By Douglas Anele
Meanwhile, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, the Army, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the Nigerian Communications Commission, the EFCC and several critical agencies of the federal government, are in the hands of Northerners also. Certainly, the President cannot dictate the leadership of the federal legislature and the judiciary.
Yet, in those appointments that he has discretionary powers, Buhari has shown a marked preference for Northerners – in fact, he has just appointed another Northerner as Chairman of INEC. The truth is: never before in Nigerian history has the North been so dominant, in terms of appointments at the federal level, especially in a democratic setting, than what we have presently under Muhammadu Buhari.
And the President’s justification for the lopsidedness is that he was rewarding his loyalists, those he knew personally, and constituencies that voted for him overwhelmingly during the elections! As a corollary, with his “second coming” Nigeria has retrogressed in giving women their rightful place in governance.
During the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, about 33% of cabinet positions were occupied by women (with Deziani Alison-Madueke as the first woman to head the petroleum resources ministry), and there was pressure on him to raise it to 35% in line with the Affirmative Action for women, a percentage already surpassed by Cape Verde Islands (51%), South Africa (41.7%), and Rwanda (35.5%).
Now, despite his campaign promise to reflect gender balance in his government, President Buhariappointed only seven women out of thirty-six ministers (19.44%). Not surprisingly, of the seven, six are from the North, a region where millions of young girls are uneducated because of the dominant antediluvian belief that modern education is an abomination, especially for women.
Buharimaniacs can vituperate and generate as much hot air as they please on this issue, as they do whenever their idol is criticised. The fact remains that, if one considers inclusiveness and sensitivity to the complex geo-ethnic and gendered configuration of Nigeria as an index of change, the inevitable conclusion is that there is change all right, but it is retrogressive change, a movement in the wrong direction.
If there is one area where Nigerians expected the new President to make an immediate positive impact, it is in the petroleum sector. This is because Buharimaniacs had argued that since Buhari was a former minister of petroleum resources, he understands the challenges of the sector and, as a result, has a firsthand knowledge of how to handle them.
Hence, there was optimism that with Buhari, scarcity of petroleum products and wastages in the management of Nigeria’s oil and gas resources would be as rare as water in the Sahara desert. For sure, it is unrealistic to expect the new federal government to resolve all the bottlenecks and anomalies in the oil and gas sector in six months. Yet, the direction in which the sector has been moving since May 29 is not encouraging.
For example, the fuel queues are back and petrol is sold for as much as N300 in some states, whereas gas supplies to power plants in the country is as problematic as ever with no creative ideas from officialdom about how to meet the challenges.
Recently, it was alleged that wastage of scarce resources characteristic of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) still continues under Buhari’s watch. To illustrate: a 110-man delegation from the two establishments, including top-ranking officials and spouses of both the NLNG and NNPC and wives of some state governors, went to Seoul, South Korea, just for the commissioning of some gas transportation vessels.
To get an idea of the quantum ofwastage involved in that frivolous trip, each of the Junior Suites in the Hotel Paradise where some of the delegates stayed cost N684,356 for five nights, whereas N422,442 waspaid for the Executive Double or Twin Rooms with sea view.
But President Buhari might have set the pace in official foreign travels of doubtful value to the country when he led a thirty-three-man delegation to the United States some months ago.
And vociferous critics that lambasted Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for financial rascality have suddenly become dumb and blind; they deliberately failed to see the discrepancy between President Buhari’s repeated promise of astute financial management and the millions that were spent in his “coming to America” with a motley crowd.
Meanwhile, there is no clear evidence that impunity in running the affairs of state has reduced since APC came to power. Indeed, in some instances, the situation has degenerated. Under former President Jonathan, between 2010 and 2014, the PDP lost the governorships Obasanjo “captured” for the party in Ekiti, Edo, Ondo, Anambra,and Osun states to other parties.
Because he wanted Nigeria’s democratic experiment to improve and stabilise despite its imperfections, Jonathan promptly congratulated the winners and insisted that he want to be the President who took democracy to the next level. Now that APC is in charge and given President Buhari’s hard line stance whenever he lost an election, the new ruling party seems to be involved in what one might call “political insurgency” using the instrumentality of INEC, operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), and election tribunals.
Aside from the siege sometime ago by operatives of the DSS in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, the APC, assisted by election tribunals, is determined to “capture” states won by the PDP in the last elections, thereby making nonsense of the pledge by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, that he would not tolerate any plot to use the judiciary to alter the results of elections.
In my view, with Muhammadu Buhari in power, impunity in governance is still with us, because, among other things, Obasanjo, who may be described as the Igwe or Asiwaju of impunity, appears to be working hand in glove with the President. Obasanjo’s proclivity for impunity, blended with President Buhari’s messianic predilections and the military background of both men, provides a dangerous catalyst for impunity reloaded.
Let us turn our attention to insecurity in various parts of the country, one of the areas where Jonathan’s government failed woefully, according to the APC.
After the well-reported tough talk by the President and initial successes recorded since he took overpower by the Nigerian military in recapturing territories annexed by Boko Haram terrorists, Buharimaniacs believed that the terrorists would soon be liquidated.
Having changed the operational headquarters of the military force against Boko Haram from Abuja to Maiduguri, allowed the hiring of foreign mercenaries and reached cooperation agreements against the insurgents with Niger, Chad and Cameroon – the same strategies deployed by Jonathan for which he was criticised by Buhari – there is no indication that the terrorists will be defeated by the December deadline declared by Buhari. In fact, that deadline is unrealistic, which shows that the President might be underrating the sinister adaptability and resilience of Boko Haram.
Certainly, every right thinking Nigerian would want Boko Haram eliminated today or tomorrow. However, the fact that the terrorists could still launch deadly attacks, such as the ones that occurred inYola and Kano last week Tuesday, is indicative of the complexity of fighting murderous faceless terrorists.
During the campaigns, APC chieftains boasted that given Buhari’smilitary experience, the days of Boko Haram were numbered, that Jonathan was “clueless” and “weak,” and that the party has an effective strategy to deal with insecurity nationwide. Now, the wind has blown and Nigerians have seen the rump of the chicken, as my people would say, because frequency of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes have not gone down appreciably since APC came to power.
And to worsen an already precarious situation, things are gradually falling apart in the South East and parts of the South South as a result of pro-Biafra agitations.