By the Preamble of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, with its last amendment in 2011, “(We, Nigerians, hereby) provide a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of Freedom, Equality and Justice, and for the purpose of Consolidating the Unity of our people”. By Section 14 (3) of the Constitution, “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in the Government or any of its agencies”.
It saddens our heart to note that President Muhammadu Buhari has not purged himself of his seeming civil-war vendetta mentality. His “win-lose” individual and presidential approach to national and collective issues seems to have become an indelible trademark. The presidential appointments and policies since he was administered with the constitutional oaths of office and allegiance are not only nothing to write home about, but also constitute a dangerous threat to the pluralist democratic composition of Nigeria; which has already reached the nadir of fragility. A country that just emerged from highly divisive and ethnically soaked presidential election is maximally expected to be headed and presidentially fathered by a nimble and a statesman, and not administered by presidential clannishness and primordialism.
For instance, it is historically unheard of that the so called “democratically elected president” could operate presidentially for 45 days or for one month and a half without operational cabinet ministers and substantively or senatorially confirmed heads of key federal government bodies like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Till date, President Muhammadu Buhari, who refused and failed to attend any fresher course or program on democracy, rule of law and civil governance within or outside the country since his counter-khaki exit from the county’s military of dark era; still operates as if he was still in the military anomalous government.
With all due respect to Nigeria’s democracy, President Muhammadu Buhari reminds us of a scenario that played out recently where a president of a sovereign country did not know that there is no longer a country called “Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic” (USSR) or “West Germany” or “East Germany” or “Czechoslovakia” or “Yugoslavia”. This resulted in him addressing the likes of the German Chancellor in an international gathering, as “Her Excellency, the President of West Germany” and the President of Russia as “His Excellency, the President of the Soviet Union”. Just recently, some elements within President Buhari’s political party confided in some of their media friends that “it was alamajari factor and followership that prompted them to field GMB so as to oust GEJ at all costs and not that GMB is loaded with presidential credentials and qualities of a statesman”. The immediate past governor of Kano State also attested to that fact when he said in the media that “the northern leaders used alamajaris to sack GEJ”. By implication, General Buhari’s Presidency was a gamble and foisted on Nigerians for clannish and primordial reasons.
Our careful look at the appointments made so far by President Muhammadu Buhari has resulted to our firm stance that they are a clearly threat to the constitutional principles of Freedom, Equality and Justice as well as unity and pluralistic composition of Nigeria. History still tells us that It was in order to accommodate all the ethnic groupings in the country that “Federalism” was introduced in 1954. Cries of marginalization by the minorities of the old Western Region led to creation of “Mid-Western Region” in 1963. “Statism” was also created in 1967 to address the issue of suppression of the minorities particularly in the old Eastern Region. In the 1994 Constitutional Conference, the principle of “Six Geopolitical Zones” was introduced to address the problem of suppression of “Southern and Northern Minorities” now called “the South-South and the North-Central Zones”. This was followed by the inclusion of “Federal Character Principle” or “Section 14 (3) and 14 (4)” into the 1999 Constitution. The all important “Chapter Four” or “Fundamental Human Rights” was originally designed and incorporated into the 1960 Independence Constitution of Nigeria by the Willinks Commission of 1957, for the purpose of allaying and addressing the fears of the minorities.
Therefore, it worries and saddens our heart to observe sectional appointments and policies made or designed by the “cabinetless” civilian administration of President Muhammed Buhari. The appointments made so far as well as some policy pronouncements made since 31st May 2015 by Alhaji Buhari’s Presidency are purely “Boko Haram” friendly and anti Igbo. They are also anti secular and antagonistic of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, amended last in 2011. It is an indisputable fact that Igbo Ethnic Nationality is the headquarters of Christian Religion in Nigeria. The noble race is also a leading ethnic group worse hit by Boko Haram insurgency and other ethno-religious disturbances in Nigeria in recent times. The combination of these requires mandatory inclusion of the race in any sensitive securitization appointment or policy particularly as it concerns the just appointed Service Chiefs. The worst of it all was a deliberate policy of the Federal Government to escalate the Boko Haram Terror Insurgency and import it into the Southeast zone by the disastrous dumping of non convicted Boko Haram Terror suspects at the Ezinifite Minimum Prison in Anambra State. As we speak, the 47 detainees are still in the said minor Prison with time-bomb security risks and consequences renting the air as days go by.
For instance, President Muhammadu Buhari has since 31st May 2015, made at least fifteen government appointments including the appointment of new security service chiefs, sadly, none of them came from the Southeast Geopolitical Zone. In the appointment of the service chiefs, the new Chief of Army Staff, Major-Gen T.Y. Buratai is from Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. The Chief of Defense Staff, Major-Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olanishakin is from Ekiti State, Southwest Nigeria. The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar is from Bauchi State, Northeast Nigeria. The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas is from Cross River State, South-South Nigeria. The Chief of Defense Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan is from Benue State, North-Central Nigeria. The National Security Adviser, Rtd Major-Gen Babagana Monguno is from Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. The Director General of the Department of the State Security (SSS), Mr. Lawal Ahmed Daura is from Katsina State, Northwest Nigeria and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase is from Edo State, South-South Nigeria. The Southeast has none.
Other lopsided or sectional appointments are Mrs. Amina Zakari, Acting Chairman of INEC (Jigawa State, Northwest), Mr. Mordecai Ledan, Head of the Department of Petroleum Resources (Kaduna State, Northwest), Mr. Ahmed Idris, Accountant General of the Federation (Kano State, Northwest), Lt Col Mohammed Abubakar, Aide De Camp to the President (Kano State, Northwest), Mr. Usman Abubakar, Chief Security Officer (CSO) (Northwest), Mr. Lawal Abdullahi Kazuare, State Chief Protocol (Northwest), Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, Media & Publicity to the President (Kano State, Northwest) and Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser, Media & Publicity to the President (Osun State, Southwest).
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu (Mrs.), Esq.
Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq.
Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program