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Saturday, August 29, 2015

President Buhari defends appointment of SGF, others

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday defended
the appointment of the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir
David Lawal and five others.
The appointments, announced on Thursday, had
sparked reactions, with reports of complaints in
some quarters that they tilted in favour of the
North.
Appointed alongside Lawal were Alhaji Abba Kyari,
Chief of Staff to the President; Col. Hameed
Ibrahim Ali (rtd), Comptroller-General of the
Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); Mr. Kure Martins
Abeshi, Comptroller-General of the Nigerian
Immigration Service; Senator Ita Enang, Senior
Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National
Assembly Matters (Senate) and Hon. Suleiman
Kawu, SSA to the President on National Assembly
Matters (House of Representatives).
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and
Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, yesterday assured
Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari’s
political appointments will balance out soon.
Adesina spoke on a radio programme, Political
Platform, on RayPower 100.5FM, monitored by our
correspondent in Lagos.
Adesina said the President was aware of federal
character and expressed the belief that there will
be balance by the time he makes more
appointments in September.
While admitting that appointments are Buhari’s
prerogative, the presidential spokesman also said
that nobody can fault the fact that those that have
been named so far ?were appointed on merits.
He also said it would not be fair to blame the
President for positions that were filled as a result
of elections, like those of the National Assembly
and appointments made on the basis of next in
command, like those of the acting Chairman of the
Independent Electoral Commission and Chief
Justice of Nigeria.
He assured all stakeholders that the President
would keep to his promise of appointing the
remaining aides and ministers ?in September.
Adesina said: “Nobody can fault the fact that the
persons appointed were appointed on merits.
“In terms of the spread, the President has
prerogative to appoint and he knows there is
federal character. I am sure that there will be
balance in the future.
“These are still early days. At the end of the day, we
will have a balance.
“By the time more appointments are made, it will
balance out. The President is trying to get the very
best of Nigerians. The issue of key positions and no
key positions should not be the issue.
“He gave a deadline of September for the
appointment of ministers, ?and he will keep to it.”
The President’s Senior Special Assistant Media and
Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, also issued a
statement yesterday urging critics of the
President’s appointments to be patient with the
administration over political appointments, adding
that the appointments made so far constitute less
than five per cent of the total that would be made.
Besides, he said, the people so far appointed by
the President are mostly people acting as his staff
or unofficial advisers, many of whom had been
working with him in official capacities.
The statement reads: “Our brothers and sisters and
fellow countrymen should bear with the new
administration as it takes its measured steps
towards an effective take-off.
“These appointments are just beginning. The ones
down so far, apart from the security services, are
mostly of people acting as unofficial advisers or
staff of the President.
“They are mostly men and women who have been
doing things for the President and the positions are
being formalised.
“Statistically, the appointments don’t amount to five
per cent of what is to come. There will be
ministers, heads of government departments,
federal boards and ambassadors.
“At the end of the exercise, no part of the country
will be left feeling left out.”
Reacting to the appointments, a faction of the
Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State
of Biafra (MASSOB) had described them as an
insult to the Igbo race whose members he said
were not appointed into any top office.
The group, in a statement signed by its Director of
Information, Uchenna Madu, said the actions of the
president since he assumed office had shown that
he is not a lover of Igbo people.
“The latest appointments and previous ones since
Buhari’s administration should be an eye opener to
Ndigbo that Buhari is not seeing Ndigbo as part of
Nigeria.
“These appointments have further confirmed the
fact that the present administration is against
Ndigbo, despite the massive support some Igbo
leaders like Gov. Rochas Okorocha, Chief
Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Chris Ngige and Rotimi
Amaechi, among others, gave to Buhari and the
APC during the last general election. This is an
insult to our people.”
In the same vein, the Ohaneze Youth Council (OYC)
expressed concern over the President’s latest
appointments, saying it was regrettable that no
