There is a reason for which Muhammadu Buhari was rejected everywhere else except the core sharia Northern states in all previous elections until some opportunistic politicians led by Bola Tinubu seeking a platform to serve their individual interests with the deceptive slogan of change joined the Buhari train. Those reasons are now being vindicated as Buhari characteristically constitutes a federal government of the North. Of the eleven appointments Buhari has made so far ten are Northerners while only one is from the South, in the same vein ten are Muslims while only one is a Christian. The appointments are as follows:
1. Head of transition committee, Ahmed Joda (North)
2. Director, department of petroleum resources Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan (North)
3. Accountant-General of the federation, Alhaji Ahmed idris, (North)
4. Director-General state Security Services, Lawal Daura, (North)
5. Acting Chairman, INEC, Mrs Amina Bala Zakari, (North)
6. Chief of protocol, Mallam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure (North)
7. Aide De Camp, Lt-Col. Muhammed Lawal Abubakar, (North)
8. Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu (North)
9. Chief Security officer, Bashir Abubakar; (North)
10. Chief Of Staff, Hamid Ali (North)
11. Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina (South)
As optimistic as I have tried to be, once Buhari picked an 85 year old Ahmed Joda to head the equally lopsided transition committee, I instinctively knew we were headed for a creeping “Northernisation” of Nigeria or the constitution of the federal government of the North which this list that stinks with tribalism, sectionalism and religious bigotry represents. That Buhari could so soon in his so called change government demonstrate this level of insensitivity and disregard for Nigeria’s diversity only goes to show how incurably bigoted he is. For all intents and purposes Buhari has vindicated those who rejected him in the past and the more discerning who in spite of the change propaganda again rejected him in this election cycle. A Leopard has never been known to change its spots and Buhari’s haste to constitute a government of the North and return Nigeria to the infamous “born to rule status quo” should not come as a surprise. I was one of those who in several articles warned that this would happen. Buhari’s antecedents all point to sectionalism, religious fundamentalism and bigotry.
In his first coming as a military head of state he famously disregarded Nigeria’s diversity when he constituted a government whence he and his deputy were both from the North and both were likewise Muslims. That was the first time such blatant disregard for Nigeria’s diversity was demonstrated. Indeed, even Nigeria’s first military head of state, General Aguiyi Ironsi had the common sense to at least pick his deputy, Yakubu Gowon from the North. As chairman of the petroleum trust fund (PTF) under General Abacha, Buhari executed over 70% of his projects in the North. It is also not a secret that Buhari supported the agitation for sharia, an unconstitutional act that disregarded the rights of Nigerian christians and caused thousands of deaths in the sharia riots that ensued. He was much later to make divisive statements imploring muslims not to vote for none muslims.
Of little note is the fact that Buhari’s entry into politics in 2003 was at the instance of the North, in his quest to return power to the North after they felt the then president Obasanjo did not protect their interests and by his bid for a second term was violating the one term agreement they dictated to him. After sharia riots and impeachment threats failed to remove Obasanjo from power they recruited Buhari. Thus the very reason Buhari entered politics in the first place was an agenda entirely based on reclaiming power for the North and re-establishing the born to rule system. These and many others informed the reasons why Buhari was always rejected outside the core North until Bola Tinubu and other selfish opportunists calculated the possibility of using Buhari as a vehicle to achieve their own desire for power. To do this, they had to embark on the most elaborate deception in Nigeria’s political history. First, aware that Buhari’s character and persona has and remains a problem for reasons of his proven sectionalism and bigotry, they went into overdrive to make him acceptable to the generality of Nigerians. Those efforts suddenly saw Buhari appearing in pictures with the traditional attires of various ethnic groups. He uncharacteristically appeared in suits hi-fiving a young lad. His wife and family that were once hidden from the public in typical Taliban style also appeared in photo ops.
