The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has followed, very keenly, the appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, as well as the reactions by the cross sections of the Nigerian population both in Nigeria and overseas.
Of the 30 sensitive political appointments made so far, including those on the strategic institutions and security, there is an absolute wide gulf between the North and the South, women and men and Christians and Muslims.
This does not respect the secularity of the Nigerian state, and, therefore, fails to take of the interest of our country’s diverse peculiarities. Again, the appointments have abused the principle of inclusiveness and popular participation which underlines the attributes or character of a truly democratic society or government.
We have patiently listened to the reasons advanced by the government for making such appointments and the counter reactions of Nigerians to those excuses. While the government insists that honesty, transparency, commitment to duties and experience were factors that induced it to make such appointments, those who are angry against the manner in which the appointments were made, argue that every village in Nigeria and across these major divides has produced eminent, reliable, open, honest, transparent, incorruptible, over experienced and resilient citizens who can deliver on their official duties or assignments.
Of these 30 appointments, analysts say, none was allocated to the South East zone, one of the six geo-political zones in the Federation whereas some states have gotten more than one slots. The group cries for justice and claims alienation from participation.
CLO, as Nigeria’s largest and foremost Pan-Nigerian human rights organisation, after due study of the entire exercise, agrees with the school of thought which describes the appointments as sectional, unacceptable and an act that would promote division, encourage acrimony and condone denial of sense of belonging to certain sections of the Federation. Reactions also show that the appointments will open more wounds in the country rather than heal any.
It is also a gross affront, violation and denigration of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights and a development which infringes on human rights and has grave consequences for peace, justice and respect for the rule of law and due process.
For instance, Section 14, (3) of Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution states, inter alia:
“The composition of the government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.”
In similar vein, Section 15 (1) political objectives of the chapter under mention, says that the Motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be “unity, and faith, peace and progress.”
We maintain that the appointments so far made by President Buhari which is the nucleus or what is popularly called Kitchen Cabinet clearly violates these Constitutional provisions and is, therefore, condemned.
The same is obviously true of Section 15 (2);
“Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.”
The appointments also abused the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which Nigeria has domesticated and ought to uphold to lead by example and demonstrate her respect for Africa, her laws, institutions and human rights mechanisms, Nigeria being a major stakeholder and player in the Continent.
The appointments have both ethnic, religious and gender implications and cannot stand no matter how they are placed.
For instance, no one woman is among the 30 appointees. There is no single appointee from the South East zone and only few Christians while no believers of the other Faiths eg African Traditional Religion has a place in the appointments.
CLO seriously frowns at the appointments and condemns them in very strong terms. We enjoin Mr. President to urgently review his appointments and ensure that the principle of federal character wisely put together by the makers of our laws to bind us together is respected and implemented. We make bold to say that no leader has a right to abuse the laws of our land and subject our society to avoidable confusion.
Secondly, we view the abuse of the Constitution and due process as a huge infraction on human rights and a promotion of corruption because, for us, corruption does not only mean stealing public funds but includes violation of the law, impunity and abuse of the human rights.
A government that is reputed to be fighting corruption must as a matter of fact, respect the laws and run away from tilting towards executive lawlessness that is not an attribute of democracy and democratic norms.
In the same vein, CLO also uses this forum to condemn Mr. President’s clear romance with previous prodigal rulers who plundered, raped and looted our country. In particular, CLO condemns the appointment of General Olusegun Obasanjo by President Buharias the country’s Envoy to Guinea Bissau and the frequent visits and praise comments by the former heads of State, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdul-Salam. These rulers plundered Nigeria and brought us to the present ugly, deplorable state where we are today.
We urge President Buhari to cancel all the appointments that he has made so far, including Obasanjo’s, and discontinue further relationship with any Nigerian seen to have looted our country in any form.
Continued romance with these persons would thicken the people’s suspicion in the fight against graft and may cause the anti-corruption war to seem as if it were discriminatory and selective and targeted against few people.
Lastly, CLO calls on all patriotic Nigerians to rise up to the occasion by not only resisting any attempt to bring our society to the dark days of military dictatorship but to be watchful and extra vigilant so as to sustain democratic governance in Nigeria.
Comrade, Igho Akeregha, President
Comrade, Ibuchukwu Ezike, Executive Director