FG Appointments/Restructuring: Between Northern Christians And Igbo Muslims
However heady some Nigerians may feel on this critical topic, it is not over-flogged because it is a livewire in the political coexistence of the nation. Nigerians are talking about it in their inter and intra-city sojourns, in the busses, on board the air, in markets, on the radio/television stations, the social media and even at extended family levels. The online media have gone weird on it.
In short, any group of average Nigerians gathered together has it as a point for discussion in their agenda. Inibehe Effiong and Prince Charles Dickson in the Blue Print Newspapersand more recently Leke Baiyewu of the Punch Newspapers shed light on some interesting aspects of the burning national issue. Jibrin Ibrahim capped it all with his article on Daily Trust captioned: Buhari’s Appointments and the Theory of Access. A post ascribed to the facebook wall of former Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika was quite baffling.
Conversely, it is noteworthy to recall that President Muhammad Buhari is a President loved by the people of Nigeria and the world. He came into the leadership of Nigeria at a time the whole world looked unto Nigeria as a failed state. He was overwhelmingly accepted by the citizenry to mount the mantle. I had no doubt and still have none that the duo of justice and fairness will be his watchwords. He is gradually distinguishing himself, though now more liberal than before, in the task of pulling Nigeria out of the dungeon of corruption, waste, scion, physical and spiritual filth, injustice, faithlessness, hopelessness, wretchedness and total misdirection. This is on one part.
On the other part, since the beginning of his appointments of Nigerians into the federal government, despite his efforts to ensure that the right persons are selected to fill the right positions, there have been deafening outcries from all quarters of imbalance in the appointments. While some observe that only the northerners are appointed, others are more critical that only northern Hausa-Fulani have benefited massively in the federal government. But a fair and critical analysis of all the federal political appointments reveals that Muslims of the north and Christians of the south have gotten proportional quotas of the appointments. Further analysis shows that Christians of the north have been appointed by President Buhari into top positions but NO SINGLE slot to Muslims of the Southeast and Southsouth. Go just further, you find that Igbo minorities in the Southsouth have been appointed into very sensitive and key federal positions.
Fair judgment and not prophetic witticism is required to know that while the governors of some northern states with insignificant number of Christians have deemed it fit to appoint Christians as commissioners and special assistants into their cabinets, it is still a taboo for Igbo Muslims to be appointed commissioners in their own states of origin. Assuredly, it is neither because the Igbo Muslims are not qualified nor politically active. It is simply because they are Muslims – they are Hausas as they are called by their Igbo natives. So, should the Igbo Muslims be appointed into the federal government as Hausas because they are Muslims? It seems no body is worried or concerned about this matter? Where do Igbo Muslims belong to in all matters concerning restructuring and national integration?
Late last year and early this running year, I wrote two articles entitled: Balancing geopolitical appointments across Nigeria andPresident Buhari and Nigerian religious minorities in which I exerted much effort in an attempt to juxtapose the appointments into the federal government by the past presidents of Nigerian in relation to entho-religious diversities in the country.
I was quick to note that the balancing of appointments in Nigeria had become an accepted norm in the pursuit of equity and fairness in governance. Besides, in furtherance to thespirit of equity and fairness in the distribution of political positions, some broad-mindedleaders take the minorities into unique consideration to give them the sense of belonging.
But Nigerian leaders of the past and state governors merely displayed thegood spirit on papers than in reality. The cry of marginalization by ethnic, religious, socio-cultural and political groups has always been a routine one each time a new government comes to power. This has been more pronounced in a political setup advertently or inadvertently divided into north and south. The whole of Southern Nigeria, maybe in the exception of Southwest, is bitterly complaining now that the leadership of Nigeria is in the north; just like it was the opposite in the past leaderships of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan when the Christians of the Northern Nigeria were made political gladiators in Nigeria. It has never been so for the Igbo Muslim of the South.
Rather, investigations have revealed that during the two regimes, over 10% of the total federal political appointments were reserved for Northern Christians. More insights showed that the Christian minority had over 30% of the total federal appointments allocated to Northern Nigeria. Not a single appointment was allocated to Igbo Muslims. These were leaders who claimed ethno-religious tolerance; who only propagated religious understanding on the media.
Today, with more appointments being made, the Igbo, the South-South and the minority Christians of the north as well strongly feel shortchanged by President Muhammadu Buhari. This has been their position since the inception of this government. So many statements have been issued by prominent northern Christians and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on the matter. Although many have defended the President’s action, the complaints persist.
Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole believes that the nation has come to a point where the best hands to confront the peculiarity of problems should be used instead of descending to the level of geopolitical balancing. He suggested employment of unusual methods to solve the nation’s unusual problems. The level of decay in the country at present, he argued, required very seasoned hands and incorruptible Nigerians that would help to translate the APC agenda of change for the benefit of all Nigerians. “We must not reduce governance to political patronage of bread and butter”, were the governor’s words.
But the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern states and Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Rev. Yakubu Pami, in a statement in Jos decried the exclusion of qualified northern Christians in the federal appointments. Pam advocated for fairness and equity in the process. The President of Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), Eng. Daniel David Kadzai also in a statement to journalists in Jos picked holes in what he described as the lopsided appointments into key federal positions. And the Secretary General of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndi’gbo, Dr. Joe Nwosu, said the Igbo have had a long history of marginalization from governance in Nigeria.
But former Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika opposed this notion. He was said to have posted on his facebook wall that for six years the Igbo occupied the offices of Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker, SGF, Minister of Finance/Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian Economy, Ministers of Health, Aviation, Labour, Petroleum (by marriage), Chief of Army Staff etc, yet nobody complained that the Igbos got too much of the federal power rations and neither did the highly placed Igbos develop their brethren and area.
He observed that other ethnic groups watched carefully and played their politics towards national relevance while the Igbos got carried away and played politics of the pocket where semi-illiterate money bags charted the cause for them. “Those who have access to Aso Rock and got fat contracts sustained the lies to hoodwink both Aso Rock Gods and the Igbos. In blind response devoid of any logical reasoning the Igbos put all their fragile eggs in one basket that had lost form and shape to protect them.” As the results of those fatal errors, he maintained, the same money-miss-roads are now fanning the ambers of secession as their next meal ticket bargaining chip while the teaming youth they lure with money and lies risk losing everything including their lives for nothing in the end.
“Compare the Igbo TAN money bags and/or failed politicians to the likes of Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Femi Otedola who are hardly seen or heard playing partisan talk less of ethno-religious politics! Imagine Dangote gathering the leaders of Northerners in Lagos and imposing political party or candidate in Lagos State politics on them. Such is near impossible! The Igbos have allowed derogatory pocket politics to puncture their natural nobility as a people!” he averred.
Nonetheless, Mr. President himself has assured Nigerians that he would administer the country with honesty and fairness towards salvation and prosperity. At the palace of the Emir of Daura, Dr. Farouk Umar Farouk, he noted that issues and situations would be considered objectively “without action taken for or against any section of the country on the basis of prejudice.”
At the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, President Muhammadu Buhari identified the unnecessary recourse and divisive application of Nigerians to religion and ethnicity as the greatest dangers facing Nigeria’s democracy. He said as defenders of the nation’s territorial integrity, resistance and rejection of ethno-centricism and religious intolerance are paramount. These evils, he opined, threaten Nigeria’s existence as a sovereign and indivisible nation.
As urgent necessity, the nation needs an elite prepared to stick together, fight corruption and other national ills side by side; an elite who would insist on justice even when friends are at the receiving end. This is because Nigeria is more complex and more difficult than before. The nature of warfare is also vastly different.
At his palace while hosting delegations of Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation in Nigeria and other stakeholders, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saadu Abubakar recalled that the problem of Nigeria are the elites who have politicized everything in the country including religion, every positive thing and bad happening. He lamented that when a Hausa man is appointed into a vacant position, sentiments of northernization are aroused, and when a Muslim leader visits an Islamic country, he is accused of trying to Islamize Nigeria. He noted that there have been many people from other religions and tribes manning other offices as well as many Christian leaders who visited Christian countries without Muslims raising any alarm of Christianizing the country.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang carpeted people trying to incite others against the President over matters of appointments, describing them as being unfair in their judgment.
All that is required to note here is that in the second half of the second year of this administration, people are complaining bitterly of imbalance in federal appointments. No doubt, Mr. President has a large heart to fix Nigeria and must be very careful in choosing Nigerians that will help him in the onerous task. Yet, considerations should be made to carry every segment of Nigeria along.
The Nigerian atmosphere has been captivated by the fear of Buhari and any Nigerian appointed to serve under Buhari has an opportunity to make a positive difference or be made a sample. Simply, the fear of Buhari in Nigeria today is the beginning of good governance. The Christian minority of northern Nigeria has had a fair share – nay a fat share – in Nigeria’s economic and political existence. None and affirmatively no single share has been granted the Igbo Muslims.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]
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