Less than a week after President Muhammad Buhari appointed Calistus Obi, an Igbo by ethnicity, as acting director general/chief executive of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the president today raised eyebrows when he approved the appointment of Haruna Baba Jauro as the new acting DG of NIMASA. The new appointee, Mr. Jauro, is from the northeastern state of Yobe and an Hausa by ethnicity.
Mr. Buhari’s unexplained removal of Mr. Obi and his appointment of Mr. Jauro has sparked accusations in political circles that the president was unduly filling major posts with individuals from the northern part of Nigeria where he hails from.
Mr. Obi, who lost his less-than weeklong job today, is from Anambra State in southeastern Nigeria. Critics quickly point to the appointment of Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari as acting Chairperson of the Independent Nationation Electoral Commission (INEC) who remained office despite the expiration of her tenure since July 21 2015.
A prominent politician from Anambra State, who asked that his name not be disclosed, told SaharaReporters that he and several other Igbo figures were troubled by President Buhari’s action on the leadership of NIMASA.
“Anybody who knows about maritime issues can tell you that [Calistus] Obi is very knowledgeable,” said the source, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. He added, “Why would Mr. President remove him after just a few days, even though he was appointed in an acting capacity? What was the hurry in firing him? And it is interesting that Alhaji Jauro’s appointment is also in acting capacity.”
Another politician from the southwest zone also questioned today’s presidential appointment. The politician, who belongs to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), told SaharaReporters that there was widespread worry that Mr. Buhari’s appointments so far “have been more than 90% in favor of northerners and Muslims.”
Last week, speaking at the United Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, Mr. Buhari had stated that he should not be expected to treat areas that gave him 97% of their votes the same way as those that gave him only five percent. After realizing the political implications of his reckless statement, the Nigerian president made a belated attempt to correct the faux pas.
A member of President Buhari’s delegation to the US reportedly told several people in Washington, DC that Mr. Buhari seemed to listen only to members of his inner circle, led by former Nigerian Defense Minister, Theophilus Y. Danjuma.