For a while, I thought President Muhammadu Buhari would look in the direction of the marginalised South-east when the tenure of Ibrahim Idris as the Inspector-General of Police expired on January 15. For once, I thought our President would make amends for his frightening lopsided security appointments. At that point, there were two immensely qualified top officers from the South-east in the top hierarchy of the police – one a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, a woman, and the other, an Assistant Inspector General of Police. I thought Buhari would respond to the demand of Senator Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra-Central), who called on the President to urgently appoint somebody from the South-east into the National Defence Council and the National Security Council. These are bodies rooted in Section 153(1) (g) of our Constitution, yet, under Buhari, an entire region is not represented in the two bodies.
It did not come as a surprise to me that our President squandered the opportunity to make amends by snubbing the South-east officers to appoint Mohammed Adamu as Acting IG. It simply reconfirms my position all the while that Buhari cares less about our Constitution and the Federal Character principle entrenched in it. The situation in the armed forces is most depressing. Section 217(3) stipulates that the composition of the armed forces must reflect the federal character of the country. The provision of this section is emphasised in Section 14(3) of the same Constitution. Buhari must immediately re-organise the country’s security architecture to reflect the diversity of Nigeria; the current situation in which a section of the country dominates is unhealthy and unacceptable.
Also, for the sake of mother Nigeria’s unity, and to assuage marginalised sections of the country, it is pertinent to ensure fair representation of every part of this country in the top hierarchy of federal departments and agencies. Besides, reflecting federal character in the leadership of our security agencies is one very important step that could help reduce the killings in our land. These skewed appointments have created a loss of a sense of belonging in many parts of the country, hence the constant cries of marginalisation, agitation for secession and calls for restructuring.
For me, our dear President has chosen to persistently mock Chapter 2, Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended). As a reminder, this section states: “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.”
One man that has consistently berated the excesses of Buhari over the uneven distribution of public offices is former president Olusegun Obasanjo. I can clearly remember him saying that the ethos of nation building through even distribution of public offices had been abused by Buhari. Obasanjo added: “To start with, we seem to have taken nation building for granted. Nation building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging and a stake in his or her country. For instance, the Federal Character principle, as espoused in our constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation, and avoid concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places, as we currently have in the leadership of our security apparatus.”
The warped appointments of heads of military and para-military agencies by Buhari is unending and infuriating. I will like our dear President to retire into his study and spend quality time reading a list I have compiled for him.Yes, he is aware of the appointments, but I need to prick his conscience with this list: Director-General, Department of State Security Services,Yusuf Magaji Bichi; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Burutai; Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar; Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Retired Colonel Hameed Ali; Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Mustapha Abdallah; Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede; Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu; Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, Minister for Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau; Director General, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Modibbo Hamman Tukur; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu and Controller General of the Nigeria Prison Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed.
This list does not smell pan-Nigeria. It is bad enough that they are all from the North. It is worse that they are all Muslims. In a country where religion remains an issue, concentrating the security apparatus in the hands of one tribe and one religious group is a betrayal of trust of those Christians who voted for Buhari and an affront on our Constitution.
We have never been this divided in our 58 years as an independent country. Hatred and bloodshed across ethnic and religious divides have assumed an unprecedented dimension, with our fault lines persistently stoked by this administration. God-fearing people must form a truthful coalition and pull Nigeria from the brinks. Genuine patriots must rise and salvage our drifting country by promoting mutual love and togetherness. Like-minded people across the nation must stand up for this task.