A scholar once defines politics as the madness of many for the benefit of few. The Nigerian presidential election of 2015 had come and gone. The election saw the defeat of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, by the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, Nigeria's current ruling party at the federal level of government and in over twenty out of Nigeria's thirty six states.
Politics is the struggle for power and allocation of resources. It is about who gets what and who takes what. Nigerian politics can be reduced to the struggle for power and sharing of national economic resources. This is the reason the madness for power in Nigeria is more severe than mental madness, for it is behind the do or die kind of politics played by some Nigerian politicians and their supporters. This manifests in assassinations of political opponents and other forms of atrocities perpetrated by some Nigerian politicians and their godfathers.
The struggle for power and positions within the ruling All Progressives Congress became a thing of public knowledge after its victory at the 2015 general election when the 'so-called' national leadership of the party attempted to impose its anointed/endorsed candidates over leadership of the National Assembly or the Nigerian Parliament. This was resisted by Senator Bukola Saraki and his supporters in the ruling APC. Subsequently, Senator Saraki alligned with 48 PDP senators in the National Assembly, and with the support of 11 or 12 APC senators, he was elected unopposed with 60 votes as the President of Nigeria's Senate while Senator Ekweremadu of the opposition PDP, was elected Deputy Senate President. This did not go down well with the other camp in the APC, led by Cheif Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, who had wanted Senator Lawal to be the president of the Nigerian Senate. The rancor, acrimony, bitterness, outrage, crack and rift caused by this development among APC leaders and members in Nigeria continue to hunt and tear the party apart till date.
The struggle for positions and portfolios in the current government of Nigeria is taking a various dangerous dimension again and further reveals the regional and ethnic division among Nigerians. The appointments so far made by President Buhari into various agencies and government bodies since he took over power on May 29, 2015, have generated and continue to generate arguments and altercations among Nigerians and political watchers, on the ground that most of those appointed are from the North, the president's region. This was brought to the front burner again by the recent appointments of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff , and other portfolios announced by the Presidency on Thursday 27th August, 2015.
Many Nigerians have joined and are still joining the fray caused by the recent appointments made by President Buhari. The division in Nigeria along ethnic and regional lines is further being shown here with divergent reactions, views and opinions regarding the appointments. It suffices to take a cursory loot at some of the reactions and opinions of Nigerian with regard to the appointments so far made by the president.
The appointment of secretary to the government of the federation and other principal officers of the president kitchen cabinet announced by the Presidency on Thursday 27 August, 2015, so far bring to twenty five the number of appointments made by President Buhari. Nigeria is made up of many ethnic groups and six geo-political zones. It is the view of many Nigerians that appointments into various national positions and offices should reflect the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of the country by ensuring that persons from the six geo-political zones are equally and well represented in government. However, President Buhari's appointment so far falls short of this condition or expectation. About 75% of the appointments so far made by the president had gone to the North. For more clarity, it will be imperative to give a clear picture of the president's appointment so far, with the number of appointees each geo-political regions has received. The North West, the President's region has nine positions, the North East has five positions; the North Central has four positions, the South West has three positions, the South South has four positions while the South East has no position so far. Put succinctly, the North has 18 positions while the entire South (South West and South South in this case) has 7 positions, and the South East has no position yet.
Some Nigerians argue that President Buhari's appointments so far are based on competence and merit and that all those so far appointed by the President merit their appointments. There is no doubt that appointment into any office should be anchored on merit and competence. This is the only condition that beneficiaries of such appointments could perform and deliver to Nigeria, the goals for which they were appointed in the first place. However, there are many reservations and questions that need to be taken care of when we talk about competence and merit. For instance,how do we know who is competent and who is not when there is no test of knowledge or examination for persons from the six geo-political zones to determine who is competent or not. More so, if all the appointments so far made are based on competence and merit without anybody been appointed from the South East, it suggests that we are been told that there is no single person in the entire South East that has a population of millions of Nigerians like any other geo-political zone in the country. But we know for sure that this not the case. Is the public sector or government the only area to measure competence in Nigeria. This question becomes imperative in view of the fact that the North that produces 18 out of the 25 appointments so far made by President Buhari has not been able to replicate same in the private sector of Nigerian economy, where real (not political competence) exists. A look at the banking sector (commercial banks), medical field, engineering, academics, insurance, sports, music, entertainment and others clearly reveals that the North is far behind the South in terms of competence and talent. This casts further doubt on the competence hypothesis being propounded by some Nigerians.
