By Bolanle BOLAWOLE
Have the President’s appointments been fair? Have they been equitable? Some say he has not been fair, equitable and just; especially those who say that he has unduly favoured his Yoruba ethnic group. To buttress their point, they have listed some important and critical appointments which they say have gone the way of Tinubu’s Yoruba ethnic group. Let us take the appointments one after the other, beginning with the office of Chief of Staff, created in 1999 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. We have since then had the following as Chief of Staff. 1. Abdullahi Mohammed (Northerner), 29 May, 1999 – 2 June, 2008; 9 years. 2. Relatively-unknown Gbolade Osinowo (South-west), 2 June 2008 – 18 September, 2008; three-and-half months, after which the then President Umaru Yar’Ádua abolished the position. 3. Mike Oghiadomhe (South-South), 17 May, 2010 – 10 February 2014; about 4 years (after President Goodluck Jonathan reinstated the position). 4. Jones Arogbofa (Yoruba), 18 February 2014 – 29 May, 2015; one year, three months. 5. Abba Kyari (Northerner), 27 August 2015 – 17 April, 2022, almost seven years. 6. Ibrahim Gambari (Kwara state/North Central), 13 May, 2020 – 29 May, 2023, three years). So, the North has held the position for 16 years; South-South, 4 years; North-Central, 3 years; South-west, one-and-half years before the current holder of the post, Femi Gbajabiamila, who came into office on 14 June, 2023, less than 5 months ago. My verdict: This appointment by President Tinubu is justified.
Next is the position of the National Security Adviser; WIKIPEDIA described this position as “a senior official in the cabinet of the President of Nigeria who manages national security on behalf of the President and serves as his chief advisor on all matters that are vital to the very survival of the State. The position is a statutory member of the Presidency, National Security Council and the Federal Executive Council”. The occupants since 1993 are: 1. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, 2 January 1993 – 30 August, 1993, eight months. 2. Ismaila Gwarzo, 30 August 1993 – 9 June, 1998, about 5 years. 3. Abdullahi Mohammed, 9 June 1998 – 29 May, 1999, 1 year. 4. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, 29 May, 1999 – 1 June, 2006, seven years. 5. Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar 1 June, 2006 – 8 March, 2010, five years. 6. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, 8 March, 2010 – 18 September, 2010, about six months. 7. Kayode Are (in acting capacity for only two weeks), 18 September, 2010 – 4 October, 2010. 8. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan broke the North’s monopoly of the position when he appointed Owoye Andrew Azazi (4 October, 2010 – 22 June, 2012), less than two years. 9. The North seized the position again with the appointment of Sambo Dasuki, 22 June, 2012 -13 July, 2015, three years. 10. Babagana Monguno, 13 July, 2015 – 26 June 2023, eight years. The current holder of the position, Nuhu Ribadu, appointed on 26 June, 2023, is also a Northerner. No person of South-west origin has held the position in a substantive position. If President Tinubu appoints a Yoruba man into the office tomorrow, there will be an outcry of “Yorubanization” but he will be justified.
Next is the Chief of Army Staff, the undisputed flagship of the Nigerian Armed Forces: The last time a Yoruba (South-west) was Chief of Army Staff (Lt. Gen. Ipoola Alani Akinrinade) was in 1979 – and for only six months! It has been Northerners all the way: Lt. Gen. Gibson Jalo; Lt. Gen. Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi; Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida; Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha; Lt. Gen. Salihu Ibrahim; Lt. Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau; Maj. Gen. Chris Alli; Major-Gen. Alwali Kazir; Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi; Lt. Gen. Victor Malu; Lt. Gen. Alexander Ogomudia (South-South); Lt. Gen. Martin Luther Agwai; Lt. Gen. Owoye Andrew Azazi (South-South); Lt. Gen. Luka Yusuf; Addulrahman Bello Dambazzau; Lt. Gen.Azubuike Ihejirika (South-East); Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah (South-South); Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai; Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru; Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya and the incumbent, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, who was appointed on 23 June, 2023. Is his appointment justified? 100% justified!
The incumbent Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, is the first Yoruba (South-west) to head the organization in a substantive capacity since its inception despite that the chunk of its revenue comes from the region! The list of the Comptroller-Generals is dominated by Northerners: Shehu Ahmadu Musa; Gen. S. O. G. Ango (Sole Administrator); Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Mustapha; Jacob Gyang Buba; Hamman Bello Ahmed; Bernard-Shaw Nwadialo; Dikko Inde Abdullahi and retired Army Colonel Hammed Ali. Is Adeniyi’s appointment justified? It is!
