2015-2020: Buhari's Years Of Nepotism

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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As the nation of nearly 200 million people marks the beginning of the year 2021, the citizens were actually not enthused by the information that flashed in on the last day of the year 2020 that the self effacing, and never seen in a while President, the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari will be addressing the nation in an early morning broadcast on the dot of 7am of January 1st 2021.

Indeed when Garba Shehu the Senior media Assistant to the office of the President issued the terse statement around 5pm on 31st December 2020, the reactions from a cross sections of Nigerians is that of lack of interests and some Nigerians went as far as passing the social media messages to show that the speech will make no difference given that President Muhammadu Buhari has in over a year, never addressed a live media broadcast but almost all of his national television broadcast are usually pre-recorded and therefore monotonous and uninteresting.

The National broadcast has come and gone. Ironically, for many of the audiences, they were not in anywhere taken by surprise nor were they actually expecting to hear from President Muhammadu Buhari any deliverables that he intends to unfold but the speech to be candid, turned out as drab and as dry as it can be. However, there are two key aspects of that speech that revolves around the loud and clear policy of nepotistic practices by President Muhammadu Buhari of appointing only his people of same religion and Ethnicity into key national security portfolios. He mentioned Security and also corruption but was not forthcoming in providing explanation as to why the years between 2015 when he was inaugurated as the elected civilian President to 31st December 2020, can at best be described as the years of nepotism and flagrant breach of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 with particular reference to Sections 14(3) and 42(1) which speak to the twin issues of the obligation to adhere strictly to the Federal Character principles in appointments to be made by the President and all elected office holders and also on the illegality of discriminating against Nigerians of other Religions and ETHNIC groups other than that of the occupant of the seat of Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or indeed other elected office holders.

It is a universal truth that nepotism is corruption and it leads to insecurity when the most competent and meritorious patriotic Nigerians are overlooked to make way for persons of same religious and tribal groups with the Commander-in-chief and the President of a third World nation like Nigeria. The President has consistently embraced nepotism and favouritism in appointments. But in his national broadcast of January 1st 2021, he pontificated on the essence of Unity in diversity and spoke also about corruption and Security. He was however clever by half by not acknowledging the damage that nepotism and cronyism have unleashed on the nation from 2015 to the year 2020 which we just exited to enter the New Year.

Here are excerpts of President Muhammadu Buhari's broadcast aforementioned: "...We here, we are standing tall in the comity of nations as one country united under the will of God and also actively growing that indivisible Nigerian spirit that has enabled us, year after year, decade after decade, to weather all stormy waters and emerge stronger and better where others have fallen and disintegrated. This nation, this Nigeria will survive and thrive."

On Securing Nigeria, the President said: "Re-energizing and reorganizing the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country."

"In line with the current security challenges, we are facing as a Nation, I would like to reiterate the promise I made recently when over 300 of our boys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara were successfully rescued by our security operatives."

He continued: "The professionalism shown by our Security Forces and the collaboration from all stakeholders across both State and Federal Governments that led to the successful rescue of the boys is proof that Nigeria has the internal capacity to decisively deal with terror attacks on our citizens."

"However, we recognize that we rapidly have to move to a more proactive and pre-emptive posture to ensure that these sorts of traumatic incidents do not become a norm. Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and we will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing."

He spoke about corruption thus: "On the anti-corruption drive of our administration, we have recorded substantial gains so far and this year, we are committed to continuing along the path of eradicating corruption, through collaboration with all the arms of Government to effectively prosecute this fight."

"While we would be working with the Legislature to enact laws that would strengthen this fight, we would also be looking at reviewing some of our laws which would ensure that this fight is more effective. On the part of the executive, we would ensure the diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases, while appealing to the judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are dispensed with expeditiously."

President Muhammadu Buhari recognised that the widespread violence has something to do with the disharmony amongst the ETHNICITIES and religious groups but he forgot that his dangerous nepotistic practices since 2015 till 2020 and going forward, contributed significantly to stoking the embers of divisiveness.

Just read what the President chose to recollect thus: "The persistence of various forms of violence has meant that in the most affected parts of the country, the fabric of inter-communal harmony woven through years of investment of effort at building trust, mutual respect, and harmony has been threatened."

He then stated that the Insecurity as a challenge has direct repercussions on our national economic stability, growth, and development, setting us back at critical points through the destruction of public and private investments.

On the very same failure he showed since 2015 to stop nepotism and cronyism, the President attempted to hoodwink some gullible People to take him serious when he espoused these beautiful words: "As a people, we have shown admirable resilience in the face of every adversity, an unmatched capacity to recover speedily from every setback, an unparalleled generosity of spirit when we resolve our differences, and a constant readiness to invest faith and hope in the destiny we share as a united country built on the diversity of its peoples."

"It is these attributes that underpin the Nigerian spirit of “can do, will do” that gives me hope that we shall yet get to destination and fulfil our calling together, especially with the solid resolutions we are setting in this new year. Long Live the Nigerian spirit of oneness, togetherness, and unity. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year", President Muhammadu Buhari ended the broadcast prayerfully.

What is never in doubt is that accusations of nepotism has trailed him since he got sworn in as elected President in 2015.

This is the President that made sure his niece who he railroaded to become a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral commission becomes the official to supervise the collation of the 2019 election in which he ran as a candidate.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had come under criticism over its appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as head of the agency’s collation centre committee for the 2019 presidential election.

Zakari is widely believed to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejected the appointment of Zakari who had been INEC’s national commissioner in charge of welfare and health.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the party said the appointment would compromise the presidential election, particularly on account of “her blood relationship” with Buhari who is a candidate in the poll.

