During his swearing for the first term in office in 2015, President Mohammadu Buhari assured Nigerians that he would be a President and father for all; that he belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody.
However, only recently, 16 leaders of socio-cultural groups in the Southern region of Nigeria dragged President Muhammadu Buhari before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court over alleged marginalization of their people in the appointments his administration made since 2015.
The suit was filed on their behalf by 10 senior advocates of Nigeria with Chief Solomon Asemota and Chief Mike Ozekhome at the helms.
They want to court to slam a N50 billion fine on the President for flagrant breach of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Federal Character Principle.
the attorney-general of the federation, Clerk to National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission (FCC) were equally joined in the suit by the plaintiffs led by Dr. John Nnia Nwodo, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Dr Pogu Bittus, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Bozimo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Mrs. Sarah Doketri, and Air Commodore Idongsit Nkanga, among others.
Among others, they contend that the current composition of the government of the federation, most of its agencies, particularly security and paramilitary security architecture do not reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria.
They also want the court to determine whether the decision of President Buhari’s administration to obtain $22.7 billion loan facilities from the Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, the World Bank, China, Japan and Germany for infrastructural development mostly in the northern region and totally excluding the South East was not “reckless and adverse to the interest of Nigeria”.
Recall that before the suit, elder statesman and leader of the Niger Delta, Chief Edwin Clerk had earlier in a June 2020 open letter to President Buhari entitled “Let’s Call a Spade a Spade”, accused the President of far-reaching nepotism.
Clark’s letter came after Col. Abubakar Umar had also written to the President, urging him to belong to everybody, arguing that his appointments were lopsided.
Citing examples with the controversial circumstances surrounding the removal from office of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen and former Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, Chief clerk accused the President of removing Southerners from high profile and Grade A offices and replacing them with Northerners.
He equally lamented what he saw as sprawling nepotism in the oil and gas sector even against the people of the oil bearing region.
Said Chief Clerk “Let me remind Mr. President, of what played out at the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, of the ministry of petroleum, last year.
“The man who was director there, Mordecai Baba Ladan, from the North, attained the retirement age of 60 years in June, 2017, but he was retained till December, 2019.
“When he eventually left, consistent with the tendencies of your administration, Sarki Auwalu, also from the North, was appointed to that position.
“I was made to understand that, Mr. Auwalu, who was an assistant director, was appointed director of the key regulatory department, ahead of eight deputy directors.
“While, in the same petroleum industry, Roland O. Ewubare, who is from the South South, was moved from NAPIMS as Managing Director last year, another person from South South was not appointed to replace him. Rather, a Northerner was used to replace him, perhaps, because NAPIMS, like DPR, is said to be one of the strategic subsidiaries of the NNPC.
“Interestingly, on the other hand, when Roland O. Ewubare, was earlier, moved from Integrated Data Services Limited, he was replaced with someone from South South, in the person of Diepriye Tariah. I understand, Mr. Tariah, recently, disengaged from the service, and another South South person has been appointed to replace him.
“So it seems to me, there are positions in NNPC, reserved for people from the South South, and there are some other positions reserved for people from the Northern zone. Why the discrimination, and seeming snobbery?”
Meanwhile, as Nigerians await the outcome of the lawsuit, here are a list of some Buhari’s appointments restricted only to persons replaced at the end of their tenure and before the end of their tenures, not all the appointments made so far.
The list also comprises those who acted as chief executive officers of their organisations, but were thrown out under controversial circumstances.
Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC: Former Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who hails from Delta State in the oil rich Niger Delta region was removed by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2016. He was replaced by the now late Dr. Maitanti Baru. Baru was succeeded by Mele Kyari.
Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN: Godwin Emefiele was first appointed as CBN Governor by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014. He was reappointed by President Buhari in January 2020.
Nigerian Content and Monitoring Board, NCMB: The Executive Secretary, Denzil Amagbe Kentebe, was removed in 2016. Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote was appointed in his place.
Petroleum Equalisation Fund, PEF: Hajiya Asmau Asabe Ahmed was removed in 2016. She handed over to the third in the PEF hierarchy, Ahmed Bobboi as Acting Executive Secretary. He was confirmed in the same year.
National Pension Commission, PENCOM: Chinelo Anohu was removed along with other members of management board of PENCOM in April 2017 midway into her tenure against the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014. She was replaced with Hajiya Aisha Dahir-Umar, who has been in acting capacity for over three years. Ironically, Anohu has since joined the African Development Bank as of the African Investment Forum. She is also on the board of on the African Advisory Board of the London Stock Exchange as well as the international advisory board of the prestigious Edinburgh Business School.
In May 2017, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, as acting president, reviewed Buhari’s appointments into PENCOM during Buhari’s medical trip.
Whereas Buhari appointed Funsho Doherty and Aliyu Dikko Mahommed as DG and board chairman, respectively, Osibanjo appointed Funsho Doherty as DG and Ali Usman as chairman of board. Aisha Dahir-Umar is still the Acting DG three years after Anohu’s removal.
Industrial Training Fund, ITF: Joseph Ntung Ari from Plateau State replaced Mrs. Juliet Chukkas-Onaeko as Director-General of ITF. Director of Procurement, Dickson Onuoha had held sway in Acting capacity, but was not confirmed.
