The most critical problem that Nigeria might face in the next four years or more, would not be what President Muhammadu Buhari does or doesn’t do but his veneration by hordes of our compatriots. Stopping short of declaring this man some god, infallible and unable to do a wrong, these men and women are giving a new meaning to democracy.
Of course they are entitled to whatever opinion they choose but trying to force their choice down every other persons throat is the problem that I have. Apart from its draconian taste, shouting down everyone who picks a hole in the president’s actions or inactions neither does the country good nor helps the president. For goodness sakes, Buhari is president to us all, even he said he belongs to nobody and pointing out his missteps is one of the ways we can help him before he strays. I hope we all get this early enough in the day.
Arguments put forward last week by these apologists, justifying appointments made by the president beats me. A President makes six appointments, five come from different zones of the north and only one of the least important for that matter, comes from one of the six zones from the south!
But that is not the whole picture. From a total of 30 appointments (including military and security related ones), so far made by the President, seven have come from two of the three zones in the south with the eastern part of southern Nigeria having no appointment! Yet some people say there is nothing to worry about.
Maybe an argument like: “this is the period of change, so don’t ever let us talk about federal character again” could, as unacceptable as it would be, still make some sense but rationalizations like “it is competence over origin” are as laughable as they are condescending. Do we imply that those who are competent can only be found in one part of the country? Neither is the argument that the appointments are too personal to the president or his mission that only those that he knows too well fit the bill. If the president does not know people outside the zones of the north intimately enough to identify competent people, then we do have a lot to worry about.
We have reasons to worry anyways. Given that the president had served notice that those parts of the country where he got just three percent votes should not expect as much as those who gave him 97%, these appointments should come as no surprise inspite of attempts by his handlers to twist facts about what we heard their man say on tape, President Buhari has gone ahead to live up to his words. So you can bank on the fact that this man will remain unmoved by whatever Nigerians feel once his mind is fixed on anything. And he is lucky to have an army of uncritical people who see his everyday decision as divine. Welcome to a nascent benevolent dictatorship aided by a star stuck citizenry.
Gratefully, Buhari himself sees the lopsidedness of these appointments even if his supporters do not. The statement made by his spokesperson, Mr. Femi Adesina on Friday night shows that the President knows that there has been no “balance” in his appointments so far although the promise to balance it up looks like promising the moon. Buhari is not going to unmake these appointments and he would have no choice than to appoint ministers from every state of the federation as the constitution prescribes, therefore he would not be doing anyone any favours.
And as it concerns appointments into boards of parastatals and corporations, those are too unwieldy for the average Nigerian to monitor. The President may therefore get away with filling these positions with anyone from anywhere.
Maybe those who think competence should take pre-eminence over provenance in appointments are right to hinge all their hope for change on it, but there are two things that we must not forget. The first is that there is no part of Nigeria where you do not find competent and honest people and the second and most important is that the peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians is central to the success of any government in power and that can only happen when every part of the country feels a sense of justice, fairness and equity. Finally, nepotism is itself, a form of corruption, we must be mindful of that!