By Sam Amadi
It Doesn’t Matter who Buhari Appoints
True to type, the President didn’t appoint the most senior officer in the Army to become the Chief of Army Staff. That most senior is an Igbo man. Does that matter? Should anyone be so offended that an Igbo officer, duly qualified, was passed over again? Should it lead to resentment and disappointment?
There was no Igbo Chief of the Army until President Jonathan did it. There was no Igbo Inspector General of Police until Obasanjo did it. These examples mean that exclusion of igbos from so-called important positions is not a recent thing. It also means that such exclusion somehow gets to end. And things get to normal.
There is no argument that Buhari has been extremely parochial in the diversity of his appointments. He has often settled for persons he knows or persons nominated by members of his closest kitchen cabinet. And since that cabinet is extremely parochial in terms of ethnic and religious composition it means that his appointments do not satisfy the standards set by previous presidents from the south and north.
Buhari is special. It is part of that specialness that recommended him to Tinubu, Soyinka and the rest of progressives who sought him out and foisted him on us. That specialness includes that he eats and drinks northern Nigeria, or better northeast, or better Islam, or better CPC or such previous neo-conservative, neo-fundamentalist organizations he may have founded or belonged. Clearly, the president is shortsighted in more than visual sense. So, his appointments define him.
The main point is that he is executive president. Section 5 of the Constitution says that the executive power of the republic from 2015-2023 will reside in a man from Daura called Buhari; a man who as ordinary citizen cum retired general traveled to Oyo State to harass a governor for mistreating fulani herders, a man who as soon as elected president declared that he would not in good conscience treat the 5% who did not vote for him as fair as the 97% who voted for him, a man who is fulfilling that pledge only that he mistakes 7% of that 97% as the entirety. The meaning of Buhari being Chief Executive of the Nigerian corporation in the language of Section 5 is that, apart from those appointments that the Constitution mandates must be shared amongst states, no other obligation of equality and fairness in the staffing of the federal government lies on the president in spreading the booties of shared maladministration. The president can appoint all from one community as long as he fulfills other constitutional requirements of spread. Interestingly, the federal character requirements is not so legally binding. They constitute part of the constitution that operates like mission statement and operating standards for reasonable corporate Chief Executives. But Buhari is a special kind of chief executive and we are very luck that our champions of democracy searched him out in 2014.
So, the president is responsible for executive functions of the republic, including those of the commander-in-chief. When we voted for him under the luminous signaling of Soyinka and the rest of the progressives we are presumed to know his proclivities and efficiencies and willing to accept his stoic, primordial mentality as what we needed after Jonathan’s alleged bacchanal modernity. So, here we are, with a president who have our mandate to shake things up or rather, shake things upside down, a president , who in spite of the quaking around about him, is deeply ensconced gazing at his navel, travelling back in time to regurgitate his childhood memories and reembrace his childhood friends.
Now, it matters that the parochial character and optics of governance in an increasingly divided country drains legitimacy from even something as chronically nationalistic as the military. Some people rightly think that the ethnicity or religion of a COAS could change the perception of the Nigerian army and contribute to its effectiveness in mobilizing communal support for a successful mission against multiple and varied insurgents. This may be true. But in the peculiar circumstances that threw up a man who for 40 years bothered about nothing else apart from cows, the north or fulani as president, we can exchange illegitimacy for the effectiveness which Buhari’s singlemindedness ought to offer us. Which is another way of saying “Hey guys, all will be well if the Fulani, Sokoto COAS just momentarily orbits out of the 97/5% solar system, takes the fight to all terrorists wherever they are and whoever they, are, and gets the job down, we will toast and forget about the man at rest in a storm with a toothpick in his mouth”.
So, to paraphrase an iconic Chinese leader, it does not matter whether the President stacks the security deck with only buddies from his high school, once they get the job done.
Oh does it still matters?