They even sold the lie that one of his daughters was married to a christian from Anambra state and for the second time he had to pick a pastor as running mate all in the desperation to remove the chain of Islamic fundamentalism and bigotry hanging on his neck. No presidential candidate in Nigeria’s history has had the need to devote so much time and investment trying to be humanised as much as Buhari. Secondly they came up with the deceptive slogan of change, the idea being that a change government under Buhari will move Nigeria away from tribalism/ sectionalism, insecurity, unemployment, corruption and poverty into a glorious new dawn of ethnic harmony, security, good governance, full employment and prosperity for all. They promised to publicly declare their assets and to hit the ground running with every urgency. While much of the campaigning, noise and threats was being made by Buhari’s handlers, he played along, his ultimate desire being to capture power and then unfold his true colours. Alas, there is a truism that you can dress up a monkey with clothes but at heart it remains a monkey. Buhari eventually won power, but with his appointments so far it is now obvious that Buhari like the monkey was only dressed up in clothes, but he remained essentially a monkey at heart. In effect, Buhari’s image makers successfully clothed him with a new dress of cosmopolitanism but in his heart he remained a rabid sectional bigot and that is what is now at play.
Simple common sense would suggest that even in a homogenous environment appointments as much as possible are made to reflect geographical spread for purposes of justice, equality and nation building. States are microcosms of Nigeria and as I went through the list of commissioners and principal officers of the Delta state governor’s cabinet I noted the extent to which it reflected the state’s diversity such that very few people from the governor’s area are in his cabinet. In all the Eastern states which is largely a homogenous environment, state cabinets always reflect geographical spread and all the newly elected governors emerged from the principle of zoning among the three senatorial zones. If homogenous states can respect geographical spread in their cabinets and use the principal of zoning to produce governors how much more a diverse nation like Nigeria. Barack Obama being the first African American president did not flood his cabinet with African Americans, only three African Americans have served in his government and only one, the former attorney general Eric Holder headed a cabinet at ministerial level. That Buhari who came to power on a platform of change can resort to such banal sectionalism and tribalism at a time when Nigeria desperately needs nation building to steer it away from the dangerous tribal and religious divisions that is steadily tearing away at its false cloak of unity only goes to show how extreme his bigotry is.
Without doubt tribalism and or sectionalism just as much as corruption represents the greatest existential threat Nigeria is confronted with. Tribalism/nationalism is the greatest factor behind the disintegration of most dismembered nations and in Nigeria it has led us to a civil war in which Nigeria escaped break-up by whiskers. It remains an increasingly portent force that will if not checked inevitably lead to Nigeria’s demise sooner or later. I know people who fast and pray for Nigeria’s break-up on a daily basis, just as radio Biafra is busy ramping up divisive messages, benefitting in doing so from Buhari’s sectional appointments and just as Boko Haram remains on the onslaught against infidels in the desire to create an Islamic state, all as a result of Nigeria’s contradictions and a longstanding lack of nation building. Any leader with common sense would invest in nation building more than anything else particularly in these trying times. Buhari does not need a ministry of common sense to tell him what to do. He must realise that this is a democracy in which he received 15 million votes which represents just 8 percent of Nigeria’s estimated 170 million people. His opponent Goodluck Jonathan received 12.5 million votes representing 7 percent and a difference of only 2.5 million votes between them. The remaining 155 million Nigerians representing 85 percent did not vote at all. In a democracy Buhari has to govern not only the 15 million or 8 percent of Nigerians who voted for him but also the 12.5 million who voted for Jonathan and the 155 million Nigerians or 85 percent representing the vast majority who did not vote at all.
As things stand today, it seems Buhari is governing only for a section of Nigerians from the North who voted for him. Indeed a friend of mine the other day suggested one of the reasons Buhari has not named ministers is because the constitution specifically requires that all states must produce a minister and since Buhari true to type, would prefer 99% of his ministers to be from the North and the constitution makes it impossible for him to do so he chose to govern as long as possible without ministers. This is clearly the height of bigotry and a vindication of those who repeatedly warned of this possibility and rejected him at the polls. Both the Bible and the Koran makes it clear that any nation without justice/equality and where the citizens are divided against themselves cannot stand. Buhari as an individual embodies this fundamental fault line that is making it impossible for the nation to stand. What Nigeria needs is nation building and not sectionalism. If Buhari continues in this ignoble direction his government will be the final undoing of this blighted country.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Wednesday, 8 July 2015