They said the appointments were lopsided and not in the best interest of the country.
President Buhari is from Katsina State, Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, are from Kwara and Bauchi states respectively. The judiciary is led by Justice Mahmud Mohammed from Taraba State.
Of the nine appointments made by Buhari so far, eight are from the North, while one is from the South. The appointments are: Director-General of the State Services, Lawal Daura, Katsina State; Acting Chairman, the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari, Jigawa State; Director, the Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan; and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, Kano State.
Others are the State Chief of Protocol, Mallam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure; Aide De Camp, Lt.-Col. Muhammed Lawal Abubakar, Kano State; Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu; and Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, South-West.
The appointments, however, drew the ire of Nigerians who asked Buhari to respect the country’s principle of federal character.
Already, the Internet, particularly the social media and blogs, are agog with reactions and counter-reactions on the matter.
A commentator named Daamazing, on Nairaland, Nigeria’s largest discussion forum, accused Buhari of appointing only Northerners into key positions announced so far.
The enraged citizen said in pidgin, “After all your mumu promises, one thing you’ve not achieved, na to dey appoint all the people for your family tree, dey do tourism up and down. (After all your promises, you’ve not achieved anything. All you have done is to appoint your kinsmen and travel all around the world).”
Another commentator identified simply as Augster, said, “Buhari, don’t let those who voted for you down because your appointment of only Northerners into top positions is baffling us.”
SenseiX, another Nairaland commentator, said it was wrong for Buhari to have brought Daura, the acting DSS DG, from retirement to head the agency when there were qualified persons from other regions of the country still in service.
He said, “He ignored the entire senior cadre of the agency- from Bassey Eteng to the least- simply because they are Southerners. Even if he wanted to pick a a Northerner, he should have picked from the service rather than a 62-year-old retiree, whose only qualification is being Buhari’s kinsman, who was in the DSS. When former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Ekpenyong, he was already a Director of Operations, same for Gadzama, who was appointed by Umaru Yar’Adua.”
As of the time of filing this report, the story- Buhari sacks DG DSS, service chiefs may go- had been read by 30,722 Nigerians on the PUNCH website, some of who expressed anger over the development.
A reader named as Ify, said, “In as much as I do not subscribe to ethnic sentiments, I am sensitive to the malaise of ethnic distrust in the country. A wise leader would therefore, thread cautiously around this landmine. We must patiently navigate our way out of ethnic bias.
“Let me also point out that Nigeria’s strength is derived from her diversity, therefore, any government that wishes to succeed must draw from our diversity, and not limit itself to the talents from one region alone.”
Another reader, Omoyooba, said, “In a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Nigeria, it is insensitive of him to be making appointments made up of Northern Muslims. What of the Christians and the Southerners? President Muhammadu Buhari should know that former President Goodluck Jonathan started with greater goodwill than this in 2011 and he ran it aground in four years. Buhari should not make the same mistake. Nigeria belongs to everybody.”
On Facebook, Fidelis Anumole-Oparaku, who was apparently disappointed with the situation, said the President’s ministerial appointments would not be much better.
He said, “Because he lacks the power to do so with ministerial appointments, he will likely give key positions to Northern Muslims, then the soft ones will be given to Northern Christians and the South.”
Like the online community, prominent groups in the South-West – Afenifere, Yoruba Unity Forum and the Movement for Oodua Republic – said this kind of lopsided appointments had never happened in the political history of the country.
While describing the President’s actions as worrisome, the YUF Secretary-General, Senator Anthony Adefuye, warned that the earlier the situation was reversed, the better, adding that the YUF would not expect the North to marginalise the South.
He said, “The fact that the President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are from the North is worrisome. There is no way the North can take all the principal offices and leave the deputy to us. It has never happened before and the earlier it is reverted, the better.
“There is no way that can continue because the South is not subordinate to the North. The think tank committee of the YUF will meet soon to look at the issue and see how it affects the Yoruba people. However, the development is a wrong signal that must be corrected.”
While calling on Southerners to be patient and watch events unfold, Adefuye said no region could be a subordinate of the other.
“What is more worrisome is that the immediate past INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, handed over to a Southerner but the Presidency changed it to a Northerner. We are watching and waiting to see what comes out of this new government.”
Adefuye added, “Southerners are always careful and concerned not to marginalise the North. Therefore, I will not expect the North to marginalise the South now that the Presidency is shifted to the region.”
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the group was watching the President’s actions and taking note of them.
Odumakin, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Friday, said, “We have taken a position in Afenifere to watch the President’s actions before we begin to make comments. By the time we have a clearer picture of what is happening in the first 100 days of the President in office, we are certainly going to make a comprehensive statement.”
Also, the leader of MOR, Mr. George Akinola, said the country was heading towards total conflict should the situation continue.
He said, “The country has already been divided along religious lines. The fault lines are there and will always be there. This will continue until a time when one way or the other a conference or a referendum happens. There is no option that is not on the table but at least we will prefer the path of peace.”
Representing the interest of the South-Eastern people, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey, asked the President to respect the principle of federal character in his appointments.
Enwo-Igariwey said, “We expect the President to recognise other nationalities that make up Nigeria. Elections are over, it is time for governance. We expect that the principle of federal character, which is constitutional, should be respected.
“It is important that in making his appointments, the President should recognise that there are six geo-political zones in the country and it is imperative that he carries all of them along in the spirit of nation building and as a statesman.”
The Igbo World Union and the Ohanaeze Youth Council described the President’s actions as a threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
The OYC National President, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said, “Buhari should not abuse his privileged position as the President of Nigeria for the moment. He should not forget our federal system but reflect the federal character in his appointments.
“We are warning him to drop the Northern agenda and govern Nigeria in line with the constitution which he sworn to protect. We will hold him by his statement that ‘he is for nobody and for everybody ‘ except he now wants to tell us that he is the President of the North alone.”
According to Isiguzoro, Buhari’s actions demonstrate that he came to power to reverse the positive steps made by Jonathan, who gave consideration to Nigeria’s ethnic plurality in his appointments.
“Jonathan appointed Northerners as his National Security Adviser, Defence Minister, Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Defence Staff etc. But so far, Buhari has shown us that he has no regard for other parts of the country.”
In his reaction, the President-General of Igbo World Union, Dr. Mishak Nnanta, asked the President not to succumb to any ill- advice from individuals with parochial interest.
The National President of Njiko Igbo Forum, Reverend Okechukwu Obioha, warned Buhari against running what he described as a “Northern government.”
Obioha expressed the fear that the trend, if left unchecked, could destroy the country.
He said, “Buhari is simply running a Northern government. He is making his appointments as if he is angry with other sections of the country. The appointments are lopsided in favour of the North and that is not acceptable.”