Buhari's appointments, a tale of Nepotism laced with nuances of a Northern Agenda

With his recent appointments, on as a result of a lopsided approach, seeing the development a wrong signal that must be corrected, with hues and cries from concerned quarters, Buhari has hurriedly dissolved and re-appointed appointed two southerners to constitute a part of the service chiefs and the National security Adviser. In totality of his cabinet, the northern extraction of the Nigerian population seems to have more space in his appointments, making for a lopsided approach and a perceived northern agenda. Emileo Castrol writes...

For Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora, it is a long wait for the appointment of ministers, key public office holders who would in turn help in re-shapen, carry out the intents of new administration. These 'long-suffering', silence and suspense-filled dramatic administration affecting the lives of the electorate seemed to have reached high lows when Buhari announced a few kinsmen to fill most of the positions and appointment. It is worthy of not that since he was inaugurated, well over seven weeks now, his discreetly unnerving nature has seen him name and announce only a few key personnel. Does is mean that Mr. President had no clue what he was getting himself involved in?

For a nation with a thousand and one languages, ethnic tribes and religion, it is only natural to have seen varying levels and degrees of resentment. These concerned parties and stakeholders who double as Nigerians firstly, no doubt feel sidelined in the scheme of things.

With heightened disquiet, Nigerians all over the world are raising structural and significant criticisms on the Buhari administration, accusing him Buhari of operating a northern government. Simply put, ethnic nepotism! However, in reply, the president said he had a national agenda. How national can a northern agenda be, is the question raised?

They said the appointments are lopsided and not seemingly in the best interest of the country. Appointing his kinsmen for the good of the 'party', promoting northern agenda, values, the cabinet smells strongly of nepotism- western-style 'old boy' preference network.

Our dear nations President falls into that parable of a man at work, making something which he feels will exist because he is working at it and wills it, is exercising the energies of his mind and soul as well as of his body. Memory and imagination helps him as he works. In school, they call in bullying, but at wok they call it upper level management.

For the records, President Buhari is from Katsina State, Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, are from Kwara and Bauchi states respectively. The judiciary is led by Justice Mahmud Mohammed from Taraba State.

Of the nine appointments made by Buhari so far, eight are from the North, while one is from the South. The appointments are: Director-General of the State Services, Lawal Daura, Katsina State; Acting Chairman, the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari, Jigawa State; Director, the Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan; and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, Kano State.

Others are the State Chief of Protocol, Mallam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure; Aide De Camp, Lt.-Col. Muhammed Lawal Abubakar, Kano State; Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu; and Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, South-West.

The appointments, however, have drawn the ire of Nigerians who asked Buhari to respect the country's principle of federal character. Already, the Internet, particularly the social media and blogs, are agog with reactions and counter-reactions on the matter, as Buhari is being accused of appointing only Northerners into key positions announced so far.

An angered Nigerian reacting to the conversation, "After all his promises, there is nothing he achieved other than appointing all the people in his family tree, touring the world". Buhari seems to be letting those who voted him down, because his appointment of only Northerners into top positions is baffling.

As key indication in those directions is his wrong move to have brought Daura, the acting DSS DG, from retirement to head the agency when there were equally qualified persons from other regions of the country still in service. Instead, he ignored the entire senior cadre of the agency- from Bassey Eteng to the least- simply because they are Southerners. Even if he wanted to pick a Northerner, he should have picked from the service rather than a 62-year-old retiree, whose only qualification is being Buhari's kinsman, and being a former Director Secret Service. When former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Ekpenyong, he was already a Director of Operations, same for Gadzama, who was appointed by Umaru Yar'Adua. In the twenty first century, where young, vibrant, sharp minds and technology savvy hands are need to clean the mess, in his administration, Buhari seems to be fitting square pegs in round holes.

Nigerians are of the opinion that it's not a bad idea to sack. But the sacking spree is seemingly taking a chunk of his small but valuable time needed to effect the promised “change'', especially for a country faced with myriad of challenges ranging from insecurity to terrorism, unemployment, and increased austerity measures. More disheartening is the act of ethnic sentiments, his insensitivity to the malaise of ethnic distrust in the country, nepotism displayed with an “who will questions me'' attitude in the process of the appointments.

