buhariMixed reactions have continued to trail the latest appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged marginalisation of some critical sections of the country.
The Nigerian leader on Thursday announced the appointment of some of his administration’s most key officials including Babachir David Lawal, from Adamawa State, who was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Abba Kyari, from Borno State, as his Chief of Staff.
President Buhari also appointed Hameed Ali, a retired colonel, as the Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service and Kure Martin Abeshi as the Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Service. Ali and Abeshi are from Bauchi and Nasarawa States respectively.
A former Senator from Akwa Ibom State, Ita Enang, was appointed senior special assistant to the President on Senate Affairs, while Suleiman Kawu of Kano State, who is a former House of Representatives member, was named the President’s senior special assistant on House of Representatives.
The six officials bring to 29 the total number of frontline staffers who will handle the economy, energy, defence and other important sectors of governance.
Reacting to appointments so far made by Mr. President, a cross section of Nigerians expressed worry over the lopsidedness of the appointment while others argued that it runs country to the federal character principle as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Section 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says: (3) 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 State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.
(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation.
President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife said President Buhari has not been fair to the South-East in his appointments so far, but urged the people to wait until the appointment of ministers before crying over exclusion.
Ikedife said, if it were to be a matter of competence, Ndigbo can even provide 80 per cent of Buhari’s cabinet.
“It is clear to everybody that so far, Ndigbo have not got a fair share of the appointments which Buhari has made so far. However, let us not be too hasty as he has still many appointments to make,” he said.
In his own reaction, former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said that he was short of words. “I don’t understand what is happening and the motivation for what is happening,” he said.
From the South-West the Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Chief Yinka Odumakin, noted that the latest appointments followed the same pattern of previous ones, most of which come from a particular section of the country, noting that the appointments reflect the 97 and five percent ration mindset of the President in terms of votes he garnered during the election.
“When he visited the United States, he made it clear that those who gave him 97 per cent votes cannot have the same thing with those who gave him five per cent of votes.
“I do not think it is the best thing considering the mood of the nation now. I think the earlier he realises that, the better for the country. He should realise that inclusivity brings stability,” Odumakin said.
The same feeling is also expressed from the North where the apex body of youths in the region described the development as sectional and “unfortunate”.
According to the President, Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, “It is unfortunate the way the situation is, because one becomes worried. We must be seen to be nationalistic than being sectionalised.
“I am beginning to feel uncomfortable because the complaint is that the appointments are seen to be lopsided. I also do not think that is the intention of the government.
“However, no matter how we pretend, the reality is that things are not done in the right way.”
“The government should be seen to be more nationalistic than sectionalised. If we truly believe in true federalism and federal character, it should go round.
“We cannot say that a particular area has the best brains in the country. I think the government should look into that area thoroughly in as much as the President has good intentions.”
Another opinion leader in the North and retired Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said, “I see the appointments as lopsided. Nigeria is too big to have majority of the appointees from one section of the country.
“We have competent people in every part of Nigeria. For that reason, he (Buhari) should spread the appointments to every part of Nigeria. If he (Buhari) is looking for honest people, there are honest people in every part of Nigeria, just as we have dishonest people in every part.
“Most Nigerians voted for him, even those who did not vote for him are his subjects and he is bound to carry every one along.”
A traditional ruler from Cross River State, Ovai Rekpene Ibor, however claimed that Mr. President did the right thing and was optimistic that they will do their work accordingly. “He has done the right thing and we expect that they deliver.”
A legal practitioner, Osasu Eboigbe said “He don’t have any problem to work with incorruptible Nigerians. Nobody is speaking about corruption concerning these people who are more of technocrats,” he maintained.
Mr. Matthew Okoli blamed the President for assigning key positions to the North, neglecting other parts of the country, while a Superintendent of Immigration, Mr. Mohammed Yusuf, threw his weight behind the appointments.
“So far so good, the appointments were based on good interest of the country and Mr. President believes they are going to work with standard in order to help in the fight corruption in the country.”
Another respondent, Akaninyene Eyo, said, “He has the right to appoint anybody from any tribe he wishes to appoint so far as they are to serve Nigeria devoid of sentiments.
“As long as they see the appointment as a call to service and not to witch-hunt or for personal gains, I appreciate. Concerning the reflection of federal character in the appointments, I don’t think he is totally out of track as more appointments are on the way.”
The international president, Akwa Ibom Consolidation Alliance, ACA, Bishop Andrew Unwanta said, “I will advice the President not to wait any longer than necessary in the name of looking for saints because there is no saint.
“The President has the right to appoint anybody he feels he can work with. Well I wouldn’t want to comment about the federal character reflection in the appointments.”
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, yesterday said that the appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, were purely on merit.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday recalls that on Thursday, Buhari approved the appointments of Babachir David Lawal from Adamawa State as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Speaking on a radio programme, Adesina insisted that all those appointed by the President were all qualified irrespective of their geopolitical zones and explained further that the President had the prerogative to make appointments, adding that he knows there exists a federal character in the constitution.
He expressed optimism that the President will ensure balance in subsequent appointments. “I am sure he bears that in mind while making the appointments. I believe that at the end of it all, there will be a balance,” Adesina stated.
Adesina further pointed out that the President was trying to bring out the very best who could bring the desired change and emphasised that Buhari’s ministerial list would be out by September.

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