President Buhari’s Cabinet: Where Afenifere Got It Wrong — Maiwada Dammallam


The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, is of the opinion that the recent appointment of ministers by President Buhari was a reflection of “sectionalism on the part of the President.” In his bizarre anger, “the appointment mirrored the complaints made by critics in Buhari’s first term as president and there have been complaints about all these things since the first term. Now, it has been done in super way. So, that is the next level. Welcome to the next level.”

My people have a saying that a blind man would never know he’s being watched until he’s touched. Such is the conundrum of Afenifere who seem condemned to live in perpetual self-deception of a worse form than that of the proverbial ostrich.

Let me nudge the deliberately blind Afenifere and rejig its memory if not to save it from itself at least, for the rest of Nigeria to have some peace. First, Afenifere should know that no single region or ethnic group is yet to be certified as the holders of the patent for crass shamelessness and or red level disrespect for communal sensibility. Apparently the vocal group has been getting away with so many things that it’s now of the belief it could get away with just about anything by empty blackmails using the power of the media at its disposal. This may help correct this mental imbalance.

For the purpose of this piece, I will restrict my opinion on the 2 critical regions of the North West and South West and how their political contributions could determine issues like patronage and considerations. I will not waste time teaching Afenifere that in a democracy, the easiest way to calculate and share benefits is by votes. That President Buhari in 2015, chose to discard the old democratic order for a whole new one with the assumption that Nigeria is matured and patriotic enough to handle the backlash, shouldn’t be a motivation for Afenifere to insult our collective sensibilities by complaining about almost identical sharing formula that was fully in its favor until few months ago.

The South West has the lion’s share in Buhari’s first cabinet despite contributing less than other regions particularly, the North West Afenifere is complaining about today. Please find below Ministers from the South West in Buhari’s 2015 cabinet:

South West Ministers 2015:
Ekiti – Dr Kayode Fayemi: Solid Minerals
Lagos – Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola: Power, Works & Housing
Ogun – Mrs Kemi Adeosun: Finance
Ondo Prof Claudius Daramola: State, Niger-Delta Affairs
Osun- Prof Isaac Adewole: Health
Oyo Mr Adebayo Shittu: Communications

These are all “A” grade Ministries. Ministry of Power, Works & Housing is actually 3 “A” grade Ministries domiciled in one and handed over to the South West for the region to do as it wished with — something it did excellently going by multi-billion Naira infrastructural projects splashed across the South West from roads to railroads.

In sharp contrast to the contributions of the North West to Buhari’s 2015 victory which, by any measure, was far ahead of the meager contributions of the South West, the North West only got the following portfolios:

North West Minsters 2015
Jigawa – Engr Suleiman Adamu: Water Resources
Kaduna – Mrs Zainab Ahmed Usman: (State) Budget & National Planning
Kano – Lt-Gen Ibrahim Danbazzau(Rtd): Interior
Katsina – Sen Hadi Sirika: (State) Transport(Aviation)
Kebbi – Mr Abubakar Malami: Justice
Sokoto – Ms Aisha Abubakar: State, Industries, Trade & Investments
Zamfara – Brig-Gen Dan Alli(Rtd):Defence

Mrs. Zainab and Sen. Sirika were junior ministers in the first cabinet. Jigawa State that contributed more than Lagos to the victory went home with only Water Resources. Katsina that almost doubled Lagos was compensated with just a Junior Minister.To get a clear picture of President Buhari’s democratic benevolence that was his 2015 cabinet, please check below the contributions of the two regions to his victory:

South west votes for Buhari 2015:
Ekiti — 120,331
Lagos — 792,460
Ogun — 308,290
Ondo — 299,889
Osun — 383,603
Oyo — 528,620

Total = 2,433,193

North west votes for Buhari 2015:
Jigawa — 885,988
Kaduna — 1,127,760
Kano — 1,903,999
Katsina — 1,345,441
Kebbi — 567,883
Sokoto — 671,926
Zamfara — 612,202

Total = 7,115,199

Is it not absurd that with 2,433,193 votes (which was meager relative to the size and noise of the South West) the region went home with the lion’s share of Buhari’s 2015 cabinet leaving the North west that contributed 7,115,199 votes to the victory with disproportionate slots? Katsina contributed 1,345,441 votes to the victory but only scored a Junior Minister and nobody questioned the benevolence of President Buhari for over patronizing the South West.

