Lopsided Federal Appointments: Igbo Domination in Govt Worries Ijaw, Yoruba

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Aug. 2, 2013

Tayo Babarinde , Tribune

Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, has come under criticisms for allegedly presenting false and incomplete data of federal appointments in an attempt to hide alleged Igbo increasing domination of strategic sectors of the administration.

Already, leaders from Yoruba and Ijaw areas are said to be complaining about alleged Igbo domination of the Jonathan government, with a top Ijaw leader confiding that the data coming out confirm the rumour that the Igbos are the one actually running the nation under President Jonathan.

“The data attempted to cover up the facts of Igbo advantage in key juicy federal appointments. Just look at the military, aviation, the finance sector and the administrative heart of government” an official of Ijaw National Congress hinted in confidence.

Yoruba leaders, under the aegis of Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) led by Chief H.I.D. Awolowo had, through Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi in Ibadan, early in the year presented a fact sheet entitled “Partial documentation of evidence of Yoruba marginalisation in President Jonathan’s administration” which was to prove that the Yoruba had been excluded from apex political seats, control of principal economic and financial agencies, control of the judiciary, anti-corruption, educational and management agencies, security services and so on.

Former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, said there is “no Yoruba in the current list of 12 topmost positions that constitute the apex of the political power hierarchy in the country and that Yoruba in the service are being constantly subjected to humiliating sacks and postings because they have no one at the top of the hierarchy to plead their cause.”

The forum noted that in the 36 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) identified, which substantially control the economic and financial direction of the country, only three, that is eight per cent, are headed by Yoruba. “There was a fourth Yoruba person heading one of the agencies until last November, when she (Dr. Bola Onagoruwa) was ceremoniously dismissed as the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

The fact sheet also notes that of the 11 officers who control the judiciary and the anti-corruption agencies, there is no Yoruba person on the list; of the 17 educational management positions, only two are occupied by Yoruba; of the 10 widely-recognised positions dealing with National Security, only one is occupied by the “marginalised group”.

President Jonathan was said to have directed SGF Anyim to look into the grievances by compiling data on existing and outstanding appointments. Consequently, the SGF, during the mid-term review, presented what he called comprehensive data of federal appointments on state basis with a conclusion that imbalance in federal appointments had been corrected.

According to the table presented by the SGF, out of the 550 top federal appointees, Delta emerged tops with 27 slots, followed by Kogi with 26 slots. Other leading states which have 20 slots and above are: Adamawa (20), Anambra (25), Edo (23), Imo (20), Kaduna (21), Kano (20), Katsina (21) and Kwara (22). The rest are Ogun (22), and Osun (24).

Coming from the rear with federal appointments below 10 are: Ebonyi (6), FCT (4), Jigawa (9), Lagos (8), Sokoto (7), Taraba (6), Yobe (9) and Zamfara (5).Other states such as Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa and Niger have between 11 and 19 slots.

The data supplied by the SGF also noted that while Abia has 16, Akwa Ibom has 12, Bauchi (14), Bayelsa (17), Benue (19), Borno (14), Cross River (11), Ekiti (10), Enugu (13), Gombe (13), Kebbi (14), Nasarawa (10), and Niger (11). On its part, Ondo has 14 slots, Oyo (10), Plateau (12) and Rivers (16).

Anyim had declared that “confidence is building in each geopolitical zone, that adherence to the Federal Character principle guarantees a sense of belonging; zones that had felt marginalised in the past now have a greater sense of belonging; and there is awareness that governments can be held accountable if they subvert the principle.” This assertion is now widely disputed with analysts alleging that Anyim misrepresented the true state of federal appointments across the six zones.

Ever since the publication of the data, the SGF has been challenged for the non-inclusion of critical appointments, including his own office which is said to be at the heart of the federal administration. The data also excluded the office of the coordinating minister for the economy held by an Igbo woman from Delta as well as other influential offices within the presidency.

Regional associations are reported to be angry that the SGF, instead of presenting the imbalance and presenting an adjustment programme, used his political aides to present an allegedly false data on federal appointments across the zones.

While leaders from South-West, North-East and even South-South are grumbling about alleged falsehood in the Anyim data, one of the best permanent secretaries ever produced by Nigeria, Dr Goke Adegoroye, who is now chairman, Governance and Sustainable Development Initiatives (GSDI) Limited, was to later undertake a content analysis of the SGF data. Adegoroye, who has since retired from the federal service, was also unequivocal in his conclusion that the data from the SGF were a misrepresentation of true state of federal appointments according to the zones.

In a detailed study said to be in possession of many leaders within the Presidency, Adegoroye listed the many flaws in the Anyim data. First queried was the data’s integrity examination result, which, he said, called to question the integrity of the data assembling procedure on the following grounds, namely:

.“Duplication and wrong listing of appointees: For a start, the total number of appointees involved in the SGF analysis was not 551 but 545, as four appointees, namely: Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Alhaji Yusuf Usman Abdallah (Kano); Executive Secretary, Nigeria Press Council, Mr. Adebayo Atoyebi (Kwara); Conservator General of the National Parks, Alhaji Abubakar H. Tanko (Niger), and Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Gusau, Dr. Kabir M. Anka (Zamfara), had their names and designations repeated. Also, Professor Chinedu Nebo from Enugu State, already appointed Minister of Power, was still listed as Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti. Rivers State, which the Summary indicates as having 16 political appointees, instead has 15.

•“Lumping of career-based appointments with political appointments: Career-based appointments were freely lumped with political appointments.

•“Heads of departments within an agency were listed and accorded the same status as their chief executive officers (CEOs], attributable “to either a lack of understanding or a wrong interpretation of the nomenclature executive director (ED) in the compilation of the data.

•“Grave omission of certain agencies: For the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), what was listed were only the Group Managing Director and the Governor, respectively. None of the six Group Executive Directors of the NNPC or the four Deputy Governors of the CBN was listed. The subsidiary companies of the NNPC were also missing.

•“Non-regard for the weight of appointment: The weight of responsibility and, of course, the power and influence of an appointive position were not taken into consideration. By way of example, the CBN Governor and the Executive Director (Services) of the Benin-Owena River Basin Authority were taken as individual and equal appointments!

• “Non-inclusion of ministerial/adviser appointments and appointments arising from electoral processes: Appointments into ministerial/SGF/HCSF/special adviser positions and the politically shared principal offices positions in the National Assembly (President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Deputy President of the Senate, Deputy Speaker, Senate Leader and House Leader) were not taken into consideration”, the retired permanent secretary noted.
Dr Adegoroye later dissected the full national data on federal appointments and attributed weight to each of the offices as follows:

• “President (100), Vice-President (50 – direct line of succession), Senate President (45 – in line of succession but with a less than 50 per cent probability), Speaker of House of Reps (40), Chief Justice of Nigeria (40), Deputy Senate President (35), Deputy Speaker, House of Reps (30), Senate Leader (25), House Leader (20), executive chairmen of autonomous bodies, including CBN Governor (20), national commissioners/members of autonomous bodies (five), and resident commissioner (five), SGF, COS-P (30).

• “Minister, HCSF (20), HMS (18 – irrespective of how “lucrative” or otherwise their deployment), permanent secretary (15 – irrespective of whether their deployment is “lucrative” or otherwise, special adviser, Deputy Governor, CBN, Group Executive Director NNPC (10), CEO of grade ‘A’ corporation/agency (15 – including special advisers and senior special assistants holding executive positions, some of who are in attendance at FEC Meetings), CEO of grade ‘B’ agency (10), and CEO of grade ‘C’ agency (seven).

• “VC of federal university (seven), executive director under a CEO of a grade ‘A’ or ‘B’ agency (two), rector or provost of polytechnic, college of education (three), CMD of teaching hospital (three), and medical director of federal medical centre (two).
The result of the analysis was, however, quite different from the data presented by the SGF. According to Dr Adegoroye, states with the highest number of career-based appointees which have no political colouration are: Katsina (12), Osun (12), Edo (11), Ogun (11), Kogi (10) and Kwara (10), Anambra (eight), and Benue (eight) while states with the least number of career-based appointments are: Zamfara (one), Oyo (one), Nasarawa (one), Sokoto (two), Niger (two), Jigawa (two), Ebonyi (two), Taraba (three) and Lagos (three).

Adegoroye posited that, “when the career-based appointees were removed from the SGF data, the leading states with non-career-based appointees are: Delta (17), Anambra (17), Kogi (16), Kaduna (15), Imo (14) and Kano (14) while the least favoured states are: Zamfara (three), Taraba (three), Yobe (four), Lagos (four), Ekiti (four), Ebonyi (four), Cross River (four), Sokoto (five) and Plateau (five).

“When all the political appointments at the ministerial, bureaucratic and legislative levels were added to the SGF data, the leading states in terms of total appointments are: Anambra (35), Delta (34), Kaduna (29), Kogi (28), Kwara (28), Ogun (27), Osun (27), Edo (26), Adamawa (26), Imo (24), Katsina (24) and Bayelsa (24), while states with the least number of total appointments are: Zamfara (seven), Taraba (seven), Lagos (nine), Ebonyi (nine), Yobe (11), and Sokoto (11)”.

Interpreting the data further, the former permanent secretary posited that “in terms of effective total appointments, a measure of the weight of political appointments – per million populations, the figures were: South-South (52), South-East (52), North-Central (47), North-East (36), South-West (28) and North-West (28).”

The report concluded with some hard knocks for the Office of the SGF. According to the conclusions, “the data and the entire section on Federal Character under which it was published (on pages 15-19 of the Executive Summary) are nowhere to be found in the main volume of the Mid-Term Report”, asking who put the data together and what was their agenda?

“Stories going round the service indicate that the bureaucrats in the department with mandate for this kind of issue within the Office of the SGF, were not in the picture and accusing fingers are being pointed at the political aides in that office”.

While not blaming the SGF directly, the report pointed the finger at political aides around the SGF, asserting that “political office holders would not be helping the situation if the statutory responsibilities of career public servants are regularly and brazenly given out as contracts or assigned to short-timers masquerading as special assistants.”

In a subtle reference to domination of the SGF office by operatives from the South-East, the report warned that outsourcing of critical assignments to political aides is counterproductive for national interest.

Since the publication of the reports about two weeks ago, the SGF has not officially responded to the allegations and flaws in the report directed at his office. When one of our reporters also contacted the SGF office, there was no response to the enquiry.

Checks within the administration showed that the issue of false or wrong interpretation of data has been brought to the attention of the president by some concerned Ijaw leaders.

According to report, though the facts of Igbo dominance of key sector of the administration are not news the attempts to cover up the facts are what have been worrying some key aides of the President.

According to an insider, “that reality is known to us all and we know this is because there is a strategic alliance between the president and the Igbo. But we should not lie about the facts.”

It is, however, not clear whether the SGF will soon withdraw the wrong data from circulation and constitute a team that will prepare a fresh analysis on federal appointments across the zones