What of the Nigeria Immigration Service? The current acting Comptroller-General, Caroline Wura-Ola Adepoju, is the first Yoruba (South-west) to occupy the post, though still in an acting capacity. Is her appointment justified? Very, very!
What of the EFCC, founded in 1999 by President Olusegun Obasanjo? The list of appointees into the position of Executive Chairman as well as acting Chairman of the EFCC has been an exclusive preserve of the North: Ibrahim Lamorde (Adamawa), acting Chairman, 2008; Ibrahim Magu (Borno state), Acting Chairman, 2015 – 2020; Mohammed Umar Abba (Kano state), acting Chairman, 2020 – 2021; Abdulkarim Chukkol (from Borno state), acting Chairman (June 2023 – October, 2023).
The substantive chairmen are: Nuhu Ribadu (from Adamawa, appointed in 2003 and re-appointed in 2007), Farida Waziri (Benue state), AbdulRasheed Bawa (Kebbi state). The incumbent, Olanipekun Olukoyede, is the first Southerner ever to occupy the position. Is the appointment justified? Super justified!
What of the position of Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, which some people think is their birthright and exclusive preserve? This is the list: Mobolaji Ajose-Adeogun (1976 – 1979); John Jatau Kadiya (1979 – 1982); Iro Abubakar Dan Musa (1982 – 1983); Haliru Dantoro (1983); Mamman Jiya Vatsa (1984 – December 1985); Hamza Abdullahi (1986 – 1989), Gado Nasko (1989 – 1993); Jeremiah Timbut Useni (1993 – 1998); Mamman Kontagora (1998 – 1999); Ibrahim Bunu (1999 – 2001); Mohammed Abba Gana (8 February, 2001 – 17 July, 2003); Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai (17 July, 2003 – 27 July, 2003); Aliyu Modibbo Umar (27 July, 2007 – 29 October, 2008; Bala Mohammed (8 April, 2010 – 29 April, 2015); Mohammed Musa Bello (November 2015 – 29 May 2023) and the incumbent, Nyesom Wike, who was appointed on 21 August, 2023. Since the federal capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja on 12 December, 1991, no Southerner has been made its Minister. Is a Southerner’s appointment as the FCT Minister justified? It is!
The incumbent governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, was appointed by President Tinubu on 15 September, 2023. His predecessors are: Roy Pentelow Fenton (24 July, 1958 – 24 July, 1963); Aliyu Mai-Bornu (25 July, 1963 -22 June, 1967); Clement Nyong Isong (15 August, 1967 – 22 September, 1975); Adamu Ciroma (24 September, 1975 -28 June, 1977); Ola Vincent (28 June, 1982 – 30 September, 1993); Paul Agbai Ogwuma (1 October, 1993 – 29 May, 1999); Joseph Oladele Sanusi (29 May, 1999 – 29 May, 2004); Charles Chukwuma Soludo (29 May, 2004 – 29 May, 2009); Sanusi Lamido Aminu Sanusi (3 June, 2009 – 20 February, 2014); Sarah Alade (in acting capacity: 20 February 2014 – 3 June, 2014); Godwin Emefiele (3 June, 2014 – 9 June, 2023); Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi (in acting capacity: 9 June, 2023 – 15 September, 2023).
As usual, the North has held the post for 22 years, far more than the other regions of the country. South-South (eight years) but if Emefiele is counted as South-South and you add his nine years, then, South-South shoots up to 17 years! South-west 10 years plus seven months in acting capacity and the South-East, 11 years; but if Emefiele is treated as Igbo and you add his nine years, then the South-east moves up to 20 years, next to the North! In view of these statistics, is Tinubu’s appointment of Cardoso as CBN governor justified? It is!
The Minister of Finance is another example of Yorubanization being pointed at. Let’s look at the statistics: Wale Edun is the incumbent, appointed by President Tinubu on 16 August, 2023. Since the Fourth Republic began in 1999, it has been Adamu Ciroma (Yobe State), 1999 -2003; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Delta State), 2003 – 2006; Nenadi Usman (Kaduna State), 2006 – 2007; Shamsuddeen Usman (Kano State), 2007 – 2009; Mansur Mukhtar (Borno State), 2009 – 2010; Olusegun Aganga (Ekiti State), 2010 – 2011; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Delta State) 2011 -2015; Kemi Adeosun (Ogun State), 2015 – 2018; and Zainab Ahmed (Kaduna State) 2018 – 2023.
