The age-long ethnic division and mutual suspicion among Nigerians have been brought to the fore once again. President Buhari recently announced the appointment of six individuals including the Secretary to the Federal Government and this announcement has been met with criticisms from different sections of the Nigerian society. A statement in defense of the president’s appointments of twenty five persons since the beginning of the administration stated that the president would right the wrong and would ensure to pacify all frayed nerves in subsequent political appointments.
Some Nigerians have also faulted this statement saying that the president knew all along that the appointments made so far were tilted towards a certain section of the Nigerian society.
Now President Buhari has been tagged the “King of the North” in an article by no less a person than Chief Femi Fani-Kayode who described the president’s appointments in three months after he was sworn into office as a mess. This article has lent its voice to the various criticisms and attacks on President Buhari’s political appointments and has also increased the debate about the intentions and agenda of the president.
We the Nigerian people especially political parties and politicians have to champion the task of nation building through cohesion and integration of the diversity of cultures and ethnic groups in Nigeria. We need to move away from our old ways of thinking because Nigeria has been experiencing a setback on account of tribalism, ethnicity, sectionalism, zoning and federal character. President Buhari should not see these attacks and criticisms over his government’s appointments as personal but rather as a wake-up call and an opportunity to work earnestly towards achieving nationhood and national unity as many Nigerians do not have an outlook of one Nigeria.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode said in his article that the logic of ignoring federal character for merit is absurd besides he concluded that equitable distribution of political appointments is a pre-requisite for peace, security and national unity.
I beg to disagree with this assertion as federal character and zoning have not served our collective interest since independence. What they have done at best is to inflict pains on the Nigerian people and hamper the country’s growth and development. That is why the issue of tribalism, ethnicity and sectionalism still remains a big problem in Nigeria after 54 years of independence. Nigerian politicians and leaders should not fan the embers of discord and disunity among the different tribes and ethnic groups of the Nigerian society. They should rather champion the course of national unity and nationhood.
Federal character, zoning and the likes have been used over the years as a way of addressing the problem of ethnicity and tribalism in Nigeria but these principles have failed to solve the problem of disunity –creating more problems that the APC had to run away from it due to the negative impact it had on the PDP during their 16 years rule.
Some people have admonished those who argue in favour of merit over federal character not to speak like illiterates. Well, being in support of federal character over merit as a criteria for government appointments does not mean that a person knows very much either.
President Buhari have to work tirelessly towards achieving national unity and nationhood. Though the present administration has security, the fight against corruption and jobs creation through the economy as its top priorities due to the exigency of our current national crisis but the Buhari administration now has to include national unity as one of its top priorities.
The president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina has said that political appointments would be balanced in the long run. It is not enough to balance government’s appointments but it is important to change our sectional and regional outlook which has affected our ability to see ourselves as Nigerians first.
President Buhari and all political elites have to work towards fostering social harmony among over one hundred and seventy million Nigerians and not contribute towards widening the ethnic divide that has plagued the country for many years. Governor Adams Oshiomhole in his defense of the president’s appointments said that we must not reduce governance to political patronage of bread and butter but unfortunately, we are yet to move beyond this point as a country besides political appointments have over the years been consolation prizes rather than getting the best minds to move us into the future.
Nigerian leaders and politicians must recognize the dangers posed to the unity of Nigeria by being sentimental, encouraging tribalism and playing the ethnic card. It is high time they begun to work on addressing issues emanating from our stark contradictions and flawed political foundation; and which are responsible for Nigeria’s perennial crisis as well as the current criticisms and reactions trailing President Buhari’s recent appointments.
We are at the early months of the new administration and there is no better time to work towards national unity and nationhood than now.