…it is very obvious that the South-East has once again been assaulted by a callous conspiracy by the North and South-West. It is high time the zone asserted herself and this is a clarion call. By all indications, Nigeria has, unfortunately, become a country where no leader can truly be a leader for all. If you do not speak up, no one will do that for you. The South East should unite and defend her rights.
Acting President Osinbajo was recently hailed for making a Pan-Nigerian speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nigeria-Biafra war. His tone and style were considered measured and refreshing. Among other things, he reiterated the post-war stance of the Federal Government of no victor, no vanquished. He sounded genuine and believable. However, at the time, he made this supposedly unifying speech, he also simultaneously plotted to undermine the Igbos of South-East – the symbolic remnant of Biafra in modern day Nigeria.
On the evening of Saturday, May 27, 2017 – barely 48 hours after his speech – Osibanjo deepened the fault lines of our body polity by choosing to go ethnic with the National Pension Commission (PenCom). One cannot but interpret the ensuing political game as his anglings to corner PenCom for the Yorubas and preferably his ‘redeemed’ brothers. He had a few weeks earlier attempted to surreptitiously push the said Mr. Doherty as the Director General of the Commission but powers at the Villa, allegedly refused and Mr. Doherty was named as Chairman instead.
Curiously, in his capacity as Ag. President, he reversed President Buhari’s appointment of Alhaji Aliyu Dikko – a Northerner – and announced his long-standing ally from his ethnic stock – Mr. Funsho Doherty – as yet again the new Director General of PenCom. Not only that Doherty is from the same geo-political zone with Osinbajo, he is also connected to him through the Redeem Christian Church of God, along with Ben Oviosu, the South-South nominee for the PenCom Board.
One had believed that after Mr. Osinbanjo’s pontification on the sanctity of the Nigerian Project, he should have reversed what is widely regarded as the unlawful and shoddy removal of Anohu-Amazu in what clearly seems to be a plot to relegate the Igbos to the background despite proven competence. Mr. Osinbajo’s choice of Funso Doherty, instead of reinstating Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, who was only half way through her tenured appointment, is a clear indication of his strong clannish and nepotistic tendencies.
Unfortunately for him, however, this appointment is also null and void as the appointment of Alhaji Aliyu Dikko; it is in clear violation of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014. The PRA states that the office of the chairman, DG and commissioners of PenCom is tenured. It also states clearly that the basis for removal must be communicated in writing. In such instances, where the tenure is not completed, the appointment for replacement should be from the geopolitical zone of the immediate past office holder. (cf. Article 21, 2).
Incidentally, Mr. Osinbajo, as a private legal practitioner, led the legal team that challenged the suspension (not surreptitious removal) of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria – Mr. Lamido Sanusi – by former President Jonathan. Mr. Osinbajo argued at the time that appointments tenured by statute such as the governor of the CBN, DG of PenCom, et cetera, could not be arbitrarily tampered with. It is ironic that he seems to have quickly abandoned his previous garb of promoting equity and fair play and descended into the arena of nepotism in a desperate bid to assert and maximise authority.
The removal of Mrs. Anohu-Amazu as the DG of PenCom for no reason save that she allegedly refused to play ball with the powers that be, marks a new milestone in the many sore points the South-East has suffered. There is no better way to explain this treacherous ethnic politics and politicking than as a grand plan to further humiliate and dispossess the Igbos.
It is very obvious that the after effects of the war still linger in many ways; some subtle and others not so subtle. But the questions many ask are: Who will speak for the Igbos? Who will fight their cause in this regime that is very openly biased against the South-East of Nigeria? In this regard, John Nwodo, a two time minister, the president of Ohaneze, and an erudite alumnus of the London School of Economics has recently threatened legal action should the action not be reversed immediately.
It is very unfortunate and grossly disappointing that Ag. President Osinbajo, a professor of law, would engage in this level of ethnic politics and nepotism. Driving it further to narrow interests of Pentecostal brotherhood is to make a mockery of the gospel of Jesus he once preached and probably still preaches.
Beyond undermining his personal reputation, which he claims to cherish, Ag. President Osinbajo seems to have fully identified with the conspiracy against the South-East. This is an unambiguous case of betrayal of a zone he posited to appreciate their pains only a few hours ago. This clandestine behaviour can only bring back memories of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the persecution of the Igbos during the civil war.
It is not a coincidence that Ag. President Osinbajo is an in-law to Awolowo. His wife is the granddaughter of Awolowo. Whether Ag. President Osinbajo is extending what the best president Nigeria never had (i.e. Awolowo, as described by late Odimegwu Ojukwu) would have done or not remains a matter for empirical enquiry. But in the interim, the signals are both toxic and disappointing particularly when one considers the fact that he is a man of God who by fortune has become the Ag. President of Nigeria.
From the foregoing, it is very obvious that the South-East has once again been assaulted by a callous conspiracy by the North and South-West. It is high time the zone asserted herself and this is a clarion call. By all indications, Nigeria has, unfortunately, become a country where no leader can truly be a leader for all. If you do not speak up, no one will do that for you. The South East should unite and defend her rights. The Nigeria-Biafra war was 50 years ago. It ended with no victor, no vanquished. And so shall it remain.
The Nigerian populace who are busy spewing the ‘stronger together’ rhetoric should call on the Ag. President Osinbajo to walk the moral high road and do the right thing. As a professor of law, he should be seen to rise above nepotism and the disregard of rule of law. Otherwise, they may ultimately haunt his reputation for life.
Martin Ike-Muonso is the Country Director of Baywood Foundation.