Fredrick Faseun, the founder of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), has accused the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of overtly showing a preference for the northern part of the country over other sections, thereby sparking separatist agitations in the country.
The OPC founder made the allegation at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday.
According to Mr. Faseun, the Buhari administration’s bias in favor of the North has further created divisions in the country. He warned President Buhari to refrain from further creating an environment that will encourage the festering of divisive tendencies.
Mr. Faseun instantiated his allegations with the pattern of appointments made by the President since he took over power in 2015.
“When he first took power in 2015 and began his initial appointments, President Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated unbelievable insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity, unity and Constitution by unfolding a list of appointees clearly dominated and monopolized by his Northern kinsmen to the alienation and disadvantage of other regions, especially the South-East,” the OPC leader said.
He observed that of the six security service chiefs President Buhari has appointed, the North produced four appointees, while the South produced two. He especially noted that the South-East produced none.
The President, added Mr. Faseun, continued the lopsided pattern.
“By July 2016, President Buhari had appointed 47 southerners and 75 northerners into various non-ministerial public offices. Again, the South-East brought up the rear with 12 appointees, where Buhari’s North-West had the largest chunk with 34 of political office holders,” observed the OPC founder.
He also identified appointments into the nation’s security institutions as examples of President Buhari’s naked bias. In these institutions, Mr. Faseun said, the North holds the leadership positions of the National Security Adviser, Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Defence Intelligence, Director-General, State Security Services and Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service. Other positions locked down by the North, he pointed out, are the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service and the Chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Very recently, he added, the President continued with his northern supremacist tendencies with the announcement of directors for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Mr. Faseun called on the President to immediately cancel the new NNPC appointments.
“Out of the 15 new directors, 10 (67 percent) come from the mostly Hausa-Fulani North, three are Yoruba, two come from the South-South and none from the South-East. President Buhari must urgently review these appointments to reflect Federal Character, failing which the Senate should bar the appointees from resuming in office,” he said.
He also said secret appointments into federal parastatals like the NNPC, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Department of State Security (DSS) arms like the DSS and EFCC have followed the same pattern.
“By making these Northern-dominated appointments, President Buhari has contradicted the letter and spirit of the Constitution he swore to uphold, specifically the Federal Character principle in Section 14(3). The President must realize that favoring the North with his lopsided appointments is an act of impunity, and it has sparked the raging agitations for disintegration, ethnic separatism and restructuring,” stated the OPC founder.
He warned that a continuation of the trend will make the nation’s political temperature rise alarmingly.
He further warned that the agitations for Biafra began and became heightened with the President’s blunt refusal run an equitable government.
“Some of his declarations, perhaps made innocently, have inadvertently only succeeded in dividing the nation, paving the way for unbelievers to keep agitating for the irreducible minimums like restructuring, true federalism and devolution of powers,” observed Mr. Faseun.
According to him, the kind of impunity so far demonstrated by the President is the precursor to corruption, which the government claimed to have been fighting since coming to power.
He reasoned that what the government’s method of fighting graft is at variance with obtains in other countries.
“Good leaders in other lands will say to their people what they mean and are not apologetic when challenged on their speeches because they mean what they say and say what they mean. President Buhari has said some things, some of them electoral promises, that he has since reneged on, and some things he said have left Nigerians more divided and further overheated the polity,” he alleged.
He urged the President to remember that despite his divisive orientation, every Nigerian prayed for him to get well and return to the country from his medical vacation in London. Rather than reciprocate the collective love shown by Nigerians, Mr. Faseun said the President has continued to treat the citizens like filth, showing preference for one ethnic nationality over the others and thereby causing instability in the land.
The OPC founder warned the President to learn from his predecessors by ensuring the country’s 18-year old democratic experiment to endure.
He observed that unlike President Buhari, who is favoring his own section of the country, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan eschewed primordial sentiments and were equitable in their handling of national affairs. For this, he said, both former leaders were criticized by their respective sections of the country.
“This is why, up till today, the Yoruba blame former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Niger-Delta vilify former President Goodluck Jonathan as failing to concentrate developments in their native zones. For these Buhari predecessors, it was the nation first. Conversely, today, we have a President whose body language, attitude, utterances, programs and policies are skewed against ethnic groups that are not from his native North,” Mr. Faseun said.
He observed that the President’s conduct has continued to bother people, including Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, who have expressed fears that the nation’s survival is more threatened under the current administration than at any other time in history.
This, he said, is hardly a surprise because the President is operating on a premise he enunciated at the US Institute of Peace, where he said: “I hope you have a copy of the election results. The constituents, for example, who gave me 97% [of the vote] cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think this is a political reality.... The constituencies that by their sheer hard work they made sure that they got their people to vote and ensure that their votes count, they must feel that the government has appreciated the effort they put in putting the government in place.”
Mr. Faseun also rejected the announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics that the country’s economy has exited recession, saying he does not know the basis for this pronouncement.
He warned that cosmetic economic statistics will not put food on the table.
“The harsh reality is that Nigerians are suffering and government must put machinery in place to tackle spiraling inflation, especially in food prices, pump price of fuel, cost of funds for industries as well as the beleaguered value of the naira,” he said.
He equally demanded that that the country be restructured along the the lines of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
Mr. Faseun used the opportunity to thank Niger Delta militants for their decision to withdraw the eviction notice issued to Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba citizens living in their region, following a similar gesture by Hausa-Fulani youth groups.
“OPC’s stance has always been that all ethnic nationalities should give Nigeria a chance to survive; this country is not an accident and Nigerians take pride in belonging to a big, strong and united nation,” he advised.