Iyoha John Darlington
On May 29, 2015, a new phrase was coined by the President of Africa’s biggest democracy and largest economy. ”I belong to everybody and belong to nobody” that found its way into the contemporary political lexicon. This was well applauded and thereafter noised about which soon gained currency by Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike.
The writer had thought that the filthy footprints of collusion and nepotism would be swept out by the broom he wields but what we hear and see today is better imagined than real. I had thought he had undergone a thorough blood transfusion draining the blood in his veins and got transmuted to a born-again democrat. All these features as one and all could see are absent in the man from Daura except his die-hard apologists and loyalists who have consistently chosen to shut their eyes to the obvious.
Whoever is called upon to lead ought not to see himself as a demi-god to be dreaded or worshiped. It is only in Africa that leaders deify themselves and this is only evocative of a homo sapiens from an extinct barbarian tribe. A good number of social maladies have doubtless drawn African states backward, prominent among these are tribalism, nepotism, favoritism which are offshoots of corruption.
Basically, what obtains in Nigeria today is favouring a person not because he or she is doing the best job but rather because of some extraneous feature-membership in a favoured group, personal likes, and dislikes. This has been demonstrated in every area of our national life via hiring and awarding contracts and giving public service jobs to those who may have helped elect the person who has the power of appointment.
This has always been the complaint in government service. Promotions ought to be based on merit, but connections, partisanship and other factors have become the determinants influencing appointments in the APC-controlled Federal Government in Nigeria. There is a clear partiality towards friends and associates in the selection of personnel. We have been watching behind the scenes – it is no more what you know but who you know. This is nepotism and we see this at work under a supposedly new Nigeria as Buhari single-handedly recruits candidates for public offices; out of the 28 appointments made so far by President Buhari 24 are from the north while four are from Niger Delta and South West and none from the South East. The two appointments he made in the Niger Delta and the reported cleasing going on in Ogoniland is a design to hoodwink the inabitants in order to have access to the treasure beneath their land to run his government. Our common patrimony has been hijacked by a demi-god who now bestride the Nigerian political world like a colossus. Into what dangers would this lead us all if one may ask?
Aristotle in his days condemned this in its entirety by stating that ”equals should be treated equally and unequal unequally” In Aristotelean ethics this is fundamentally opposed to fairness because it gives undue advantage to people who do not necessarily merit this treatment. This has been widely condemned in public sphere seeing that the common good is constantly undermined. When the services of someone who has been appointed for a public office out of connections is retained the service he renders to the public becomes inferior and this plunges society in jeopardy, This problem has been on in Nigeria . We had thought the coming of Buhari has come to change all that, but only to see that we are increasingly getting enmeshed in favouritism, cronyism, and nepotism and these present nothing short of ethical dilemmas.
This rot in our public life being championed by a self-styled anti-corruption crusader in the selection and appointment of public officials is destroying Nigeria as a nation. This infamous practice undercuts the transparency that should be part of governmental hiring and contracting processes. This has become a tradition in Nigeria which must be denounced. The President has been naming close associates to key positions. A very bad precedence and the governors are likely to follow suit in the states while the same would not be unexpected at the local government levels.
Favouritism which is one of the distinctive trademarks of the present Abuja regime weakens morale in government service, not to mention public faith in the integrity of government. The appointment of friends and family in high-level positions, Nigerians should be aware can give an appearance of unfairness. One of such cases was the recent demotion of Marylyn Ogar by Buhari’s kinsman Lawal Daura who was appointed DG, DSS recently. With the former heading Nigeria’s secret police, many people are being pulled down from their olympian heights via witch-hunting, suspending promotions done this year by former President Jonathan. President Buhari in a circular, we were told, approved the reversal of all promotions in the Department of State Security (DSS) approved by former President Jonathan thus fanning the embers of discord which is a threat to our national unity.
We were further told that operatives of the Service have been thrown into a disarray resulting from allegations of a possible witch-hunt that some departments have already been penciled for certain actions. Are due processes no more to be followed in Nigeria? Has Nigeria now become the property of one man and his kiths and kins? This is none other than tyranny which must be resisted at all costs.
It is a thousand pities that the provisions of the constitution have been cast overboard as he rules over Nigeria. This is what many rulers have done in history. Buhari has bypassed all due processes and assumed the role of Nigeria’s police, Chief judge, and ministers and retains his party’s loyalists to hunt people on the other side of the table. He made it explicitly clear the other day everyone will not get the same treatment from him specifically referring to the regions that did not vote for him thereby contradicting himself in the speech he made during his inaugural address.
Gov. Oshomhonle of Edo State has suddenly become his finance minister whose services have been retained to throw stones to one and all. The United States has dissociated herself from the lies told by Oshomhonle making the rounds that an unnamed minister in the immediate past administration salted away over $6bn. He has been dancing here and in his new romance with Buhari undermining the provisions of the constitution. Huge sum of money have disappeared in the state’s treasury without trace and he is yet to tell Edo people what has happened to the funds from the state coffers and he has not been summoned by the EFCC to account for these monies courtesy of his political affiliation to the President. Why is the Abuja regime under Buhari closing or shutting its eyes to this? Nigerians at home and over ten million Nigerians in the Diaspora have a burning desire to know.
Iyoha John Darlington, a social activist, opinion leader, political analyst and a public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy.