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A disturbing signal

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By Muyiwa Adetiba

Fowler, FIRS, AIna
Babatunde Fowler

In any case, Tunde Fowler is gone. He has been replaced by a man of lesser visibility if not pedigree. The same day, Muiz Banire, the Chairman of AMCON was removed. Some will say rather unceremoniously. Some will say it was in line with the provision of the institution. Both are Yoruba men. Both were replaced with Northerners. Ordinarily, it shouldn’t matter where a replacement comes from as long as a better man gets the job.

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But such is the division in the country—exacerbated no doubt by this administration— that one begins to notice such otherwise silly things. It is rare in this government to have Southerners replace Northerners in visible positions. It is even rarer to have it happen on the same day. That two visible Yoruba sons were unceremoniously removed the same day was an insensitive, in-your-face action. Could it be what the President meant when he said he could now afford to be reckless?

It has not escaped our notice unless we are in denial—which we are not—that the nation’s security apparatus is manned almost exclusively by Northerners. The country’s main sources of revenue are oil, taxes and the ports.

They are in the South. But they are manned almost exclusively by Northerners. Having Northerners man our security apparatus has not made the country or even the North safer. In fact, insecurity is seeping into the South from the North. But it has consolidated coercive force into a section. Having the North control the levers of power and finance has not made the North richer than the South. The reverse is in fact, the case. Just as the South-West was not particularly richer for having Adeosun, Fowler and Banire in visible financial positions—they have all been replaced by Northerners by the way. Or Obasanjo and Osinbajo at the highest echelon of power. Goodluck Jonathan’s six years as President didn’t clean up Ijaw land or lift the Ijaw people from poverty. Having people in key positions in this country does not serve the interest of the rank and file. It is all an illusion to feed the insecurity and short sightedness of the power hungry elite.

But what having people with different backgrounds in positions of authority does is that it symbolises inclusiveness which in turn fosters unity. What having my kith and kin in visible and sensitive positions does is that it tells my son and daughters that they can reach the highest positions in the country if they apply themselves. It tells them that the country truly belongs to all of us and that there are no invisible barriers or glass ceilings based on gender, ethnicity or religion.

This government is perceived to have divided the country more with its appointments than unite it. Poverty is pervasive largely because we have not unleashed the energy of the people. We can’t unleash the energy when the nation is divided against itself. The nation will continue to be against itself when one section believes it has the lever to control power and money only for its own people. The President cannot—no President can afford to look at Nigeria through the narrow prism of a section. He must strive for inclusiveness. A convenient, cosmetic or lopsided application of Federal Character will not help us. Instead, it is an ominous sign that will further divide an already divided country.

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