Within his first one hundred days in power, President Muhammadu Buhari has made just a few appointments. These constitute the inner circle or “kitchen cabinet” within the Presidency. They also include those in charge of his personal security, National Security Adviser, Service Chiefs, heads of crucial federal executive bodies, presidential advisers and assistants.
Even though the Presidency has assured that merit was the main consideration for making these appointments, there has been an uproar due to what many see as the lopsided nature of the appointments. It is obvious that people from the northern part of the country heavily predominate, with the South East and South zone so far not favoured with even a single slot.
This runs against Section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) which directs as follows: “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 also to 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 the Government or any of its agencies”.
This provision is explicit and unequivocal about the need to carry every section of the country along at every juncture of appointments, taking into account the overwhelming importance of cementing the fragile unity of the country and the loyalties of all its people. At this juncture of the development of this country, we are convinced that all sections of the country can be accommodated in the government no matter the standard of merit being used, provided that there is genuine political will to obey the constitution.
All Nigerians must have a sense of belonging within the president’s inner circle because this is where the most crucial decisions about the country are made before taking them to the wider circles of the administration. We frown at any arrangement that will create an “insider-outsider” dichotomy as it will not augur well for the smooth running of government and peaceful coexistence in the country.
The danger of lack of federal balance and representation is that there may be no voice to table the peculiar needs of some parts of the country and this will create a sense of alienation.
We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to move quickly and calm frayed nerves by ensuring that all parts of the country are given an equal sense of belonging in his government. This is necessary to bring all hands on deck towards achieving his mandate to the benefit of all Nigerians.