National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA: Peter Jack was suspended as DG. Vincent Olatunji acted as DG, but was not confirmed. Dr. Isa Ali Patami was appointed as new DG in 2016. Following the nomination of Patami as Minister in 2019, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi was appointed in August 2019 as new DG of NITDA. A staff of the CBN, Abdullahi was on secondment to NITDA as Technical Assistant to Patami.
National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons, NCRMI: Former federal commissioner/CEO Sadiya Farouq was appointed as minister in 2019 and Senator Basheer Mohammed was appointed as her replacement in August 2019.
Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD: Former executive secretary, Sharon Ikeazor, was nominated as minister in 2019 and was replaced with Dr. Chioma Ejikeme.
Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP: Former DG of BPP, Emeka Ezeh was replaced with Mamman Amadu at the end of his tenure.
national broadcasting commission, nbc: Former DG of the National Broadcasting Commission NBC, Emeka Mba, was removed on what many believe were trumped up charges after revolutionalising NBC and raising billions to fund the digital switch over.
Mbah was succeeded by Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, who soon was accused of corruption. Even while in court over, he continued as DG of NBC until he was suspended recently in February this year. Armstrong Idachaba is in the acting DG as the most senior Director.
Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, OGFZA: Umana Okon Umana appointed as MD/CEO in 2016 and reappointed in 2019 for another term of three years.
Energy Commission: Prof. Elli Bala Jidere was first appointed DG by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 and reappointed by President Buhari in 2018 amid some allegations levelled against him as conveyed to Buhari in two separate petitions by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Energy Commission of Nigeria Unit, dated 11th September, 2017 and 28th February, 2018.
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA: Dr. Bashir Jamoh replaced Dakuku Peterside in March 2020. In 2015, Barrister Calistus Nwabueze Obi, an executive director, was appointed the acting DG, but he was replaced after four days with another executive director, Mr. Baba Haruna Jauro although both of them were appointed into the agency on the same day in 2012.
Federal Inland Revenue Service: FIRS: Babatunde Fowler’s tenure was not renewed at the expiration of his tenure in December 2019. He was replaced with Mohammad Nami.
Petroleum Technology Trust Fund, PTDF: Mr. Femi Ajayi, who was appointed the 7th executive secretary of PTDF in June 2014 was replaced with Dr. Bello Aliyu Guzau in September 2016, about two years into his four-year tenure.
Meanwhile, past executive secretaries of the agency before him were Alhaji Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar (2000 to 2005), Alhaji Mohammed Hussaini Jalo (July 2005 to Nov 2005), Adamu Maina Waziri (Nov 2005 to Nov 2006), Kabir Abdulfatah Mohammed (Nov 2006 to Nov 2008), Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma (Nov 2008 to Nov 2012) and Dr Oluwole Oluleye (May 2013 to June 2014).
Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Tetfund: Suleiman Bogoro was reappointed/reinstated in January 2019. He was initially disengaged in 2016 and replaced with an aide to the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, Abdullahi Baffa.
Interestingly, no southerner has headed the agency since its establishment in 2011.
Former executive secretaries were Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and Aliyu Manya. Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Iman is also the chairman of board.
Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC: Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim was first appointed as MD/CEO of NDIC in 2010. He was reappointed by president Buhari for another term of five years in 2016.
Security and Exchange Commission, SEC: Mary Uduk, had acted as DG since March 2018. But she was not confirmed as substantive DG by President Buhari. Instead, Lamido Yuguda was appointed substantive DG.
Bank of Industry: Rasheed Olaoluwa was replaced with Olukayode Pitan. The appointment was made by Professor Yemi Osibanjo in May 2017. He also appointed Malam Dikko Mohammed to succeed Abdulsamad Rabiu as chairman of governing board.
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON: Mustafa Chike Obi was fired in August 2015 by President Buhari. He was replaced with Ahmed Kuru. Also, the chairman of the board is Edward Adamu (chairman) from North-east. Other board members are: Aminu Ismail, North-west; Umaru Ibrahim, North-west; Dr. Eberechukwu Uneze, South-east; Ahmed Abdullahi, North-west and Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, North-west. The new director general of the Security and Exchange Commission, Lamido Yuguda, will also statutorily join the AMCON board, having been confirmed by the senate.
National Insurance Commission, NAICOM: In May 2020, President Buhari appointed Sunday Thomas as substantive Commissioner/CEO. He had replaced Mallam Mohammed Kari in acting capacity since July 2019.
Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC: Abubakar Garba was appointed as Registrar General/CEO of Corporate Affairs Commission in January 2020. But Mrs. Azuka Azinge was appointed acting registrar general in October 2017 at the end of the tenure of the former registrar general, Bello Mahmud. She was the first Nigerian of southern extraction to taste that office. But her confirmation was unduly delayed for over two years, up to December 2019, when she was effectively toppled vide a controversial ex-parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged non-declaration of assets.
Note that these are largely replacements and not all the appointments made during the period in question. They are partly why the aggrieved leaders of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt have gone to court. Will the leaders be vindicated or their prayer dismissed? Only time will tell.