There was this anecdote that cracked us up as young children in the 1980s. A boy named Daniel was playing in the bush when a scorpion stung him on a finger. Daniel began wailing uncontrollably. When his brother sought to know the cause of the cry, he showed him a burrow where “something” stung him.
“What is it, Daniel?” he asked.
“This thing,” the boy simply said, pointing at the burrow.
No sooner had the angry brother pushed his finger to find out what stung Daniel in the burrow than the scorpion stung him too. Feeling the pang of the sting, he said: “Keep crying Daniel! I will start my own now…”
I join my Southern brothers in wailing over President Muhammadu Buhari’s lopsidedness in appointments for several reasons. One, I felt a similar pain during the Jonathan administration. Second, I know Buhari is not ruling forever, and when the baton changes hand again, I would not want to see only Southerners around a Southern president or holding key political offices. I don’t want a repeat of the pain I felt under Jonathan.
I remember, during the tenures of Obasanjo and Jonathan, the North never stopped complaining over marginalisation in appointments. Though Obasanjo and Jonathan were able to lace the juice of their key aides and personal staff with Northern flavours, that did not stop us from wailing. I remember sometimes in 2012 when I wrote a piece complaining about Jonathan’s replacement of Aminu Ahijo (a Northerner) as his steward with Amos Babre (a Southerner). As ‘unimportant’ as a steward could be in the larger scheme of national issues, I wailed, again.
Obasanjo’s Chief of Staff was Gen. Abdullahi Mohammed, while Inuwa Baba was one of his closest aides throughout the eight years he served.
As clannish as Jonathan was, his Principal Private Secretary, Hassan Tukur; his Chief Detail, one Yusuf; and his Chief of Protocol, Jameel Abubakar-Waziri, all hailed from the North. We wailed uncontrollably about this ‘lopsidedness’.
Now that Baba has married the two wives, Northerlina and Southerlina, we expect him, as a good husband, to be fair to the wives and their many grown up children.
Assuming two children from each wife are mates and Baba decides to give them graduation gifts.
Baba orders brand new models of Mercedes S-Class Maybach and a Range Rover — all customised by AMG — from America. And then again, he orders a tricycle, a motorcycle and bicycle from Wapa to “balance” the gift.
Remember, four children — two from Northerlina and two from Southerlina — have graduated the same year.
In his uncommon sense of fairness, he gives Northerlina’s two children a Maybach and a Range Rover, and then gives the two children from Southerlina a tricycle and a bicycle, despite the fact that they are age mates, and all have graduated the same year in flying colours.
When Southerlina protests the obvious discrimination, Baba says he will “balance” the gift next year when another set of children graduate.
“My dear Southerlina, don’t worry. I still love your sons Aminchi, Ingige and Ubonna. I am reserving something good for them,” says Baba.
“What are you reserving for them?” she asks.
“I have Opel Kadet, Vectra, VW Golf 1, Nissan Almera, many motorcycles, bicycles, etc. that I have ordered from Cotonou. Be patient, I will balance out the gifts,” he replies.
“Haba! You are biased against my children. The other day you asked Northerlina’s children to be in charge of your business. You only draw her children close to you. Haba!,” she protests.
Now, how can a new model Range Rover be “balanced” with a “tokunbo” Golf or Vectra or Lifan motorcycle? Do you expect Southerlina to be happy or her children to stop wailing? Do you think there will be peace in the house? Do you expect the children to think that their father is fair? Can you stop the children from wailing?
Everybody who knows how government works, or knows about cabinet hierarchy, will tell you nothing equals Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chief of Staff.
Can Buhari correct this abnormally? The Hausas say “tun ran gini, tun ran zane” (a pot is only scarified when it’s being built). My fear for Buhari is how to convince other parts of the country that he is not biased, or the politicians who worked for his success to support him again. Political sacrifice is rewarded on earth not in the thereafter. Most political “sacrifices” are even sinful before God.
But we must tell President Buhari the truth. Nigeria is for us all. We all have a say as to how we are governed.
It is a bit late, but still not too late to make some realignments.