By Emeka Obasi
This is not soccer where Super Falcons battered Nzalang Femenino of Equatorial Guinea 9-0 in Turkey. It smells like a game and the best way to describe it is nine kpondo in pidgin. I am talking about appointments in Nigeria Paramilitary Agencies.
The situation report is that all nine paramilitary organisations are headed by officers from the Northern part of the country. The South is left empty handed which is a strange development at this time when all forms of strange faces are roaming the forests with the best of military weapons.
It is difficult to say how things got to this level without the relevant checks and balances being applied either through the legislature or through wise counsel. In the last two weeks, new appointments were announced by the ministry of Interior.
There are nine first grade paramilitary bodies, comprising the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Correctional ( Prisons) Service, the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Federal Fire Service.
Also included are the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Federal Road Safety Commission, the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.(EFCC). All these are headed by Northerners.
Mohammed Adamu, from Nasarawa State is the Inspector General of Police whose tenure expired recently. The Customs Service has a retired Army officer, Hameed Ali, from Bauchi as Comptroller General. Haliru Nababa, is the man mandated to take charge as Controller General of the former Prisons Service now known as Correctional Service. He hails from Sokoto.
From Jigawa State is Comptroller General of Immigration , Muhammed Babandede. Liman Alhaji from Niger, is Chief Federal Fire Officer. Abubakar Audi, a Nasarawa man, heads the Civil Defence Corps as Commandant General while Kwara’s Boboye Oyeyemi serves as Corps Marshal, FRSC.
Mohammed Buba Marwa is Chairman NDLEA, Abdulrasheed Bawa occupies same position in the EFCC. The former hails from Adamawa State, the latter, Kebbi State. These are the men who run the show in the country’s paramilitary agencies.
It is unthinkable that such appointments went unnoticed by many while all eyes were on the appointment of Service Chiefs for the military. Federal Character was adhered to when President Muhammadu Buhari chose two generals from the South and two from the North.
Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, emerged from Delta State. The Chief of Air Staff, Isiaka Amao, is an Oshogbo man from Osun State. Both officers are Southerners. Army Chief, Ibrahim Attahiru and his Navy counterpart Awwal Gambo are from the North, precisely, Kaduna and Kano respectively.
Insecurity is a huge problem in the country and all hands are supposed to be on deck to fight it especially when there are confirmed reports of foreigners occupying forests, from Zamfara to Oyo. This has led to division along ethnic lines.
That is why we all should be concerned about appointments that tend to ignore the Federal Character Principle completely. The Legislature must find a way to address this imbalance as it has an important role to play in this regard.
What baffles me is that the Ministry of Interior which manages Correctional Service, Immigration, Fire Brigade and Civil Defence is headed by a Southerner, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, an Ijesha, from Osun State.
In the last one week, he has presided over the nomination of Haliru Nababa as Controller General of NCoS and Ahmed Audi as Commandant General, NSCDC. For a man who served as commissioner in Lagos State for eight years, it does not smell sweet that he has failed to stem lopsided appointments in his ministry.
If there is a place to change the narrative, it is the Correctional Service. The Senate will be scoring very low marks in confirming Nababa as Controller General. Doing that will further fuel fears of domination by the North. It is never late to put things right.
While we could allow the confirmation of Bawa as EFCC chairman for professional reasons, the same cannot be said of the NCoS. Bawa’s appointment is recognition of one of the recommendations of the Justice Ayo Salami Panel that investigated the EFCC and its immediate past Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
Salami had submitted that after Magu no police officer should head the EFCC. Bawa is not a policeman. He joined the anti graft agency in 2005 as pioneer cadet. It is also to Magu’s credit that the young man was allowed to excel because officers seconded from the police were sidelined.
One take away from all these appointments is that the South-East has been deliberately ignored. This is most unfair. We are talking of the North grabbing all nine top Paramilitary jobs. One of these jobs should be handed over to an officer of South-East extraction.
You cannot beat a baby and stop it from crying. Crocodiles should not continue to smile in the South-East while the people are crying. If this is not marginalization then Abuja is not the capital of Nigeria. I expect those who are preaching peace to find a way round this frustration.
The Southern part of Nigeria must not be reduced to the monkey that does all the job and gets overlooked when promotion comes. The South-East is not asleep. All eyes are open waiting for fair play. Yes, Marwa’s first wife is from Owerri. Bawa attended Government Secondary School, Owerri. Adamu served in Mgbidi. That is good news. The big story is to have an Igbo Controller General.