—Southerners accuse Buhari of blatant nepotism
A few days ago, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari announced appointments into some key federal agencies which many consider insensitive to the principle of Federal Character as enshrined Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution which says 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,” when he appointed Muhammad Nami to replace Babatunde Fowler as Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS),and Edward Adamu to replace Muiz Banire as chairman of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).
Many observers who spoke to this newspaper agreed that the latest round of appointments may have given validation to fear of growing regional domination by a section of the country, which has no precedence in the country’s history, and firmly put Nigeria, many say, under the control of the North.
As it stands, all key sectors of economy and security; the revenue generating agencies and the entire security architecture of the country are firmly in the hands of the region, in a country of nearly 200 million people of diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities.
“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.
Until now, the FIRS hitherto chaired by Fowler was the only key revenue generating agency headed by a Southerner. That has changed with the removal of Fowler. Agencies like the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) are being headed by Northerners.
Indeed, save for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which has Dakuku Peterside as general manager, an appointment widely seen as a reward for former Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi who it is said, heavily funded the Buhari campaign in 2015 and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) a regulatory agency headed by Mr. Godwin Emefiele, every other federal government agency or parastatal of note – and they are numerous – is headed by Northerner.
In the case of AMCON, before the appointment of Adamu to replace Banire as its chairman, it was initially headed by Ahmed Kuru, another northerner as managing director.
As it is with key parstatals and agencies, it is even worse, evidently, with the security architecture of the country. Virtually all arms- bearing security apparatus, be it the military, police and civil defence, are firmly in the hands of the north.
Buhari came to power first in 2015 on the crest of northwest/southwest alliance which birthed the All Progressives Congress (APC). Many, especially in the southwest had reasoned, even against evidence of precedence, that he would run a north/southwest coalition government. But hardly had he taken office on May 29 that year when he made his intention of northern domination known.
His first sets of appointments were overwhelmingly north- leaning. Of the first strategic appointments made at the time, which included the Secretary to Government, Chief of Staff, Attorney General and sundry others, only two were southerners. Femi Adesina who was appointed to deputise Garba Shehu as special adviser on media and Senator Ita Enang who was named adviser on National Assembly matters.
Often cheered on, strangely by his supporters, particularly in the southwest, the president continued to double down on his lopsided appointments. And while he had cut the southwest a little slack such as making Mrs. Kemi Adeosun finance minister, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works Power and Housing and Fowler chairman of FIRS among few others, he appeared to have gone for broke this time around, having won power a second time and won’t be eligible to stand for a third.
His first sets of appointments were quite instructive. Adamawa State- born Boss Mustapha and Borno’s Abba Kyari were first returned as SGF and Chief of Staff respectively, foreclosing the suggestions of him ceding SGF to the southeast.
The president proceeded to appoint about even aides, only two of whom were southerners, both photographers. They included: Mohammed Sarki Abba – Senior Special Assistant to the President (Household and Social Events); Ya’u Shehu Darazo – Senior Special Assistant to the President (Special Duties); Dr Suhayb Sanusi Rafindadi – Personal Physician to the President; Amb. Lawal A. Kazaure – State Chief of Protocol; Sabiu Yusuf – Special Assistant, (Office of the President).
Others were: Saley Yuguda – Special Assistant (House Keeping); Ahmed Muhammed Mayo – Special Assistant (Finance & Administration); Mohammed Hamisu Sani – Special Assistant (Special Duties); Friday Bethel – Personal Assistant (General Duties); Sunday Aghaeze – Personal Assistant (State Photographer); and Bayo Omoboriowo – Personal Assistant (Presidential Photographer).
Other appointments the president made upon his return to power were Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor; Ahmed Idris, Accountant General of the Federation; Ahmad Shakur, acting DG, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR); Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, DG Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Mele Kyari, GMD, NNPC. Again, it had overwhelming northern majority.
Of his first 26 appointments made, 19 were from the North, and 7 from the South. Gradually, the president has since perfected northern domination of the country.
“Some people say we have come back to square one, but I think we have come back to square zero if there is any such thing,” noted Chief Okey Okoroji, APGA chieftain and one time governorship aspirant in Lagos State.
“He (Buhari) is spending his time avenging those who he thought did not vote for him. You know who he is. Remember his 97 percent versus 5 percent logic.”
But what could be worse? This is be the first time in the nation’s democratic history that all three arms of government would be headed by one section of the country, the North.
