While reminding Buhari of his inaugural speech declaration of “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”, the paper, in an editorial published on Monday, noted that the President has breached the pledge, advising him to act like a father to all Nigerians and rise above primordial instincts.
The editorial board of the national daily, which accused Buhari of making appointments that weigh heavily in favour of his northern regional base, was emphatic that sectionalism and nepotism are also acts of corruption, explaining that it is not only when government funds are stolen that corrupt act is said to have been committed.
“We declare emphatically that this is corruption. It is wrong to view stealing of government funds as the only form of corruption. A former member of the House of Representatives, Junaid Muhammed, alleges that not only is Buhari sectional in his appointments, several appointees are actually his relatives. Nigerians did not vote against the Jonathan administration’s impunity for corruption, only to be assaulted with another pernicious impunity for cronyism,” the newspaper wrote.
The editorial read in part, “He struck again last month when he removed Ibe Kachikwu as head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to put a Northerner; named another, Hadiza Bala-Usman, as managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority along with three executive directors, two of whom are also Northerners. Before then, he had ring-fenced himself with appointees from his northern constituency at the Presidency, thereby deepening the long-held fears of many Southerners that he has not overcome his well-known insularity.
“But the 1999 Constitution explicitly stipulates in Chapter 14 subsection 3 that the “composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall…reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups…” Buhari is breaching this with impunity in his appointments. Apart from this, Nigeria’s plural setting demands that no group or ethnic nationality is seen as too domineering in critical areas of governance.
“The country is in a bad shape, compelling that all efforts be made to rally all segments of the polity behind measures to reverse economic recession, defeat terrorism in the North-East, renewed militancy and sabotage in the South-South zone, Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism in the North-Central and general insecurity across the country. The government admitted that the country is technically in recession last week, while Bloomberg reported that foreign reserves fell to just over $26 billion in June; oil production also fell to about 1.6 million barrels per day, while over 4,440 megawatts of power were lost last week, both due to sabotage of crude and gas facilities by criminals in the Niger Delta region. Meanwhile, though seriously degraded, Boko Haram terrorists are recovering their ability to ambush and inflict casualties on Nigerian troops.
“More importantly, the South-East and South-South zones voted massively against Buhari, who is deepening their alienation from his government by his lopsided appointments. But in truly democratic societies, elected leaders go all out to unite their people after elections. Apart from meeting the constitutional requirement that a minister be appointed from each of the 36 states, the two zones are sparsely represented in the Federal Government. If some past presidents indulged in primitive sectionalism, Buhari should not.”