Strategic Appointments: President Tinubu surpasses Buhari, Jonathan in ethnic loyalty



For all his promises and pretension to progressive credentials, President Bola Tinubu, has, by all intent and purposes, displayed negative ethnic bias in appointments into strategic government positions that perpetuates the ugly days of former Buhari.

Throughout the eight years of his presidency, Muhammadu Buhari faced intense criticism from Nigerians over what many argued was his penchant for nepotistic appointments; the former president having concentrated most strategic positions in government within his native Northwest geopolitical zone, or more broadly speaking, within the Hausa-Fulani North.

Of about 50 most strategic positions in government, Buhari centred roughly 35 within his primary constituency, in what many said was an unprecedented display of nepotism and a flagrant disregard to the provisions of the country’s constitution as it relates to the federal character principle.

Yet, as bad as things perceptively went under Buhari in terms of building national cohesion, his successor, President Bola Tinubu, appears to have, in the opinion of many, followed similar pattern, if not taking it a notch higher.

Unlike Buhari, who concentrated key security appointments in the North, however, Tinubu has tried to balance the country’s security architecture by accommodating various zones in the appointment of service chiefs, but a deeper look would reveal a North West and South West grip on the security set up of the country, while the president’s native Southwest has almost exclusively cornered all the top economic positions in government, in both fiscal and monetary spheres and everything in-between.

While Buhari in his first tenure, retained Goodwin Emefiele, from Delta State in the South South geopolitical zone as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), even as he named Kemi Adeosun from Ogun in South West as minister of finance, both positions have gone to the South West under Tinubu, and so has the headship of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which Buhari had again, conceded to the South West in his first tenure.

Presently, nearly all revenue agencies of the government, with the possible exception of Nigerian Ports Authority, is headed by individuals from the South West; from Customs to Immigration, NIMASA, FIRS and a host of others.

“What we’re seeing under Tinubu is nepotism and bigotry pro max,” said Mr. Paul Ibe, media adviser to former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. “We thought we’d seen the worst of it under Muhammadu Buhari, but we’ve not had it this bad. Tinubu is just appointing his friends, their wives, daughters, sons, sons-in-law and so on. What are we talking about? You need to run an inclusive government because that is the tool for national unity.”

In February, Tinubu faced backlash for appointing his son-in-law, Oyetunde Oladimeji Ojo, as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the federal housing Authority (FHA).

Ojo, a former member of the House of Representatives and married to Folashde Tinubu-Ojo, a daughter of the President, which, for many, the appointment amounted to deep-rooted nepotism and a flagrant breach of the oath of office he took.

A civil rights advocacy group, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION of Nigeria (HURIWA) had in a statement, said the decision by President Tinubu to appoint his son-in-law as the head of FHA, sparked concern about nepotism and corruption.

The rights group condemned the persistent breaches of section 14(3) of the Federal Constitution on the federal character principle by President Tinubu in his penchant to give all the most strategic appointments in the defence, finance and oil sectors to his kinsmen, instead of spreading those appointments that touch on the national economy and in direct breach of the principles of merits and competencies.

“The argument that the son-in-law of the president is also a citizen, who should get appointment, doesn’t follow because his father-in-law is the appointing authority, which makes his appointment nepotistic and dishonourable,” HURIWA said.

Defending Ojo’s appointment, however, the Presidency had said it was deserving, considering his work experience in the hospitality sector over the years.

A pattern

President Tinubu, in his 24-year grip on Lagos had facilitated his wife, Remi Tinubu’s foray into the national assembly as a senator, even as his daughter, Folashade has continued in her role as the leader of all Lagos markets, with his son, Seyi said to have interest in numerous businesses in the state.


Earlier in January, a group, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Forever Initiative, said the President was taking nepotism to new heights in the country after he replaced the sacked National Coordinator/CEO National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), Halima Shehu, a northerner, with Dr. Akindele Egbuwalo, a Yoruba from the South West.

Nigeria is a country founded, at independence, on a tripod of East, West and North, dominated by the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani in that order. This has since collapsed into 36 states and six geopolitical zones, but historically, sharing of political appointments and revenue allocation are two thorny issues that quickly flair up ethnic tensions.

It was in an attempt to ensure that everyone gets a fair share of these appointments that the principle of Federal Character was provided for in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which states in part, “… that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

To this effect, the Federal Character Commission (FCC), a Federal Executive body was established by Act No 34 of 1996 to “implement and enforce the Federal Character Principle of fairness and equity in the distribution of public posts and socio-economic infrastructures among the various federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The FCC, since its establishment, has been saddled with observing recruitment exercises to allow MDAs willingly apply the approved guidelines and formulae in the staff distribution amongst the States of the Federation.

However, its “observer” status has often prevented it from interfering in the proceeding of the exercise even when the wrong things were observed to be done ab initio. Nonetheless, as a response to this moral obligation, Nigeria’s leaders, particularly from 1999 when democracy returned with Olusegun Obasanjo as president under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had largely adopted this principle.

