By Mohammed Adamu
IT is amazing nowadays the extent many of us can get in the blatant defense of ‘wrong’ or even in selectively moralizing about what is ‘right’. We seem to have ‘good reasons’ always why the right thing must not be done and we are prepared every time to array our might in defense even of what is palpably wrong.
When we say that ‘justice in the land must be done no matter whose ox is gored’, what we actually mean is that ‘it matters really if it is our own ox that is gored’. And often we make such a show of righteous indignation about a particular ‘wrong’ you’d never imagine we could also be the worst culprits of that of that very offence.
Those who once strained logic to disprove the ‘good’ inherent in the equitable principle of zoning’, were the same ‘pious priests’ of ‘geo-ethnic balance’ who vilified Buhari for not applying ‘federal character’ even in the appointment of his ‘personal’ presidential aides.
Yet you dared not to remind them that Buhari’s predecessor, Jonathan had in fact only one Northerner of note –namely his Principal Secretary- on the entire team of his own ‘presidential aides’. Yet you are the ethnic bigot who dares to bring this up and not ‘they’ who choose selectively to moralize about it.
Many have cited Jonathan’s ethno-centric appointments as worthy grounds to justify retaliatory measure even from a Buhari that is not known to be malevolent. But it’ll not be right to ‘trade a Rolland for an Oliver’!
In fact my grouse with Jonathan’s appointments was not so much for its geo-ethnic bias as it was the gross non-performance of his appointees and the brazen theft of our common patrimony which they had made the very purpose of governance. Baring that it should not have mattered that they all came from a section of the country.
Jonathan’s team of presidential aides was virtually an ‘all-South-South’ list mostly of his Ijaw kinsmen with some gratuitous sprinkling perhaps of a few South Easterners many of whom now feel obligated to play the vengeful mourners-in-chief of his lost bid for a second term.
I have not the vaguest recollection that those who cried wolf over Buhari’s so called ‘sectional’ list of presidential aides had batted an eyelid over Jonathan’s all-kith-kin-and-kindred list. The English call this ‘straining at a gnat and ignoring a whole camel’.
Nor do I have any recollection of other geo-political zones splitting any hairs about the Jonathan tribe-team, or even the subsequent list of heads of forty key federal parastatals and agencies in which there were only four South Westerners and one Northerner.
The rest were virtually all South-South –mostly of Ijaws extraction- put deliberately at the commanding heights of key economic sectors of the nation –ranging from the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Bank of Industry, Nigerian Content Development Agency, Consumer Protection Agency, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Railway Corporation, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Surveyor General of the Federation, Statistician General of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation and Auditor General of the Federation and others like NIMET, NIMASA, PENCOM, FERMA, NCC, NAMA, NCAA, FAAN, NCAT, NAFDAC, FIIRO, NESREA, NEPZA, NOA, MDG, NAN, NERDC, SON, NBC, ITF and NUC .
And now an NNPC Board list of eight members comprising five Northerners and three Southerners is made a point of by these same ‘pious priest’ of geo-ethnic balance, as an example of how incorrigibly ‘sectional’ Buhari is in his appointments. But if memory serves right, the same NNPC Board of eight members under Jonathan had only one Northerner on it. Yet you are the ethnic bigot who dares to bring this up and not ‘they’ who choose selectively to moralize about it.
Many have cited Jonathan’s ethno-centric appointments as worthy grounds to justify retaliatory measure even from a Buhari that is not known to be malevolent.
But it’ll be right to ‘trade a Rolland for an Oliver’! In fact my grouse with Jonathan’s appointments was not so much for its geo-ethnic bias as it was the gross non-performance of his appointees and the brazen theft of our common patrimony which they had made the very purpose of governance. Barring that it should not have mattered that they all came from a section of the country.
In fact, the irony of it is that it is those who make a creed of de-campaigning ‘quota system’ as retrogressive that are also preaching ‘federal character’ now as the veritable political correctness. Yet ‘quota system’ seems to me to be more morally justifiable for the reason that it ensures ‘equal-opportunity’ in the allocation of an inadequate resource and thus requires to be equitably –if not equally- allocated.
