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E O EkeThursday, September 17, 2015
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BUHARI, AN EXPERIMENT IN SECTARIAN PRESIDENCY

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ith the noise building up about the sectarian nature of the appointments Buhari has made so far, cancellations of projects like the second Niger Bridge and crack down on groups like MASSOB, one can either take the position that it is Buhari's political capital and his choice, how he spends it or that as president, he has equal responsibility to all parts of Nigeria.

What is obvious is that Buhari is setting a dangerous precedence in sectarian presidency. By appointing only people from the north to sensitive positions, he displays an unashamed lack of trust in people not from his ethnic group or his primary constituency or Military. This is the same mistake many leaders of multiethnic nations have made over the years, thinking that by surrounding themselves with only people from their ethnic group they would succeed . Instead of preserving the hold of the leaders's ethnic group on power, it usually galvanises others to oppose him. Instead of fostering unity, it becomes a knife to the things that bind people together. It has failed in every place it has been tried, in Uganda, Libya under Gadaffi, Iraq under Saddam Hussien, Zaire under Mobutu Seseseku, currently in Syria under Assad to mention but a few.

Time and time again, the evidence tells us that ethnicity and religion are the worst constructs on which a country should segregate, but ill informed myopic, ethnic minded and religiously deluded bigots see them as the only constructs to judge people.

Ethnocentrism is not only short mindedness. It is an ill wind, which cannot bring about any good. It may guarantee the president's hold on power for a time, but it usually erodes trust and makes peaceful coexistence more difficult.

I hope that the northern saints and experts Buhari has appointed and will appoint in the future, will become the Buhari disciples, who will take Buharism all over Nigeria and to the utmost part of the world.

Buhari has emerged the president of Nigeria, I hope he succeeds. Normally, I would not have cared where the his appointees are from, as long as they will perform and be honest. However, the appointment of only northerners to sensitive positions sends a very disturbing and uncomfortable message. It says that Buhari is deeply sectarian in attitude and disposition and that honest Nigerians can only be found in Northern and amongst Moslems. Buhari's attitude to the terrorism of armed and brutal Fulani herdsmen who are killing and burning villages of non Fulanis, compared with his brutal suppression of the peaceful struggle of MASSOB for self determination, clearly exposes his sectarian agenda and discriminatory attitude to governance and why many informed Nigerians opposed his candidacy.

Granted that ministers coming from ones area often do not make any difference, it is still right in a multi ethnic nation to ensure an even spread of appointments. The last minister of Labour came from Aba and not a single thing changed in Aba in the 6 years he served under Jonathan.

I am sure that Aba would have benefited from any minister, irrespective of his ethnicity or religion, who ensured that Aba gets its fair share of development. There is no benefit or advantage to be derived from appointing people from other ethnic groups, who will further their selfish interests, when there are 'northern saints' who will bring the needed change to Nigeria one may argue.

Nevertheless, the right and fair thing should be to find honest Nigerians from all ethnic groups and religion and not to adopt an ethnic and religious narrow mindedness and supremacist attitude in filling sensitive positions in a multi ethnic and secular democracy like Nigeria. Unless of course, the President has a sectarian agenda to ensure the domination of his ethnic group.

Nigerians voted for change and what Buhari May argue that he is delivering change.

If he is, he may do well to become sensitive with his appointments. The danger is that lopsided appointments may not help the sense of belonging of the excluded groups, would increase their sense of isolation and make the disintegration of Nigeria more likely by enhancing the aim of ethnic nationalists.

It is tempting to say that as long as the people appointed by Buhari are qualified, not corrupt, and bring an end to the institutionalised corruption in Nigeria, one cares less, but that would be a naive position to take in a fractious country like Nigeria.

The next step for those of who want a fair Nigeria or peaceful separation, is not to start buying AK 47s or fanning ethnic hatred and prejudice like Fulanis herdsmen and Boko Haram, but to form nationalistic political parties and begin to educate our people. Otherwise, the people will follow the likes of Radio Biafra, MEND MASSOB and, the new countries, when they are achieved will be another South Sudan.

Buhari's supporters seem to be running out of excuses for the actions of the president so far. His first move was to visit Niger, without any cabinet member and discussed with the president in Hausa. Therefore, there may be no official record of what was discussed. He has made a trip to the US without a team in place and therefore there was no opportunity for bilateral talk between Nigeria and the US at ministerial level. He continues to behave as a head of state instead of as an accountable democratically elected president and head of the executive arm of a government in a multi party democracy.

He has set in place plan to probe the corrupt civilian administration of Yar ardua and Jonathan, while sparing the fathers, mothers brothers and sisters of of corruption in Nigeria, Babanguda, Obasanjo Abdulsalam and Abacha administrations because they are his military colleagues.

He has quietly completed the northernisation and islamisation of Nigeria by putting either northerners( Hausa speakers) or Muslims in sensitive positions. The potential for this action to undermine ministers when they are finally appointed can not be underestimated. By appointing them before his ministers he clearly shows he values and regard them more than ministers and they loyalty would be to him and not to Nigeria. This is also a kind of corruption and abuse of democratic accountability. Buhari's sectarian attitude will only worsen the trust deficit in Nigerian polity and widen the gap between the North and South, making the disintegration of Nigeria more likely.

Buhari seems to have an unfinished business, which he has set his mind to complete.

He seems to only trusts northerners. He has not appointed non northerner ton sensitive positions so far.

He has assembled a security team made up of Moslems or northerners. He is setting a dangerous precedence in sectarian presidency

Buhari should do more to unite Nigeria and give every region a sense of belonging. The apparent lopsided nature of the appointments he has made so far and the high handed way the armed forces are dealing with MASSOB members which are clearly unjustified and unnecessary, raises serious questions about his attitude to the rest of Nigeria.

Contrast this with the increasing appeasing ways the he is responding to Boko Haram, the atrocities of Fulani herdsmen and the exclusion of the Vice President from sensitive security meetings, presence of only northerners and Muslims in his security committee, one wonders if Buhari really sees himself as president of the whole of Nigeria.

The inequality in the way the east and north has been treated so far by Buhar and the obvious discriminatory manner MASSOB members are targeted will only increase the number of people who will lose faith in Nigeria and find sectarian nationalism attractive. No people can build a strong and united nation on inequality, discrimination and sectarianism.

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