The announcement of the appointments of the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF, the Chief of Staff and other key members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Cabinet has elicited mixed reactions from Nigerians. While some have expressed their anger and frustration over what they described as the lopsidedness of the appointments, others have called for understanding arguing that Buhari’s choices were not driven by ethnic considerations.
Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President had on Thursday announced the appointment of Babachir David Lawal, an engineer, as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Alhaji Abba Kyari as Chief of Staff to the President. Other key officials whose appointments were announced are Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) as Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Mr. Kure Martin Abeshi as the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Senator Ita Enang as Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), and Hon. Suleiman A. Kawu, SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives).
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation hails from Hong Local Government Area, Adamawa State. “He graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979 with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree and worked with the Delta Steel Company, Aladja, Nigerian External Telecommunications Limited and Data Sciences Limited before establishing his own ICT and Telecommunications consulting firm in 1990.
“He is also a member of the Nigeria Computer Society, the Nigeria Society of Engineers and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria.
“Alhaji Abba Kyari, the new Chief of Staff to the President, holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick in Law and Sociology.
“He has worked with the New Nigeria Development Company, New Africa Holdings, African International Bank, United Bank for Africa, Unilever, and Mobil in various capacities over the years.
“The new Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Ali, holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Criminology. He was military administrator of Kaduna State from 1996 to 1998. A disciplinarian, he has in recent years acted as chief of staff to Buhari. There had been much expectation that Ali would be appointed into the position of Chief of Staff but his deployment to the Customs could be reflective of the president’s reported determination to clean the sector of corruption.
“The new Comptroller- General of Immigration, Mr. Abeshi, hails from Nasarawa State.
“He joined the Nigerian Immigration Service in 1989 as an Assistant Comptroller. His educational qualifications include a Masters Degree in Public Administration.”
Senator Enang, SSA on NASS Matters (Senate) is the immediate past Chairman, Rules and Business Committee of the 7th Senate of the National Assembly. He hails from Akwa Ibom State. Until the last general election in March and April, he was a staunch member of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, now in the opposition. He recently decamped to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Kawu, SSA on NASS Matters (House of Representatives) was a vibrant member of the 7th House of Representatives. He hails from Kano State and is a staunch member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Reacting to the appointments, Former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwumeka Ezeife, said the new appointments have marginalised the South-East. “I do not know the rationale behind those appointments. No South-East person is in those appointments,” he said.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said the appointments were lopsided. “Nigeria is too big to have majority of the appointees from one section of the country. We have competent people in every part of Nigeria. For that reason, he (Buhari) should spread the appointments to every part of Nigeria. “If he (Buhari) is looking for honest people, there are honest people in every part of Nigeria, just as we have dishonest people in every part. Most Nigerians voted for him, even those who did not vote for him are his subjects and he is bound to carry every one along,” he said.
But the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, hailed President Buhari on the appointments. The Speaker said all the individuals so far appointed have distinguished themselves in their areas of endeavours over the years and that “they bring on board very rich resumes.”
While congratulating them, Dogara charged the new SGF to use his office to push for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery of the violence ravaged Northeast region. He said the people of Northeast have not voted for Buhari in vein as they now feel more represented in the scheme of things with recent appointments of people from the region into the government. Dogara urged all Nigerians especially, North Easterners to continue to pray for the success of President Buhari’s government as he has shown more interest in bringing to end the six years of violence and destruction by the Boko Haram insurgents.
In the same vein, the Speaker has also congratulated Senator Ita Enang and Suleiman Kawu over their appointments as Senior Special Assistants to the President on National Assembly Matters. Dogara said both Enang and Kawu will help bridge the gap between the executive and the legislature for a smooth running of government at the Federal level. “I look forward to a good working relationship with them as my former colleagues,” Dogara said. He urged the new appointees to justify the confidence reposed in them by the President and deliver on their mandates. The Speaker said the challenges before the present crop of leaders are enormous and admonished them to work hard to bring succour on the lives of Nigerians.
By Dike Onwuamaeze