2019 Presidential Poll: The Need For A Clean Break From Parochialism and Nepotism, By Fidelis Nwagwu
…it is evident that there cannot be a more parochial and nepotistic president as Buhari. Buhari deserves to be voted out in 2019 to put a halt to his brutal haughtiness of appointing his relations in government positions without shame or being bothered by either the collective concerns of Nigerians or his own sense of justice, if at all he has one.
The forms of corruption in government vary, and within these variations there is parochialism and nepotism. From its basic meaning, parochialism is that state of mind whereby a person focuses on small sections of an issue, as opposed to considering the wider context. Parochialism, which can be synonymous with provincialism, means being narrow in scope and it is far from attaining the status of universalism. Nepotism, on the other hand, is the practice by those in power to influence or favour their relatives and/or friends by giving them access to the privileges of power, such as the most important jobs, and without even bothering to consider if a conflict of interest exists.
Governments in Nigeria have sometimes been parochial and nepotistic. However, in recent times, especially in the Muhammadu Buhari presidency that came to existence in May 2015, the parochialism and nepotism in government have morphed to a frightful and atrocious level. The Buhari-led government has become notoriously known for their straight-up disinterest in entrenching ethical norms in their practices, without giving thought to accountability, equity, integrity and transparency. It seems that, perhaps, they are overwhelmed by the atrocious mis-governance taking place within their midst. Thus, it is not surprising that the government is rife with both facts and allegations of different variants and instances of corruption, parochialism and nepotism, which are all thanks to the appalling supervision and mismanagement of government departments, policies and resources.
Unfortunately for the Buhari-led government, there is certainly no possibility of effective governance without a commitment to ethical values and a collaboration with the expectations of the civil society, delivered through best practices. And true to its expectations, the civil society has every reason to demand for good governance, since, after all, governments are for and about the people – making the civil society a part of the governing functions through its participation in the ballot, as well as being guardians of the democratic process against actions which may threaten good governance. Because of these dimensions and their implications on the society, there is always the need for every serious government to subject itself to critical analysis of the ethical issues inherent in the concept of governance and development and be also guided by a capability approach, so that a people-centred development agenda can thrive.
…Ihejirika’s arrest could be described as being inadequate, given that he took over the leadership of the army from General Abdulrahman Dambazau. The inadequacy of this event is demonstrated by the fact that Dambazau is equally alleged to be guilty, at least if the information from the investigation panel on the arms deals probe is to be taken seriously.
Now, because Nigeria has had its bouts of occasional parochial and nepotistic regimes, it was thought by many citizens that the emergence of the Buhari administration in 2015, which promised change under a democracy, would live up to their promise. But after almost four years as president, what did Nigerians get under Buhari? Here are a few examples. First, in the early days of the administration, there were allegations of graft in the military, which led to the arrest of General Azubuike Ihejirika, who was the chief of the army staff during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. But Ihejirika’s arrest could be described as being inadequate, given that he took over the leadership of the army from General Abdulrahman Dambazau. The inadequacy of this event is demonstrated by the fact that Dambazau is equally alleged to be guilty, at least if the information from the investigation panel on the arms deals probe is to be taken seriously. But under the Buhari administration, Dambazau not only walks freely, he is also a minister in the federal cabinet under a president who does not believe that the norms of public administration and management requires that if a person is under investigation, they are normally told to step aside from their public duties until the investigation is concluded. Because Dambazau has not stepped aside, it could be argued that he is even at liberty to interfere with the investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Comes (EFCC), which is interestingly a police organisation, not forgetting that he was at one time the minister in charge of police affairs, in addition to being minister of the interior.
Second, it is no longer in doubt that there is a cabal that has hijacked the Buhari presidency. In an interview with Sahara Reporters in July 2016, the Second Republic politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had exposed the existence of a group within Aso Villa that wields enormous power to a fault. The most influential person in Buhari’s presidency is said to be Mamman Daura, who we all know is a close family member of the president. It is said that Daura’s father was Buhari’s elder brother. Further to this, Daura brought up Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to the president. Then there is the state chief of protocol, who is a son-in-law of Mamman Daura, because he is married to Daura’s daughter. Then there is the minister from Sokoto State who was said to be unilaterally chosen against the wishes of his State’s people and the ruling party; because he is in fact the daughter of the younger sister of Daura’s wife. Then there is the aide de camp to Buhari, Colonel Abubakar, who is married to the granddaughter of Buhari’s elder sisters. Then there is the finance minister from Kaduna State, who is said to be Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s cousin – without the need to go into the details of El-Rufai’s closeness to Buhari. Then there is the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, who was so appointed because his father is Buhari’s friend for many years. Then there is the personal assistant to Buhari, who is named Sabiu Yusuf (popularly called Tunde), who is the grandson of Buhari’s sister. As affirmed by Dr. Mohammed, Buhari’s nepotism could pass as the worst in the history of governance in Nigeria and even Africa.
There could never be any dictator or any tyrant under any system of government in history, who had appointed his niece to conduct elections in which he was either a party or intend to be a party to – but Buhari has done that comfortably, before the watchful eyes of Nigerians.
The case of Amina Zakari, who served as the acting chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is even more appalling. Before her role as INEC acting chairman, Zakari was a national commissioner in INEC. Zakari was brought into INEC during the Jonathan presidency, even though her nomination into the organisation was done by Buhari from whom Jonathan requested for a candidate from the North-West during an INEC re-organisation at the time. Interestingly, of all the people in the North-West, Buhari decided to take his own relation to INEC. Recently, the news was flooded with arguments on whether Zakari is suitable to act as an INEC collation officer in the upcoming February 2019 elections. While Zakari defended the allegations over the fact that she was conflicted (as far as the elections are concerned), stating that she is not a direct relation of the president, but alternative news sources argued the contrary; that Buhari’s sister was once married to Zakari’s father, which makes her Buhari’s niece. As defined by the Oxford English dictionary, a niece is a daughter of one’s brother or sister or one’s brother-in-law or sister-in-law. As espoused by Farooq Kperogi, Zakari’s father was Buhari’s brother-in-law, and this means Zakari is Buhari’s niece. But these issues do not stop there. Buhari was even determined to make Zakari the INEC Chairman, but he reclined after a massive public reprisal, which opened the way for the appointment of Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
There could never be any dictator or any tyrant under any system of government in history, who had appointed his niece to conduct elections in which he was either a party or intend to be a party to – but Buhari has done that comfortably, before the watchful eyes of Nigerians. Not done yet, in Buhari’s Nigeria, there is also nothing wrong in making the immediate younger brother to Zakari a minister for water resources from Jigawa State. Given these examples and perhaps many others yet to be outlined here, it is evident that there cannot be a more parochial and nepotistic president as Buhari. Buhari deserves to be voted out in 2019 to put a halt to his brutal haughtiness of appointing his relations in government positions without shame or being bothered by either the collective concerns of Nigerians or his own sense of justice, if at all he has one.
Fidelis Nwagwu, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.