Noise makers like me actually spent the best part of the first tenure defending these appointments not because we cannot be shameless like the Afenifere but just to infuse and sustain the mutuality and cohesion critical for the success of the administration. Like I said earlier, nobody holds the patent for nonsense in Nigeria. We can all play regional politics in our peculiar ways and see who will pay heavily for the stupidity. We may not have the media to propagate nonsense and blackmail whoever happens to be the President but, I’m sure no one would doubt capacity of the North West to decide who is the President in the first place.

Having said that, let’s calculate contributions of the two regions in 2019 and see if President Buhari was fair to each according to the principles of democracy.

South west votes 2019:
Ekiti — 219,231
Lagos — 580,825
Osun — 347,634
Ondo — 241,769
Ogun — 281,762
Oyo — 365,229

Total = 2,036,450

North west votes for Buhari 2019:
Jigawa — 794,738
Kaduna — 993,445
Kano — 1,464,768
Katsina — 1,232,133
Kebbi — 581,552
Sokoto — 490,333
Zamfara — 438,682

Total = 5,995,651

The least I expect from Afenifere is to keep quiet and enjoy its unearned patronage for the second time in a decade. If we are to go by the above figures I doubt if the South West could generate enough “SSAs” and “SAs” to be politically visible in this lap of the race.

By the way, I didn’t miss former Governor (now Minister of Interior), Rauf Aregbesola’s coldness towards his new ministerial office. First, it was a rather unstatesmanlike “confession” that “he has no knowledge of how the Interior ministry operates” which was followed by a clear lack of enthusiasm towards his new job when he briefly visited the Ministry after the swearing-in and left shortly with a promise to resume “fully on Monday”.

It doesn’t make sense to me that a former Governor would be under the impression that somebody need to have specific knowledge about a Ministry before he runs it successfully. Ordinarily, one will think Aregbesola is over qualified to run the office of a Minister just few months after exhausting two terms as a governor. I may be wrong but, my instincts keeps dragging me towards the idea that Aregbesola was only echoing Afenifere’s ungratefulness albeit, in a polite manner.

I doubt if anybody will disagree with me that His Excellency, Aregbesola wouldn’t drop in his new office for few minutes and breeze out with a promise to resume fully on Monday (5 days away) had President Buhari appointed him the substantive Minister of Petroleum. Equally, he wouldn’t complain about not knowing how the Ministry operates had the President posted him to the Ministry of Works & Housing that Fashola retained. His attitude was a mild expression of disgust for being posted to the Interior Ministry which was whittled down by excising the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) which now falls under the purview of the newly created Ministry of Police Affairs.

Unfortunately His Excellency, Aregbesola, refused to see his ministerial appointment in its real democratic context — an affair entirely at the pleasure of the President. Putting the appointment in its real context would have told him why he arrived the inauguration hall at the villa without knowing which Ministry he was going to be posted. In a democracy, it’s either you vie and stand for election for an office you like or wait for such considerations that doesn’t come with luxury of options. President Buhari doesn’t make the rules. He’s just obeying them.

I think it’s not too early to advise the South West to put its house in order. The idea of scapegoating the North West or insulting the President each time they feel like renegotiating their political status is as counter productive as it’s resistible. Any region that decides to toy with the above figures should do so at his own risk because there’s nothing in the horizon to indicate the production line of these figures will fail anytime soon. Just as much, there’s nothing to indicate the rule of numbers will change anytime soon to deny the North West a prime position in Nigeria’s political permutations.

Finally, out of respect for my patriotic Ndigbo friends and colleagues I will not honor Ohanaeze with a response. Fully engaged with the business of placating Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, Ohanaeze’s hands are full to deserve a decent attention for their complains about the cabinet. It’s sufficient to remind it though, that it’s the debate is about Nigerian cabinet not the cabinet of the Biafra they sleeps with in night and disown in the morning.


All election figures obtained from Wikipedia


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