Former Governor of Kaduna State Abubakar Dangiwa Umar’s wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari’s (PMB) that his “nepotism pushing (is) Nigeria to the brink”.
Aside this letter, it is palpable that one of the biggest trouble with the Buhari administration is one-way appointments triggered by sheer nepotism, sectionalism and sentimentalism.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) recently retired nine directors contrary to Buhari’s reported but unconfirmed order.
The Guardian Newpaper’s editorial described the move as: “The development, though bizarre in its entirety, is reminiscent of his (Buhari’s) penchant for the violation of the federal character principle and in turn the constitution, in several appointments made since 2015. The brazen, yet undisguised attempt to deepen sect and sectionalism along our fault lines is undemocratic, unconstitutional, perfidious and highly condemnable”.
The publication stated further that Nigeria is a complex and complicated diversity that spans across culture, ethnicity, language, religion and natural resources among others.
It was revealed that the 1979 Constitution adopted the federal character principle to orchestrate elusive peace, equity and stability in a very diverse nation.
The principle was to make amends for inter-ethnic distrust, dominance, rivalry, conflicts and wars. Section 14 (3)(4) and the Third Schedule, Part 1(c) of the Constitution spell out the principle in clear terms. And to ensure implementation, the Federal Character Commission was in 1996 established – to manage the peace process.
For clarity, the Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, provides in detail that: “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”.
This will in turn ensure 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 in any of its agency.
Those who ruled Nigeria before PMB had been careful about the sanctity of this constitutional provision (thought the mechanism of the principle may not be perfect).
Should Nigeria not scrap the “ineffective” federal character principle replaced by a merit-based system as the system is not perfect and subject to abuse by selfish leaders?
Guardian confirmed that the federal system has been so bastardised that most of Buhari’s appointments had no recourse to either equitable distribution or merit.
It was also hinted that the composition of the Federal Character Commission itself has no regard for federal character. “If Senate confirms new nominees to the commission today, both the chairman and the secretary would be from the North. This is incredible”.
Also, Abuja that is being touted as our symbol of national unity is said to have a federal character challenge as both the Minister of FCT and the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) hail from the north – (Adamawa and Niger states).
When the center is not united, obviously “Things Fall Apart” and the center cannot hold.
It is also sickening to hear the stories about how the first qualification for teaching and non-teaching jobs at the National Open University’s (NOUN) is where the applicant comes from – north or south – and the religion – Muslim or Christian. The system is so toxic.
Nigeria is no doubt a knotty nation – 36 states, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and 774 local government areas with more than 350 nations deserve equity in its ruling.
Nigeria’s heroes past recognised the primacy of heterogeneity and inclusiveness in the making of peace and progress of the country, hence the 1979 Constitution adopted the federal character principle to orchestrate elusive peace, equity and stability.
The Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, provides in detail that: “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 in any of its agency.”
The FIRS recently leveraged an abrogated provision to exit nine directors and have them immediately replaced by northerners.
Meanwhile, President Umaru Yar’Adua had instituted a civil service rule to retire directors that have already spent eight years in the office. President Buhari repealed the same provision in 2016. The sitting Chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami, literally went back in time just to retire the directors from the south, only to have them replaced by people of his clan.
Meanwhile, there are much more around Abuja to widen the eyebrow. The Department of State Security (DSS), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Police Force, Air Force, Nigerian Army, Customs, Immigrations and Correctional Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) , Defence Ministry, National Security Adviser, Nigerian Ports Authority, NIMASA, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, FAAN, NCAA, EFCC, NFIU, Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB), Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), and so on, all express the gross imbalance and dominance by northerners in an unprecedented manner. Additionally, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)?
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) just days ago reeled out the positions and names of 20 management positions held by northerners in the NNPC. They are from the group managing director (GMD) to director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
They superintend over crude oil settled in Akwa Ibom, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Imo, and Abia.
According to the body, the entire southern Nigeria was allotted only three top management positions in the NNPC. The oil-producing zones of South-south, South-east, and South-west are left with one chief operating officer position each, and a few senior and middle-level management positions in peripheral and incidental subsidiaries, departments and divisions of the corporation.
According to the Guardian, “To say the least, the northernisation of federal offices is legendary and a daylight assault on merit or national integration. That was the warning signal Umar too spoke to last Sunday.
Lest we forget, at the moment, the three arms of government, (executive, legislature and the judiciary) are headed by citizens of northern extraction who are also Muslims in this same multicultural setting.
“More important, let’s not get it twisted, the flagrant disregard of the federal character principle is an attack on the constitution”.
Guardian reminded Buhari that the framers of Nigeria’s constitution were very conscious of the diversity of our country and deeply appreciated the need to give everyone a sense of belonging. If that is thrown away, the very fabric of the country could be torn into pieces.
“Why the weight of this consideration is always lost on this government or this President beats imagination”.
It was at this time five years ago that Buhari concluded his inauguration speech with the memorable quote: ‘‘I belong to everybody; I belong to nobody.’’
“Nigerians already know better and could see through his parochial and clannish sentimentality”.
His is a presidency that has for five years belonged more to northerners than to all Nigerians – the electorate.
If not, let Nigerians see fairness, equitable distribution of appointments to our best hands across the country, and give every member of this entity a sense of belonging.
It is a step in the right direction to secure the future of one Nigeria by respecting the letter and the spirit of the constitution, which Buhari has on two occasions sworn to defend.
It is hoped that our leader realises the consequences of a breach of the organic law of the land – the constitution.