Pres. Muhammadu Buhari

The Southern Nigeria People’s Assembly (that assembly of Nigerians purporting to represent the interests of Southerners) have now reawakened and interjected themselves into the affairs of Nigeria once again. Their criticisms of the present Buhari government  has been twofold. The first is to attempt to dictate to the current administration how the war against corruption should be fought. Second, Emmanuel Gbonigi (a member of this group), has complained about the Northern domination of the heads of the Judiciary, the National Assembly (Senate President and Speaker), and the Executive. How true, accurate or reasonable are these propositions and what moral right does this assembly have to put forward such a position?

Let’s address the Northern domination of the Executive, Judiciary and the National Assembly first. We are aware that the overwhelming number of Nigerians resident in Nigeria voted to be ruled by Muhammadu Buhari instead of the incompetent and corrupt  former southern president Goodluck Jonathan. The Northern control of the executive is therefore a product of the will of most Nigerians (North and South).

The head of the Judiciary was appointed by the former Southern President on the recommendation of the Nigerian Judicial council. The present government had no input or control over that process. It was facilitated by a Southern president.

The heads of the National assembly was effected by the decisive support and vote of all PDP senators / House of Representatives members (which are predominately from the mid-west, south-east and the minority parts of the far south of Nigeria) and a minority of members from the Northern dominated APC. The APC establishment wanted a North-Eastern Senate President and a South-Western Speaker of the House. A balance of sorts I would say. The Mr Gbonigi (a rather confused “elder statesman” that neither knows what Yoruba interests are and which organization is best placed to advance it) membership of what has always been an organization that advances the interests of the South-East and the Ijaw parts of the far south has always been a big puzzle to me. This organization has never advocated positions that are in the wider interests of the south-west, mid-west or minority parts of the far south (less the Ijaw areas).

On the issue of corruption, the position of these “elder statesmen” is akin to a criminal who is about to be prosecuted for a recent rape insisting that the police act equitably and first investigate and prosecute all unsolved rapes that have occurred 15 years previously before investigating and prosecuting his recent rape offense.  A bizarre position indeed. 

The real object of these dubious set of individuals is to get the current administration bogged down in investigations into crimes distant in time and therefore more difficult to obtain subsisting documentary evidence.  Where oral evidence is obtained, this could be less cogent due to the effluxion of time and the reduced weight one will place on the accuracy of the memory of a given witness.

President Buhari should rightly focus on the most recent cases and ensure the evidence is duly followed to its natural and logical end. His was a mandate to stop the perceived corruption of his predecessor. The voters gave him that mandate. The NW, NE, NC and SW remains resolute on that issue. It behoves President Buhari to continue his fight and ignore the cat calls.

The Southern Nigeria peoples Assembly (a vociferous supporter of ex-President Jonathan and the PDP) can campaign in 2019 for the PDP and for a more widespread corruption fight dating back as far as 1914 if it so wishes. If most Nigerians agree and cast their vote in that regard then the floor is theirs at that point. At this point in time, the Buhari government must not be distracted by this group of PDP apologists.

On the issue of bias in appointments thus far, this assembly is the last place any such dissent should emanate from. During the oft supported government of ex-President Jonathan, we were well aware of how almost all appointments into the financial regulatory space was entirely dominated by people of one ethnic group. We had the bizarre situation where the coordinating Minister of the Economy, Minister of Finance, DG of the budget office, DG of PENCOM, DG of RFMAC, DG of the SEC, CEO of the NSE, DG of AMCON, head of the Sovereign wealth fund and head of the CBN came from one ethnic group. When one adds the nominated (but rejected) nominee for FIRS, the financial regulatory space of Nigeria was dominated by people from the most eastern part of the south. There was never a time in which this organization raised any concern on this development. Other than the finance minister and head of the NSE (that had germane experience), non of the other holders of these positions had the relevant work experience needed to hold these roles. This so-called “Southern” Nigeria Peoples Assembly at no point raised any concerns on this issue. Digging deeper, this organization was nowhere to be found when complaints of ethnic cleansing and ethnic bias by Okonjo-Iweala, Ihejirika, Stella Odua, Rose Uzoma and Pius Anyim at various points of the last 5 years became major issues in the Nigeria political space. In many respects, Northerners and Southerners (including south-westerners, mid-westerners and non Ijaw members of the far south) were the target of these actions.

This organization never has and never will represent the interests of south-western, mid-western and the non-Ijaw parts of the far southern peoples. As we speak, the environmental degradation of Ogoni land (long ignored by President Jonathan and without any public pressure from this “Southern” Nigeria Peoples Assembly) has now received the much needed attention of this president and the clean up will now commence.

Granted, President Buhari does need to be constructively criticized. This is to his benefit and the benefit of the wider country. I, myself, have written some articles to that effect over the last 2 months. However, since then, his appointments have been more balanced in so far as North and South balance is concerned. What should be noted though, is the Constitution does not recognize geo-political zones. It recognizes states and ethnicity. There are 36 states and over 450 ethnic groups in Nigeria. Buhari has not made up to 30 appointments yet. What we do know, is that the subtly agenda of this group is to subvert the anti-corruption agenda of this administration by trying to appeal to base tribalism and not to ensure that Buhari stays within the law.

In a democracy, the policy of the winning party should be implemented as opposed to the policy of the defeated party.  The decisions of the national conference and the attempt at imposing pre-conditions on Buhari’s corruption fight (both aims of this shadowy organization) must be completely ignored.  They represent the policy position of the defeated PDP. Buhari’s mandate has been loudly given and should be given expression in the most practical way conceived by this Administration. It should rightly focus its’ attention on the more recent corruption acts of the Jonathan administration.

Dele Awogbeoba

[email protected]

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