere chieftain, Chief Supo Sonibare. “He cares for his own alone. He is not even fair to some parts of the North but few people in the region.”
Sometimes last year, reports emerged that DSS DG, Magaji Bichi secretly recruited 535 people from Northeast and Northwest into the service, while only 93 were taken from the three southern zones and the Middle Belt, even as virtually all armed agencies are headed by people from his own region and religion.
In April 2019, similar lopsided recruitment into the security service caused national outrage. It had emerged that of the total 474 intakes at the time, 167 came from the Northwest, the president’s zone; 100 from Northeast; 66 from North Central; 57 from Southwest; 44 from South south and 42 from Southeast. This meant that Northwest alone with seven states had more intake than the entire south with 17 states.
Recent recruitment in the police force, in which local governments as opposed to states were used as criteria, achieved similar results, with the North having a lion share of local governments created while it held sway in military regimes. For example, Kano alone has 44 local governments, while Lagos with evidently more people has 20.
Yet, apart from dominating the country’s security architecture, the region also bosses all strategic economic and administrative agencies of government, even as it now heads all three arms of government, the first time in the country’s history.
“We reiterate that in the last five years, the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari has planted animosity between different ethnic nationalities than even the civil war created and that it will take the Grace of God and the will to overcome our differences for Nigeria to rebuild the bridge of unity that the selective administrative style of President Muhammadu Buhari has destroyed in the last five years,” a statement by The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) had said.
The statement signed by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs, Miss Zainab Yusuf, continued, “We shall continue to express our apprehension over deep seated Northern domination of all strategic federal government’s recruitments and appointments under President Muhammadu Buhari, and that the next government may need to convoke a year-long National Constitutional Conference to try to mend the deeply broken fences.”
From the new IGP, to the recently appointed EFCC Chairman, Bawa, North, many argue, continues to dominate strategic appointments. Other key appointments made within the year have included Abubakar Audi, NSCDC Commandant; Haliru Nababa, CG, Correctional Service; Buba Marwa, Chairman, NDLEA; Suleiman Abba, chairman of the Board of Trustees, Police Trust Fund, among others.
The president has, however, appointed such southerners as Ede Dafinone, board member, Nexim bank; Mr. Aghughu auditor general of the federation and Chinemerem Muruako chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission and Ogbonnaya Orji, NEITI Executive Secretary.
On March 10, 2020 Alhaji Bashir Jamoh resumed duty as the Director General of NIMASA, having been appointed earlier by the president to replace Mr. Dakuku Peterside whose first tenure as head of the agency was expired the same day.
Although the Rivers State born Peterside was eligible for reappointment, and in line with the administration’s broad policy of re-appointing heads of parastatal and agencies, industry watchers had reasoned that given his track record, he would be given a second term. But that was not to be as Buhari chose Alhaji Jamoh, father-in-law of Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf who doubles as his Personal Assistant and Private Secretary, in his stead.
“Federal character provides for equitable distribution of appointments, but that has been disregarded by the current government,” noted Aare Oladotun, Yoruba youths leader.
“Basically, Nigerians are overfed with these northern hegemonic appointments. It has really gone out of hand and has become a permanent malaise. But it will lay a very wrong precedent. If another zone gets into power, they may be tempted to do the same. And it’s not a good thing. It is dangerous.”
In December 2019, the president appointed Muhammad Nami, another northerner from Niger State to replace Babatunde Fowler, from the Southwest as Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and Edward Adamu to replace Muiz Banire as chairman of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).
Until Fowler’s replacement, he had been the one single South westerner, a zone that played key role in Buhari’s emergence as president in 2015 and 2019 to head a parastatal of note in the government. In the event, he was replaced upon the expiration of his first tenure, and not with someone from his zone.
“If you look at the appointments he has made so far, all the key appointments have been given to Hausa/Fulani Muslims. Majority of the service chiefs are from his own part of the country. So, what do you want us to say?” wondered Chief Abia Onyike, spokesperson for Alaigbo Development Foundation.
Fowler’s and Peterside’s replacements meant that with the exception of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), all other key regulatory, revenue generating and security agencies are now headed by northerners.
The list includes Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) headed by Ms Hadiza Bala Usman; Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) head by Mele Kyari (whose board is also exclusively northern); PenCom headed by Hajia Dahir-Umar; Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) headed by Mohammed Nami; Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) headed by Hameed Ali; Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), headed by Ahmed Kuru; Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), headed by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta; Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), headed by Umaru Ibrahim, among others.
For Barrister Nisi Ade Ademuwagun, former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch, it has become glaring that the present government of Buhari doesn’t care about the rest of the county but for only his own ethnic and religious group.
“That is why,” he said, “there is massive movement and agitation for restructuring. Buhari has been unfair to other sections of the country which is dangerous for the unity and coexistence of the entire peoples of Nigeria. He has made us to see that Nigeria is not one”
Buhari’s top 50 appointments by geopolitical zones
1. Attorney General, Minister of Justice: Abubakar Malami
2. Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA): Hadiza Bala Usman Abdulahi
3. Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission: Umaru Dambatta.
4. Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF): Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau
5. Managing Director, Asset Management Company of Nigeria, (AMCON): Ahmed Lawan Kuru.
6. Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive of the National Insurance Commission: Mohammed Kari
7. Petroleum Minister: Muhammadu Buhari
8. Minister of Police Affairs: Maigari Dingyadi
9. Controller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service: Mohammed Babandede.
10. Defence Minister: Bashir Salihi Magashi
11. Director General, PENCOM: Aisha Dahiru-Umar
12. State Chief of Protocol/Special Assistant: Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure
13. Perm Sec. Ministry of Finance: Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse.
14. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mrs. Nuratu Jimoh Batagarawa
15. Aide de Camp to president: Lt. Col Yusuf Muktar Dodo
16. Accountant General of the Federation: Ahmed Idris
17. Managing Director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company: Mr Abbas Umar Masanawa.
18. Director General of DSS: Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi
19. Minister of Finance, Budget National Planning: Zainab Ahmed
20. DG, NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar
21: Minister of Agriculture and Rural Devt: Sabo Nanono
22. Chairman FIRS: Muhammad Nami
23. DG, DPR: Sarki Auwalu
24. Director General, NIMASA: Alhaji Bashir Jamoh
25. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar-Farouq
26. DG, Securities and Exchange Commission, Lamido Yuguda
27. MD, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr. Umar. I. Ajiya.
28. EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa
29. Chief of Army State, Ibrahim Attahiru
30. Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Zubairu Gambo
1 National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno.
2. Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba
3. Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko
4. DG NDLEA, Buba Marwa
5. Group Managing Director (NNPC): Mele Kyari
6. Chairman, INEC: Mahmood Yakubu.
7. Secretary to Government of the Federation: Boss Mustapha.
8. Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service: Hameed Ibrahim Ali.
9. DG, National Identity Management Commission: Engr. Aliyu A. Aziz
10. Minister of Power: Sale Mamman
1. Commandant General, NSCDC: Abubakar Audi
2. Commandant, FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi
3. Chief of Defence Intelligence: Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Saliu
1. Head of Service: Dr. Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan
2. Minister of Works and Housing: Babatunde Fashola.
3. Chief of Air Staff, Oladayo Amao.
4. ICPC chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye
1. Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN): Godwin Emefiele.
2. Chief of Defence Staff, Leo Irabor
3. CG, Nigeria Correctional Service, John Mrabure