By Tom Chiahemen, Interim Director of Publicity, Christian Rights Agenda
The Christian Rights Agenda, CRA, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, review his lopsided appointments. Available data shows the President’s appointments, especially in his second term, as heavily skewed against Christians, especially northern Christians.
Accordingly, CRA has challenged the Presidency to make public the entire list of all Federal Agencies and Parastatals and their heads noting that appointments such as Personal Assistants and Special Assistants cannot in any way be equated with those of heads of Parastatal and agencies.
The CRA notes that for the first time since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Christians, especially those from the northern part of the country are not adequately represented in all arms and agencies of the Federal government.
And for a nation that claims secularity as a principle, this development is not only worrisome but a precursor to a feeling of marginalisation and its consequences, CRA notes.
The president ought to (and should) see himself as father of the nation but his body language and appointments since 2015 have left much to be desired.
For the first time in our political history, all the three arms of government are headed by Muslims to wit: The Executive is headed by President Buhari, the Legislature is headed by Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan and the Judiciary is headed by Justice Mohammed Tanko. Nigerians may recall that President Buhari illegally removed a southern Christian, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as Chief Justice of Nigeria and replaced him with a northern Fulani Muslim in the person of Justice Tanko.
The situation is even worse in the legislature as both chambers of the National Assembly are not just headed by Muslims but the House of Representatives is completely and totally in the hands of Muslims with the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader and the Chief Whip all Muslims.
In this circumstance, we may not be far wrong to conclude that the coast is now clear for anti-Christian laws and other legislative resolutions to pass through this 9th Assembly unhindered.
CRA expects the President who chose and endorsed the present leadership of the legislature to have taken notice of our reality as a people. His only agenda would have been pursuant to his islamisation agenda in Nigeria.
CRA notes with concern, that for the first time since 1999, when Nigeria returned to civilian rule there are only two northern Christians in the Federal Executive Council as ministers out of 24 ministers from the northern part of the country.
They are George Akume (Special Duties) and Mrs. Pauline Tallen (Women Affairs) from Benue and Plateau states respectively.
Worse still is the fact that these two very low members of the cabinet are assigned to what the Federal government itself regards as “Grade C” ministries. All the remaining 22 are Muslims.
Not only that, Buhari, for the first time since 1999 also appointed two senior ministers from the same states – Defense and Agriculture both from Kano state and Finance and Environment from Kaduna state who are all Muslims from the same goe-political zone (north west) as the President.
In Kwara state, the two Ministers Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Senator Gbemisola Saraki are all Muslims and then in Bauchi State, with Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu and Minister of State for Trade and Investment Hajiya Maryam Katagum all Muslims.
In Kaduna state in particular, since 1999, it has been the convention that where the Governor is a Muslim the minister is appointed from Southern Kaduna to balance the equation and there are many qualified southern Kaduna Christian APC members who worked for Buhari’s election and are still in the APC and yet have been left in the cold.
In the Federal Capital Territory FCT, where the minister is a northern Muslim, the minister of state has always been a southern Christian. However, under Buhari, we have both the minister Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello and minister of state, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani, northern Muslims from Adamawa and Kogi states respectively. This is unprecedented in our history.
On the whole, out of the 44 ministers in Nigeria, only 16 are Christians while 28 are Muslims. This huge disparity in the constitution of the Federal cabinet is not only the first of its kind in Nigeria, it is a dangerous precedent to say the least.
As if this is not enough, the lopsidedness in the appointments of security and service chiefs has left Christians, especially northern Christians, in the cold.
For the avoidance of doubt, the following appointments in the military, para-military and security sectors will suffice to buttress the point as out of 17 heads only four (4) are Christians while all the rest are northern Muslims:
1. National Security Adviser
2. Chief of Army Staff
3. Chief of Air Staff
4. Inspector General of Police
5. Comptroller General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps
6. Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service
7. Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Service
8. Comptroller General of Nigerian Correctional Service (Prisons)
9. Director General of the Department of State Service
10. Director General of the National Intelligence Agency
11. Commandant of the Federal Fire Service
12. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
13. Chief of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)
All the above are not just Muslims but are all northerners.
The question we are asking President Buhari is: Are there not qualified Christians in the north and other Christian parts of this great nation, whose strength lies in her diversity, that can hold these posts?
The entire south and Christians are just left with:
1. Chief of Defense Staff
2. Chief of Naval Staff
3. Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Commission.
4. Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. Only four, just four.
Recently, the Presidency released a list of political appointments by President Buhari in a desperate effort to counter allegations of his anti-Christian appointments and deportment.
However, a keen look at the list indicates that the list of Directors- General, Managing Directors, Executive Secretaries, Executive Directors and heads of extra-ministerial Parastatals is omitted. This is nothing but a desperate attempt to hide the facts and cover up for the unprecedented lopsided appointments by President Buhari. CRA believes that is another form of corruption.
The lists of appointments as enumerated above has put paid to the belief that President Buhari is implementing an islamisation agenda in Nigeria where all sensitive and strategic Federal government positions are now the exclusive preserve of Muslims, especially northerners.
Recently, the National Judicial Council NJC, recommended Rosemary Kanyip from Taraba State, and Eleojo Enenche from Kogi state, respectively, for appointment as Judges of the High Court of FCT but missed the chance and their sin is the religion they profess. CRA notes that a larger percentage of people don’t choose their religion.
Taking cue from the body language and policies of President Buhari, some northern state Governors have also been pursuing a total islamisation agenda. In June 2019, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu removed Justice Elizabeth Karatu as Acting Chief Judge of state and replaced her with a Muslim, Justice Suleiman Ambursa who was her junior on the bench and compulsorily retired her from service.
In December last year, Gombe state Governor Inuwa Yahaya removed Justice Beatrice Iliya as Acting Chief Judge of the and replaced her with Justice Muazu Pindiga who was also her junior on the bench.
In Kano state, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje removed Justice Patricia Mahmoud as Acting Chief Judge and replaced with a Muslim Justice Nura Sagir even though she was the most senior in the state. Justice Patricia Mahmoud was appointed into acting capacity by former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso on January 10, 2015 at the twilight of his tenure.
In Borno state, a Christian judge was also blocked from becoming Chief Judge of the state even though he was the most senior in service.
The marginalization and persecution of Christians in Kaduna state under the administration of Malam Nasiru El-Rufai is not only unparalleled but is the worst in the country such that for the first time the Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the Secretary to the state Government, and over 70 percent of Commissioners are all Muslims despite the fact that according to the 2006 National Population Census 12 out of 23 local government areas with dominant Christian population constitutes 51.5 percent of the population of the state.
We want to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of the International community to this brazen marginalization and persecution of Christians, especially northern Christians by President Buhari and his co-travelers in this ignoble path. There cannot be any further confirmation of persecution of Christians in Nigeria under President Buhari than this. This is a confirmation of the recent report of persecution and marginalization of Christians in Nigeria under the Buhari administration released by the United Kingdom Parliament.
We urge President Buhari to review these skewed and one-sided appointments in the spirit of equity, inclusiveness, national cohesion as well as the overall interest of peace and peaceful co-existence and Federal Character as enshrined in section (14) sub-section (3) of the 1999 constitution which states that, “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”