The contentious nomination of the former Service Chiefs as non-career Ambassadors, by President Muhammadu Buhari, will not go away in a hurry as it still dominates national discourse.
The governors of Bauchi and Benue States also placed themselves on the spotlight and this week’s QuickRead won’t be complete without chewing on why both helmsmen are at daggers drawn.
Enjoy three other stories that created quite some buzz in the polity and their broad consequences for Nigeria as a nation.
1. A President’s reward system
On February 12, in his Facebook column, ‘From the Inside,’ Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, wrote extensively justifying the nomination of the former Service Chiefs as non-career Ambassadors by President Buhari.
In the article titled ‘Ex-Service Chiefs as Ambassadors; and why not,’ Adesina said the Service Chiefs were rewarded with the nominations for their ‘loyalty’.
“Thanks, President Buhari, for showing the way. Loyalty begets loyalty, and must be rewarded. Thanks for not following the mob, who love to see people fall. True kindness is the one you show to people, when they are both useful and no longer useful to you.
“President Buhari would not use people who did their level best, and dump them unceremoniously, so that they become objects of derision in the eyes of those who like to see people fall from elevated positions. May God give us leaders who love people. Who know that man deserves to be treated decently, both in office and out of it. And President Buhari has shown the way,” he wrote.
Why it matters
Femi Adesina’s belaboured attempt at justifying the actions of his principal speaks to the everyday challenges of the reputation manager who often has to live between garnishing lies and saving his job.
Against Adesina’s claims are the stark realities. Quite evident are the deliberate attempts at institutionalizing a reward system that enthrones favouritism and loyalty ahead of competence and capabilities.
This is not the first time such a reward system has been used by the President. The late Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Justice Sylvanus Nsofor, an 82-year-old man, was given the position because of a court judgment he had once given in favour of Buhari in one of his election petitions.
The consequences of this action deeply illustrate how the government is entrenching strong men, rather than strong institutions.
Not lost on Nigerians are strong fears that there may be concerted efforts by the government to shield the ex-Service Chiefs from international prosecution, though Adesina did mention that as non-career Ambassadors, they cannot be shielded from such prosecutions.
2. Bauchi governor’s warped logic
Also on February 12, the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, came out to defend Fulani herdsmen carrying guns, in response to Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who had earlier condemned such.
“The Fulani herdsman practices the tradition of trans-human, pastoralism; he has been exposed to the dangers of the forests, the animals, and now, the cattle rustlers, who carry guns, kill him and take away his commonwealth, his cows.
“He then has no option but to carry AK-47 rifles and defend himself because the society and the government are not protecting him,” Mohammed had argued.
Why it matters
Though wrong to classify all herdsmen as criminals, Governor Mohammed’s defence stokes further tension, especially against overwhelming evidence that open grazing and wanton destruction of farmlands had created ethnic squabbles and that nothing justifies an individual carrying an unlicensed gun.
Mohammed’s defence of herdsmen carrying dangerous weapons tells of a hint that there may be powerful Northern politicians and businessmen secretly funding procurement of arms by herdsmen.
If the Bauchi governor is to be taken seriously, then his position, and those of others like him, may offer fresh insight into why farmers-herders conflicts would persist, ethnic tensions not abating and insecurity threatening to erase the country from existence.
More importantly, it speaks of systemic sabotage as powerful and influential individuals continue to force the hands of government against implementing sustainable solutions such as ranching and legislations against open grazing.
Indeed, Mohammed’s disposition is an invitation to anarchy as it suggests that citizens are at liberty to arm and protect themselves without recourse to the law.
3. On Niger, Nigeria’s ‘37th’ State
On February 9, President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kano-Maradi (Niger Republic) rail project at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In his speech, Buhari had said, among others:
“The Kano – Maradi rail line has been identified as a viable line that will significantly enhance the movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for our industries.
“The project, when completed, would serve import and export of goods for the Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports. The country would earn revenue through expansion of trade and commerce, while the people of the Niger Republic will benefit from the ease of transportation logistics at an affordable cost in their import and export business.”
Why it matters
The hilarious insinuations by critics of the present administration that Niger Republic is unofficially Nigeria’s 37th state may be gradually manifesting with each passing day.
The frenetic pace at which the developmental projects between Nigeria and Niger are being consummated seem to put these concerns in proper perspective.
But much more are legitimate worries that some corrupt Nigerians, mostly of northern origin, are beginning to siphon their ill-gotten wealth to Niger Republic, and sometimes escaping to that country to dodge Nigerian judicial systems.
4. Justice for #EndSARS campaigners
On February 10, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unfreeze the bank accounts of 20 #EndSARS protesters.
In his judgment, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, noted that counsel to the CBN and the legal representative of the protesters had agreed to end the case.
“All processes filed deemed to have been withdrawn in the spirit of reconciliation, the suit is hereby struck out. The order of November 4, 2020, freezing the accounts of the respondents is hereby set aside,” Justice Mohammed said.
Why it matters
The unfreezing of the accounts of the #EndSARS campaigners restores confidence in the judiciary as hope of the common man.
It also reaffirms the belief that the wheels of justice grinds slowly. Indeed, the declaration of the court suggests that the apex bank may have allowed itself to be hijacked by the Buhari-led administration.
In other words, the judgment, yet to be appealed, is an indictment on Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, and calls to question his professionalism and ethical orientations.
5. Malami’s treatise
On February 10, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), absolved the Federal Government of blame in the freezing of #ENDSARS campaigners’ accounts after a court ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unfreeze the accounts of the protesters.
Malami had said:
“The government is not wrong particularly in circumstances that justify intense investigation. It is the end result of an investigation that can determine whether government is right or wrong as determine by the court on the basis of the facts presented.
“On the Abuja court’s order, the decision to comply with the court order or not is not a decision that is a product of intimidation; government cannot be intimidated, government cannot in anyway be compromised as far as the exercise of its constitutional powers are concerned but that does not mean the government is perpetually inconsiderate.”
Why it matters
Malami’s insistence that the Federal Government was right in freezing the accounts of youths who had protested against police brutality and bad governance in October 2020, reflects the predisposition of government to self-righteousness.
By his submissions, the Minister of Justice unwittingly reminds Nigerians of the arrogance and arbitrariness of the administration, made manifest in its trample on citizens’ rights.
A future concern is that if the culture of impunity is not corrected, subsequent administrations may fall for the same temptation and deepen the deterioration in quality of governance.
Till next week when QuickRead returns, enjoy the weekend.
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