Recall that Adeosun’s tenure was truncated as a result of the controversy over her NYSC discharge certificate and as if Buhari and the cabals around him were waiting for that to happen, the position was quickly given to one of their own from the North! It remains to be seen whether the Yoruba, who led the bandwagon of those who roasted Adeosun, have learnt any lesson! The South-west has done only about five years, less than what Okonjo-Iweala alone chalked up for Delta and what Zainab Ahmed did for the North! Is the appointment of Edun as Finance Minister justified? It is!
I can go on and on! For instance, no one from the South-west has been the INEC chairman since 1999. The list is: Ephraim Akpata (1998 – 2000); Abel Guobadia (2000 – 2005); Maurice Iwu (2005 – 2010); Atahiru Jega (2010 – 2015); and the incumbent, Mahmood Yakubu, in office since 2015. Is it not only just, fair and equitable for the next INEC chairman to come from Yoruba land?
There are countless other important offices, agencies and parastatals of the Federal Government (Code of Conduct Bureau, Code of Conduct Tribunal, among others) where Southerners, and specifically the South-west/Yoruba, have been marginalized for ages.
Not only can we not wish away Prof. Richard Joseph’s theory of prebendal politics in Nigeria, a federal state such as Nigeria must also ensure that no section is marginalized to the point that succession becomes an enticing option. That is what the agitation for Biafra and Yoruba Nation tells us.
Nigeria’s minority groups, too, have their grievances; one of which is the erroneous assumption, always, that only the major ethnic groups matter. Some of President Tinubu’s appointments have been sensitive to the need to change that narrative. A few examples: The Chief of Defence Staff is General Christopher Gwabin Musa, from the minority Zangon Kataf of southern Kaduna State. We have not forgotten the controversy generated when Vice-Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla was named the Chief of Naval Staff, with some Igbo leaders saying he did not come from “mainstream” Igbo! George Akume, appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation by President Tinubu, is a minority from Benue State. There are so many other such appointments which, in my mind, were directed at correcting the injustices of the past.
But all said and done, is the President infallible or can he please everyone? No mortal can! That is the wisdom in Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey’s evergreen song titled “Ketekete” (The Horse, The Man and The Son)! Tinubu appears to have moved away from Buhari’s 97% and 5% analogy that saw him give virtually all the important votes to his tribe, region, and religion because they voted massively for him while the Igbo that did not were only reluctantly given the dregs.
This same attitude the Igbo have displayed towards the Yoruba through the ages: Awo, MKO Abiola, Olu Falae and now Tinubu. Although they have always maintained stoic silence, suffering in silence, the Yoruba have been more marginalised in the sharing of political largesse than the Igbo.
And the silence of the Yoruba is not cowardice. It is evidence of political sophistication. Now that some people are crying Yorubanization, they may not be aware that even among the Yoruba, there is the understanding that some Southwest states that contributed less to the votes in the Southwest that brought Tinubu to office have ended up being more favoured than those of their counterparts who delivered more votes. Again, it is a measure of the political sophistication of the Yoruba that you will not hear them make an issue of this in public. The Yoruba are one!
*Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER NOW
Support MATAZ ARISING’ journalism of integrity and credibility.
Good journalism ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
We ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
TEXT AD: To advertise here – Email email@example.com
MaTaZ ArIsInGTexas Insecurity: Buhari wasted trillions, Northern elders can criticize Tinubu – Shehu Sani The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has lamented that Nigerian president, Bola Tinubu’s words, deeds and body language have obviously proved that he is not interested in the security of Nigerians and Nigeria as a country. Prof Usman Yusuf, a NEF chieftain,…
By Bola BOLAWOLE MaTaZ ArIsInGTexas Nigeria, as I have often said, is a country of one scandal, one minute. Before you have settled down to digest one, another happens! So, you hurriedly sweep the previous one under the carpets to have enough room for the latest! Our carpets, thus, are bulging, threatening to burst any…
MaTaZ ArIsInGTexas The Ooni of Ife has described the report of him visiting the embattled Godwin Emefiele at Kuje prison, as a cheap blackmail Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, in a statement issued by his aide, said he was at the facility for an advocacy program The monarch noted that the program was an initiative of Queen…