By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR.
I shall take time out this week from my earlier discuss on the topic titled “ERA OF DECAMPMENTS” to quickly address the issue of the recent appointments made by the President due to the widespread furor generated by this lopsided appointments and what it portends for this great nation.
Buhari, His Advisers And His Recent Appointments
I don’t know who is advising President Muhammadu Buhari as regards appointments. But, whoever he is, he must be a very bad adviser, who does not mean well for either him or the entity called Nigeria.
I had, in my little modest way, proffered solutions to what I expected would be his governance challenges and even dared set an achievable agenda for him, unlike his horde of chorus men and cheer leaders, the ever ubiquitous members of AGIP (any Government in power).
I had advised him that the elections were over since 4th April, 2015, when ex President Jonathan (GEJ), called him to concede defeat and also congratulated him. I begged him to forget the past, about recriminations, as regards those who voted, or did not vote for him. I advised that he must now see himself as the father of the whole nation, not a party or sectional leader, notwithstanding his apparent lack of a pan Nigerian mandate, going by the pattern of voting across Nigeria, which I had painstakingly analysed in six weeks’ write up in this column.
But, alas, it appears his kitchen cabinet members do not bring up to his attention such patriotic sentiments by people who do not clamour for attention or positions. If they did, or if Buhari has been reading this column as I hear he reads all papers personally, then he would not have dropped the bombshell of lopsided appointments he just made to a shocked and bemused nation.
Even his most passionate die hard supporters here in the USA, where I am writing this article from, people who are ready to die for him, are shell shocked at what one of them cynically described as a “gradual northernization” of Nigeria. Is President Buhari listening to this national angst?
Buhari’s Recent Appointments: A Breach Of Constitutional Provisions
Their fear and that of many Nigerians is that, not only are the appointments not capable of forging national unity in a multi -ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic country like ours, but that same constitutes a clear mocking and breach of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, dealing with federal character in all appointments.
It provides as follows: “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 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 in any of its agencies.”
The anger is further fueled by the fear that PMB may replicate this in his distribution of infrastructure projects across Nigeria. In my Sunday Telegraph write up of “IS PRESIDENT BUHARI OVERWHELMED BY SERIOUS ISSUES OF GOVERNANCE? (PART 1)” of 19th July, 2015, under the subtitled, “THE FIRST APPOINTMENTS -A MISSTEP”, I had written as follows:
“Then, came the first two appointments. First, Mr Femi Adesina (erstwhile President, Nigerian Guild of Editors) appointed Special Adviser on Media Affairs (SA). Then the shocker: Mallam Garba Shehu introduced duplicity with his appointment as Senior Special Assistant (SSA), for the same media job. Many Nigerians wondered why the duplication, for any of both gentlemen were eminently qualified to serve as his spokesperson, Shehu having also been a past president of NGE.
“Where was the cut in government spending?”, they wondered. Nigerians queried why, at least, there was no pretence at making Garba an SSA on Communications and Strategy. Just something different. Why regurgitate PDP and GEJ’s Ruben Abati, Doyin Okupe and Ahmed Gulak? Where was the change, with both spokespersons already publicly contradicting each other?”
The following week, in my column, dated 26th July, 2015, and titled, “IS PRESIDENT BUHARI OVERWHELMED BY SERIOUS ISSUES OF GOVERNANCE? (PART 2)” under the subtitled “PMB’S OTHER SHOCKING APPOINTMENTS THAT LATER FOLLOWED”, I again wrote as follows:
“If Nigerians were taken aback by the disingenuousness in the appointment of Adesina and Shehu, they were shocked to their bones and marrows with the next seven appointments made, all from the Northern geopolitical zones of the country. Wait for it…
Lt Col Muhammed Abubakar (ADC) from Kano, North West. For engaging in a supremacy battle with this chosen one, Mr Abdulrahman Mani, another Northerner, was fired. The next is Lawal Kazaure, State Chief of Protocol (North), Ahmed Idris (Accountant General, Kano state, North West); Mordecai Baba Ladan (North West), and Mrs Amina Zakari (from Kazaure, Jigawa state, North West, as Acting Chairman of Inec).
Never mind that in sections 153, 154, 155, 156 and 157 of the 1999 constitution, there is no provision for “Acting Chairman”; but a Chairman before whose appointment, the President, under sections 154 (1) and (2), must “consult with the Council of States” and the Senate must confirm.
Finally, Lawal Daura (from Daura, PMB’s home town, North West), was appointed Director General of the State Security Service (DSS). Ita Ekpeyong from Cross River state was made to kiss the dust to pave way for Daura.
Thus, of nine appointments so far made by Buhari, eight are from the Northern parts of the country, leaving the entire Southern parts with only Femi Adesina (South West). Many are wondering whether this is a carefully crafted agenda of Northernisation of the Government of the Federation. Nigerians are aghast.
The New Lopsided Appointments
Since then, Nigerians had waited with bated animation and anxiety as to how PMB will right this obvious miscalculation. He appeared to have been on stream when he appointed Dr Emma Ibe Kachikwu, a knowledgeable lawyer, technocrat, Oil Czar and erstwhile Exxon Mobil Vice President and Chief Counsel for the African continent, as the GMD of NNPC, an appointment hailed across all divides and very much so in this column.
PMB also appointed renowned constitutional lawyer and social critic, Prof Itsejuwah Sagay, as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, with Prof Femi Odekunle, Dr (Mrs) Benedicta Daudu, Prof E. Alemika, Prof Sadiq Radda, Hadiza Bala and Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, as members. And of course, he also appointed P. T. Boroh, a retired Brigadier General, as the Coordinator of the Amnesty programme. That appears to be how far our revered President could see through the national prism.
The recent appointments have sent most Nigerians worried about his nationalistic disposition in his governance organogram. I am sure Dr Ogbonaya Onu, former Abia State Governor, leader of APC, and erstwhile chairman of the ANPP, under which Buhari had contested the 2007 election with late President Umaru Yar’adua, who was widely touted as the next SGF must be wondering what is going on.
I am sure Rotimi Amaechi, ex governor of Rivers State, who massively helped finance Buhari’s election campaigns, with a jet on the ground and air, and much projected also for the SGF position must be thinking he is still hallucinating.
It is clear from the reactions from different quarters, including Buhari’s core loyalists, and his party’s core supporters, that these appointments have not gone down well with most Nigerians both at home and in diaspora. The earlier Buhari retraces his steps in his subsequent appointments, the better for him, his party and our great nation.
One may dare to ask, do his recent appointments reflect the wishes and aspirations of the party?
Are Buhari, his advisers, media men, kitchen cabinet, friends and APC chieftains, political elite and members of AGIP (any Government In Power) reading, digesting and awaiting the next tranche of this Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR?