During President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term administration, he has faced many accusations of tribalism and nepotism with most of them coming after his ministerial and strategic appointments.
In 2018, he got a lot of criticisms from different sectors for replacing Matthew Seiyefa (Bayelsa) with Yusuf Bichi (Kano) as the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS). Some people, like leaders of the Southern and Middle belt region of Nigeria led by Edwin Clark, have claimed that the President was sectional as he had appointed mainly people from the Northern region of Nigeria to head the security apparatus of the nation.
Others questioned why he appointed someone who had retired as its head and wondered how officers of the agency who hail from other regions of the country will be motivated to work if they believe they won’t attain certain positions except they hail from the North.
That’s not a singular event as other key appointments have faced accusations of nepotism. He also faced similar calls when he appointed Zainab Ahmad (Kaduna) as the replacement for Kemi Adeosun (Ogun) resigned from her position as Finance Minister after the NYSC certificate scandal.
Almost all his key appointments have been placed underneath the microscope and carefully analysed. More times than often, he gets accused of favoring Northerners to the detriment of people from the South East and South South region of the country where he got the least number of votes in both the 2015 and 2019 presidential election.
While speaking at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on July 22, 2015, President Buhari reportedly answered a question about inclusiveness by saying that some constituents who gave him 5% of the electoral votes can not expect to get the same treatment with those who gave him 97% of their votes. The mathematics behind this in incorrect but with the many accusations, it appears they may have a point.
Let us start with his first set of appointments. Most of the appointments at the time went to the North with only two advisory roles going to the South – Femi Adesina from the South West, Special Adviser on Media and Senator Ita Enang from Cross River, South South, Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters. The South East did not get any appointment.
Political advisers at the start of his administration predicted that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chief of Staff (COS) positions will go to current Transportation Minister and former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and current Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu (Abia). Both positions eventually went to Babachir Lawal and later Boss Mustapha (both Adamawa) and Abba Kyari (Kastina) respectively.
Next is the Security Chiefs. Like the previous paragraph, most of the positions went to the North and there was no South Eastern appointment. Major General Tukur Buratai (Borno) was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff while Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (Ekiti) got the appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff. Air Vice Marshal Sadiq Abubakar (Bauchi) and Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Cross River) got appointments as the Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Naval Staff respectively.
These, among others, have made the President face accusations that he had abandoned the Federal Character Principle. The Federal Character Principle, for those who don’t know, is provided for in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which states in part, “… that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
The Principle was put in place to make sure every of the three original ethnic groups, and the six geopolitical zones, get a fair share of the appointments.
Up until January 2019, the only arm of government that was not headed by a Northerner was the judicial arm which had Walter Onnoghen (Cross River) as the Chief Justice of Nigeria. This is until Tanko Mohammed (Bauchi) got appointed as the acting CJN.
Some people say have also accused his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan of favouring the South East and so the region should refrain from complaining about the perceived segregation.
To lay this to rest, we have come up with a list of strategic appointments by both Buhari and Jonathan and their zones. Let them speak for themselves.
With the current cabinet set to be dissolved, let’s see how President Buhari’s strategic appointments (and their zones) fare against that of his predecessor, Jonathan:
Buhari’s Strategic Appointments:
Aide de Camp to president: Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Abubakar Lawal, (Kano, North-West. Husband to President Buhari’s foster daughter).
Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity: Garba Shehu, (Kano State, North-West).
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, (Osun State, South-West).
Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris (Kano State, North-West).
National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno (Borno State, North-East).
State Chief of Protocol/Special Assistant, Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, (Jigawa State, North-West).
Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonishakin, (Ekiti State, South-West).
Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buaratai, (Borno State, North-East).
Chief of Naval Staff: Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, (Cross Rivers, South-South).
Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, (Bauchi State, North-East).
Chief of Defence Intelligence: Monday Riku Morgan (Benue State, North-Central).
Director General, State Security Services, SSS: Lawal Daura, (Katsina State, North-West); Replaced with Matthew Seiyefa (Bayelsa, South South); Replaced with Yusuf Bichi (Kano, North West).
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mahmood Yakubu (Bauchi State, North East).
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman Abdulahi (Kaduna State, North-West).
Special Adviser, Niger Delta Amnesty Office, Paul Boroh, (Bayelsa State, South-South).
Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration, Safety and Security Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside (Rivers State, South South).
Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission: Umaru Dambatta (Kano State, North-West).
Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS: Babatunde Fowler, (Lagos State, South-West).
Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Aliyu Gusau, (Zamfara State, North-West).
Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Kacalila Baru ( Bauchi State, North East).
Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal (Adamawa, North East); Replaced with Boss Mustapha (Adamawa, North East).
Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, (Borno, North-East).
Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service: Hameed Ibrahim Ali, (Bauchi State, North East).
Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede (Jigawa State, North East).
Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate): Ita Enang, (Akwa Ibom State, South-South).
Director, Department Of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Modecai Baba Ladan. (Niger, North-Central).
Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau.
Managing Director, Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, Ahmed Lawan Kuru. (Kano, North West).
Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive of the National Insurance Commission, Mohammed Kari (North-West).
Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Muhammadu (Niger, North Central).
Controller General of Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), Ahmed Ja’afaru (Kebbi, North West).
Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele (Delta, South South).
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Hon. Justice W.S. Nkanu Onnoghen (Cross River, South South); Replaced with Tanko Mohammed (Bauchi).
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, (Niger, North Central); Replaced with Mohammed Adamu (Nasarawa, North Central).
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun (Ogun, South West); Replaced with Zainab Ahmad (Kaduna, North West).
Petroleum Minister, Muhammadu Buhari (Kastina, North West).
Minister of Power, Works, Babatunde Fashola (Lagos, South West).
Minister of Interior, Abulrahman Dambazau (Kaduna, North West).
Director General, Pension Commission, Funso Doherty (South West).
Chairman, Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndoma Egba (South South).
Attorney General, Minister of Justice: Abubakar Malami (North West).
Of the forty-one (41) positions analysed above, twenty nine (29) went to President Buhari’s region, the North.
Jonathan’s strategic appointments:
Azubuike Ihejirika, Chief of Army Staff (Abia, South East). Replaced by Kenneth Minimah (Rivers, South South).
Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin to Chief of Defence Staff (South West). Replaced by Rear Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim (Kwara, North Central). Replaced by Alex Badeh (Adamawa, North East).
Rear Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim Chief of Naval Staff (Kwara, North Central). Replaced by Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba (Delta South South). Replaced by Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin (Kogi, North Central).
Mohammed Dikko Umar, Chief of Air Staff (North West). Replaced by late Alex Badeh (North East). Replaced by Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu (South West).
Ita Ekpeyong, Director General, Department of State Security Service (South South).
Adetokumbo Kayode, Minister of Defence (South West). Replaced by Dr. Bello H. Mohammed Defence (Kebbi, North West).
Hafiz Ringim, Inspector General of Police (Jigawa). Replaced by Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar (Zamfara).
Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke- Honourable Minister for Petroleum, Bayelsa (South South).
Habibu Abdullahi, Director General, Nigerian Ports Authority (North West).
Abdullahi Dikko, Director General, Nigerian Customs Service (Katsina, North West).
Comrade Abba Moro- Honourable Minister for Interior (Benue, North Central).
Elder Godsday Orubebe- Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (Delta, South South).
Arc. Mike Onolememen- Honourable Minister for Works (Edo, South South).
Professor Bart Nnaji- Honourable Minister for Power (Enugu South East). Replaced by Prof Chinedu Nebo (Enugu, South East).
Mohammed B. Adoke, SAN. Attorney Gen. of the Federation/Honourable Minister of Justice (North Central).
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Coordinating minister of economy and Minister of Finance (South East).
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, CBN governor (North West). Replaced by Godwin Emefiele (South South).
Anyim Pious Anyim, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (South East).
Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, Director General, Pension Commission (South East).
Andrew Yakubu, Managing Director, NNPC (North West). Replaced by Joseph Dawha (North East).
Patrick Akpabolokemi, Director General, NIMASA (South South).
MR. Jonah Otunla, Accountant General of the Federation (South West).
Mike Oghiadome, Chief of Staff (South South). Replaced by Brigadier-General Jones O. Arogbofa (South West).
Col. Ojogbane Adegbe, Aide De Camp (North Central).
Zakari Ibrahim, Controller General of Prison (North). Replaced by Peter Ekpendu (South East).
Chike Obi Managing Director, Asset Management Company of Nigeria (South East).
George Osahon, Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources, (South West).
Senator Joy Emordi, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (South East).
Bright Okogwu, Director General, Budget Office (South East).
Mr. Kingsley Kuku, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs (South South).
Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairperson, Independent National Electoral Commission (Kebbi, North West).
Col Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser (North West).
Dr Reuben Abati, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity (South West).
Dr. Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs (South West).
Eugene Juwah, Nigerian Communication Commissioner (Delta, South South).
Kabiru Mashi, Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (North East). He was replaced by Samuel Ogungbesan (South West).
Ambassador Olutola J. Onijala, Chief of Protocol (South West). He was replaced by Jameel Abubakar-Waziri (North East).
Mr. David Parradang, Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service (North Central).
Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (South West). He was replaced by Olufemi Ajayi (South West).
Fola Daniel, Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive of the National Insurance Commission (South West).
Dr Ade Abolurin, Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (South West).
Dr. (Mrs.) Christiana Atako, Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Niger Delta Development Commission (South South).
Aloma Muhtar, Chief Justice of Nigeria (Adamawa, North East). He was replaced by Mahmud Mohammed (Taraba, North East).
Of the forty-three (43) appointments made by President Jonathan, twenty-eight (28) were given to people from his Southern region.
The positions listed above show that President Buhari totally sidelined the South Eastern region in his strategic appointments as opposed to President Jonathan who tried to involve all the geopolitical zones.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.