Federal character merely imposes a ‘duty’ strictly of service via appointment into public office, and therefore must not necessarily be squared up equally or equitably by tribes and tongues, religion or geography.
May be it was necessary in the past for political appointees to double as ‘dogs of hunt’ for their respective sectional or ethnic enclaves. But that should not be necessary any longer, especially with a Buhari in office who has sufficiently proved in just a year that governance will no longer be ‘business as usual’.
Nonetheless even that psychogenic foreboding of being left out because your ‘personal person’ had not been brought near the ‘cake’ was largely misplaced because in reality politicians brought near the national cake did not necessarily return home to share the loot with their people. It had always been ‘to every dog its day, and to every dog its bone’!
The justice we must seek should be the ‘equitable’ distribution of national resources and not necessarily the ‘equal’ appointment of those who distribute the resources. By the way what does it matter if ethnic groups are ‘equally’ represented in appointments but do not get an ‘equitable’ share of the common resource? Or what does it matter if they are ‘un-equally’ represented but are ‘equitably’ provided for from the common resource?
In any case if we are to distribute appointments ‘equally’ instead of sharing resources ‘equitably’, how do we go about it? By regions? Why not by zones? -to achieve balance. By states? Why not by local governments? -to achieve spread. By ethnic groups?
Why not by tribes? -to create a sense of belonging! Why don’t we do it by household? -to achieve the utopia of ‘EQUALITY’ we always wanted! That way, in no time we’ll get to a higher state of nirvana when every individual can claim a right to be his own representative as a political appointee of government.
We have always aped often in base imitation, especially of America, the way she practices her democracy. Yet we have not the patriotism to grow the courage of America the way she sacrifices to grow her democracy.
Fathers and sons are on record to have led America; and maybe soon Hillary Clinton, whose husband had been president will soon be elected too. At our cynical wit-end we are quick to cite America as the veritable touchstone of the democratic process. but when we want to justify our lack of democratic will to be like America, without shame we say that it has taken America over 200 years to perfect her democracy.
But must we wait 200 years to develop the virtues of America when we have not waited that long to enjoy the superfluous leisure too of technological advancement that it has taken America the same length of time to produce?
If we are not mature enough to bear the duties that 200 years of democratic nation building has placed on the Americans, we should not be ripe enough also to enjoy the pleasures thereof.
In any case we probably do not even know the implication of this new geo-ethnic monster of ‘equality’ in appointment which we are trying to create; because in due course when it takes a life of its own –as monsters often do- we may not be able to return the genie the bottle. We may no longer give even our National Coaches free hand to select players purely on merit without the obligation to consider geo-ethnic balance or spread.
Many will begin to ask ‘why should a national football team of 22 members have only two players from a whole zone or region? You will not tell them ‘this is a talent-dependent area’ because these talents too abound in every nook and cranny of the country just like you argue there are competent hands for political appointments in every part of the country. That is how bad it can get.
From a reader
Re: ‘Biafra’s secessionist right revisited’
Mohammed Adamu good afternoon. Your write-up on ‘Biafra’s Secessionist Right Revisited’ published in the Vanguard Thursday July 7, 2016, made interesting reading.
You seem to base your write-up on outdated postulations forgetting that global affairs is dynamic, more so Abraham Lincoln’s era predated advent of the UNO and its modern resolutions that empower any ethnic nationality the right to self determination. Please Google the UNO General Assembly resolution of September 13, 2007 (which) confers the right to self-determination.
You know that the Soviet Union comprised of various nationalities, but by 1989 the bubble burst and the old octopus disintegrated. You recall former Czechoslovakia? Peacefully it split into Czech and Slovak nations without a shot being fired. South Sudan eventually got independence based on the provisions of the UN resolution. Mohammed, I am not an advocate of the disintegration of Nigeria at all because I am enlightened enough to know the advantages of staying together, the size, large population(market), etc; all these are our collective pride. Mohammed your write-up is provocative and based on delusions. Sanu”.