After nine appointments in the new government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, prominent groups in the southern part of the country, especially, the south-east and south-west region, have spoken out at what they all described as the one-sided appointments which seem to favor the north only.
President Buhari has so far appointed nine individuals into different positions since assuming office on May 29. Eight of the nine appointees are from the northern part of the country, latest being the Director-General of the State Security Services, DSS, Lawal Daura, Katsina State.
The other appointments were: Special Adviser on Media and Publicity – Mr. Femi Adesina; Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity – Mallam Garba Shehu; State House Chief of Protocol – Mallam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure; Aide De Camp – Lt. Col. Muhammed Lawal Abubakar; Ag. Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari; Chief Security Officer – Abdulrahman Mani; Director, Department of Petroleum Resources – Mr. Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan; and the Accountant-General of the Federation – Alhaji Ahmed Idris.
In addition to the appointments were also the elections of Dr. Bukola Saraki from Kwara State and Barr. Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State as Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives.
Perhaps the most baffling is the appointment of Lawal Daura, as the Director General of the DSS. The 62-year-old was said to have retired from the service. An anonymous writer said it was wrong for Buhari to have brought Daura, the acting DSS DG, from retirement to head the agency when there were qualified persons from other regions of the country still in service. He said:
“He ignored the entire senior cadre of the agency – from Bassey Eteng to the least person – simply because they are Southerners. Even if he wanted to pick a a Northerner, he should have picked from the service rather than a 62-year-old retiree, whose only qualification is being Buhari’s kinsman, who was in the DSS. When former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Ekpenyong, he was already a Director of Operations, same for Gadzama, who was appointed by Umaru Yar’Adua.”
Groups that have expressed their worries so far in the South-East include, Njiko Igbo Group, the Igbo World Union, Ohaneze Ndigbo and the Ohaneze Youth Council (OYC), while those in the South-West include, the Afenifere, the Movement for Oodua Republic (MOR), and the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF).
The national president of the Njiko Igbo Forum, Reverend Okechukwu Obioha, warned the president against running what he described as a “Northern government.”
He said: “Buhari is simply running a Northern government. He is making his appointments as if he is angry with other sections of the country. The appointments are lopsided in favor of the North and that is not acceptable.”
On his part, the president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey, advised Buhari to respect the principle of federal character when making appointments.
He said: “We expect the President to recognise other nationalities that make up Nigeria. Elections are over, it is time for governance. We expect that the principle of federal character, which is constitutional, should be respected. It is important that in making his appointments, the President should recognize that there are six geo-political zones in the country and it is imperative that he carries all of them along in the spirit of nation building and as a statesman.”
The Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) national president, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, described the president’s actions as a threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
He said: “Buhari should not abuse his privileged position as the President of Nigeria for the moment. He should not forget our federal system but reflect the federal character in his appointments. We are warning him to drop the Northern agenda and govern Nigeria in line with the constitution which he sworn to protect. We will hold him by his statement that ‘he is for nobody and for everybody’ except he now wants to tell us that he is the President of the North alone. Jonathan appointed Northerners as his National Security Adviser, Defense Minister, Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Defense Staff etc. But so far, Buhari has shown us that he has no regard for other parts of the country.”
Meanwhile, the YUF secretary-general, Senator Anthony Adefuye, warned that the earlier the situation was reversed, the better, so as not to give the impression that the North is marginalizing the South.
He said: “The fact that the President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are from the North is worrisome. There is no way the North can take all the principal offices and leave the deputy to us. It has never happened before and the earlier it is reverted, the better. There is no way that can continue because the South is not subordinate to the North. The think tank committee of the YUF will meet soon to look at the issue and see how it affects the Yoruba people. However, the development is a wrong signal that must be corrected.
“What is more worrisome is that the immediate past INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, handed over to a Southerner but the Presidency changed it to a Northerner. We are watching and waiting to see what comes out of this new government. Southerners are always careful and concerned not to marginalize the North. Therefore, I will not expect the North to marginalize the South now that the Presidency is shifted to the region,” he concluded.
The Movement for Oodua Republic (MOR), through its leader, George Akinola, warned that Nigeria is heading towards total conflict should the situation continue.
He said: “The country has already been divided along religious lines. The fault lines are there and will always be there. This will continue until a time when one way or the other a conference or a referendum happens. There is no option that is not on the table but at least we will prefer the path of peace.”