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Wrong message from Kebbi State

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AS an indigene of Kebbi State, I feel thoroughly embarrassed by the current needless and ridiculous controversy over the nomination of retired Brigadier-General Bitrus Boka Ushe for a ministerial appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Leading this unfortunate campaign of denigration against the nominee is the Kebbi State chairman of the PDP chapter, Alhaji Mansur Shehu, who should qualify among our enlightened men of reason.

That expectation was not to be. Instead he has provided the ammo for pulling down General Boka from the Zuru Emirate of Kebbi State. The chairman’s arguments are that the General is not a PDP member and that he is not known to the people of Kebbi State because he is allegedly more frequently based in Kaduna.

Does it mean, therefore, that if a man stays outside his state or maintains a house elsewhere in Nigeria or abroad, he is automatically not qualified to hold a public office? Does it also mean that if a citizen is not a PDP member, he is not qualified to be appointed a Minister from his state?

If that was the case, how come the former Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Abubakar Kaoje, was appointed to that position when he was a Vice-Chancellor of the Kebbi State University? He is an academic and not a card-carrying member of the PDP when he was nominated for ministerial appointment?

Besides, who told the Kebbi State PDP chairman that a ministerial nominee must be a card-carrying member of the ruling Party to qualify for that position?

Did he forget that in a presidential system of government, the President has the right to appoint ministers even outside the party? Dr. Mansur Liman and Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman were not PDP members when they were appointed ministers by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua administration.

What then is the Kebbi State PDP chairman talking about? He was waffling on and on in several newspaper interviews without saying anything to convince any intelligent and discerning Nigerian. It is unfortunate that our politicians in sensitive positions don’t know the difference between presidential and parliamentary systems of government when it comes to public appointments.

Worse still, the seeming reluctance of the Kebbi State Governor, Saidu Dakingari, to distance himself officially from the dangerous manipulation of sentiments by the party chairman is worrisome and it suggests that he is tacitly in support of this dirty politics of ethnic and religious divide.

The arrogance of the majority that borders on selfishness, greed and injustice should not be allowed to undermine the current efforts to rebuild Northern unity. I am from the Gwandu Emirate of Kebbi State which has the majority, but I don’t think my rights would be better protected by treating others, the so-called minority, unjustly. Being small doesn’t necessarily suggest being insignificant or non-existent.

Sadly, this is the kind of arrogance being displayed by the so-called majority elements in this country. Is Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State not performing wonderfully, despite the fact that he comes from a minority ethnic group?

The Nigerian Constitution is superior to the PDP narrow politics in Kebbi State and, therefore, President Jonathan should not succumb to this cheap blackmail by the enemies of unity, tolerance and harmonious coexistence.

What I find even disgusting is the suggestion by the Kebbi State PDP chairman that the nomination of General Boka Usha, a minority Christian from Zuru, could endanger the relative harmony of the state. How? Does fairness or justice threaten stability? On the contrary, the absence of the two is the real threat to unity and peace. It is totally disappointing that a party chairman should be at the forefront of promoting this dangerous politics of division.

It is apparent that some of our so-called leaders are paying lip service to unity. The late Premier of the defunct Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduna of Sokoto, never discriminated against anybody in public appointments on the basis of their religion and ethnicity, which was why he was respected by all.

Chief Solomon Lar, Sunday Awoniyi, Michael Audu Buba and Jolly Tanko Yusuf were among the prominent Christian minority figures appointed into key positions by the late Sardauna.

He appointed them into prominent public offices purely on merit. That was the only secret why the late Premier became the pillar of Northern unity.

At a time Northern unity is mortally threatened by interminable ethnic/religious conflicts caused by the selfishness and greed of our politicians of this generation, the Kebbi State PDP chairman and Governor Dakingari are sending a wrong message to other Nigerians.

What impact can the Northern Governors Forum ever make when it harbours elements who are silently working to destroy what the late Sardauna had built? Can we achieve Northern unity through greed, intolerance, selfishness, injustice and lip service to peaceful coexistence?

Repudiating General Boka Ushe by the Kebbi State PDP chairman must be rejected totally because it is a threat to our unity. Are the politicians more patriotic than other Nigerians who can competently serve their country on merit? Our leaders should be more broad-minded in their outlook to national issues.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton appointed a Republican member, Mr. William Cohen, to become his Defence Secretary. Did America tear apart because a Republican outsider was made a Defence Secretary by a Democratic President?

If General Boka were to donate millions to the PDP chapter in Kebbi State, the party chairman would have readily rushed forward to lap up the donation and prayed for the “outsider” from Zuru. Boka is now an outsider in his own state because of sheer greed and selfishness.

Mr . NA-ALLAH ZAGGA, a journalist, wrote from Abuja.

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