The Buhari campaign organization ran on the premise of a popular slogan – change. They purported that his administration will be different from the rest and that it will herald the dawn of a new era with the arduous task of cleaning the Augean stables.
There were noticeable cracks from the outset which raised critical questions as to whether this was not another Animal Farm like revolution. He refused to participate in the presidential debate under the asinine excuse that it was skewed in favour of the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan when the Nigerian people would have been the best judges. This cast an aspersion on his much touted reformist democratic agenda as he had earlier refused to voluntarily appear before the Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission popularly known as the Oputa panel. One then wonders why he ran to Chatham House when the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs laid fallow.
His first set of appointments was at odds with his mission to cut costs in governance. Two aides on media were appointed – Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina where common sense should have dictated that one should be the presidential spokesman while the other the information minister to avoid the laughable conflicts that has engulfed the engine room of information dissemination.
The latest appointments made have left Nigerians wondering whether there is a surreptitious resurrection of the Kaduna mafia.
His critics have slammed Nigerians and contended that most of them are personal and the newly sworn in Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir David Lawal stirred the hornest nest by opining that Buhari appointed his appointees on the basis of merit. There is what is called political correctness which guides the decision making process so that no group is left out. Why didn’t Obama have an all-black cabinet? He carefully ensured that the interests of the whites and Hispanics were represented in his kitchen room. As conservative as Britain is, David Cameron who is ironically the leader of the tories who are known to be minority friendly still ensured the interests of the blacks and Asians who constitute a sizeable chunk of the minority were taken care of when he made key appointments. Savid Javid, a British born Pakistani who has been touted as a possible successor to Cameron when the former steps down from office in 2020 is the Education Secretary. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was the first Pakistani to be made a cabinet minister in the UK and her membership of the British House of Lords was sponsored by Cameron. The essence of federal character is to ensure that no group is left out in the country. His heavily jaundiced appointments suggest otherwise.
Some of his apologists said that most of the appointments made so far are personal and that he owes no one any explanations for them. This is worse than the theatre of the absurd as it obviously begs the question. The Aide-de-camp, State Chief of Protocol who is in charge of Aso Rock and Chief of Staff who are all northerners are personal and it is understandable that he would prefer his kith and kin. We do not begrudge him for that. How can you explain that the Head of Customs, Immigration, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Defence Intelligence, Director-General of the State Security Service, Managing Director Nigerian Ports Authority, Director-General Budget Office, Director, Department for Petroleum Resources, Managing Director Asset Management Company of Nigeria are Northerners and these are key appointments? Aren’t there any competent southerners to implement the change agenda? Were these appointments personal? These are appointments that affect the nation unlike the first three which do not have a direct bearing or impact on state affairs. We all know the economic and political impact of an action of the Head of DPR or immigration for instance as opposed to the State Chief of Protocol whose actions may not directly affect the economy or polity.
Femi Adesina even surreptitiously admitted the anomaly when he said that the President will address the imbalance in subsequent appointments.
How do you explain the appalling fact that the South-East does not have single representation in the present government? Is it payback time for their rejection of him at the polls or is the conquest mindset as a result of the failed Biafran experiment still the deciding factor? The marginalization of a group that attempted to secede is not new. The confederates or the Southern part of America waged war with the North or the Union between 1861 and 1864 under the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The war ended in the Union’s favour and it took the South more than 100 years – 1976 to be precise to have an elected President in the person of Jimmy Carter. Lyndon Baines Johnson only got into the White House as a Southerner from Texas because of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The National Party of Nigeria did something commendable in the aborted second republic. Not only did they zone the Vice-Presidency and Speakership of the Federal House of Representatives to the south-east, some key political appointments were reserved for them. This helped them re-integrate back into the mainstream of the Nigerian society and set the tone for the return of the erstwhile Biafran warlord and Igbo Leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. The prospect of an Igbo Presidency after Shagari was bright and it’s arguable that the nation achieved its highest national cohesion at that time. The resurfacing of radio Biafra is an indication of neglect and a deep feeling of being left in the cold. The solution is not to arrest and harass members who have legitimate grounds for agitation but to do the right thing by ensuring every part of the country has a little piece of the pie.
The appointment of Colonel Hamid Ali as the boss of the customs is highly insensitive. This was a man who was in the tribunal that sentenced the late environmental rights activist and renowned playwright, Kenule Saro-Wiwa and eight others to death by hanging. His supporters have argued that he was merely doing his job but he had the option of resigning and towing the path of honour. General Ishola Williams chose that path after the annulment of the June 12 Presidential election when he chose poverty and deprivation for the course of justice. Colonel Abuakar Dangiwa Umar also took that painful route. What stopped Ali from being a true believer in the Nigerian project that stands on the tripod of justice, equity and fair play? The appointment offends the sensibilities of the people of the south-south especially the Ogonis who live by the river Niger but wash their hands with a substance worse than spittle. It was a faux pas of Buhari to cause disaffection with his government so early in the day.
As we enter the month of September, we earnestly await the constitution of PMB’s cabinet and let’s see if it will have an ethnic cleansing agenda.