Buhari’s open agenda By Dele Agekameh

buhari

Way back during the last electioneering for the presidential election which President Muhammadu Buhari won clear and square, the major campaign stunt against him was that “once a dictator, always a dictator”. The President’s party, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), fought tooth and nail with all the ammunition at its disposal to shed this toga. In fact, that was what led to the President’s declaration at Chatham House in London, that he is, indeed, a converted democrat. But barely 90 days in office, the self-acclaimed converted democrat, has left nobody in doubt that the leopard may not be able to change its spots.

Reason? If his actions and utterances since he came to the saddle of power are anything to go by, then one may be tempted to say that the president has little or no democratic blood flowing in his veins. The problem is even more compounded because it appears that the ruling party, the APC, is just papering over some of the unimaginable actions of the president. Although the president is trying his best to see that things are going on smoothly in the country, so far, it appears the country has been placed in auto-pilot mode. Or what do you call a situation where governance has been reduced to the whims and caprices of just one man and only one man?

From the earlier appointments of Service Chiefs and other security heads, to the one-sided appointments into key cabinet positions that took place at the tail end of last week, the president has, again and again, demonstrated that he is, indeed, in charge. Remember that the loud whispers that dominated former president Goodluck Jonathan’s era were that the former president was not actually in charge at all. This was simply because many times when he was expected to put his foot down, he was found wanting. That was an era of super-ministers and super-advisers who were busy lining their pockets with our common patrimony, while the president looked away. It was like the famous saying that “Nero looked away, while Rome was burning”.

Now, Nigeria has a president that is not only in charge, but also ready to bark and bite. But while this is a welcome development, there are some aspects of his moves that may be dangerous to the polity viz-a-viz the peaceful and harmonious co-existence of all the various tribes in the country. Just last Saturday, a National Daily carried on its front page a graphic depiction of the nature and pattern of appointments since President Buhari took over the reins of governance. The graph showed that most of the appointments had, in fact, favoured the northern part of the country, with 24 appointments to a miserable seven in the south. Even at that, the northwest where the president comes from, has the lion share with both the north central and northeast trailing dejectedly behind neck and neck.

In the southern part of the country, while the south-south geo-political zone seems to have produced more appointees, the southwest is lagging behind with just a sprinkle of appointees, while the southeast appears to have been forgotten totally in the political equation. However, it was the latest appointments of key cabinet members such as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Chief of Staff (COS), the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, that were all domiciled in the north, that is currently creating ripples and misgivings in the polity.

The appointments made so far, have undoubtedly completely placed the North in the driver’s seat of the Nigerian Presidency as regions of the North are dominating the Principal Offices in the Villa, a marked departure from the past when positions were largely shared along geopolitical lines. To make matters worse, reports have it that following a good showing in the series of appointments made so far by the President, the North appears unrelenting in its bid to sweep the major ministerial positions considered as key to the development of the North. They are said to be eyeing such lucrative ministries as those of Defence, Agriculture, Works, Finance, Transport and Petroleum, among others.

‘Nobody is against the war on corruption, but the fear is that no area or areas of the country should be stigmatised or made a scapegoat while the other area or areas are being courted as the beautiful bride’

When confronted last week, a presidential aide said though the juicy appointments may have eluded other parts of the country as they have been concentrated in the northern axis, the president will certainly make amends in other appointments yet to be filled. According to him, service is service. Hmm! That may sound like robbing a soothing balm on a festering sore. Without mincing words, the deed has been done and cannot be undone. With the SGF and COS positions gone, the CG of Customs and CG, Immigration gone, now, tell me, what is left to balance the unbalanced equation?

As for the southeast, the situation is very precarious and lamentable in that there had been wide speculations that the SGF position might be zoned to the area. And Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, a long time acquaintance of the president himself, might clinch the post. Onu was with the president in the All Nigerian Peoples’ Party (ANPP), which fused with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which also later fused into the All Progressives’ Congress (APC). Another person whose name came up for consideration as SGF was Rotimi Amaechi, the immediate past governor of Rivers State, who is believed to have worked tirelessly in cash and kind to see to the emergence of Buhari as president. Though the ex-governor is currently embattled in his state, the fact that Onu himself was sidelined shows that there is more to these appointments than meets the eye.

Buhari has consistently said that nobody that is tainted with corruption will serve in his government. With the naked imbalance in the appointments made so far, does that mean that the northern part of the country is an island of saints, while the southern part, particularly the southeast, is a corruption-infested zone? If this is the assumption, then there is every reason to disagree because those who have brought this country to its knees are evenly distributed across the country; and that is, if they are not numerically more in the north. It is these same people who have contributed significantly to the backwardness and poverty currently sweeping across major parts of the north. It is the reason for the insecurity that has pervaded the place these past six years with wanton destruction of lives, property and the economic well-being of the people.

If the president had nursed a hidden agenda as he came into office that agenda may have now become an open agenda. Wherever you find two or more people locked in deep discussion since last week, they are most certainly discussing or reviewing the recent appointments. Simply put, what has happened so far in terms of the lopsided appointments is a great injustice done to certain parts of this country and a big threat to the corporate existence of this great nation. Nobody is against the war on corruption, but the fear is that no area or areas of the country should be stigmatised or made a scapegoat while the other area or areas are being courted as the beautiful bride.

The talk that most of the people appointed so far into positions were not personally known to the president is bullshit. Those who recommended them had their reasons for doing so. At least, they knew them and so they went all out to sell their candidacy to the president. But then, the president himself, in his wisdom, should have thought about the political implication of concentrating his appointments in one particular area of the country when he got his votes across the country. Nigerians, shine your eyes!

NATION