The wise leader is in good graced advised to henceforth thread cautiously around this landmine, as Nigerians await how he would patiently navigate his way out of ethnic bias. More important and pointed is the fact that, Nigeria's strength is derived from her diversity, therefore, any government that wishes to succeed must draw from our diversity, and not limit itself to the talents from one region alone in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Nigeria.

It is insensitive of him to make lopsided appointments made up of Northern Muslims. It is worthy of note that it has never happened in the political history of Nigeria, and Buhari wouldn't want it to begin with him. What of the Christians and the Southerners? President Muhammadu Buhari knows that former President Goodluck Jonathan, as criticized as he was, started with greater goodwill than this in 2011 and he ran it aground in four years. Buhari should not make the same mistake.

In his words, ''Nigeria belongs to everybody and nobody." Nigerians are holding him to his words should he fully renege on them.

The fact that the President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are from the North is worrisome. There is no way the North can take all the principal offices and leave less effective posts to the seeming less influentially relevant extractions, same whose votes brought his the reins of power he now wields without caution. It has never happened before and the earlier it is reverted, the better. There is no way that can continue because the South is not subordinate to the North.

With this in view, and seeing the development a wrong signal that must be corrected, with hues and cries from concerned quarters, Buhari has hurriedly dissolved and re-appointed appointed a two southerners to constitute a part of the service chiefs and the National security Adviser. In total, the northern extraction of the Nigerian population seems to have more space in his appointments, making for a lopsided approach and a perceived northern agenda.

One of a few indications that appear more worrisome is that the immediate past INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, handed over to a Southerner but the Presidency changed it to a Northerner. Southerners are always careful and concerned not to marginalise the North. Therefore, Buhari in the best interest of democracy, national interest is not expected to use the North to marginalise the South now that the Presidency is shifted to the region.

His appointment of a few extractions outside the northern concentration offers temporary respite, but might this lopsidedness continue the country which has already been divided along religious lines might be heading towards conflict should the situation continue.

It is important that in making his appointments, the President should recognise that there are six geo-political zones in the country and it is imperative that he carries all of them along in the spirit of nation building and statesmanship.
President Buhari, Nigerians expect to recognise other nationalities that make up Nigeria except he is the President of the North alone. With the elections long over, real democratic governance beckons, with expectations hinged on principles of federal character and constitutional rights of every Nigerian being entrenched in policy formation and also being respected.

Buhari's seeming inactions to Nigerians by way of him initially succumbing to 'ill-advice' from individuals with perceived parochial interests, demonstrate that he came to power to reverse the positive steps made by Jonathan, who gave consideration to Nigeria's ethnic plurality in his appointments. In Nigeria's best interest, the seeming Northern agenda should be dropped, as seeing Buhari govern Nigeria in line with the constitution which he sworn to protect would uphold the nations unity and lay true credence to his 'change'-centric administration.

The President not to succumb to any ill- advice from individuals with parochial interests. Buhari hasn't got all the time in the world to clear the rife and lingering perception of a open northern agenda, and sensitivities that he is trapped by some influential irredentists forces around him who now order, misguide and control most decisions of Nigeria's leader, particularly in the areas of partial political appointments.

In his appointments, where are the true representation of other extractions of the Nigerian people-Yoruba's, Igbos in the scheme of things? Equality, meritocracy seems a fantasy as nepotism is the name of the new game. The electorates seemed to have planted expectations and, are seemingly reaping a disappointment in the area of his cabinet appointment.

To address the aforementioned succinctly, shin'ain's saying, 'to treat a person like a carpet, it is necessary that one do the walking, and one allow himself be walked on''aptly speaks buhari's weakly ethnic character. For a man seemingly fighting corruption, the words of Daniel Alarcon, ''nepotism is the lowest and least imaginative form of corruption, from his book, at night, we walk in circles, might ring through a discerning mind.

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