By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR
We continue this week, the lopsided appointment of the key drivers of this administration. PMB has already formed his “kitchen cabinet”, those he can really trust. Others like Ministers are usually outsiders. Last week, we discussed the dumping of Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and those who lost out in the new appointments.
What of my good friend, Dr Chris Ngige, erstwhile governor of Anambra state and Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who staked all against his Igbo’s bent and inclination in the last Presidential election, and who was touted for the position of SGF or Chief of Staff?
What of former Lagos state Governor, Fashola, an intelligent Senior Advocate of Nigeria who was projected for Chief of Staff? Is he still dreaming?
Perhaps, the worst hit in this unfolding melodrama, is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who spearheaded the cobbling together of disparate elements and parties of different plumages to form a virile opposition that has become the ruling party today, all in a record time of two years?
He carried the broom everywhere, danced, sang, weaved, screamed, wrote, lectured, pontificated, criticised and even sneered at and cursed opponents, in the hope that he will remain the “National Leader” of the APC? Is he still so today, or is he merely just “defacto” and not “dejure” National leader? How will he be sleeping today at the newest tsunami and hurricane that seemed to have used APC’s broom to sweep him off his feet and undermine everything he represents as leader of the APC party?
Where are the Igbos and Yorubas in PMB’s recent appointments of the real engines and drivers of his government? Is it a case that he only trusted the Igbos and Yorubas to work for his election, but cannot trust them for appointments?
For the uninitiated, be told clearly that the SGF is the heart beat of any government. He is the engine room, the pivot around which all governmental affairs articulate. He is the oxygen that the government breathes. Indeed, he is the unofficial chairman of all ministers who must report to and clear with him, on all matters of contracts, projects, etc. He is, in fact, the clearing house of the government.
Amongst others, the SGF is responsible for ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring the implementation of govt policies and programmes for the overall development of the Nation. He coordinates policy design and formulation by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government for approval by govt; serves as Secretary to Council of State, FEC and other constitutional councils chaired by the President.
The SGF deals with all constitutional, political and socio economic matters referred to the presidency, coordinates Administrative Tribunals, Commissions and Panels of Inquiry, national security, public safety, National Honours, awards, prerogative of Mercy, protocol matters, channeling papers and directives of the President, processing and granting checks-up/treatment and intergovernmental meetings and conferences abroad by public officers, members of the Judiciary, Chairman and members of Statutory Commission/Bodies, for approval by President.
The SGF also coordinates appointments to Headship of Statutory Bodies, Commissions and Agencies of Govt., conditions of service of political office holders, Intergovernmental affairs and relations with State and Local Govts, liason with Secretaries to state govts and allocation of office accommodation to political office holders.
The office of Chief of Staff, on the other hand, was first created in 1939 by American President, Frankling D. Roose Velt, and is responsible for very critical function in support of the President daunting duties. He oversees the Executive Office of President (EOP), manages communications and information flow, negotiates with the National Assembly, Executive Branch agencies and political groups to implement the President’s agenda, etc.
He, indeed controls all presidency’s staff, controls the President’s schedule, determines who sees, or does not see Mr President. All President and Vice President’s staff are hired, and fired through him; supervises their daily activities, eg. Commendation, query, deployment, promotion, dismissal, etc. he is the last official link between the outside world and the President, advising the President on critical matters.
So powerful is the position of C of S that he has often been labeled “The power behind the throne”, or the Gate keeper”.
Indeed, a President is as good, effective and strong as these two key government officials, SGF and C of S. Where are the Igbos and Yorubas here? I am not talking of the other 279 ethnic groups in Nigeria, that speak over 500 languages, but usually largely ignored in national calculations, especially when it comes to sharing (not baking the national cake); including my own grotesquely pristinely marginalized Edo, Etsako and Weppa Wanno groups. I am here speaking about two of the unstable tripod that Nigeria wobbles, stumbles and fumbles on, the other being Hausa/Fulani. Have you ever seen a balanced tripod, a three-legged object?
The New Appointments: The Last Straw
Let’s see the recent appointments that are causing so much ricocheting ruckus and brouhaha. After combing the whole length and breadth of Nigeria, using all his avowed available indices of anti corruption, security and economic development, PMB’s standard could not find a single Southerner, but could only find the following Northerners worthy of his redemptive messianic mantra in a country of 178,516,904 people (as at 1st of July, 2014):
Engr Babachir David Lawal, Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF). Lawal hails from Hong Local Government Area of Adamawa state (North). Alhaji Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff. Kyari hails from Borno state (North). Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd, Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service).
This Col Ali who turns 60 in January, erstwhile Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), was Military Administrator of Kaduna state between 1996 and 1998. He served as PMB’s Chief of Staff during the presidential campaigns, managing his campaign funds, and has been acting in that capacity since PMB’s inauguration, coordinating and managing the personnel working with PMB.
Ali is a passionate core northerner from Kano state. He had vowed in June, 2006, that the North would get back the presidency in 2007. Though he did not succeed then, he has now, and has been generously rewarded with the second highest income generating agency in Nigeria, outside NNPC.
PMB also appointed Mr. Kure Martin Abeshi, as the new Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service. Mr Abeshi hails from Nassarawa state (North ).
Hon Sule Abdulrahman Kawu, erstwhile member of the Federal House of Representatives, was appointed SSA, National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives). Sule is from Kano, North.
The only appointment that went to the entire South South, South East and South West geopolitical zones is that of Senator Ita Enang, as SSA, National Assembly Matters (Senate). Ita Enang, the 1962 born erstwhile chief whip of the Senate, who represented Itu and Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State in the Senate between 2011 and 2014, was a member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2011. Enang hails from Akwa Ibom State.
With this, PMB’s arithmetical score in the appointments thus far, including NNPC and Anti Corruption Heads, is 15 major appointments for the North and a miserly 4 for the entire South, a mere quarter of the entire appointments. Only three of them, Adesina, Kachikwu and Sagay, can be said to be of any substance out of the about 19 critical appointments.
PMB, sir, don’t be deceived by a kitchen cabinet that will tell you all is well. It is a lie sir. All is wrong. They will tell you that after all, you have not yet appointed your ministers. That is the constitutional right of every and each state, since the 1999 Constitution has statutorily settled for one Minister per state.
It will be unthinkable, sir, for example, to appoint a Hausa/Fulani Minister for a South East or South West state, just as it will be aberative or infra dig, to appoint a minister of Igbo or Yoruba origin for any North East or North West State.
Are PMB, APC, Tinubu, Onu, Ngige, Fashola, Amechi, PMB’s new appointees, Nigerians, both at home, and in the diaspora, reading and digesting this my second tranche of PMB’s lopsided appointments, and awaiting the final instalment in the weekly Sunday sermon in the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN OFR?