MasterwebNews 13/9/15 - Constitutional Requirements Sacrosanct For Ministerial Appointments - Umeagbalasi, Ex CLO Chair

[ Masterweb Reports: An Interview By Alphonsus Eze ] - Nze Emeka Umeagbalasi was former Chairman, Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) and one time Vice- Chairman of the Southeast Zonal Management Committee of the organization.  He is presently the Board Chairman of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety). 


Umeagbalasi, who has won several awards including  from the Nigerian Red Cross and Children’s Rights Advocacy Group in the Southeast, is an   alumnus of the International Visitors Leadership Exchange Program (IVLP) of the United States Department of State on NGO Management in USA (class of June 2013)  In this interview with ALPHONSUS EZE , Umegbalasi faulted the lopsided appointments of President Mohammed Buhari, delay in appointment of members of Federal Executive Council (FEC), lack of due process in his anti-graft war among other issues. Excerpts:


How will you assess the appointments made by Buhari so far? Are they in line with the federal character principle   enshrined in the 1999 constitution?


The Buhari administration has made a total of 29 major appointments since 30th May, 2015 and as at   4th September, 2015, not even one of them is from the Southeast zone; thereby grossly violating Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (regional or geopolitical spread). The relevant Section provides as follows: “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity,


and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or any of its agencies”. Also, Section 171 (5) of the Constitution further provides as follows: “in exercising his powers of appointment under this section (Section 169 creating the Civil Service of the Federation), the President shall have regard to the Federal Character and the need to promote national unity.”


Below is the graphic and geopolitical breakdown of the 29 top presidential appointments made by the Buhari administration between 30th May and 28th August 2015:


Aide de Camp to President: Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal, (Kano State, North-West). Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President: Femi Adesina, (Osun State, South-West).


Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President: Garba Shehu, (Kano State, North-West). State Chief of Protocol/Special Assistant (Presidential Matters): Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, (Jigawa State, North-West). National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno (Borno State, North-East). Chief of Air Staff: Sadique Abubakar, (Bauchi State, North-East), Commandant General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC): Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu (Niger State, North-Central).


Others are: Chief of Defence Intelligence: Monday Riku Morgan (Benue State, North-Central). Director General, State Security Services, (SSS): Lawal Daura, (Katsina State, North-West). Acting Chairperson, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC): Amina Zakari, (Jigawa State, North-West). Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA: Habibu Abdulahi (Kano State, North-West). Special Adviser, Niger Delta Amnesty Office: Paul Boroh, (Bayelsa State, South-South). Acting Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration, Safety and Security Agency, (NIMASA): Baba Haruna Jauro (Yobe State, North-East),Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission: Umaru Dambatta (Kano State, North-West).


Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS): Babatunde Fowler, (Lagos State, South-West).16. Director General, Budget Office of the Federation: Aliyu Gusau, (Zamfara State, North-West).


Secretary to the Government of the Federation: Engr. Babachir David Lawal (Adamawa State, Northeast). Chief of Staff to the President: Alhaji Abba Kyari (Borno State, Northeast), Controller General of the Nigerian Customs Service: Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) (Nassarawa State, North-Central).   Controller General, Nigerian Immigration Service: Mr. Kure Martin Abeshi (Nassarawa State, North-Central). SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate): Senator Ita S.J. Enang (Akwa Ibom State, South-south).   Group Managing Director of NNPC: Emmanuel Kachikwu (Delta State, South-south). Accountant General of the Federation: Ahmed Idris (Kano State, North-West).


Chief of Defense Staff: Aboyomi Olonishakin (Ekiti State, Southwest). Chief of Army Staff: Tukur Buratai (Borno State, Northeast), Chief of Naval Staff: Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Cross River State, South-south). Head of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR): Mordacai Ledan (Kaduna State, Northwest). SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Reps): Hon. Suleiman A. Kawu (Kano State, Northwest). Director General of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON): Ahmed Lawan Kuru (Northwest).


Of the 29 presidential appointments analyzed above, the North took 22 slots and the South seven, and as it concerns the geopolitical allocation/spread, mandatorily provided in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, Northwest zone alone took twelve slots, followed by the Northeast with six, North-Central four, South-south four, Southwest three and the Southeast was left with zero slot. In the present composition of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Buhari administration, judicially, presidentially and legislatively speaking, the North controls 80%, if not more.


For instance, the following key public offices of the Federation are presently in the hands of the North: President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice of the Federation, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Comptroller General of Customs, Director-General of State Security Services (SSS), National Security Advisor, Director General of NIMASA, Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Accountant-General of the Federation, Commandant General of the Nigerian Security & Civil Defence Corps, Chief Security Officer to the President, ADC to the President,


Principal Secretary to the President, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Chairman of the EFCC, Head of Service of the Federation, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Director General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Director General of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Chairman of National Agency for Drugs & Control (NAFDAC).


It is therefore immoral, despicable, condemnable, shameful and unconstitutional for the Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina to defend and justify the grossly lopsided and constitutionally impeachable appointments made so far by his boss. The 1999 Constitution does not give the President power to take recourse to sectional or constitutional appointments spread according to his whims and caprices or at his own convenient time. Rather, the Constitution commanded and still commands President Muhammadu Buhari, as he presently is, to adhere strictly to the federal character at all times including in his presidential policies, actions and conducts.


Besides, waiting to “balance the constitutional imbalances” during his long awaited ministerial appointments is totally deceitful and a smokescreen approach. This is because the President has totally achieved his “nothernization and sectional governance policy aims and objectives”, powered by politics of exclusion and segregation. As matter of fact, the President has cornered for his region all powerful, sensitive and juicy appointments. What are left in the form of “ministers” are “fish eaters” and not “fishermen”.


The issue of ministerial appointments has their own separate Constitutional requirements and must not be used to further confuse and mislead Nigerians. In the plain language and command of Section 147 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, “any appointment of minister under subsection 2 of this Section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14 (3) of this Constitution. Section 147 (4) further commands: “provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid, the President shall appoint at least one minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State”.


What of his anti-graft crusade, has Buhari been following due process?


We have come to a firm conclusion that the anti corruption policy direction of the Buhari administration is totally misguided and unknown to modern international anti graft control mechanisms as clearly stated in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005 (entered into force), which Nigeria ratified on 14th December 2004.


Buhari’s anti graft policy direction is in all intents and purposes, haunted by &l

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