President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments to date favours the North to the detriment of the South and southern ethnic nationalities. There is not any known way it can be corrected without firing many of the appointees. It is irreversible. There has been a loud outcry against this manifestation of ethnic chauvinism. Loud voices have been raised supporting or opposing the appointments as would be expected.
I am one of those who have accepted the appointments. Some others (Mr. Bolaji Aluko and Mr. Abdel Gumel stand out) have also supported the appointments. But I reached my position from a different line of thinking and Messer’s Gumel and Aluko reached theirs via a different algorithm.
In defending the appointments I think that we should agree that it is lop sided in favor of the Muslim North. We ought to also agree that the northward bent of the appointments cannot be corrected by future appointments. Even if the so-called gazillion appointments PMB would make did not include a single northerner the lopsidedness would still hold. The entire leadership of the nation’s security apparatus (Chief of defense staff, Air Force Chief, Naval chief, Intelligence Chief, SSS Chief, Police Chief, etc.) for example are all northerners. As an engineer, Mr. Aluko knows a thing or two about mathematics. Mr. Gumel is a professor of mathematics. They must know that all “1’s”are not equal; that some “1’s” are more equal than others. Especially when weights are applied. The weight of “1” Chief of the navy’s weight is equal or greater than the weight of all (thousands) navy personnel put together for that “1”COMMANDS the other “1’s”. So even if PMB appoints 20 naval senior officers from the south the imbalance cannot be rectified 1 is not equal to 1. Ditto for Secretary to the Government of the Federation, INEC Chief, and all the other appointments. PMB can no longer make it up for the south. What for this “wait for other appointments to be made” is an insidious attempt to lure the South to sleep while more harm is inflicted on them. It is invidious.
I was aware of all these when I wrote that PMB should be allowed to govern the way he sees fit and with the team he chooses. I based my argument on the fact that Nigeria chose him to be their president and should not tie his hands; that he could not be successful with a team he does not trust. My central argument was that trust in the team members should override all other considerations. Where there is no trust, nothing can be accomplished.
Another of the points made by Mr. Gumel is that PMB chose his team on merit. Nothing can be further from the truth. I do not know how merit was determined that would demonstrate that the most qualified security team members would all come from one region. Did they all come first in their training classes ahead of their team mates from the south; or was it measured by their past command deliveries? I doubt it. They were appointed because of their loyalty. Those of us who have managed projects and people place a high priority on loyalty. This is why I sympathize with PMB and would give him a free hand in choosing his team. But to put a false face on PMB’s behavior is not helpful. We must accept that he has other more compelling reasons than merit or that he will balance it up later by future appointments.
By the way would anybody believe that PMB or any leader would fill less important positions before filling the more important ones? We do the important things first. This fact is further proof that PMB has filled the most important positions in his administration, at least those that do not require congressional probity. I am also on record for supporting the Senate to approve all his nominations. This would enable PMB to take full credits for his successes.
With the north in control of the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judiciary and the civil service, the head of elections, etc., there is no way the south can come back. This is not necessarily a bad thing. By taking full responsibility for governing, Nigerians would be able to place the blame for any failure where it belongs. The south would also have a good reason for duplicating the structure if and when they wrench power from the north.
My one great fear is that the appointments would unite the south against the north while solidifying the north for a truly divided nation which would make governing more difficult. Misery loves company. Many Nigerians understand the many fights between the East and the West and bemoan the situation. But that fight has in no small measure held Nigeria together as each seeks the northern alliance. But if Awolowo’s dream of uniting the South is fulfilled by PMB by default, the chances of the breakdown of Nigeria would improve. We would have two opposing groups strong enough to withstand the challenges thrown by the other and two emerging nations that can survive.
That is the dangerous game Mr. Muhammadu Buhari is playing. Mr. Aluko and Mr. Gumel might try to use their big brains to confuse and lure some people to sleep but with time the people will come to realize what had happened. And might protest. Or revolt.
Long live one Nigeria