The most recent appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari have been greeted with a tornado of criticisms from several quarters. The Federal Government named Engr. Babachir David Lawal Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, Kure Martins Abeshi, Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service Sentor Ita S. J. Enang and Hon. Suleiman A. Kawu as Special Advisers on National Assembly Matters, Senate and House of Representatives respectively.
The crux of the rejecting voices is the complaint by ethnic groups like Afenifere and Ndigbo that they have been marginalized in the appointments made so far.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) considers the outcry unnecessary. It is a product of negative perceptions and a manifestation of ethnic jingoism. The criticisms cannot be justified by any objective parameter. Worse still, opposition to those appointments cement our fear that Nigeria cannot be called a country any more than a log of woods can be referred to as a ship.
Nigeria is not yet a nation-state. Instead of thinking of the country, most Nigerians think first of their states of origin or even the narrow confines of their clans.
We are baffled that a people who voted for change are not patient enough to allow that change to take place. Ministers, heads and members of parastatals and boards are yet to be announced but we are already passing judgement. Appointments under past regimes were made via political godfathers and on the basis of tribal distribution. But what did we get from that anachronistic and clannish system? Public office holders looted ad infinitum and attempts at checking them were frustrated by their powerful godfathers and ethnic groups who turned the thieves into heroes.
Have Nigerians forgotten so soon? A South-South governor defrauded his state blind, managed to escape justice in Nigeria but Nemesis caught up with him in England. He jumped bail over there, disguised as a woman and arrived Nigeria only to be welcomed by a mammoth crowd in his home state. A top politician in the South-West who was jailed for corruption was met at the prison gates by his ‘aso-ebi’-clad kinsmen who jubilated as if the man had just won an election.
It appears that the goal of each ethnic group is to get political appointment for the smartest rogue in its midst. Nay, we seem to be expecting our sons and daughters to bring loot from Abuja. How can we celebrate kleptomaniacs so shamelessly?
Instead of behaving like brainwashed ethnic zealots, MURIC advocates objective assessment of appointments. What Nigeria needs to change and move forward are men and women of integrity. We need people with robust pedigrees, men and women of impeccable character, only such people can turn this country around.
We all know that Buhari alone cannot take Nigeria to El-Dorado if he is surrounded by thieves and criminals. He needs like-minds to succeed. So what is the uproar about? It was in this country that a graduate of Yoruba language was employed as an engineer in a water corporation. No wonder Nigerians have no access to portable water. How can we continue to put square pegs in round holes and expect good results?
We warn Nigerians not to confuse Mr. President. The East is crying marginalization because an Igbo man is not on the list. Afenifere is mimicking the East even without having the mandate of all sections in Yorubaland. The North is complaining that Buhari picked Christians from the North. Yet it is not as if some have not been represented, their grudge is they want more, like Oliver Twist.
In particular, many appear to be suffering from a chronic anti-North phobia. Nigerians need to be more broadminded. We do not have to live a life that is permanently based on suspicion of one another. Yet come to think of it, it was the North that gave Buhari the decisive millions which turned the table. What becomes of the goose that lays the golden eggs?
Had Buhari’s appointments tilted towards Muslims the noise of Islamisation would have been deafening. Where are those who tried to use religion to divide us? Where are those who claimed that Buhari’s party was an Islamic party and that the man himself was a Muslim fanatic? Nigeria parades too many confusionists, numerous alarmists and uncountable advocates diaboli.
MURIC appeals to Nigerians to change their mindset. Let us focus on credibility instead of ethnicity. Let our target be excellence and not mediocrity. The National Orientation Agency has a lot to do in this direction. Nigerians urgently need a reengineering session. Let us encourage our leaders to pick the right persons for the right job.
In conclusion, we advise the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to enforce its policy of party supremacy in the issue of appointments in order to avoid sacrificing excellence on the altar of mediocrity. This was what brought the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) down. Cluelessness should not be hereditary across political parties.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
E-mail: [email protected]
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/