“Abobaku” and the Northernisation of a Federal Republic -By Steve Ayorinde

Filed under: National Issues |
Steve Ayorinde

Steve Ayorinde

 

Can we disparage their appointments on the basis of being the President’s kinsmen alone or applaud their choice as crusaders being raised up for a good cause and who will not mind being held accountable in the new moral reorientation that Nigeria is witnessing?

With the anniversary of his 100 days in office almost here, President Muhammadu Buhari is expectedly drawing critical appraisals from different quarters, the most germane being his overt preference for Northerners in positions that most people see as influential.

Last week’s appointment of the Chief of Staff to the President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation became the confirmation needed for critics to accuse Buhari of an undisguised northern agenda.

If they have been uneasy at the consistent listing of northerners in plum positions, particularly in giving out four of the six top military positions to northerners just like he did in the case of Accountant General (Ahmed Idris), Director General, Budget Office (Aliyu Gusau), and the Director General, State Security Service (Lawal Daura), announcing Abba Kyari and Babachir David-Lawal as CoS and SGF respectively has now further fuelled the outrage.

Although the opposition has taken advantage of the latest appointments to lampoon the Buhari administration, accusing it of northernising appointments and governance, last week’s controversial announcement was, perhaps, beyond disappointment for those who expected that federal appointments ought to reflect a national outlook or federal character as specified under the Third Schedule of the Constitution.

To those more vehement, what Buhari has done is akin to a snub of the zones in the southern part of the country and power brokers who were instrumental to PMB’s emergence as the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) and eventually as the President. No appointee so far from the South-East and only one female. What else, according to critics, would confirm the suspicion that PMB is only comfortable among his own people and the small clique of associates he has developed and trusted over time than how he is fortifying himself and the business of government with such people?

If care is not taken, they say, Hausa may have already become the official language at the Aso Rock villa.

I do not suppose that a man who contested four times with all the attendant campaigns and forging alliances all over the country before emerging victorious is being compared to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who was thought to be so taciturn that he only had the phone numbers of three of his governor colleagues at the time he assumed office in 2007.

But those who accuse PMB of a northern agenda are unrelenting in the argument that with his kitchen Cabinet populated by the likes of Kyari, David-Lawal, Babagana Mongunu (National Security Adviser) with his Chief Security Officer, Chief of protocol and Aide de Camp all being northerners too, what the President wants to run is a northern template that will merely tolerate others. They even widen the argument to say that if we look closely, the tendency would have been noticeable from the beginning when Buhari curiously chose to have two ‘spokespersons’ just in order to have a northern voice in the loop.

I hesitate to accept the fact that 75 percent of the appointments made so far have favoured the North is a direct consequence of the statement Buhari made in the United States about those who contributed little to his emergence as President should not expect the same degree of benefits from those whose contributions were overwhelming. That statement was an unpresidential faux pas that is really impractical and must have been regretted, given PMB’s good gesture towards the Niger Delta lately and the appointment of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, a Delta Igbo to head and restructure the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

And so, if the proponents of a non-existent Abobaku in Ile Ife were dead wrong, is it possible that those who equate Buhari’s key men like Daura, Gen. Tukur Buratai, Mongunu, Kyari, David-Lawal and Hameed Ali, a retired Army colonel now saddled with the responsibility of ending the sleaze at the Nigerian Customs as mere die-hard lieutenants, may be wrong?

But it is amusing how the President is unwittingly confirming the presumption of critics who say his worldview is limited as far as friendship and association go and his key appointments might revolve around a few ‘saints’ that have always flocked around him.

In other words, they say the people that Buhari will be comfortable working with are like his own Abobaku (the King’s closest and most loyal aides who dine and die with him) who understand his body language and are better suited to help him permeate the system with his type of frugal, no-nonsense approach to life and governance.

By Abobaku I do not refer to the spectacular hoax of last month on social media that suggested, quite erroneously, that the King’s closest aide had eloped from the palace of Ooni of Ife in Osun State, after the King’s demise, fearing that he might become a sacrificial lamb that is required to accompany the King on the journey of no return. Of course there is no aide or title by that name or inference in Ile Ife. Sarun, the head aide at the Ife palace who is always with the King, was indeed by the late Ooni’s side at the point of death and burial. But he is still alive as no tradition now requires a chief to die with the King in Ile Ife or any other city.

However, it should be a subject of hilarious engagement how the myth of the Abobaku who was mortified about death in the old Oyo Empire in Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman got transposed into the modern day reality in Ile Ife.

And so, if the proponents of a non-existent Abobaku in Ile Ife were dead wrong, is it possible that those who equate Buhari’s key men like Daura, Gen. Tukur Buratai, Mongunu, Kyari, David-Lawal and Hameed Ali, a retired Army colonel now saddled with the responsibility of ending the sleaze at the Nigerian Customs as mere die-hard lieutenants, may be wrong?

Can we disparage their appointments on the basis of being the President’s kinsmen alone or applaud their choice as crusaders being raised up for a good cause and who will not mind being held accountable in the new moral reorientation that Nigeria is witnessing?

Rather than question the familial relationship between the Acting Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Amina Zakari, and Buhari, why hasn’t there been sufficient noise over paucity of women in the appointments made so far?

As a President elected on a four-year mandate, we should allow Buhari to exercise his discretion, moreso that the much awaited ministerial list is almost ready.

 

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