Japheth J, Omojuwa: Government Appointments and Cries of Marginalisation

This is one of the most lucrative periods of business for ethnic entrepreneurs; it is appointment season and trust them to whip up every sentiment under the tent of bigotry and hatred. Nigeria’s heterogeneous reality makes it impossible for any Nigerian president not to select his/her team from across the different geo-political zones that make up the country. President Buhari’s appointments so far haven’t quite reflected that, but if you note, these ethnic entrepreneurs started screaming ‘marginalization’ even before the first appointment was made, you’d understand why they are making so much noise at these early stage when the bulk of appointments are yet to be made.

You cannot eat your cake and have it; not even in Nigerian politics where rationality often gets suspended on the altar of religion and ethnicity. Save for the need to have a cabinet that reflects our country’s diversity, it would be foolhardy to expect that an administration that was not trusted with power would be quick to grant positions of power to voting blocs that refused to consider it for votes. Noise making and wailing cannot make up for this; every administration is first likely to trust those who trusted it with power before it starts considering those who did not. It is not wickedness; it is simply the reality of finite public officers against almost infinite desires by people to hold them. Something has to give but while every Nigerian has a claim to every Nigerian government, politics would always find a way to differentiate constitutional claims from political claims.

There would be no need for any ethnic group or political bloc to clamour for political appointments if there was no deficit of trust in the first place. You are likely to continue to trust a government you voted in to do the right thing than you are likely to trust a government you never trusted at all with your votes. So then, let us not pretend and act like we do not know what is coming. This is apart from the fact that current appointments, as insignificant in terms of the total appointments made over those yet-to be-made, do not reflect certain other voting blocs that trusted the current administration with their votes. Like they did during the elections, their trust continues to be retained in the government because they have no reason to wail over the condemnation of their own conscience while looking to douse it with other forms of cries.

Nigeria belongs to every Nigerian but political appointments are not the reserve of anyone. It would always be a privilege for those who are called to serve because of the called; there are several other millions of willing people not called. It was recently reported in the news that Otueke community in Bayelsa State lacked potable water. I believe that would not have happened had the community produced a minister or even a president, or did they?

So, it is possible to produce the president and also have people from your end of Nigeria becoming ministers in droves, run government parastatals and even have special development ministries and still not have any of these people and systems remember to make water available for the people. A South-South president held sway for half a decade and in that time, one of the most pressing health and environmental issue in the region; the clean up of Ogoni land never got mentioned, let alone a presidential directive to have it cleaned up as recommended in a widely accepted report that outlined the dangers of not doing so.

You would wonder what matters most to the community; that it produces one man or woman that gets to represent it at the table of power in Abuja or that the community gets to benefit from a functional government. That you have someone of your state of origin at the table of power does not mean that person is your voice at the table. The person could easily be a voice for interests that are well conflicted with your interests. We cannot afford to equate appointments with the delivery of the goods of good governance. While it is imperative and indeed constitutional for the government to reflect Nigeria’s heterogeneous reality, nothing will be more important to the Nigerian masses than to see a government that works for their interest; one that needs that development needs and one that ensures they each have a voice of their own rather than the corrupt one of a kinsman who only cares to fix his pocket and that of his allies.

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