Buhari Cares Less about Federal Character

President Buhari

Ring True 

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

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.

The Failed Target to Revamp Refineries

When this administration came up with its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), I was particularly interested in the target of revamping Nigeria’s four refineries and reducing petroleum product imports by 60 per cent by the end of 2018. Imported petroleum products were gulping the bulk of forex earned by this country; so, I was elated that this madness was going to end with the effective implementation of the ERGP. Unfortunately, this has not happened.

I very much doubt if the managers of the ERGP are appraising their targets. This road map for Nigeria’s economic development is wobbling. The ERGP managers should be benchmarking their targets with achievements. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. I guess I need to remind the Minister of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma and his team that 2018 has ended and that the ERGP has failed in its target of revamping the refineries. The four refineries are as good as dead. Practically all petroleum products consumed in the country are still imported. It is appalling to know that this ludicrous ERGP also aims to make Nigeria a net exporter of refined petroleum products by 2020. All talk no action.

With the way the ERGP is being handled, 2020 will also come and go, and Nigeria will remain a big importer of petroleum products. Nigeria, the 12th largest crude oil producer in the world, is the only member country of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that imports almost all refined petroleum products it consumes. This is a big shame. For now, the two refineries in Port Harcourt, the one in Kaduna and another in Warri, with a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day are shiftless after four years of the ‘change’ government.

Torment of Maiduguri IDPs and Zamfara Killing Field

The hunger, pain and malnutrition in the camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, Borno State, require urgent attention from the federal government and the Borno State Government. These IDPs have lost their homes and property to Boko Haram guerrillas, yet, they are being pummeled daily in these camps with hunger and disease. The hunger here is unimaginable, with many of them without basic needs and sleeping in the open. That was why thousands of IDPs protested on Tuesday in Maiduguri.

Led by women and little children, the IDPs from Kukawa and Guzamala local government areas, took to the streets from Teachers’ Village IDP Camp to Mala Kachala bypass up to Bukumkutu Roundabout. Fatima Ibrahim, an IDP from Kukawa, said she and family had spent almost two hungry months at Teachers Village IDP camp: “We are hungry; our children are seriously hungry. Thirty persons share a bag of rice. We are in need of foodstuffs; please tell them to bring food for us.”

The Teachers’ Village IDP Camp is one big mess, with thousands of IDPs struggling for limited food and facilities. We must not allow these hapless Nigerians to continue wallowing in hunger and pain. My appeal today is to kind-hearted Nigerians to rise up and generously donate food and medication to these IDPs. I know that majority of Nigerians are kind-hearted. We must act urgently to reduce deaths in these camps.

On the flip side, the killings in Zamfara by bandits continued for most of this week unhindered. It is a shame that there were fresh attacks on communities by bandits despite claims by security agents that the bandits had been smoldered out.

On Monday, the bandits stormed Ruwan Bore community in Gusau Local Government, killing the elder sister of a serving Senator, Kabiru Marafa and several others. They attacked the house of the village’s head and killed one of his wives. An eye witness said: “They put the gun in her mouth and blew up her head after which they abducted the village head and one other person and then moved inside the village. This morning, we carried out the burial rites of 13 persons including Ade, the district head’s wife and we were told that the bandits attacked two other villages of Tudun Wadan Mai Jatau and Takoka, where they killed scores.”

One frightening thing about the attacks in Ruwan Bore was that victims were particularly identified before being either killed, kidnapped or maimed.

The next day, the bandits moved to Gwashi in Bukkuyum Local Government Area and killed 11 persons, with several houses set ablaze.

Enough of rhetoric. The federal government and its security agencies must come up with practical measures that will adequately bring the activities of bandits to an end in Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto states.  Hundreds of Nigerians have been sent to early graves by these criminals. It is a shame that this bloodshed is unending.

El-Rufai’s Body Bags

I watched Governor Nasir El-Rufai on television on Thursday, struggling to clarify his threat that foreigners coming to intervene in our election “will go back in body bags.” He said he was only trying to vigorously defend Nigeria’s territory and did not call for violence against foreign countries.

El-Rufai said: “What I said is based on intelligence that is available to us that the opposition is preparing grounds to cause a crisis in Nigeria by inviting foreign participation. They are discussing it. They call it the Venezuelan option. They know that they are likely to lose the elections. They are putting out information that they have. They have issued a poll showing that they would win. They are procuring the sympathy of the international community to issue statements like the three coordinated statements on the suspension of the chief justice and linking that to the elections as if the government or the ruling party has anything to hide regarding elections.

“They are doing all this to prepare grounds to protest and cause crises in Nigeria and advance their so-called Venezuelan option. You all know what is happening in Venezuela. And we are not going to sit and allow unpatriotic Nigerians to confuse and procure the misguided support of countries that are supposed to be our friends without sounding a note of warning to them.”

El-rufai was too clever by half. This man has done an irreparable damage to the image of this country.  He presents himself as a desperate politician. His statement does not require any clarification. El-rufai’s “body bag” statement was unambiguous. I can clearly remember him saying “those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags.”

It is heartwarming that the team of European Union election observers has replied the Kaduna governor fittingly. The EU team said the threat would not deter it from observing the general elections set to hold on February 16 and March 2. It said:  “We are aware of the comments by the Governor of Kaduna about non-interference by foreigners during a talk show on the elections Tuesday 5 February. The EU only deploys an election observation mission when it is invited to do so by the authorities of a country. The EU has been invited to observe all of the general elections in Nigeria since 1999. Thus this is the sixth time the EU is observing elections in Nigeria.”

El-rufai and his cohorts are already pressing the panic button. They fear they may lose the election. This should not lead to reckless statements. These people should stop dragging this country in the mud.