PDP’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the appointment as a step towards destroying the future of democracy in Nigeria.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had earlier, announced that Zakari would chair the committee. “Today, we have been informed that the chairman of INEC, apparently in furtherance of the plots to rig the presidential election, has appointed Mrs. Amina Zakari, a blood relation (niece) of the APC candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, as the chairperson of INEC advisory committee and presidential election collation centre committee. Only few days back, President Muhammadu Buhari rewarded Mahmood Yakubu with a second term as Chairman of INEC for favouring his candidacy in the 2019 Presidential election.

“The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO) vehemently and unequivocally rejects, in its entirety, the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, President Buhari’s blood relation, as the head of the collation of results, in the same election in which her uncle, President Buhari, as a candidate, has displayed a huge desperation to win,” the PDP said.

“The appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, who had been openly accused in various quarters as being the link person between INEC and the Buhari presidency in their schemes to rig the election for President Buhari, constitutes a direct violence against the presidential election and the PDP will not, in any way, whatsoever, accept it.”

Also, a pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), condemned INEC’s move, saying: “What has happened today, with the ill-advised decision of Yakubu Mahmood to give the most sensitive appointment to the biological blood sibling of a major contender in the same electoral contest, is the electoral equivalent of match-fixing.”

The President has come under increasing criticism and scrutiny for his nepotistic appointments of only Moslem Northerners into all internal security operations. Under his nose, the Central bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum corporation(NNPC) have employed children of politicians and persons said to be biologically related to the President. Under his nose, the Department of States Services did recruitment whereby some States including the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari which is Katsina got the Lion share of all the appointments. Just few days back, the promotions done to the top echelons of the Nigerian Police Force saw the North getting over 80% of the total whereas for instance the South East got just one. The Federal Character Commission is itself in an ethical mess because President Muhammadu Buhari appointed both the Chairman and Secretary from Northern Nigeria. In the National Population commission, the President dropped a Christian Chairmanship nominee for a Moslem when he realised that the Nasarawa state born nominee is a Christian but he proceeded to increase the slots of Nasarawa state to pacify the man who was surreptitiously dropped because of his faith. The entire internal security institutions are headed by Northern Moslems namely-: DSS; POLICE, NIA, CUSTOMS, IMMIGRATION and Civil Defence.

Is this the man that will pontificate over unity in diversity? Today's national broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari can at best be described as deceptive and fraudulent.

Speaking about corruption, there is no gainsaying the fact that Corrupt Practices are rife in the ministries and agencies of the Federal government.

Few days back, Members of the Senate Public Account Committee had expressed their dissatisfaction towards some officials of the Ministry of Defence who paid N968.8m to contractors without approval.

The report of the Auditor-General for the Federation specifically indicted the ministry officials of paying the huge sums to the contractors.

It was meant for the production and supply of medals and ribbons for the Armed Forces Independence Anniversary but allegedly without approval from Federal Executive Council and the Ministerial Tender Board.

The AuGF report indicted defence ministry officials of facilitating the payment for the contracts despite the objection raised by the Deputy Director (Budget) in a memo dated April 24, 2013.

The SPAC Chairman, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, sustained the auditor-general’s query because the defence ministry officials failed to honour the panel’s invitation to explain their own side of the allegation.

Urhoghide noted with dismay that series of invitations were extended to the ministry over the matter without any response.

He said the committee, therefore, had no other option than to sustain the query.

The AuGF stated that the contract was awarded in 2010 and that 50 per cent of the contract sum was paid to the contractors while the balance of the sum was paid January 26, 2015 to the contractor.

The query read in part, “The permanent secretary of the ministry is expected to recover N968m from the contractors’ and forward the payment for audit verification.

“A memo, dated 24th April, 2013, raised by DD (Budget), had expressed misgivings about the way and manner the contract was awarded, further raising the doubt on the lack of transparency.

“A contract for the production and supply of medals and ribbons for Independence Anniversary for the Armed Forces of Nigeria was awarded at a total contract sum of N968,830,000.00.

“The entire contract sum had been paid in January. The sum of N484,415,000.00 was paid in 2010 representing 50 per cent of the contract sum and the balance of N484,415,000.00 was paid on 26/01/2015 vide payment voucher No. 4001.

“Further examination of the payment voucher attachments revealed the following irregularities:

“There was no evidence of any Ministerial Tenders Board Meeting that considered this award, contrary to Financial Regulation 2921(i).

“The approval of the permanent secretary for the payment of the balance of N484,415,000.00 is above his approval threshold.

“There was no evidence of Federal Executive Council approval, together with the Bureau of Public Procurement ‘No Objection Certificate’.

“A memo, dated 24th April, 2013, raised by DD (Budget), had expressed misgivings about the way and manner the contract was awarded, further raising the doubt on the lack of transparency.

“The items (ribbons and medals) were not taken on store charge because there was no Store Receipt Voucher produced, in violation of Financial Regulations 2401(i).

“The total sum of N968,830,000 paid in respect of this contract could not be admitted as a legitimate charge against public funds.”

It added that the permanent secretary had been requested to recover the sum of N968,830,000.00 and forward evidence of the recovery for audit verification.

All over the various ministries and agencies of government stink of massive corruption. These acts of corruption including the corrosive corruption that swirled around the EFCC for which it's acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu was suspended were generated by the cumulative practices of nepotism and flagrant breach of the Constitutionally protected Federal Character principles by President Muhammadu Buhari in these years of the Locusts of Nepotism from 2015 to 2020.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [email protected] ;www.emmanuelonwubikocom; www.thenigerianinsidernews.com ; [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."