I read a letter which Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd) claimed that he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB). The author is more popularly known as Dangiwa. I will, therefore, mostly, refer to him as “retired Col Dangiwa”. As far as I am concerned, his target was, apparently, the general public. If he truly wanted the letter for PMB, whatever was its content, the author would not have published it. Since it is made public, members of the public like my humble self should have a say. That is the basis of my response.
Retired Col Dangiwa, the former military governor of Kaduna State during the regime of IBB is not a new person in the Nigerian media space. However, he seems to take back seat for quite some time. The letter he recently wrote to PMB is a testimony that he is still on the public stage and the nature of his narratives has not changed.
Now that he has woken up and he seems to be willing to give us large dose of history of politics and good governance, he should make it complete. The thrust of his narrative is that appointments in PMB’s government are lopsided. He drew comparison between appointments in the government of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the only Prime Minister of Nigeria and the ones in PMB’s government. He cited example of how the Hon Prime Minister and his Minister of Defence, Ribadu, skipped Maimalari, who was more qualified to head the Nigerian Army, in favour of General Ironsi on account of the latter’s seniority.
The action of Ribadu and Balewa could be out of patriotism, nationalism or out of magnanimity. Whatever was the reason, it is commendable. Unfortunately, retired Col Dangiwa did not complete his story. I was young when Balewa was killed. Therefore, I will like to know the whole story. The younger generation of Nigerians of the age of my children will be more interested to have the complete story. Retired Col. Dangiwa should tell us whether or not the beneficiaries of Balewa’s patriotism, nationalism or magnanimity appreciated and reciprocated his statesmanship.
Retired Colonel Dangiwa also made his story incomplete when he limited his example to Balewa’s government. There is a period of almost half a century between the government of Balewa and that of PMB. The dynamics might have changed. He should have compared the appointments of GEJ, UMY or OBJ with those of PMB and the comparison should be specific, not random sampling.
I am not in a position to know whether retired Col Dangiwa was in Nigeria when Obj had no single Yoruba Muslim in his cabinet. A similar scenario was repeated during the presidency of GEJ. I can give many similar examples of lopsided appointments by the former Presidents. I cannot recall Col Dangiwa writing or otherwise calling for correction of such anomalies. Was it a design or coincidence?
The letter of the former military governor also cited examples with the justice sector. He was particular about the appointments of judicial officers (the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the President of Court of Appeal). That is more interesting. However, his story there too is not complete. It will not give the younger generation a clearer picture. He did not tell us that for a good period of 25 years from independence to 1985 the seat of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) was occupied by persons from the southern part of the country. Even during the tenure of PMB as military head of state, he appointed, Hon. Justice George Sodeinde Sowewimo from the South as CJN. Was that a design or coincidence? However, from 1985 to 2017 the occupants of the seat of the CJN were of northern extraction. Was it also a design or coincidence?
The radical retired military officer (as the southern press refer to him) erroneously gave the appellation of Chief Judge to the President of Court of Appeal (PCA).
I don’t know whether he was in “sleep mode” during the presidency of GEJ? Many Nigerians will recall that a jurist per excellence, retired Justice Isa Ayo Salami, was suspended as PCA. Later, the National Judicial Council (NJC) investigated the allegtions against him and cleared him. It recommended for his reinstatement. However, GEJ ignored the NJC until Justice Salami reached his age of retirement. Moreover, the next most senior person was bypassed by GEJ in appointing the next PCA. Did retired Col Dangiwa write a letter?
Retired Col Dangiwa did not beam his search light on the position of Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice. From independence to date, 21 persons occupied the office. Three of them: Mr. Kanu Godwin Agabi, SAN, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN and the present AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN occupied the office twice. We are also aware that persons of Northwest extraction occupied the position of head of goverment at the centre six times. However, only the present AGF is from the Northwest. During the time of PMB as military Head of State, his AGF was Mr. Chike Offodile, SAN, from the Southeast. The Northcentral produced three heads of government. They so far produced three AGFs. They are Mr. Abdullahi Ibrahim SAN, Mr. Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN and Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN. However, it was not during the time of any of the heads of government from their zone that they served as AGFs. The Northeast zone produced only one head of government and did not occupy the position of AGF even once. The three zones from the southern part of the country held the position of head of government four times. They produced all the remaining AGFs minus four.
If we are to go by religious affiliation, only five out of the 21 AGFs we have so far are Muslims. They are Hon. Justice Teslim Elias, Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, SAN, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN and the incumbent, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN. The remaining 16 are non-Muslims. However, I cannot remember any Muslim or any northerner protesting or complaining of religious, ethnic or sectional favouritism. Appying such sentiments on every action or appointment by government will only make governance extremely difficult in a country like ours.
Retired Col Dangiwa was in government before. He ought to know that government takes actions or makes appointments after considering many issues, interests, reports, etc. Sitting in one’s comfort zone to just criticize government actions or apppointments is prone to errors. When next Col Dangiwa wakes up to write another letter, he should let us know whether the various scenarios above were by design or coincidence. Otherwise, his letter will remain what it is: scoring political point while maquerading as statesman.