south easterner was included in the appointments.
In a statement signed by the organisation’s
President and National Public Relations Officer,
Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro and Hon. Obinna Adibe
respectively, the group said the appointments were
totally unacceptable to Ndigbo, adding that they
violated the principle of federal character
enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
OYC said: “We stand to condemn the continuous
exclusion of Ndigbo by the administration of
President Muhammadu Buhari. Before this time,
he had appointed Service Chiefs without looking
the way of the South East. To make matters worse,
the position of the SGF, which was originally zoned
to the Ndigbo, has been denied the region.
“We are indeed shocked by this turn of events,
which are totally at variance with Mr. President’s
earlier stand that he was for everybody and for
nobody.”
However, another Igbo group, Ndigbo Unity Forum
(NUF), voiced its support for President Buhari.
The Chairman of the group, Mr. Augustine
Chukwudum, who is also president of the Southern
Nigeria Peoples Mandate, called on the Igbo, in an
interview with our correspondent, to support the
President for him to achieve his aim of
transforming the country.
NUF said: “We have been watching all that have
been happening in the past few weeks, all the talks
about the president marginalising Ndigbo.
“We want to use this opportunity to inform them, if
they are not aware or not enlightened enough, that
the President has not appointed his cabinet. I don’t
see where the marginalization of Ndigbo has come
in.
“Some Igbo leaders are just making noise for
nothing. After all, those people who are
condemning Buhari should be ashamed of
themselves.
“We want Ndigbo to have a rethink of what is
happening now. He has not done anything wrong
to them.
“As president of Ndigbo Unity Forum, I still
maintain that Buhari has not done anything wrong
to my people. Let Ndigbo count their teeth with
their tongue.”
Commenting on the appointments in a media
briefing at the end of the 55th National Conference
of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) yesterday, its
president, Austin Alegeh, said he was convinced
President Buhari was committed to the country’s
growth.
He said: “Probably, these are key technical
positions that are being filled by the most
competent available persons. But, you can always
compensate when you are making other ministerial
appointments. I think we should all adopt attitude
of patience, and should always have trust and
confidence in the people we have elected.
“We must know that the president won this election
with many people contributing to the election. So,
let us look at the appointments he has made along
those lines.
“I have listened to the President speak and I can
see his conviction in a greater and better Nigeria.
“I am not a party man, and I am not his personal
friend, but from what I have seen, I have no doubt
in my mind that he means the best for Nigeria, that
he will not do anything to infringe the Nigerian
Constitution.
“But let us wait for all the appointments to be in
before we start talking of federal character.”
Lagos-based lawyer, Festus Keyamo also issued a
statement yesterday, saying that “the so-called
‘uproar’ over the perceived ‘lopsided’ appointments
made so far by President Buhari is nothing but an
orchestrated frustration of a few jobless politicians
who depend only on government appointments as
their means of livelihood and, of course, the noise
of the latest opposition party in town.”
He said majority of Nigerians only want to see
good governance and care less about the ethnic
origin of those appointed into positions.
“My worry is that the decade-long general division
of government positions into ‘juicy’ and ‘non-juicy’,
and the mentality that these few ‘juicy’ positions
must be shared equally amongst the major ethnic
groups was nothing but a contraption of the old
order from which we have just liberated
ourselves,” he said.
“To my mind, all government appointments pose
an equal challenge to those appointed as a call to
higher service of fatherland.
“All public positions come with an equal
responsibility to be honest, forthright and
dedicated. To go further to classify them as ‘juicy’
or ‘non-juicy’ is just a euphemism for positions that
have enough money from which to steal and those
that are ‘dry’.
“Therefore, any agitation from a section of the
country to get ‘juicy’ positions is only an agitation
for their kinsmen to be appointed to steal enough
from which they would benefit.
“I therefore unreservedly condemn, in the
strongest of terms, the so-called ‘uproar’ about
‘juicy positions’ going only to a certain section of
this country. All sections of this country should be
happy and content with whatever positions the
President deems fit, at the end of the day, to give to
their kinsmen.
“After all, the President still has a long way to go
with appointments. He has not even filled up to five
per cent of available positions. Please, let the

  • President be.”

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