President Buhari, North West is head of the executive; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, North East is head of the legislature, while Justice Tanko Mohammed, Chief Justice of Nigeria and head of Judiciary is also from the North East.
The replacement of Fowler was rationalized by the administration on the basis of him having completed his first tenure, even though he was eligible for reappointment. Banire, on the other hand, was replaced because of the new law that provides that only deputy governors of the CBN should chair AMCON.
However, the irony of it all has not escaped many who have pointed out that the current Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Generall. Tukur Buratai was due to retire in 2017, but is still being retained; the tenure of Acting Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Ibrahim Magu had expired but is still in office, among others. And even if there were other grounds, such as corruption for which Fowler had to be replaced, the President could not find any worthy person in the southwest or south in general.
“As it is, the government of today has no respect for the constitution,” Chief Goddy Uwazurike, lawyer and former president of Igbo think tank group, Aka Ikenga. “If it did, it wouldn’t be carrying on with this kind of security architecture for instance.
“I find it strange that when it comes to appointing security chiefs, no Igbo person is found worthy. We have had presidents in the past and all their security appointments had been spread. It is only now that we are hearing that security chiefs can only come from one side because they are promoted on merit. It is preposterous and untenable.”
Yet, even as unprecedented as the lopsided appointments have become, some say they would wish it’s the only thing Nigerians will have to confront under Buhari. The “increasingly shrinking of civil space and rising economic hardship” they say, are much worse.
“The current despot in the country is a bull in a China shop who has inflamed all divisive tendencies – ethnic and religion fault lines,” noted Prof Sylvester Odion Akhaine of the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos. “The rape of ethnicity of governance is evident in the travails of detainees and the ethnicisation of the federal bureaucracy and the impunity of public officials.”
Indeed, the Buhari government has achieved notoriety for increasing disregard of court orders and disappearance of critics at different levels.
Sahara Reporters publisher, Omowole Sowore is still being detained by the Department of State Service (DSS) which is directly under the presidency in disregard to court orders for his release, same for former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, among others.
“What we have now is military dictatorship,” noted Akogun Tola Adeniyi, former MD of the Daily Times of Nigeria. “It’s been so since the president populated the entire security apparatus of the state with his kinsmen and cronies.”
The administration is known to have recruited several individuals to defend its actions on various social media platforms. And following the outrage that greeted the president’s appointments, they have continued to argue in his defence, noting that both former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan also appointed southerners the way Buhari is appointing northerners. But it’s a claim that is provably false.
Obasanjo, for instance, appointed a northerner, Abdullahi Mohammed, Chief of Staff. His National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau is also from the north. Theophilus Danjuma and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso alternated as his Defence Ministers, among others. Indeed, during his tenure, the post of Chief Justice of Nigeria were occupied by people from the north with Muhammad Lawal Uwais being succeeded by Salihu Moddibo Alfa Belgore.
The idea that Jonathan populated his government with southerners the way Buhari has done with northerners is also untrue. For contrast, and because Jonathan’s administration is a more recent history, we shall compare 50 strategic appointments made by him and those of Buhari’s second term, which is not much different from the first.
These would include key ministers and permanent secretaries of strategic ministries, heads of key revenue generating agencies and heads of defence and intelligence agencies.
President Buhari’s top 50 appointments versus Jonathan’s
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. Controller General of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS): Ahmed Ja’afaru.
7. Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive of the National Insurance Commission: Mohammed Kari
8. Petroleum Minister: Muhammadu Buhari
9. Minister of Police Affairs: Maigari Dingyadi
10. Controller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service: Mohammed Babandede.
11. Defence Minister: Bashir Salihi Magashi
12. Director General, PENCOM: Aisha Dahiru-Umar
13. State Chief of Protocol/Special Assistant: Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure
14. Perm Sec. Ministry of Finance: Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse.
15. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mrs. Nuratu Jimoh Batagarawa
16. Aide de Camp to president: Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal.
17. Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity: Garba Shehu.
