Buhari’s Turning of Appointments Into Disappointments -By Jafaar Jafaar

Filed under: National Issues |
Jafaar Jafaar

Jafaar Jafaar

 

…the Buhari defence league, especially on social media, always argue that “there are over 6,000 appointments at his desk”, and so Nigerians should be patient with him. What I always tell these drummers is that the president is causing unnecessary image crisis for himself, especially in a section of the country. I would also add that even military regimes gauge public perceptions in key decisions.

Ponder over this Hausa proverb: “sawun keke ba’a gane gabanka”, which roughly translates to “a bicycle’s contact patch does not tell where it comes from or where it heads to”, and see how it aptly describes Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari.

Bearing in mind the current realities in our polity, how would one, in the wildest of dreams, think that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will come from the North? The very North that has a President, a Senate President, a Speaker, a Head of Service, a Chief of Staff, a Chief Justice, and what not?

While Mr. President is likened to the proverbial “sawun keke”, the pigmentation of his appointments may be likened to “birgimar hankaka”, literally meaning the wallow of a pied crow. When a pied crow wallows, the Hausa say, you will see both the white patch on its gullet and the black plumage that covers most of the bird’s body.

In the appointment of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), President Buhari showed Nigerians the “white” patch on his gullet. But like crow, as he lurched and rolled over recently, Nigerians saw the “other” – thank my euphemism – side of the president.

I was working on a story in the newsroom when I received a call from someone close to the president complaining bitterly about the political danger of frustrating politicians in the making of political appointments, and also the skewed nature of these appointments. “Haji Jaafar,” he said after exchanging pleasantries, “you have to say something about this issue. The president wants to appoint Abba Kyari as Chief of Staff. Why are most of the appointments mainly going to North-East.” I could sense his bias.

As usual, I bared my mind, telling him that the president should watch his step as “there is election after every election”. I also told him, matter-of-factly, that the president’s appointments should bear political colour since politicians bankrolled his campaigns and worked for his success.

Few hours after we spoke, the president’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, formally released the story. Adesina himself is one of the wrong appointments President Buhari made. Adesina may be professionally competent to handle the job, but as I said previously Dele Alake, Dele Momodu and Abike Dabiri-Erewa are all professionally and politically competent to handle the job.

Buhari suffered for 12 years trying to prove to the world that he was neither a religious bigot, an ethnic champion nor clannish (the very word I often used to describe Jonathan). During campaign, in a bid to show that he was a true Nigerian, Buhari wore all manners of dresses – from the Yoruba’s kembe, dansiki and sokoto to the Igbo’s okpu agu hat, ukara, wrapper and corals, down to the Ijaw’s bowler hat and knee-level black kaftans. It is surprising to note that President Buhari has since never dressed in this manner after winning the election. Wearing these dresses tell a message. His failure to wear them today is not a crime, please. But remember, he wore them for a reason, which is still relevant.

It is also surprising that after battling the ethnic agenda stereotypes for 12 years, Buhari’s actions, especially in making appointments, have ethnic bias. Buhari made no clear attempt to free himself from the stereotypes that swarmed, like bees, around him and stung his presidential ambition several times. It makes me angry when I see those who gave Buhari the antidote being relegated.

But the Buhari defence league, especially on social media, always argue that “there are over 6,000 appointments at his desk”, and so Nigerians should be patient with him. What I always tell these drummers is that the president is causing unnecessary image crisis for himself, especially in a section of the country. I would also add that even military regimes gauge public perceptions in key decisions.

About a week or so ago I lamented in this column about Buhari’s failure to make key appointments three months after assuming office as president. And here we are – lamenting after he made the appointments. Of course he filled the key vacuums but not the way every right-thinking person would expect. The outcry that greeted the president’s latest appointments is even louder than his failure to make the appointments.

It is wrong for a diverse nation like Nigeria to have a President, a Senate President, a Speaker, an SGF, a Head of Service, a Chief of Staff, a Chief Justice, from a section of the country. It is also politically wrong to go beyond any one in the trio of Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu and Chris Ngige when appointing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) or Chief of Staff.

Every right-thinking person would think President Buhari would pick one of them. What is the fault of these Nigerians who were abused by their kinsmen for teaming up with Buhari? What is the fault of these Nigerians (particularly Rotimi Amaechi) who committed their resources to making the dream of Nigerians of having Buhari as president come true? What is the fault of these Nigerians who were abused for telling their people that Buhari was not a tribalist, that he is true Nigerian, that he loves Ndigbo? I remember a lie told that Buhari’s daughter is married to an Igbo man – all in a bid to tell the world Buhari is detribalised!

If after waiting for three months these are the characters Buhari is vetting to appoint, then I am really disappointed in his appointments.

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