15 September 2018
The announcement of Yusuf Magaji Bichi as the new Director-General of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Service (DSS), on Thursday kicked off a storm of commentary in the mainstream and social media about yet another “northerner” heading a security agency.
In appointing Bichi, Buhari overlooked Matthew Seiyefa, who comes from Bayelsa State and was acting director-general following the removal in controversial circumstances of Lawal Daura (who comes from Buhari’s hometown of Daura in northern Nigeria).
Reacting to this development, a self-appointed group of southern and Middle-Belt “elders” said in a statement: “The I-don’t-care and in-your-face attitude of the President in restoring Nigeria security architecture to the provocative situation of having 16 out of 17 service chiefs from his corner of the country is a clear demonstration of the fact that Nigeria for General Muhammadu Buhari is no more than his section of Nigeria and the resources and the constitutionally mandatory votes from other sections of the country.
“Since 1960, Nigeria has never had a leader more sectional ,narrow,parochial ,and tribalistic like the current President who went on a global stage to divide Nigeria into ’97 % and 5%’.
“We have looked critically at the profiles of the Acting DG who was removed and the one Buhari just appointed and it is crystal clear that Bichi does not come with any experience close to that of Seiyefa.
“The only qualification for this appointment is therefore only the rabid nepotism of the President which has seen him always masking personal and sectional interest as national interest.
“Besides, Bichi is an out-of-the -system man drafted by Mr Lawal Daura in the days of his nepotism rule at the DSS. The next six most senior persons in line of succession at the DSS after Seiyefa are from our findings are all southerners which may explain why the President picked a man who already retired from the DSS to lead because of ethnic affinity .
“That the President went ahead to deep himself further into the cocoon of ethnic irredentism in making this insensitive appointment shows clearly that he does not care a hoot about the unity, cohesion and oneness of Nigeria.
“We reject this appointment and we do not shy in telling Mr President that he no longer pretends that the country is one under him.”
Section 14(3) of the Nigerian Constitution states that: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.
Having 16 out of 17 service chiefs from one section of the country violates the Constitution. Some of Buhari’s supporters have argued on social media that the president has to appoint people he can “trust” in sensitive security position. But the Constitution does not say you can make an exception to the “federal character principle” on grounds of “trust”. In fact, if you only “trust” people from your region, you have no business being president of the whole country.
The thing is, Buhari has no business running a country like Nigeria. Constitutional law professor Ben Nwabueze said over two years ago that the president lacked the intellectual capacity to govern Nigeria. Most discerning observers would agree with Nwabueze. Apart from the chronically shallow intellect, Buhari’s parochialism was something else Nigerians were warned about sometime ago by two people who are now singing a different tune.
Bola Tinubu, kingpin of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC), according to Wikileaks, in 2003, spoke about “General Muhammadu Buhari, whose ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity”, adding that “Buhari and his ilk are agents of destabilization.”
In 2010, Nasir el-Rufai, now governor of Kaduna State and allegedly a “Buharist” said of Buhari: “His insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known”.
Buhari’s “parochial focus” was “well-known”. Yet Tinubu and El-Rufai helped install him as president in 2015 and many people bought the fable that this leopard could change his spots and become a “reformed democrat”. The evidence of the last three years shows it is still the same old Buhari, unreformed and unreconstructed, whose destabilising influence over Nigeria was long foretold.