Buhari, the elephant of Hindostan By Ochereome Nnanna

To match Interview NIGERIA-BUHARI/SOME of us must be familiar with the poem: The Six Blind Men of Hindostan by JE Saxe. These curious blind men went to learn about the elephant. They had to “observe” the huge animal by feeling with their palms the part of the body they found themselves touching. The first one touched its side and shrieked: “bless me, the elephant is very like a wall!”

Another one felted around tusk and said the elephant was “very like a spear”. Another touched the ear and said the elephant was like a “fan”. The one that touched the trunk said it was like a “snake”. Another touched its leg around the knee and declared it “very like a tree”. Last of all, the blind man that touched the tail said even the blindest man would know that the elephant was very like a “rope”. Now concluded the poet:

And so these blind men of Hindostan,

Disputed loud and long,

Each with his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And each was partly wrong.

The blind men of Hindostan were driven by the genuine motive of learning. But some Nigerians, blinded by hope (or justification) of presidential favours lie without shame.

President Muhammadu Buhari has taken nearly 100 days to appoint about thirty inner members of his government. He has appointed the National Security Adviser (NSA), Service Chiefs, his Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Director General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS), “Acting” National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Comptroller General of Customs and that of Immigration, MD of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), MD of the Nigerian Ports of Authority (NPA), Presidential Spokesmen and handymen, GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the lot.

Given the fact that “97%” of these appointees are from the Arewa Muslim North, Buhari has completed the “Northernisation” of the Executive Branch of Government.

He already had in place, his men occupying the high and juicy posts of Head of Service of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation and Auditor General of the Federation to sew up the Federal Bureaucracy. What remain now are for the Minister of Petroleum Resources (which he has signalled his intention to assign to himself) Minister of Finance and Attorney General of the Federation. Thus the economic and financial resources of the country will be in Arewa hands.

Now, let us also bear in mind that, already, the Federal Legislature (Senate and House of Representatives) reflecting the character and complexion of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is already led by Northerners. On the other hand, the Federal Judiciary (Chief Justice of the Federation, President of the Court of Appeal and Chief Justice of the Federal High Court) is also completely dominated by Arewa. You are left to wonder: where are the other Nigerians? Nigeria has never, at any time in its peace time history, been lumbered into this extreme nepotism and sectional lopsidedness, even in the darkest days of Buhari’s first coming as a military ruler.

Unfortunately, the “blind men” of Nigeria are justifying it! Professor Pat Utomi applauds, and tells Buhari to put only people from his village in the entire government if he likes and there is nothing wrong with it. Festus Keyamo concurs. Last Monday, former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Obong Victor Attah, visited Vanguard and told Nigerians to first ask Buhari why he was doing this before criticising him. He forgot that Buhari already did so when he addressed a press conference while in America. He made it clear he was going to form his government based on a warped “97%5%” formula to ensure that those who voted for him were adequately (some say “parasitically”) rewarded.

APC says the number of appointees so far is “insignificant”, given the vast number offices yet to be filled. They want to deceive the gullible, but when you consider the picture painted above of the entire machinery of the federal government already filled by one section of the country, you will realise that anyone appointed from now henceforth will be like an “observer” among the “owners” of the government. It is the appointments that are yet to be made that are actually insignificant in clout compared to the powers of those already installed in office.

Presidential spokesmen say Buhari appointed “those he knows who have worked with him for years”. He is unfit to be a Nigerian president if he has no associates from outside the North, even as a party leader, retired general former head of state!

The Presidency also says the posts were filled based “purely on merit”. And I ask again, what standard of “merit” was applied which the South East failed so woefully to meet? Did they use the Arabic language or Islamic paradigms to do the evaluation? A section that consistently scores the highest in most entrance exams and tests cannot find the “merit” to get even a seat, while the sections that consistently bring the rear overwhelmingly outperforms the entire South! Some “merit”!

Buhari has made himself a president of the North. He has “Biafranised” the South East. It was only during the civil war that Dr. Ukpabi Asika, the Administrator of the East Central State, was the only Igbo man from the East in the government.

Buhari has brazenly defied the Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria 1999. Section 14(3) says: “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 a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and 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”.

We warned about candidate Buhari during the campaigns, but most people refused to listen! However, for Buhari, the “honeymoon” is over.

VANGUARD