Following the publication of my article “Buhari Owes the Igbo nothing” I have received calls and letters castigating my position. One of the writers, Mr. Goddy
Uwazurike asked me to read section 13 and 14 of the 1999 constitution. He seems to imply that those sections show that PMB owes the Igbo something. I have previously read the 199 constitution in its entirety but since he advised me to read the sections, I have gone back to re-read them. I have also pasted the extract at the bottom of this essay for those who have not had the opportunity to read the sections to do so now.
[Image: President Buhari]
The most pertinent part of the provision under discussion is Chapter II section 14(3) which states as follows:
(3) 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. (Emphasis mine)
The two goals are to reflect the federal character and to command national loyalty. Do these demand that appointments must be made in 300 increments to reflect the 300 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria? My answer would be no. Some appointments may reflect the dominance of one group over others at points but other appointments would balance/rebalance things at a later point. The total picture is what would be considered.
I also think that in spite of this provision the requirements of this Section Chapter II section 16 (2) must be adhered to:
(2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring:
(a) The promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;
And that Chapter II section 15 (5) should also be considered:
(5) The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
All these should come into play. If one takes all these clauses together it would read something like this
President Muhammadu Buhari shall appoint to his government such people that he judges cable of ensuring a balanced economic development; that are not corrupt and would reflect the Nigerian National character
This is a tall order and PMB must execute it. He must find people he can trust to do the work, who have clean hands, and when possible reflect the national character on the total picture. PMB’s major mistake is that he is moving at a snail speed. He is acting as if the presidency was just thrust upon him; that he did not have plan from the beginning; and that he is feeling his way through. Given that he had sort the presidency more than three times, this seems strange and paints a picture of a man unprepared for the office he has sort so many times.
This should be the focus of criticism of PMB’s current administration not the balance in his appointments. He needs to show a more robust gait; a command of the circumstances he is in; an interest in using democratic tools to govern; and less use of dictatorial apparatuses. He seems to be just hiring and firing and not legislating and executing. He has not sent any bills to the legislature; he has not even sent a revised budget which would reflect his direction. The budget of the land is GEJ’s budget. Is this the program he is implementing?
We could question his appointing of himself as the sole administrator of Nigeria. Government by permanent secretaries is not envisioned in a democracy. Nigerian politicians are undoubtedly corrupt but does this mean that no one with clean hands can be found? How about appointing non-politicians as ministers?
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala who did such a fantastic job with the economy under both Obasanjo, Yar‘Adua and Jonathan was not a politician when she came to Aso Rock. There are more where she came from. Good managers need not have been governors or senators. How about Keshi as the minister of Sports for example or Dr. Kassim in the health or Gumel in education? These gentlemen have never won any election as dog catcher or anything anywhere in the world.
President Buhari has many exposed areas for critics, but his unbalanced appointments are not one of them. He should be allowed to work with people he can trust.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts
Chapter II, 1999 Constitution
Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy
13. It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.
14. (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:
(a) Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and
(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
(3) 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.
(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation.
15. (1) The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.
(2) Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.
(3) For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to:
(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughtout the Federation.
(b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation.
(c) encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and
(d) promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious and or other sectional barriers.
(4) The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.
(5) The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
16. (1) The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution.
(a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy;
(b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity;
(c) without prejudice to its right to operate or participate in areas of the economy, other than the major sectors of the economy, manage and operate the major sectors of the economy;
(d) without prejudice to the right of any person to participate in areas of the economy within the major sector of the economy, protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy.
(2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring:
(a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;
(b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good;
(c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group; and
(d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.
(3) A body shall be set up by an Act of the National Assembly which shall have power;
(a) to review, from time to time, the ownership and control of business enterprises operating in Nigeria and make recommendations to the President on same; and
(b) to administer any law for the regulation of the ownership and control of such enterprises.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section –
(a) the reference to the “major sectors of the economy” shall be construed as a reference to such economic activities as may, from time to time, be declared by a resolution of each House of the National Assembly to be managed and operated exclusively by the Government of the Federation, and until a resolution to the contrary is made by the National Assembly, economic activities being operated exclusively by the Government of the Federation on the date immediately preceding the day when this section comes into force, whether directly or through the agencies of a statutory or other corporation or company, shall be deemed to be major sectors of the economy;
(b) “economic activities” includes activities directly concerned with the production, distribution and exchange of weather or of goods and services; and
(c) “participate” includes the rendering of services and supplying of goods.
17. (1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice.
(2) In furtherance of the social order-
(a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law;
(b) the sanctity of the human person shall be recognised and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced;
(c) governmental actions shall be humane;
(d) exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons, other than the good of the community, shall be prevented; and
(e) the independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law, and easy accessibility thereto shall be secured and maintained.
(3) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that-
(a) all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment;
(b) conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and for social, religious and cultural life;
(c) the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused;
(d) there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons:
(e) there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or on any other ground whatsoever;
(f) children, young persons and the age are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect;
(g) provision is made for public assistance in deserving cases or other conditions of need; and
(h) the evolution and promotion of family life is encouraged.
18. (1) Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.
(2) Government shall promote science and technology
(3) Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide
(a) free, compulsory and universal primary education;
(b) free secondary education;
(c) free university education; and
(d) free adult literacy programme.
19. The foreign policy objectives shall be –
(a) promotion and protection of the national interest;
(b) promotion of African integration and support for African unity;
(c) promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations;
(d) respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and
(e) promotion of a just world economic order.
20. The State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria.
21. The State shall –
(a) protect, preserve and promote the Nigerian cultures which enhance human dignity and are consistent with the fundamental objectives as provided in this Chapter; and
(b) encourage development of technological and scientific studies which enhance cultural values.
22. The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.
23. The national ethics shall be Discipline, Integrity, Dignity of Labour, Social, Justice, Religious Tolerance, Self-reliance and Patriotism.
24. It shall be the duty of every citizen to –
(a) abide by this Constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the National Flag, the National Anthem, the National Pledge, and legitimate authorities;
(b) help to enhance the power, prestige and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria and render such national service as may be required;
(c) respect the dignity of other citizens and the rights and legitimate interests of others and live in unity and harmony and in the spirit of common brotherhood;
(d) make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides;
(e) render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order; and
(f) declare his income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and pay his tax promptly.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba