By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR
Today, we conclude our analysis of PMB’s lopsided appointments into his “Kitchen Cabinet”.
The Viral Whatsapp Joke That Captures This Unfortunate Scenario
Following is an apt message that came to my whatsapp virally, and which underscores the overwhelming anger of many Nigerians over these lopsided appointments:
“1. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria- North, 2. Senate President- North, 3. Speaker of the House of Representatives- North, 4. Chief Justice of the Federation- North, 5. President of the Court of Appeal- North. 6. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court- North, 7. Chief Judge of the FCT High Court- North, 8. Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court- North, 9. Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal- North, 10. Chief Registrar of the FCT High Court- North, 11. Secretary to the Federal Government- North, 12. Chief of Staff to the President- North, 13. Chief of Army Staff- North, 14. Chief of Air Staff- North, 15. Comptroller General of Customs- North, 16. Director-General of State Security Services (SSS)- North, 17. National Security Advisor- North, 18. Director General NIMASA- North, 19. Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC)- North, 20. Comptroller-General Immigration- North, 21. Accountant-General of the Federation- North, 22. Commander of Civil Defence Corps- North, 23. Chief Security Officer to the President- North, 24. ADC to the President- North, 25. Principal Secretary to the President- North, 26. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media- North, 27. Chairman of the EFCC- North, 28. Head of Service- North, 29. MD of Nigerian Ports Authority- North, 30. DG of Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC)- North, 31. Chairman NDLEA- North, 32. DG of NAFDAC- North.”
“NIGERIANS WANTED “CHANGE” AND NOW HAVE GOT IT. NOONE SHOULD COMPLAIN BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT OUR PEOPLE WANTED. THOSE OF US THAT WARNED THE COUNTRY THAT THIS WOULD HAPPEN WERE INSULTED AND LAMPOONED. NOW WE HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR CHOICE FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. WELCOME TO THE NEW NIGERIA. WELCOME TO ‘CHANGE’.”
I am not the author of the above.
Nigeria Is A Pluralistic Society
For the avoidance of doubt, there are competent people everywhere in Nigeria. Even from my own minority Etsako and Weppa Wanno alone, u can get more than 50 people who can creditably perform the same functions just given out. Nigeria is a pluralistic society, with 36 states, 774 Local Government Areas, about 289 ethnic groups, that speak over 500 languages. \
No one can convince me it’s only in the North that u can find “angels”, trusted and competent people to do Buhari’s “messianic” work. The Nigerian Constitution is clear enough that all appointments must reflect the federal and gender characters. Its there, in black and white, not a matter of sentiments (Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria).
Where are the women in the about 29 appointments so far made? Where is the Beijing affirmative action for women reflected, as copiously done during GEJ’s much vilified govt? Only one or two!!!
This is most scandalous. Let’s not dress anyone up in the garb of a spotless, sinless, “can-never-err Messiah”, who knows all our problems, how to solve them, and who, like the Lamb of God, taketh away all our sins; and who can therefore not be criticized, with suggestions adduced. I am not sure PMB believes he is God. He has never claimed to be one.
Go in to the print, electronic and social media and see what most people, even his die hard supporters, are saying of him now. Read and hear the anger and righteous indignation across the land. This is not about me, Mike Ozekhome. We, the Nigerian people, the civil society, have a duty to put every government on its toes, otherwise we will find this lopsidedness reflected in PMB’s infrastructural allocations, because he has singled out some people and groups whom he believed did not vote for him.
The country belongs to us all, and mercifully, some of us put our lives on the line, to bring about the present democracy, fighting successive military dictatorships, suffering several detentions, jail terms, exiles, beatings, molestations, dehumanization, tear gassing, indignities, etc. So, I am a great stake holder in “the Nigerian project”, the title of this back page Sunday Telegraph weekly column, that debuted in October, last year.
