Buhari’s appointments fair so far (1)



SPEAKING personally, I was initially shell shocked at the announcements, which seemed to tip the scales northward, rather than a geographical spread as we are wont to hear, but I must confess, that was a reflexive consuetude.

But on later reflections, I could see certain new patterns and trends from the Presidency. For once, I could notice a unique perspective that of inclusion rather than the habit of federal character without any meaning, rhyme or reason.

The habit over the years, has been to seek out the tripod and then we all recline and claim that justice has been done on the basis of “Federal Character” but then, a hard look especially from the south is to see that those who have always been outside the pale, have been included.

Would a southern president have seen the need to seek out persons from Adamawa, Borno, Kano, Nasarawa, and Niger states who have constantly been in the cusp of constant neglect? They are Nigerians too and should be accorded not just a sense of belonging but also a chance to contribute to the national pool of values, strength and character.

This is a unique step, just as we applauded Obasanjo who for strategic reasons, went to the Middle Belt to pick some service chiefs. But has it occurred to us all of the negative effect of the Federal Character principle, a principle smuggled into the pre-1979 Constitution largely at the instigation of the northern delegates under the guidance of a barely educated but a guile and wise Shehu Shagari during the Constituent Assembly which formulated the 1979 Constitution? That was the beginning of the destruction of excellence and merit in Nigeria. We have been sucked into a value system that is anthetical to national progress.

This has to account for all the negatives that have become the ingredients of that awful word, the Nigerian factor! We are now in a sinkhole, a bunker hole, if we may borrow the language of golfers.

I see in the move of President Muhammadu Buhari, a move to pick persons who can assist him to interpret his vision of accountability. We must accede to the fact that since at the moment we are not yet in the incline of social mobility and the principle of domicile is not yet ingrained, national integration is thus not yet steeped.

Therefore, whoever becomes President cannot but make close confidants, the choices from a close circle. This may narrow down he choices to his/her geographical zone, professional colleagues, religious circles, school classmates and long ethnic bonds.

What to watch out for should be, whether the choice guarantees safety to others, other ethnic nations and whether or not there has been fairness and justice instead of us all bickering unendingly about where the individuals are from? We are all shouting in an uproar and reacting from a historical understanding and proclivity of our tendencies. Perhaps the perspective of analysis has come from the famous “Nigerian syndrome” – the Nigerian factor”, rather than from a critical view that arises from the truer concept of the presidential system.

In the true Presidential practice, the mandate given to the President entails that he or she alone stands to defend the mandate with his/her choice of team members.

He/she stands to be applauded with the excellent outcomes or be blamed for the poor performance and outcomes. The same stands for the governors as well as local government chairmen.

The confusion that has crept in is because of the outcome of a borrowed system and practice. We tend to infect an African communality into the borrowed American System. We are thus stuck for logic, clarity and direction.

We want our brothers, sisters and friends to be in the President’s team so that we too can “chop”. Methinks it is about time, we threw out this syndrome, because we can see and ask – Did all Otta and Otuoke indigenes benefit because their sons were the President of the country? Certainly no!! So what is the hue and cry about a lopsided appointment? Sadly, our blindness and ethnic fury has prevented us from looking at some details of the appointments.

Could we all not notice that a Muslim President sought out a Christian from a minority Adamawa population to be his Secretary to the government? The Nassarawa appointee, for example, is from the Middle Belt, which has over the years been seeking its freedom from the “North”.

And did we all fail to observe that the majority of those chosen were from the minorities in the North? Sadly our countrymen first weigh in on any issue from the prism of ethnic biases and prejudices rather than clear eyed logic and also with a tempered wait – and – see – attitude so that an unfolding scenario can give clarity to events.

I am no Presidential spokesman nor an APC party man in advocating for a calmed response. There would only be a valid ground for shouting and objecting to the appointments when we notice a “pattern”; it is then and only then, can we speak of a hidden, Northern clannish agenda and motive. Until then, we should hold on from baying for blood.

It is only then can we possibly accuse the President of irredentism and fundamentalism. The mandate was clearly to stem the tide of corruption and the hemorrhage on the economy.

We would do best to look, listen and observe how he goes about implementing the mandate. No doubt 169 million Nigerians have their right to their perspectives of how that mandate should be exercised and how the famed “change” should come about.

But he, Muhammadu Buhari is in the saddle and there can only be one way of doing it. So in the next four years, which is not such a long time, let him get on with the tough assignment.

This is why, the “100 days” furore makes me sick. From where did we derive the “100 days” milestone criticism? America. But a hundred days in America is not the same time and space length like ours.

With so much, we hear of outlandish robbery by ex-ministers, ex Presidents, civil servants and ex political advisers, who but God can quick fix Nigeria in 100 days? Let us all get thinking.

We should allow him – slow or fast, to locate persons who would help build the institutions. Only a strong willed man can seek out quality persons who would build the strong institutions we all so require.

And only strong institutions imbued with trusted and highly value and purpose driven persons can enable us to recover an economy that is in disarray – and almost driven to comatose.

As at the time the PDP was on a rat infested ingestion jamboree of the national patrimony at the centre, no one saw the red flags. So now, we can all continue to go silent, but this time – silence, that is productive; giving Muhammadu Buhari time to prove his mettle.

It is a task we have given him. He should get on with it with less distraction but only assisted with constructive criticisms. No doubt, majority seems to forget where we are coming.

From all the sordid revelations that seem to be warranting probes, we forget we are faced with the challenge of leadership; a situational challenge that calls for a paradigm shift.

A shift from making ethnic wide choices of persons to positions of trust, and accountability, firm, resolute and strong leadership which luckily is coming from a man in the saddle with a military and religious influenced background.

I can see a new standard being set; go for only individuals who have proven integrity, zeal and passion for Nigeria and to make a change. •Abolo, a public affairs analyst, writes from Benin City

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