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Yar'adua's appointments: Northernization of government or political mischief

June 10, 2009

Nigerian President, Umaru Yar’Adua obviously may not have been as blank as the opposition wants Nigerians to believe. As least the man has shown that he is capable of doing one or two things especially towards mischief and some smart moves to keep him politically alive.

Facts behind the recent disclosure in the media of how President Yar’Adua blatantly disregarded whatever arrangement was left in the federal character principles of appointments into the cabinet clearly shows an obvious mischief.

By all interpretations, such brazen abuse of the Constitution by the President has nothing to do with any northern agenda but a deliberate move by Yar’Adua to pitch the north against their southern brothers, create bad blood and then try to woo the sympathy of the disgruntled people of the north for his second term bid. This is just the game plan.

It is surprising that the President who has been trumpeting constitutionality and the rule of law mantra could brazenly subvert without an iota of guilt the very Constitution he implored Nigerians to abide by. Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution clearly affirmed that appointments from the same state and ethnic group in a particular federal agency are a breach of the law of the land.

How can the President explain these facts that notable ministries in the Federal Service including Petroleum Resources, Justice, Agriculture, Water Resources, Finance, Works and Housing, National Planning, Federal Capital Territory, Defense, amongst others are in the hands of the north.

The Minister of Agriculture Alhaji Abba Ruma is from Katsina state. The Minister of Federal Capital territory (FCT) Adamu Aliero is from Kebbi state.

President Yar’Adua would have been bothered that Nigerians must ask questions or rather protest as he made the following appointments: The Finance Minister, Dr Mansur Mukhtar, Kano; Minister for National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman, Kano; National Security Adviser, Major Gen- Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar (rtd.), Kano; Chief of Army Staff, Gen Dambazau, Kano; Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of Central Bank also hails from Kano. Haba!

Interestingly, the management of Nigeria’s treasury seems to have been finally zoned to the north. The Cabinet has a northerner from Kano state, Dr Mansur Mukhtar, as the Minister of Finance; the Minister of National Planning, Dr Shamsudeen Usman is also from Kano state. The Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Alhaji Taminu Yakubu is from Katsina. Considering that the new Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), hails from Kano state, the Minister of Finance, Kano and National Planning also Kano.

Similar northern colouration has also been created in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. The Petroleum Minister, Dr Rilwanu Lukman hails from Kaduna state. The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Sanusi Barkindo hails from Adamawa state. The Director General of the National Petroleum Directorate, Alhaji Bello Gusau hails from Zamfara and this directorate is believed to be the replacement for the Petroleum Ministry when the National Assembly finally unbundles the NNPC through the passage of the Oil Sector Reform Bill into law. The Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Mustapha Rabe Darma hails from Katsina. So in the Petroleum Ministry, it’s all northerners’ affairs.

Critical review of appointments into key ministries revealed that nobody from the south has ever been appointed Executive Secretary of PTDF; nobody from the south has ever been appointed Agric Minister; no southerner has equally tested the Ministry of Water Resources as the substantive minister, and nobody from the south has been appointed the FCT Minister since its creation.

It is even more interesting that against the glaring facts of the matter, the Government through the brand manager, Prof Dora Akunyili, has shamelessly accused the opposition of deliberately heating up the polity “by crying out even when there was no need for it.”

Although the Government alleged a campaign of calumny against it by the opposition, the facts behind the matter are so glaring that even a blind person can see it.

Agreed that the leaders of major opposition parties had earlier cried out against the purported “northern agenda” of President Yar’Adua, what is the Government going to say now that the protest is also coming from members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) both from the north and southern parts of the country?

It was just a mere mischief and cheap blackmail for the Government to describe the opposition as a “southern opposition? The current crop of opposition politicians in Nigeria has no tribal or sectional delineations. It cuts across all sections- tribes, geopolitical zones and even religions. So for the Government to label anybody that musters enough courage to ask questions concerning the pathetic state of the nation as “southern opposition” is sheer diversion from the glaring facts of the established case of wanton abuse of office.

Nigerians from both the south and northern parts of the country should look beyond the misread interpretation of what looks on the surface as a collective northern agenda or more aptly, northernisation of the machinery of government. We should see such action for what it actually is- a political mischief by Yara’Adua to cause bad blood among the people of the country thereby preparing a platform for him to blackmail the north to support him in his ongoing campaign for a second term in office.



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