Last week, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, offered a piece of advice to President Muhammadu Buhari concerning the mismanagement of the Federal Character principle as enshrined in the constitution.
This very sensitive national issue – especially as it relates to federal appointments – has since stirred disaffection and deepened the country’s fault lines.
The conversations around this issue are not abating and last week’s debates in the National Assembly (NASS) created even a bigger buzz, appearing like a motion without movement. We tracked this and two other stories.
Motion without movement
Senator Bamidele, on April 26, advised President Buhari, and his appointees whose responsibility is to nominate individuals for Federal appointments to take due cognizance of the Federal Character principle.
Speaking during the screening of Honourable Justice Salisu Garba Abdullahi as Chief Judge designate of the Federal Capital Territory, Bamidele said: “We will like to appeal on behalf of the leadership and our distinguished colleagues in parliament, to urge all stakeholders who participate in the process of executive and judicial appointments in this country, especially individuals and bodies saddled with the responsibility of making recommendations to the President and Commander-in-Chief of our dear country, to ensure compliance with both the eligibility criteria, as well as the Federal Character principle, established in our Constitution in order to avoid unnecessarily heating up the polity and eroding the unity and strength of our country and in the process, weakening the foundation of our country as well as the hope of its federating units.”
But for the observed desecration of Section 14, sub-section (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where the virtue of the Federal Character principle is clearly enshrined, the Bamidele Committee ought not to burn energy on a matter that is considered already settled.
Most troubling is the perceived national harm Buhari’s alleged lopsided appointments breed.
For long, there have been agitations from concerned Nigerians who are dissatisfied with the Federal Government’s appointments which tend to tilt in favour of candidates from northern Nigeria.
For instance, on May 31, 2020, former Military Governor of Kaduna State, Abubakar Umar, in an open letter to Buhari said that the country has become “dangerously polarised” because he (Buhari) does not acknowledge the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of the country in his appointments.
Many keen watchers of Nigeria’s political space argue, however, that the legislative arm of government has not acquitted itself well, and remains tangentially guilty for all the wrongs exercised by the Buhari administration in the area of federal character implementation.
It is a given that they could knock the President into shape if he was going the wrong way by rejecting appointments found not to be in agreement with constitutional provisions.
The Bamidele Committee must, therefore, seek to remove the log in its own eyes before attempting to scream out loud on the perceived mismanagement of the federal character principle by President Buhari.
Talk is cheap but more action is required.
And, while at this, it must be said that competence and excellence should not be sacrificed on the alter of ethnic or religious balance.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“I sympathise with President Muhammadu Buhari at this moment, because everything is on him. No one is defending him, the Ministers are not speaking, the Directors are not speaking, then the masses that should say listen at least our President is doing something, are not speaking, everyone is bottled with anger of some sort. The bitter truth is that the APC reward system is not benefitting Nigerian youths and this is responsible for the anger seen across the nation?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
Stolen and missing arms
On April 29, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, revealed that most of the arms and ammunitions used by terrorists in the country were stolen from the Nigerian Armed Forces.
“Most of the arms and ammunition they use are the ones they succeed in carting away from the Nigerian soldiers and other armed forces or security agencies. I know they have some small arms coming from up there like Libya, Chad, and all that but the bulk of the equipment they use are the ones they succeeded in stealing from our armed forces and this is what the armed forces are trying to guide against,” he said while speaking on national television.
Given Ndume’s privileged position, his revelations should be a great source of worry.
Beyond his claims are also his other revelations that the Nigerian Army has been caught severally rationing ammunitions and going to war with archaic weaponry.
Between these is the grimly fact of internal sabotage that has seen operatives steal from the armoury for resell to bandits and terrorists.
It would seem that the country is confronted by a vicious cycle of spending more on the military while risking losing same assets to the enemy and returning to ask for more funding.
Ndume, as the Senate Committee Chairman on Army, must embrace the task of ensuring that he and his NASS colleagues come together to fight this within the ambit of their jurisdiction.
Adeyemi also a ‘wailer’?
On April 27, Senator Smart Adeyemi wept on the floor of the Senate while speaking on the sustained devastation and destruction by terrorists across the nation.
“We need not to run away from the fact that more than ever before in the history of our nation, this is the worst instability so far and because of insecurity in our nation, today there are a lot of misgivings; there are a lot of misinterpretation.
“We wouldn’t wait until our nation get burnt. Let us get up and call for foreign support. I am APC and I have been supporting our party, but let the President know that we who support APC could no longer keep quiet,” he said in contribution to a motion sponsored by Senator Sani Musa on the activities of Boko Haram insurgents in Niger State.
Adeyemi’s outpour of emotion reflects the shared feelings of Nigerians who are directly or indirectly hit by the heightened insecurity dragging the country to a dangerous precipice.
By dropping all forms of political sentiments as a Senator from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), while speaking truth to power, Adeyemi sends a strong signal to the party and President Buhari that not even their closest allies are enthused by the sad developments in the country.
Having re-echoed the dire situation in the country to the hearing of those whose responsibility it is to act, the following posers will suffice:
Will Adeyemi’s lamentations be sufficient to ginger the Buhari-led government into redoubling its efforts in containing insecurity or, would his voiced concerns fizzle out like those of others, in the recent past, who have made their feelings known?
Only time will tell!
Answer: Senator Rochas Okorocha
Okorocha made the statement on May 4, 2021, while playing host to the APC Progressives Minds from Cross River State, at the Unity House in Abuja. He represents Imo West Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
By John Chukwu…
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