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Thank you, Mr president!

By Donu Kogbara

Major-General Kenneth Minimah, was recently appointed Chief of Army Staff; and I’d like to seize this opportunity to express gratitude to President Jonathan for bestowing such a huge honour on a gentleman soldier from my state.

Some onlookers are accusing Jonathan of ethnic chauvinism because Minimah, a fellow Ijaw, was not “the next in line” or most elderly serving general.

But Heads Of State are under a lot of pressure and in uniquely sensitive positions; and my view is that any Head of State from any tribe is entitled to select an army chief he feels he can totally trust, for whatever reason.

Meanwhile, a former Minister – a Yoruba who has no axe to grind for the Niger Delta and does NOT automatically agree with everything Jonathan does – has told me that Jonathan is not unusual…in the sense that his predecessors have not always chosen the most senior military man in the land to play this key role.

At any rate, though I have never met Minimah, I’ve encountered highly credible individuals from every geopolitical zone who know him well; and I’ve yet to hear anyone disparage his character or professional competence, so there’s no doubt in my mind that Jonathan has made an excellent choice on this occasion. I even suspect that his decision was based on merit rather than ethnic considerations.

Whatever the case may be, I salute Mr President from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the many Rivers People who are proudly celebrating Minimah’s elevation and praying that their brother and son does a great job for the country at a time when there are serious security challenges to be faced.

Another smart move?

I am also glad that Jonathan has installed former Bauchi State Governor (1999-2007), Adamu Mu’azu, as the PDP’s new National Chairman.

I visited Bauchi a couple of times when Mu’azu was its Governor; and having met him and surveyed the considerable work he had done in his state capital, I concluded that he was a focused Progressive and dedicated Modernizer who was trying his best to pursue a dynamic socio-economic development agenda.

Critics have pointed out that Mu’azu has yet to be cleared of corruption charges. He is alleged to have stolen nearly N20 billion from Bauchi State’s coffers and was still being investigated by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC when his new chairmanship job was announced this week.

As one who has worked for two Ministers and observed the public sector terrain at close quarters, I have gradually become very cynical and don’t expect uncompromising moral rectitude from ANY Naija Government official.

There ARE government officials who are 100 percent honest, but my experiences have taught me that such paragons are not typical. And my default setting nowadays is to sadly assume that all government officials are guilty until proven innocent.

HOWEVER, given that the EFCC has not, in the six years that have elapsed since Mu’azu ceased to be Bauchi’s CEO, gotten around to proving that he is a thief, is it not possible that he is an exception whose reputation is being unjustly tarnished? If the EFCC doesn’t have the evidence to formally charge him, should it not graciously admit defeat, let him off the hook and clear his name?

Anyway,  Mu’azu strikes me as the kind of person who can solve some of the PDP’s most pressing problems. I can imagine him thinking straight, being firm but fair, healing rifts and injecting sanity. I may of course turn out to be wrong, but I reckon that Jonathan’s decision to recruit him was a very smart move.

Tukur’s new job

Jonathan still clearly regards Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Mu’azu’s controversial predecessor, as a loyalist because he has just handed him the Chairmanship of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). And I’m puzzled by this decision.

Tukur attracted alarming amounts of hostility when he was running the PDP, but people often receive different responses from different audiences.

A man who is loathed by politicians (who are often aggressive and unreasonable by nature) can be liked by technocrats (who tend to be more mild-mannered); and it’s entirely possible that NRC personnel will get on swimmingly with Tukur (who does, whatever his detractors say, possess some good qualities).

However, Nigeria will not fulfil its potential until it has a proper railway network and NRC – which desperately needs to be dragged into the twenty-first century – is a particularly tough challenge, so should it not be chaired by a much younger person who has tons of energy and a completely contemporary mindset?

Old people can add plenty of value within certain contexts. But I do not think that NRC is the kind of place in which the venerable Alhaji can shine.

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