Today marks ninety (90) days in office of President Muhammadu Buhari as the sixth civilian president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Buhari administration was elected in March 2015, though controversially and divisively, under a constitutional democracy guided by the 1999 Constitution. Following this, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has carried out a comprehensive assessment of the President’s ninety (90) days in office so as to predict the country’s future in the next four years under Buhari’s Presidency.
The assessment cuts across critical areas like electoral process that brought him into office, office appointments and issue of the country’s pluralistic composition or regional spread, economy, employment, trade and investment, business growth, power sector, aviation, provision of key public infrastructures like roads and railways; security, health, food security, social security, budget performance and fiscal management, anti corruption, debt borrowing and provision and delivery of social services. Our major concern is not about achievements recorded in these areas under the Buhari administration that has spent only three months in office, but to locate the presence or absence of foundational governance or policy directions (if any) towards them. In other words, the President’s personality disposition and his administrative conducts and composition are the fundamental yardsticks that will determine his performance success or failure in office. In the theory of house construction, for instance, its design and foundation fundamentally determine its durability or otherwise. The critical findings following our in-depth assessment clearly indicate that “the Buhari’s government is a government grossly lacking direction and solid democratic foundation, and as such, the country is on its way back to the cave”.
General Assessment: There is an immortal proverb in Igbo land that says “one who does not visit his friends or neighbors will never know when his house chattels or curtains and pieces of furniture get worn out and require replacement”. That is to say that the best way to know the level of governance decadence in Nigeria over the years is to compare the country with other countries that Nigeria was far better than in the 60s and 70s. Using this parameter, it is totally unarguable that Nigeria is chronically at crossroads with respect to governance misdirection, bastardization and backwardness.
Therefore, the best way to rate President Muhammadu Buhari administration now is not in the area of infrastructural governance achievement, which is nonexistent; but governance foundation. In the first place, President Buhari was erroneously elected through the handiwork of the country’s captains of corruption and ethno-religious zealotry. For instance, former Governor of Kano State, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso recently revealed that millions of abandoned and impoverished children in the North called “almajaris” (dominated by under-age voters) were used in producing Buhari as President in March 2015.
This is in addition to electronic voters’ cards manipulation and forceful exclusion of millions of registered voters and others of voting age from the Southeast, South-south, Southwest and Christian minorities of the North from electoral process including voters’ registration, voters’ card transfer, non issuance of permanent voters’ cards and deliberate failure of electronic card readers in the Southern and minority Christian strongholds during the presidential poll. Over 2 million registered voters were denied permanent voters’ cards and excluded from voting in Lagos State alone.
So, non-sentimentally speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari ought not to have been elected. This is because, judging from collective worries by most Nigerians with respect to the age-long governance decadence pervading the country, Nigerians do not need a “gerontocrat” or a primordialist to derive its governance ship. Rather, the country direly needs a thinker, a statesman and a visionary to be able to catch up with its peers of 60s and 70s like China, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and even Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Oman and Brazil.
It is on indisputable record, for instance, that the UAE once borrowed about N2.5 Billion loan from Nigeria in the 70s. Nigerians are tired of being politically enslaved and impoverished by their conscienceless public office holders. As expected and feared by attentive Nigerian public, President Buhari administration has since 29th May 2015 been running from pillar to pole in its governance without a direction. Because the President fundamentally lacks the attributes of a statesman, he has embarked on politics of exclusion and segregation as can clearly be seen in his policies, utterances and appointments made so far. President Buhari’s presidency is a clear attribute of primordialist presidency and political leadership, which wound and inflict, challenge and question peoples’ ethnic identity through socially and culturally incoherent policies and actions.
The President has no clearly and constitutionally defined governance foundation and direction and it is a settled maxim in the world of science that something can never be generated from nothing. Till date, Buhari is constitution-phobia and military decree-friendly. This is clearly evident in most, if not all his appointments and policy decisions made so far. Most of them are unknown to the 1999 Constitution, which totally governs the country’s constitutional democracy. The Buhari administration is also popularly believed to have laid its foundation on “government of media propaganda, for confusion of Nigerian masses, and by false governance alarmists”. Truly speaking, President Buhari is a direct opposite of a statesman, who builds, binds and facilitates peaceful co-existence leading to social harmony and integration, which in turn, lead to national economic prosperity and greatness.
For instance, he has made a total of 29 important office appointments since 30th May 2015 and as at today (29th August 2015), not even one of them is from the Southeast zone; thereby grossly violating Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (regional or geopolitical spread). The important constitutional Section provides as follows: “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and 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 that Government or any of its agencies”. Also, Section 171 (5) of the Constitution further provides as follows: “in exercising his powers of appointment under this section (Section 169 creating the Civil Service of the Federation), the President shall have regard to the Federal Character and the need to promote national unity”.
Lopsided Presidential Appointments:
Below is the list of 29 top presidential appointments made by the Buhari administration between 30th May and 28th August 2015. 1. Aide de Camp to President: Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal, (Kano State, North-West).2. Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President: Femi Adesina, (Osun State, South-West).
3. Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President: Garba Shehu, (Kano State, North-West). 4. State Chief of Protocol/Special Assistant (Presidential Matters): Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, (Jigawa State, North-West). 5. National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno (Borno State, North-East). 6. Chief of Air Staff: Sadique Abubakar, (Bauchi State, North-East). 7. Commandant General of the Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC): Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu (Niger State, North-Central).
Others are: 8.Chief of Defence Intelligence: Monday Riku Morgan (Benue State, North-Central).
9. Director General, State Security Services, SSS: Lawal Daura, (Katsina State, North-West). 10. Acting Chairperson, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC): Amina Zakari, (Jigawa State, North-West). 11. Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA: Habibu Abdulahi (Kano State, North-West).
12. Special Adviser, Niger Delta Amnesty Office: Paul Boroh, (Bayelsa State, South-South). 13. Acting Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration, Safety and Security Agency, NIMASA: Baba Haruna Jauro (Yobe State, North-East).14.Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission: Umaru Dambatta (Kano State, North-West).
15. Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS: Babatunde Fowler, (Lagos State, South-West).16. Director General, Budget Office of the Federation: Aliyu Gusau, (Zamfara State, North-West).
17. Secretary to the Government of the Federation: Engr. Babachir David Lawal (Adamawa State, Northeast). 18. Chief of Staff to the President: Alhaji Abba Kyari (Borno State, Northeast).19. Controller General of the Nigerian Customs Service: Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) (Nassarawa State, North-Central). 20. Controller General, Nigerian Immigration Service: Mr. Kure Martin Abeshi (Nassarawa State, North-Central). 21. SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate): Senator Ita S.J. Enang (Akwa Ibom State, South-south). 22. Group Managing Director of NNPC: Emmanuel Kachikwu (Delta State, South-south). 23. Accountant General of the Federation: Ahmed Idris (Kano State, North-West). 24. Chief of Defense Staff: Aboyomi Olonishakin (Ekiti State, Southwest). 25. Chief of Army Staff: Tukur Buratai (Borno State, Northeast).26. Chief of Naval Staff: Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Cross River State, South-south). 27. Head of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR): Mordacai Ledan (Kaduna State, Northwest). 28. SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Reps): Hon. Suleiman A. Kawu (Kano State, Northwest). 29. Director General of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON): Ahmed Lawan Kuru (Northwest). (Credit: Linda Ikeji Blog August 2015 (edited).
Of the 29 presidential appointments above, the North took 22 slots and the South seven, and as it concerns the geopolitical allocation/spread, mandatorily provided in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, Northwest zone alone took twelve slots, followed by the Northeast with six, North-Central four, South-south four, Southwest three and the Southeast was left with zero slot or appointment. In the present composition of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Buhari administration, judicially, presidentially and legislatively speaking, the North controls 80%, if not more.
For instance, the following key public offices of the Federation are presently in the hands of the North: President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice of the Federation, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Comptroller General of Customs, Director-General of State Security Services (SSS), National Security Advisor, Director General of NIMASA, Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Accountant-General of the Federation, Commandant General of the Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps, Chief Security Officer to the President, ADC to the President, Principal Secretary to the President, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Chairman of the EFCC, Head of Service of the Federation, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Director General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Director General of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Chairman of National Agency for Drugs & Control (NAFDAC). (Credit: Femi Fani Kayode Blog August 2015 (edited).
It is therefore immoral, despicable, condemnable, shameful and unconstitutional for the Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina to defend and justify the grossly lopsided and constitutionally impeachable appointments made so far by his boss. The 1999 Constitution does not give the President power to take recourse to sectional or constitutional appointive spread according to his whims and caprices or at his own convenient time. Rather, the Constitution commanded and still commands President Muhammadu Buhari, as he presently is, to adhere strictly to the federal character at all times including in his presidential policies, actions and conducts.
Besides, waiting to “balance the constitutional imbalances” during his long awaited ministerial appointments is totally deceitful and a smokescreen approach. This is because the President has totally achieved his “nothernization and sectional governance policy aims and objectives”, powered by politics of exclusion and segregation. As matter of fact, the President has cornered for his region all powerful, sensitive and juicy appointments. What are left in the form of “ministers” are “fish eaters” and not “fishermen”.
The ministerial appointments have their own seperate Constitutional requirements and must not be used to further confuse and mislead Nigerians. In the plain language and command of Section 147 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, “any appointment of minister under subsection 2 of this Section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14 (3) of this Constitution. Section 147 (4) further commands: “provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid, the President shall appoint at least one minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State”.
Emeka Umeagbalasi (B.Sc., Criminology & Security Studies)
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu, Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Esq., LLB, BL, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., LLB, BL, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., LLB, BL, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program