18. Accountant General of the Federation: Ahmed Idris
19. Managing Director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company: Mr Abbas Umar Masanawa.
20. Director General of DSS: Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi
21. Minister of Finance, Budget National Planning: Zainab Ahmed
22. DG, NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar
23: Minister of Agriculture and Rural Devt: Sabo Nanono
24 Chairman FIRS: Muhammad Nami
25. DG, DPR: Sarki Auwalu
1 National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno.
2. Chief of Army Staff: Tukur Buaratai.
3. Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko
4. Chief of Air Staff: Sadique Abubakar.
5. Group Managing Director (NNPC): Mele Kyari
6. Chairman, INEC: Mahmood Yakubu.
7. Secretary to Government of the Federation: Boss Mustapha.
8. Chief of Staff to the President: Abba Kyari.
9. Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service: Hameed Ibrahim Ali.
10. MD, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr. Umar. I. Ajiya.
11. Perm. Sec. Ministry of power, works and housing: Mohammed Bukar
12. Chairman, EFCC: Ibrahim Magu.
13. DG, National Identity Management Commission: Engr. Aliyu A. Aziz
14. Minister of Power: Sale Mamman
1. Commandant General, (NSCDC): Abdullahi Muhammadu
2. Inspector General of Police (IGP): Mohammed Adamu
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 Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonishakin.
4. ICPC chairman: Bolaji F. Owansanoye
1. Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN): Godwin Emefiele.
2. Director General, NIMASA: Dakuku Peterside.
3. Chief of Naval Staff: Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.
4. DG SEC: Mary Uduk
1.DG, Nigerian Ports Authority, Habibu Abdullahi
2. D G, Nigerian Customs Service Abdullahi Dikko
3. INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega.
4. Chief of Protocol, Jameel Abubakar-Waziri – preceded by Amb. Olutola J. Onijala (South West)
5. Col Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser
6. Minister of Defence, Aliyu Gusau – preceded by Dr. Bello H. Mohammed North West, Adetokumbo Kayode, South West.
7. Aliyu Ismaila, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence.
8. Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr. Farouk A. Ahmed.
9. A.K. Mohammed, perm sec, Ministry of Works.
10. CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (Appointed by Umaru Musa Ya’Adua). Succeeded by Godwin Emefiele (South South).
1. Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh – preceded by Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, South West and Rear Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, North Central.
2. GMD, NNPC, Joseph Dawha – preceded by Andrew Yakubu, North West.
3. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, North East – preceded by Aloma Muhtar, North East.
4. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice. Abdullahi Yola.
5. President, Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa
6. Head of Service, Danladi Kifasi – preceded by Isa Sali.
7. EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde
1. Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin – preceded by Rear Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, North Central and Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba, South South. Replaced by
2. Minister for Interior, Comrade Abba Moro
3. Attorney General/Minister of Justice, Mohammed B. Adoke, SAN.
4. Aide De Camp, Col. Ojogbane Adegbe.
5. CG, Nigerian Immigration Service, David Parradang.
1. Chief of Air Staff. Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu – preceded by Mohammed Dikko Umar, Chief of Air Staff, North West and Alex Badeh, North East.
2. Accountant General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla.
3. Brigadier-General Jones O. Arogbofa – preceded by Mike Oghiadome, South South.
4. Executive Chairman, FIRS Samuel Ogungbesan – preceded by Kabiru Mashi, North East.
5. Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources, George Osahon.
6. Executive Secretary, PTDF, Olufemi Ajayi – preceded by Dr. Oluwole Oluleye.
7. Commissioner for Insurance, National Insurance Commission Fola Daniel
8. Commandant, NSCDC, Dr Ade Abolurin.
9. Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati.
10. DG, NIA, Ayodele Oke
11. Chairman, Civil Service Commission, Deaconess Joanna Ayo
12. Agric Minister: Akinwunmi Adesina
1. IGP, Solomon Arase – proceeded by Hafiz Ringim, Jigawa and Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar Zamfara
2. Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah – preceded by Azubuike Ihejirika, South East
3. Director General, DSS, Ita Ekpeyong.
4. Minister for Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke
5. Minister for Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen
6. Director General, NIMASA, Patrick Akpabolokemi.
7. M D, NDDC, Dr. Christiana Atako
8. Chairman, ICPC, Ekpo Nta
1. Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo – preceded by Prof Barth Nnaji.
2. Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
3. SGF, Anyim Pious Anyim.
4. DG, PENCOM, Chinelo Anohu-Amazu.
5. CG, Prison Service, Peter Ekpendu – preceded by Zakari Ibrahim, North West.
6. MD, AMCON, Chike Obi.
7. DG, SEC: Aruma Oteh (Appointed by Umaru Musa Ya’Adua)