Southern leaders fault Buhari on anti-graft war, appointments
• Mimiko, Afenifere seek sack of INEC’s acting chairman • Presidency responds, urges ‘support for change process
SOUTHERN political leaders under the aegis of Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) have criticised President Muhammadu Buhari over what they described as selective appointments and war against corruption.
The leaders, drawn from all the three geo-political zones in the southern part of the country in a meeting in Akure yesterday, frowned at what they called politicisation of the war against corruption by the Federal Government.
They also flayed President Buhari for what they termed ‘lopsided appointments’ and advised him to intensify the war against insurgency in the North-East geo-political zone of the country as a matter of priority.
But the Presidency, last night, faulted the leaders’ position, saying the conclusions are by no means original.
According to a statement from Mr. Femi Adesina, the special adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), “they are rehash of the same hackneyed phrases used by those in the opposition to government.
“The time used at the meeting would have been better spent if original ideas had been put forward to advance the change process going on in the country. But…it’s only those who live in denial of it that would be marooned in the past. The Buhari administration will not be distracted. Discerning Nigerians know the truth.”
Chairman of SNPA, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, who is also the leader of South-West delegates, said that the fight against corruption by Buhari’s administration is partial to the chagrin of Nigerians, urging him to do everything to reverse the trend.
However, he commended him for setting up the Prof. Itse Sagay-led presidential advisory panel on anti-corruption, appealing to him to be total and non-selective in the fight against corruption, saying justice and the rule of law must reign supreme if the fight against corruption must be won.
While commenting on the selective appointment, the octogenarian stated: “Elections are over and President Buhari is President over Nigeria and Nigerians. No section of the country should be over-patronised at the expense of others. It is our sincere hope that the lopsidedness in the appointments made by the President to date is not an indication of the trend of future appointments.”
Another chieftain of the group from the South-South geo-political zone and an Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, in his remark reiterated that the principle of equity, fairness and justice must be put into use in future appointments by the Federal Government unlike what is applicable now.
Clark, who openly declared that at 89 years he is no longer a member of any political party, said: “It is my strong, irrevocable view that the fundamental statedirective principles and federal character shall not only be respected but must be seen to be adhered to by government for the overall interest and good of all Nigerians.”
He said that the war on corruption must not be selective, limited to perceived political enemies or to score cheap political point but must be diametrical and driven to salvage the country from disrepute and shame.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko and the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, also implored President Buhari to immediately sack the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. Amina Zakari.
Mimiko, who spoke yesterday at the South Nigeria People’s Assembly, noted that the appointment of Zakari as the INEC boss violated existing arrangement of past administrations, which ensured the position did not come from the same zone with the President.
The governor said the appointment of the acting Chairman does not only contravene the 1999 constitution but noted that if not reversed, could also truncate the spirit of free and fair election as inherited by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Also in the same vein, the spokesperson of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, after the monthly meeting of the group at the residence of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, passed a resolution that the trend is dangerous to the country’s democracy.
According to Odumakin: “The appointment of the acting chairman is known to be controversial. The President is urged to form full-fledged government by appointing his ministers as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.”
Nevertheless, the Yoruba socio-cultural group has declared unalloyed support for the President in his anti-corruption war, saying the hydra-headed monster must be drastically reduced to the barest minimum in the country.