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who took over from Obasanjo in 2007, and Goodluck Jonathan, who succeeded Yar’Adua upon his death in 2010, also largely observed this principle. But Buhari, who came to power under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, repudiated the principle, a pattern many say, Tinubu, the second APC president after Buhari, has followed.

As it stands, over 80 percent of key government ministries agencies and departments are disproportionately headed by people of Yoruba extraction, including but not limited to finance ministry, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others.

“The nepotistic appointments is embarrassing,” said a prominent South West thought leader, who declined to have his name in print. “We’re not comfortable with it because it’s not necessary. Nigeria is at a critical stage and I expect Tinubu to know better. He should using his office to unite Nigerians not pursuing narrow ethnic agenda.”

Defence has, however equally come the way of the president with some of his supporters arguing that the administration of Goodluck Jonathan favoured the South East and the South South.

“The Igbo started the problem from days of President Jonathan,” said Mr. John Bede-Anthonio, public affairs analyst. “Minister of Finance (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) did not see anything wrong in all her appointees being Ndigbo.”

Like Bede-Anthonio, many have also accused Jonathan of favouring his Southern constituency, especially the South East and South South.

However, a look at the strategic appointments made by Jonathan, showed that while both the South West and the North West shared 11 each, his native South South had nine, the South East six, North Central five, and North East four.

Buhari gave 20 strategic appointments to his North West, followed by North East at 10, South West eight, North Central and South South four each, and South East only one.

Tinubu, on the other hand, gave 22 strategic appointments to the South West, his zone, 10 to the North West, five to the North Central, three each to the North East and South East, and two to the South South.

Strategic appointments by President Tinubu by geopolitical zones


South West

1.Accountant General of the federation – Oluwatoyin Sakirat Madein – Ogun

2.Chief of Protocol- Victor Adeleke – Oyo

3.AMCON DG, Gbenga Alade

4.NAICOM CEO, Oludare Sunday

5.Petroleum Minister- Bola Tinubu

6.Minister of Interior- Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo

7.Immigration CG – Caroline Wura-Ola

8.Minister of Finance- Wale Erin

9.Perm Sec Ministry of Finance – Sewanu Temitope

10.Executive Secretary, NPHCDA, Muyi Aina

11.Chief of Army Staff – Toareed Lagbaja

12. Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila

13.Customs CG – Adewale ADENIYI

14.NNPC board chairman, Pius Akinyelure

15.EFCC chairman, Ola Olukoyede


16.Minister of power- Adebayo Adelabu

17.IGP – Kayode Egbetokun – Ogun

18.Executive Chairman, FIRS – Zacch Adedeji

19. NAFSAC DG, Mojisola Adeyeye

20.Chief Justice of Nigeria- Olukayode Ariwoola

21. NIMASA DG, Dayo Mobereola

22. Solid Minerals – Dele Alake


North Central

1. Aide De Camp – Col. Nurudeen Alowonle Yusuf (Kwara)

2. Attorney General/Justice Minister – Lateef Fagbemi

3. Perm Sec, Interior Ministry- Aishatu Ndayako

4. Perm Sec, Ministry of Defence- Ibrahim Abubakar Kana- Nasarawa

5. SGF- George Akume6. CG NSCDC – Ahmed Abubakar Audi – Nasarawa

South South

1. Special Adviser Media – Ajuri Ngelale (Rivers)


2. Chief of Defence Intelligence – Undiandeye Emmanuel (Cross River)


North West

1. MD Nigerian Ports Authority – Mohammed Bello Koko

2. Executive Secretary, NCC – Aminu Maida – Katsina

3. Controller General of Prisons- Haliru Nababa – Sokoto

4. Defence Minister- Badaru Abubakar- Jigawa

5. DSS DG, Magaji Bichi

6. Chief of Air Staff – Hasan Bala Abubakar- Kano

7. PENCOM DG – Aisha Dahir-Umar

8. Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Chris Musa

9. ICPC chairman – Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu

10. Director, Department Of Petroleum Resources Sarki Auwalu


South East:



1. DG, NHIS – Kelechi Ohiri

2. Minister of Works – Dave Umahi

3. Chief of Naval Staff- Emmanuel Ogalla

North East

1. Executive Secretary, PTDF – Ahmed Galadima Aminu – Adamawa

2. NSA – Nuhu Ribadu

3. NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari4. INEC chairman- Mahmood Yakubu5. Perm sec, Ministry of Power, Mahmuda Mamman

6. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf M. Tuggar


Strategic appointments by President Buhari by geopolitical zones


North West:


1. Aide de Camp to president: Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal.

2. Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity: Garba Shehu.

3. Accountant General of the Federation: Ahmed Idris


4. Attorney General, Minister of Justice: Abubakar Malami

5. State Chief of Protocol/Special Assistant: Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure.

6. Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA): Hadiza Bala Usman Abdulahi

7. Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission: Umaru Dambatta.

8. Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF): Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau

9. Managing Director, Asset Management Company of Nigeria, (AMCON): Ahmed Lawan Kuru.

10. Controller General of Nigerian Prison Service (NPS): Ahmed Ja’afaru.

11. CEO, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Mohammed Kari

12. Petroleum Minister: Muhammadu Buhari

13. Minister of Interior: Abulrahman Dambazau.

14. Controller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service: Mohammed Babandede.

15. Defence Minister: Dan Ali

17. Perm Sec. Ministry of Interior: Mohammed Bello Umar.

16. Perm Sec. Ministry of Finance: Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse.

17. Permanent Sec, Ministry of Defence, Nuratu Jimoh Batagarawa

18. Executive Secretary, NHIS: Usman Yusuf


19. MD, Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company: Mr Abbas Umar Masanawa.

20. Director General of DSS: Lawal Daura (later Magaji Bichi).


North East:


1. National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno.

2. Chief of Army Staff: Tukur Buaratai.

3. Chief of Air Staff: Sadique Abubakar.

4. Group Managing Director (NNPC): Maikanti Kacalila Baru

5. Chairperson, INEC: Mahmood Yakubu.

6. Secretary to Government of the Federation: Babachir Lawal

7. Chief of Staff to the President: Abba Kyari.

8. Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service: Hameed Ibrahim Ali.

9. Perm. Sec. Ministry of power, works and housing: Mohammed Bukar

10. Chairman, EFCC: Ibrahim Magu.



North Central:


1. Director, Department Of Petroleum Resources: Modecai Baba Ladan.

2. Commandant General, (NSCDC): Abdullahi Muhammadu

3. Inspector General of Police (IGP): Ibrahim Idris.

4. Chief of Defence Intelligence: Monday Riku Morgan.


South West:


1. Executive Chairman, FIRS: Babatunde Fowler.

2. Minister of Power, Works: Babatunde Fashola.

3. Director General, PENCOM: Funso Doherty (later Aisha Dahir-Umar)

4. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity: Femi Adesina.

5. Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonishakin.

6. ICPC chairman: Bolaji F. Owansanoye

7. DG, NAFDAC: Prof Moji Christianah Adeyeye.


8. Minister of Finance: Kemi Adeosun

Solid Minerals – Kayode Fayemi


South South:

1. Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN): Godwin Emefiele.

2. CJN, Hon. Justice Nkanu Onnoghen (later replaced by Tanko Muhammad)

3. Director General, NIMASA: Dakuku Peterside.

4. Chief of Naval Staff: Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.


South East:


1. Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama


Strategic appointments by President Jonathan by geopolitical zones


South South



1. DSS DG, Ita Ekpeyong

2. Minister for Petroleum – Diezani Alison-Madueke

3.Niger Delta Affairs – Elder Godsday Orubebe

4. Minister of Works – Arc. Mike Onolememen

5. NIMASA DG, Patrick Akpabolokemi

6. Chief of Staff – Mike Oghiadome

7. NCC Executive Secretary – Eugene Juwah

8. NDDC DG – Christiana Atako

9. Perm Sec, Ministry of Works – Godknows Iga


South East


1. Chief of Army Staff – Azubuike Ihejirika

2. Minister of Power – Barth Nnaji

3. Minister of Finance – Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala


4. SGF – Anyim Pius

5. PENCOM DG, Chinelo Anohu-Amazu

6. AMCON DG, Chike Obi


South West


1. Chief of Defence Staff – Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin

2. Minister of Defence – Adetokumbo Kayode

3. Accountant General – MR. Jonah Otunla

4. DPR Director – George Osahon

5. SSA media – Reuben Abati

6. Chief of Protocol – Olutola J. Onijala,

7. Executive Secretary, PTDF – Dr. Oluwole Oluleye

8. CEO NAICOM – Fola Daniel

9. Commandant, NSCDC – Dr Ade Abolurin

10. Foreign Affairs – Gbenga Ashiru


11. Police Affairs- Caleb Olubolade


North Central:


1. Chief of Naval Staff – Rear Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim Chief

2. Interior Minister, Abba Moro

3. Attorney General/Justice Minister – Mohammed B. Adoke

4. Aide De Camp – Col. Ojogbane Adegbe

5. Immigration CG – David Parradang


North West


1. Chief of Air Staff – Mohammed Dikko Umar, Chief of Air Staff

2. IGP – Hafiz Ringim

3. NPA DG – Habibu Abdullahi

4. Customs DG, Abdullahi Dikko


5. CBN governor – Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

6. NNPC DG – Andrew Yakubu

7. INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega

8. NSA – Col Sambo Dasuki

9. Defence Minister – Haliru Mohammed Bello

10. Perm Sec, Ministry of Petroleum – Alhaji Salisu Gusau

11. Perm Sec, SGF office, Alhassan Gana.


North East


1. CG, Prisons – Zakari Ibrahim

2. FIRS Executive Chair – Kabiru Mashi

3. Chief Justice – Aloma Muhtar

4. Perm Sec, Police Affairs Ministry – Alhaji Aliyu Ismaila

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