THE AGE OF NEPOTISM: It couldn’t be any other way. Indeed, it has become our norm. Since independence in 1960, appointments of public officials have been based largely on nepotism, favouritism, party affiliation… every consideration first before merit. Yes, merit which is first objective in ordered climes is relegated here.
Immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari took nepotism to a new high. Heedless and without scruples, for eight years, he tried hard to turn Nigeria’s public space into his personal fiefdom. The ‘best’ jobs were first for his kin, then his Fulani tribe, Muslims, north, then others. He had no qualms about this whatsoever. Dressed in anti-corruption toga, he couldn’t see that nepotism and favouritism were among the worst kinds of corruption.
THE END OF THE FULANI SECURITY COUNCIL: Back to now, President Tinubu made among the most important appointments of his tenure in this 4th week of his administration and guess what? It’s winner takes all as usual. But one good thing is that he dismantled the ‘Fulani Security Council’ that threatened to upend the nation for eight years. Yes, the president made a show of balancing but he’s just a shade better than Buhari. The security chiefs make up the soul of any government and Tinubu made sure he favoured his Yoruba kin. Because the abnormal has become our norm, no one thinks he has done any wrong. After all, he exhibited a semblance of balance – even the whipping (weeping) Igbo have been returned to the security council table after Buhari heartlessly excluded them for eight years. At least Igbo should be happy they got the naval chief position; the ones that dress like nurses, to quote the bad-mouthed wags of Owerri.
But Yoruba grabbed most positions that matter in the security mix: chief of Army, IG of Police, head of Customs, head of Immigration, and a rash of sub command positions in the Presidential Villa and environ.
It’s often argued that leaders making appointments would often favour their own who they like and their kin. That, of course, is the way of man, but it often comes with telling consequences on affected institutions and, indeed, the society.
One example will be sufficient here. To make Mr Kayode Egbetokun the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), dozens of deputy IGPs had to be sacrificed. Remember that Egbetokun, who was President Tinubu’s chief security officer in 1999 (when he was Governor of Lagos State) was afforded unduly accelerated promotion in order for him to qualify to be IGP.
In the process of achieving what is obviously a nepotistic objective, the careers of top police officers senior to Egbetokun were terminated abruptly. Ditto for the Army we hear.This column wagers that at least one of those decimated officers must merit the top jobs more than the favoured ones. But that’s our norm today!
NIGERIA’S FOREIGN POLICY REDUX: You could easily score Buhari a zero in his foreign affairs output in eight years. Well, just as in every other sector, you might say. But Buhari never engaged the world nor did he take advantage of the great potentials available to Nigeria as the natural number one African country. The simple reason is that he lacked the capacity coupled with an underlying health condition. His foreign Minister, Godfrey Onyeama lacked drive. We remember an underling, Abike Dabiri- Erewa, making more impact with her bold forays under the guise of diaspora affairs. We don’t remember what Onyeama did or stood for in all of eight years.
Unfortunately, Tinubu is beset with the same Buhari challenge of a more severe kind. Nigeria’s foreign stature is bound to shrink further under Tinubu unless he appoints a foreign minister of stature and drive who can stand in easily for him among world leaders… (recall Gen. Joe Garba as foreign minister under Gowon and Bolaji Akinyemi, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu under Babagida).
Two events last week brought to full glare, Nigeria’s foreign affairs fiasco. Last Sunday, South Africa President, the ebullient Cyril Ramaphosa led a team of Africa’s heads to meet Russia’s Putin in what they call Africa Peace Initiative (API). Nigeria was missing. Later in the week, President Ramaphosa was again the star of the Summit for new Global Financing Pact in Paris, France. William Ruto of Kenya among, others also featured prominently. But the president of Nigeria, the giant of Africa, was only sighted deep among the crowd, made noticeable only by his designer cap.
President Tinubu will reduce Nigeria to a dot in Africa unless he appoints a person of stature and presence like Akinwunmi Adesina or Babatunde Fashola as foreign minister.
NIGERIANS ARE DYING, ECONOMY SHRINKING: Nigerians are being degraded daily; they are paying the penalty of poor, very poor leadership. They are dying in silence because they are being lied to and badgered with foolish propaganda.
The debilitating effect of the unpremeditated so-called fuel subsidy removal is killing our compatriots. No thought for the people, no remedy in sight. For instance, why is Tinubu not asking questions about NNPC’s multi-billion dollars refineries repairs, which ought to have returned to work since December last year? What about Dangote Refinery, which was commissioned last month. Petroleum products prices are bound to fall if we achieve local sufficiency and officially export to neighbouring countries.
All this government seems to care about is to cripple the people and our economy by denuding purchasing power. Inflation gallops. Under President Jonathan it was single digit. For eight years of Buhari, it was double digits but under 20%. Now, under President Tinubu, it’s 22.4% (from 16%). Manufacturers’ inventories fill their warehouses as disposable incomes are spent on largely on petrol and energy products. The only things that increase in Nigeria today are taxes. Before their eyes, the life of Nigerians continues to deplete and shrink. All that Nigerians hear are lies and more lies!
AGAIN, THE SMALL MATTER OF CABINET: It’s four month already. Yes, this is to those who brag that Tinubu prepared for over two decades to become president. Just to remind them that it’s four months since February 25th presidential election. There’s therefore no excuse not to have an executive Council in place by now.
Advisers and a basketful of aides are what they are – an extension of the president’s left arm. They are not quite a legal body, they don’t represent or replace the Federal Executive Council. The import of this is that for one month, Nigeria has been under one man rule.
It used to be suffering and smiling. Not many people can’t still muster a smile. This misery is too much; something will have to give soon…