And President Buhari’s Northern Party Continues, by Umar Sa’ad Hassan

Umar Saad


by Umar Sa’ad Hassan, Kano

A lot of my brothers here in the North who read my article criticizing President Buhari’s pre-ministerial appointments-, felt I was being too harsh on him and that it didn’t matter who was appointed, what mattered was their competence. Getting them to realize I wasn’t criticizing his performance but only his appointments was not easy.

There was not a single Ibo man among the 29 made then and every time I defended my position, I couldn’t help deeming those appointments PMB’s sad contribution to a world where it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay objective. You had to be all on one side or not.

It didn’t augur well for this nation that a man was publicly fulfilling his promise to place the interests of those who voted for him en masse above those who didn’t. If you count appointments where he has the right to exercise total discretion; ones that would eventually constitute the yardstick for judging whether or not he was unbiased or detribalized, nothing has really changed.

ln the space of a few days, we have been notified of two appointments by President Buhari – the appointment of Maryam Uwais as Special Adviser on Social Protection plan which a source in the Presidency claimed was made weeks ago and that of Lt.Col Muhammad Abdullah (rtd) as NDLEA boss in a statement released on January 18th 2016. Both of them are northerners. Take out the ministerial appointments where every state has to produce one as stipulated by our constitution and you would understand my source of worry.

The most notable appointment after the ministers was that of Ibrahim Magu from Borno state as EFCC boss and if you add that to the latest appointments, you would agree with me that the northern party seems destined to last till mama calls. Nothing seems to suggest otherwise.

It was really sad watching the President try to rationalize the sidelining of Ibos in his appointments during his maiden Presidential chat. The President obviously aware he was being questioned about non-ministerial appointments, pointed to Ibe Kachikwu’s as boss of EFCC and Junior minister of petroleum. The President asked if Delta (a state in the South-South region where Kachikwu hails from) wasn’t part of the South-East and after he was corrected, proceeded to talk about restrictions placed on him by the constitution.

The only restriction placed on him by the constitution as regards appointments is the ‘Federal Character’ requirement which is so blatantly being flouted. The ibos are actually being sidelined if one can’t point to a single non-ministerial appointment out of a possible 31.

My biggest fear is that this could set a bad precedent for subsequent administrations.Never has a government since the return of democratic rule to Nigeria, so shamelessly favour a particular set of people over others.

The President needed more deliverance sessions to cast out his autocratic demons before labelling himself a born-again democrat. What we have now is a government by northerners where equity can only be guaranteed when there is no escaping from it.

The implications of the President’s appointments are far-reaching. They add a tinge of legitimacy to the illegitimate call for a Biafra Republic by Kanu and his cohorts-the Ibos are being told they have to play second-class citizens because they didn’t vote this government.

Tompolo and his gang of militants can blow our oil pipelines and installations at will and tell us it is not in protest of the government’s resolve to prosecute him, it is because the government has proclaimed its preference for those who voted for it over those who didn’t.Any of such persons can quote all quotables on the dangers of staying silent in times like these in defence of their criminal acts.

There is little or nothing anyone  can do to defend the President’s pro-northern appointments. The South-West who turned up for him in numbers don’t even boast as many non-ministerial appointments as the South-South. So by and large, a northern party is what it actually is. But I have said this before and I will say it again-Nigeria belongs to everybody, it belongs to nobody.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.


Email:[email protected]