Like Justice Learned Hand once put it, “the only price we have to pay for our liberties is eternal vigilance”. But, for the 42 year old Rosa Parks who, in 1957, refused to vacate her bus seat for white supremacists in Montgomery, Alabama, USA; but for Martin Luther King Jnr, who protested across the streets of America; but for Abraham Lincoln who laid down his life in 1865, leading the Northern Union against Southern Confederates for the abolition of the then 500 year old slavery, abolishing same in 1868, with a proclamation, America will not be what it is today.
Let us always forget sentiments and deal with issues squarely when they crop up, by looking at the facts on the ground, and analysis anchored on those facts. Facts are sacred, while opinion or comment is free? Are northerners the only competent and honest people in Nigeria? So, no woman in Nigeria is competent, or honest enough to serve under Buhari? So, no serving Customs man or woman, including Deputy Comptrollers-General, except PMB’s ACF man, Col Hameed Ali, is competent to man the Customs? Haba!!!
Hameed Alli’s Appointment As CGS As An Example
The appointment of Hameed Ali has itself, particularly raised serious issues of propriety, having been brought in from outside the customs service. By Section 3:11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official gazette No 24, vol 89, dated 25th March, 2002, the choice of the CG of Customs shall be by “appointment of a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs (General Duties)” .
Some PMB unrepentant apologists (who will never see anything wrong with any of his actions, the types that surrounded GEJ), have already argued, surprisingly, that a gazette is not a law, and so PMB was not obliged to follow the extant gazette in appointing one of the six serving Deputy Comptrollers-General of Customs as the CG.
They even argue, tongue in cheek, that he could not find a single officer amongst the six DCGs as incorruptible. Jesus!!! Why not dissolve the entire Customs then and set up a fresh one?
Let’s not carry this argument of PMB’s avowed cleanliness and anti-corruption stance of redemptive messianism to a laughable, ludicrous level. Otherwise, we should request God to loan us some of his angels and Saints to come and serve under PMB.
True enough, before PMB, Shehu Musa, a career civil servant, had been seconded to serve as Director of the Dept. of Customs (he later became the Secretary to the Federal Govt in the Second Republic); Haliru Bello Mohammed, a Vetinary Doctor, was drafted from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, by IBB, to serve as CG of Customs between 1989 and 1993.
Thereafter, Brigadier General Ango, a serving Soldier was appointed Sole Administrator, by late General Sani Abacha and he served till February, 1999, when General Abdulsalami Abubakar appointed Ahmed Mustapha, a serving officer, as the CG of Customs.
However, all these appointments took place before OBJ issued the administrative order in 2002, which was subsequently gazetted to have the force of Law. How can anyone argue that a gazette does not have the force of law, when the Constitution itself, in several sections, makes gazetting an indispensable legal prerequisite for the doing of any act. For example, the proclamation of a state of emergency by the President, must, under Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution, be gazetted by the NASS, before it can have the force of Law.
In any event, even if past governments did wrong in bringing in “outsiders” to head Customs, thus demoralizing the psyche of career officers, who have spent their lives serving the Nation, hoping to rise to the zenith of their career, why should PMB’s government which promised “Change”, repeat same? Is it not meant to be change from past bad habits, actions, inactions, maladministration, etc? Was that not why Nigerians voted for him and against GEJ’s government? Why not better call Col Ali “Sole Administrator”, not being a career Customs Officer?
So, is anyone saying that no Bini, Gbagyi, Fulfude, Nupe, Okun, Igbo, Yoruba, Urhobo, Efik, Ijaw, Afenmai, Esan, Tuareg, Anwain, Ebira, Igala, Emai, Idoma, Tiv, Ogoni, Awori, Annang, Isoko, Ibibio, etc, man or woman, is fit enough for PMB’s angelic kitchen cabinet? Haba! Let’s speak truth to authority now, before Nigeria is plunged into unnecessary crisis that only few people will square up to when the chips are down, while the majority keep mute and hide behind their wives’ backs in the comforts of their homes, as was the case during successive tyrannical military juntas in Nigeria.
Are PMB, APC, Tinubu, Onu, Ngige, Fashola, Amechi, PMB’s new appointees, Nigerians, both at home, and in the diaspora, reading and digesting this third and final tranche of PMB’s lopsided appointments by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR?