By Chief Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D.
The recent appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, of Yusuf Magaji Bichi, as the new Director-General of the DSS, in replacement of Matthew Seiyefa, has once again replayed PMB’s obsession and fixation with his ethnic and religious leanings. Yusuf Bichi is from Kano state, North/West (same as Buhari), while Seiyefa hails from Bayelsa state, a minority ethnic group in Nigeria that produces a substantial part of our oil resources – the goose that lays the golden egg, the people who constitute the hewers of wood and drawers of water. It is clear to me, with all humility, that PMB’s presidential binoculars regarding appointments are heavily blurred.
This appointment comes immediately on the heals of the appointment of Abass Umar Masanwa from Kastsina State (same as Buhari), as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Security, Minting and Printing company. By this new appointment, which has generated uproarious disapproval from across the length and breadth of Nigeria, PMB has yet again demonstrated an uncanny inability to view Nigeria from the prism of a nationalist and president of all. He sees Nigeria as a minute and atomic unit of his ethnic group, thus displaying crass ethnocentrism, sectionalism, nepotism, tribalism, parochialism, cronyism, clannishness and favourtism.
The drama commenced when Abba Kyari, PMB’s Chief of Staff, who is defacto Vice President of Nigeria (Prof Osibanjo, SAN, are you hearing me?), ordered Seiyefa, in a most imperious manner, to rescind postings he had earlier made towards reforming the highly politicised SPY agency. It is clear that if PMB had not been in London when powerful Daura was preemptorily removed by Osibanjo who was acting president under Section 145 of the Constitution, Daura who had instructed hooded DSS operatives to invade and shut down the NASS, would have been left untouched as a sacred cow. He was (and perhaps, still is), one of the most powerful gurus in the cabal within presidency).
I saw the end of Seiyefa coming when his new postings were whimsically revoked by Kyari. The government could not even hide its spite for Seiyefa and Southerners, by at least allowing him to complete his few outstanding months in office before his voluntary retirement upon reaching his retirement age. The appointment was to complete the northernzation of the security architecture of Nigeria.
By the appointment of Bichi, the entire security architecture and apparatchik of Nigeria is predominantly and wholly dominated by one section of the country. Thus, about 16 out of 17 key security appointees hail from PMB’s section of the country. From the Minister of Internal Affairs, IGP, DG, NIA, DG, DIA, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, to the Comptrollers-General of Customs, Immigration, Prisons, Federal Fire Service, Commandant-General of NSCD, Attorney-General of the Federation, the story is the same (North, mostly Moslems).
Let us add other key national positions such as acting Chairman, EFCC, SGF, Chief of Staff to the President, MD, NNPC, Minister of Petroleum Resources (PMB himself); Heads of DPR, PEF, NPA, FAAN, NCAA, NRC, National security, Printing and Minting company, AMCON, NDIC, NAICON, Nigeria has been totally northernised! Let us peep into NBC, NTA, INEC, FHA, FERMA, FRCN, NOA, NHIS, NTDA, TESTFUND, UBEC, NPHDA, NCC, NACA, NIMET, BPE, NOSDRA, NUC, Accountant-General, NEMA, Budget office, NIRSA, and you wonder if we are in the “Northern Republic of Nigeria”, or “Federal Republic of the North”, or Republic of Northern Nigeria”. It is so ugly, so nauseating, so dirty. It means that those who determine the security direction and fate of Nigeria can hold a meeting of the security situation of Nigeria and speak only the language of Hausa, in a country of 374 ethnic groups (Otite onigu); or 480 ethnic groups (M. Onwuejeogwu), that speak about 520 languages, out of which 9 have become extinct.
The Nigerian Constitution is the grundnorm, the font est origo, the supreme law of the land (Section 1(1). By Section 14(3), “the composition 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 to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of any persons from a few states or from ethnic or other sectional group in that government or any of its agencies”.
President Buhari’s lopsided, clannish, sectional, nepotic and ethnocentric appointments as above demonstrated is in violent violation of this hallowed provision.
It is certainly an impeachable offence under section 143 of the 1999 Constitution for gross misconduct. Indeed, section 143(11) defines “gross misconduct” to mean “a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this constitution or a misconduct of such a nature as amounts in the opinion of the National Assembly to gross misconduct”. A great corpus of case law exists on this issue of what amounts to “gross misconduct” which, I humbly contend, PMB’s serial violation of Section 14(3) of the Constitution and the Federal Character Commission Act, No 34 of 1996, amount to.
See the cases of Inakoju vs Adeleke (2007) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1-25) 423, at 586 – 587; Okungbowa vs. Governor of Edo State (2014) LPELR 22135 (CA).
The appointments are thus illegal, unconstitutional, immoral and grossly unpatriotic. I condemn it all.
The argument that the appointees are competent flies in the face and stands logic on its head. There are equally competent, even more competent, persons in other geographical zones of the country. If competence were to be the sole deciding factor, then we should choose the president, VP, ministers, Heads of MDAs, and all government officials, from one state of the federation only.
The president should begin (even if belatedly in over 3½ years of his lack lustre presidency), see Nigeria, for once, from the clear binoculars of a federation and a Republic, anchored on the principles of constitutional democracy and rule of law.
His brazenly ethnocentric appointments so far constitute a direct assault on the sensibilities of Nigerians, attacks our democratic norms and constitutionalism and merely affirms his earlier theory of discriminating against 97% in terms of those who did not vote him in 2015, in certain parts of the federation. Never before, since the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by Lord Lugard, to form the contraption called Nigeria, on January 1, 1914, have we witnessed such clannish and lopsided appointments into the most sensitive and commanding heights of the security, economic, and political firmament of Nigeria.
PMB literally tells the rest of Nigerians to go to hell. Some funny and phony government apologists will, very soon, seek to add salt onto injury by mouthing inanities, telling us that PMB made these indecent appointments in the “interest of the nation” and for “security reasons”. Better still, those majority of Nigerians kicking against this neo-colonialism will be termed by government defenders as “looters” who are “unhappy” about the so called “anti-corruption” mantra of the PMB government; or that “corruption is fighting back”.
A government that rode on the crest wave of dissent and opposition to hijack power it was ill-prepared for has suddenly become allergic to, and intolerant of, plurality of voices, or dissension.
Amazingly, it is a preponderance of Southern appointed elements that will sanctimoniously justify and applaud this sacrilegious desecration of the Constitution and democratic nuances. They are people suffering from what we call the “Stocholm syndrome” (a situation where a victim develops feelings of trust and affection towards his traducer or tormentor). It is also known as “trauma bonding”, or “terror bonding”.
Stockholm syndrome is a victim’s inexplicable psychological bonding, indentify with and sympathy for his slave master or captor, or kidnapper. Such a person develops very strong feelings of emotional ties and positive bonding with his captors.
It is what psychiatrist, Dr Frank Ochberg, describes as “infantilisation”, a situation where, like a child, you cannot eat, drink, speak, or use the toilet without permission. The child interprets this lack of abuse as an act of kindness and love. When given food under such captivity, feelings of gratitude and joy are evoked, without considering the fact that the so called kind master who is keeping you alive is the one who actually simultaneously keep you hostage in the first case.
Yet, Southerners would lay, a bigger claim to sophistication, education and enlightenment. It is inconceivable that this situation can be perpetrated by a Southern president and Northerners will go on television and social media to justify it; or keep mute as they are currently doing; or hit the streets of Zamfara, Kano, Yobe, Bauchi, Kaduna and Katsina, to openly campaign for the Southern president’s re-election. Have witches and wizards eaten up the souls and hearts of these Southerners in their covens, or hypnotised and bewitched them?
Are they in a state of mental stupor or inebriation? Hasn’t Kemi Adeosun, who has just resigned as minister of Finance, humiliated and disgraced these government bootlickers who cacophonously urged her to hold on to power because she was “competent”, contrary to her criminal breach of sections 2, 11, 12 and 13 of the NYSC Act, even if done innocently? I honestly sympathise with and applaud this brilliant young lady for resigning her juicy appointment against the “advice” of these historical revisionists.
But, she must face the law through decent open prosecution in a court of law, where she will afforded reasonable defence by a counsel of her choice. This is because the principle of law is “ignoratia juris non excusat” (ignorance of the law is no excuse). But, will this corruption-ridden government prosecute her? Can it? Dare it? I predict it will never. Because she is a “sacred cow”, an untouchable member of the government’s kitchen cabinet. So much of double standards. Nigeria, we hail thee!
Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D. is Constitutional Lawyer and Human Rights Activist