The winners in the Buhari/Saraki showdown thus far are the Regular Nigerians. We,the everyday people with nothing vested in it other than the best interests of our country.While the Senate President is one of the star victims of Buhari’s ‘selective’ anti-corruption war, he has when possible, used the machinery of the upper chamber to claw back at the President.Buhari is illustrating just how mean the resolve to fight corruption is with a recalcitrant Senate president whom many feel he has an axe to grind with while Saraki and his cohorts on the other hand have paid extra attention to their watchdog role in a bid to catch the President napping.
It was with great joy that we; the winners watched the Senate refuse to screen and confirm the 47 man ambassadorial list sent to it by the Presidency till it featured nominees from every state of the Federation. Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ondo and Plateau were unrepresented and it appeared unjust to have a 47 man list without having at least one from each of the 36 states plus the FCT.
To the Presidency, the refusal was an embarrassing slap on the face.To the Senate, a chance to score a ‘righteous’ point while getting back at the President and for the common Nigerian, a laudable attempt at addressing our current fears.It was more or less a wake up call to an insensitive President that has refused to change the motific nature of his appointments even in light of grave secessionist threats in some regions of the country.
The IPOB and Niger Delta Avengers who were fighting for separate nations are said to be now working hand in hand if reports emanating from the biafrans’ camp are anything to go by.The only Igbo non-ministerial appointment by the President came more than one year into his administration and it was even more by default than choice as she only stepped into the shoes of the recently retired Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr Samuel Ukura in an acting capacity being next in the chain of command. Buhari has made two recent high profile appointments in just a matter of days and they are all northerners- the acting IG of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the new boss of the Federal Inland Waterways, Alhaji BossGida Mustapha. Nothing has changed.
The President still favours his Northern brothers way more than others.He has stuck to his bias for them quite regrettably, even when he claims to be in discussions with the separatists on how to drop their arms and stay a part of us.That is seeking peace and fanning the embers of war all at the same time.Quite a number of people including yours truly had spoken countless times on the divisive tendencies of his appointments even before the various campaigns to secede took a rather wild turn, so unfortunately it is more or less an ‘I told you so’ situation for a lot of us.
You get a feeling the ‘irregularities’ in the Ambassadorial nominee list were ones the Senate would have overlooked if the President had been more considerate in his appointments because it would be suicide in the court of public opinion.But rather it afforded Saraki and his friends a perfect opportunity to throw a punch we applaud them for without appearing petty or messy.
It was quite shrewd of the senate to key into the piling frustration of the average patriotic Nigerian.One who has had to sit and watch our President continue his ‘Northern party’ with no means of checking him.One who has had to sit and wonder if the President is on a deliberate mission to disunite us as a people by so blatantly promoting the interests of some above others.It is trite that when the governed are discontent, it becomes twice as difficult to please them.A lot of the President’s decisions are under a lot more scrutiny than they ordinarily should be and that won’t augur well for his administration.What would ordinarily pass as a harmless omission has had people looking hard to find his trademark on them.
Judging by antecedents, no one can conveniently wave off the fact that Bayelsa, Ondo and Ebonyi are PDP states while Plateau is a north central state that doesn’t particularly qualify as north in the ‘core’ scheme of things.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation has been summoned alongside the Foreign Affairs minister to show cause on July 9th.It remains to be seen if they have a better defence than one put up by the SGF so far.He made a rather lame attempt to make us believe the states had no single person qualified to be an ambassador.I found some of the answers he gave at an interactive session with journalists rather confusing.
After telling us not all states are represented in the foreign service department of the ministry of foreign affairs, he goes on to say the government will have to source nominees from outside the ministry to provide opportunities for states not on the list.If that was possible like we already knew, why didn’t the government tow that path in the first place for the sake of justice and fairness and also in light of the current need to keep everyone happy?.
When the SGF said questions as to the propriety of the list could have been clarified by just a mere phone call, it told perhaps just how inconsequential the Presidency deems issues as sensitive as appointments in times like this when the territorial integrity of our great nation couldn’t be more at risk.A time when separationists are trying to align forces and are steadily bombing towards their goal of crippling oil production to zero level till their demands are met.
The Senate may be in a war with the Presidency but it has spoken for me and a lot of people by rejecting the Ambassadorial list on the ground of lacking federal character. By any means necessary, President Buhari must be made to understand that Nigeria belongs to everybody and that it belongs to nobody.The need to thread with caution can not be over-emphasized.
On a day the Nigerian Senate chose to wear its saints’ garb, it did a most righteous deed.
~Umar Faruk Hassan is lawyer,professional negotiator and mediator based in Kano