Furthermore, if the South had got 18 out of the 25 appointments so far made by Buhari, would the advocates of competence theory be singing the same song? The North has been in power for about 40 years of our about 55 years of existence as a modern state. This means that that Northerners have held more public positions in Nigeria than their counterparts from the South. This should not however, be misconstrued to mean that Southerners have not held positions. This would have manifested in the over all development of Nigeria if its all about competence.
The quarrel over Buhari's appointments would not have generated so much tension and argument had the president not said it in an interview in the United States, that his administration would not accord equal treatment to constituencies that gave him 97% votes and constituencies that gave him 5% votes in the election that brought him to power. That the president appointments have so far fovoured the North, the constituency that gave him 97% votes according to his allusion, makes some persons to think that President Buhari's action with respect to his latest appointments is a calculate and premeditated attempt to to punish or marginalize constituencies that gave him 5% votes. I would not want to take this to be the case. President Buhari was elected by Nigerians from all parts of the country, no matter the percentage of votes he received from each geo-political zone. More so, he is the president of Nigeria as a country, not only those that gave him more votes.
That the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, had come out to say the president would address the imbalances in his latest appointments, means that the president is aware of the lopsidedness in his appointments. This further lays to rest the argument of persons preaching competence as the only sine qua non for the President's appointments so far. A question that would readily come to mind if this is the case is: Why would President Buhari fail to take into consideration, the reality that issues of appointments into government positions in Nigeria are very delicate and capable of generation tension and emotions, along tribal and religious lines? Did the president do this deliberately and unleashed Mr Femi Adesina on Nigerians, with a view to calm nerves hoping that the matter would die a natural death with time? What if this unfair treatment of the South, especially the South East, is not addressed and corrected when the President appoints his cabinet come September? Only time shall provide answers to these and other burning questions surrounding President Buhari's appointments into his government.
The emergence of Senator Ekweremadu of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party as the Deputy Senate President of Nigerian Senate did not go down well with the leadership of the APC, Nigeria's current ruling party at the federal level. The leadership of the APC, through the Lagos State Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr Joe Igbokwe, has not hidden its bitterness, dissatisfaction and sadness over Ekweremadu's status in this current government, and has threatened to pull him down at all cost, adding that it is not ready to work with an ''enemy'' of the APC. In the light of this, a curious mind like mine would not fail to ask if the sidelining of the Igbo tribe in Buhari's appointments so far is a manifestation of APC''s grievances over Ekweremadu's position as Deputy Senate President?
President Buhari's appointments so far would no doubt, continue to elicit a barrage of rancorous reactions from Nigerians and the cacophony could only get louder when the President eventually appoints ministers into his cabinet come September 2015 and ends up favouring the North with more positions, or as some commentators would say, more 'juicy' positions. There is no doubt that the latest appointments by the President Buhari have further revealed the cracks in his party, the APC, as it was widely reported by various national dailies that APC leaders are not happy with Buhari's over his recent appointments. This could also compel one to think that the president did not consult widely within his party leadership before making the appointments, or that he turned down inputs of other leaders in his party.
I wish to conclude this piece by positing that politics is about sharing of power and resources, unfortunately in Nigeria, not about using power to galvanize human and economic resources to ensure welfare of the citizens. Be it as it may, Nigeria is not a united nation yet. There are sentiments and emotions everywhere over sharing of the country's national cake. The fact remains that every geo-political zone should be equally and fairly represented in government to balance the federal nature (federal character) of Nigeria.We have not reached a stage where we would agree that it does not matter even if the President and Chief Executive of Nigeria makes all his appointments from one region, tribe or village. May be we would get there one day. Above all, the most important thing is for the president and all those in government at all levels to use our collective resources for the over all development of Nigeria, for the benefit of Nigerians, not to fight for positions and loot our collective resources; thereby leaving ordinary Nigerians in penury and hardship . It is high time they knew they are holding power in trust on behalf of the people of Nigeria, with whom sovereignty lies. This is the trust of government universally.