Pat Utomi, a professor of political economy, TV host and commentator on national issues in Nigeria, told a newspaper that President Muhammadu Buhari is free to appoint officers from just one village.
He said: “Let’s get serious. Let’s get to move this country forward and away from all this small, petty issues. To me it is not an important issue and I don’t want to deal with it. The President can appoint everybody from one village. As long as the people can get the job done, let them get it done. That is what Nigerians wanted and that is what they voted for”.
Those comments were in reaction to allegations that Buhari was favouring the northern part of the country in his appointments.
Utomi can’t possibly be serious. While the sentiment of appointing people that “can get the job done” is an honourable one, the president is not at liberty to “appoint everybody from one village”.
A professor of political economy should know that the Nigerian constitution does not allow the president to restrict his appointments to one village, state or section of the country.
Chapter 2 section 14(3) 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.
Chapter 6 section 147 states that: (1) There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.
(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:-
provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.
A president that appoints people from one village even if they are eminently qualified would have violated the provisions of the constitution, and such appointments are unlikely to have been ratified by the Senate.
These provisions are not “small, petty issues”. Utomi’s comments are highly irresponsible and ignorant. It is even worse coming from someone of his standing.