NIMASA Controversy: Another act of Buhari’s surrogate presidency

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By Ifeanyi Izeze

How does a President achieve national healing by pretending to be blind and deaf to the cries and complaints of the people he is ruling? Buhari’s obsession with sectional favouritism has been undermining fairness and public faith in his government. Does anybody still doubt that?

There is no doubt that it is the President’s prerogative which he has been exercising to the fullest to appoint whoever he wants to wherever in his government and does not owe anybody any explanation for his actions. So first, we may need to ask whether it was the President, Gen Mohammadu Buhari that sacked the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside one week to the expiration of his tenure replacing him with Bashir Jamoh an erstwhile executive staff of the agency.

This has become necessary because even till this very hour, the Presidency has not said anything concerning the trumpeted displacement at NIMASA and that raises serious questions as to who originated the story and leaked same to the media.

The tenure of the incumbent Director General of the agency, Dakuku Peterside was supposed to expire on the 10th of March 2020 only for him to be replaced or rather sacked just one week to the date on flimsy reasons of some trumped up allegations and politically motivated petition. How do you reconcile that? Even if the President (real or surrogate) had the intention of not renewing Peterside’s tenure, couldn’t there have been more decent way of easing him out?

How else can anybody describe the gaming in the alleged baton change at NIMASA if not to say it was another manifestation of the acts of a grossly diminished Presidency?

Dakuku’s tenure has ended and another person has to fill the space, that shouldn’t be an issue at all but why didn’t they let him complete his tenure after all he has just 5 days left?

The agency has had 12 director generals since inception. Is it not curious that this is the first time a president will leak to the media reasons for sacking his appointee? It is very clear that some people are playing not-too smart politics in this NIMASA issue.

Curiously also, barely few hours after the revelation of the change of baton at NIMASA, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rushed out a congratulatory message which was even more insulting than the complaints against Buhari’s skewed appointments.

How has maritime business and NIMASA become MURIC’s concern that the Islamic organisation was the first to rollout a media statement few hours after the rumoured sack congratulating Bashir Jamoh the new DG? Is it not clear that there is a clear agenda to rubbish whatever efforts Peterside must have put to reposition the agency with the ultimate goal of making the replacement look better and the renewal of the former’s tenure a near impossibility.

As said, “MURIC commends President Buhari for manifesting visionary leadership in his choice of Bashir Jamoh for the position of Director General of NIMASA. We are waiting for wailers and their characteristically divisive outcry against every appointment made by this administration. It is either nepotism, Islamisation or Fulanisation. But they did not see Afeniferisation when Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan was appointed on Monday, 2nd March, 2020 as the new Head of Service (HOS). Yemi-Esan succeeded Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, another Christian and Southerner. But the Muslims have not cried foul. Neither have the Northerners screamed blue murder.

“There is indubitable evidence that balance has been maintained in the choice of Bashir Jamoh. The outgoing director general, Dr. Dakuku Adolphus Peterside, is a Christian and a Southerner while his successor, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, is a Muslim and a Northerner.”

How come some people in this country no longer care about the sensibility of others? What’s exactly the interest of this MURIC in NIMASA? So appointment in NIMASA has become a religious: Christian versus Muslim thing? What was the essence of the MURIC’s satanic verses in what suppose to be a congratulatory message? From MURIC’S statement, it is not difficult to know the sponsors of the plethora of media reports of allegations some of which are outrightly baseless and most clearly stupid are coming from.

Be it as it may that Peterside’s tenure as Director-General of NIMASA was not renewed by President Muhammadu Buhari because of the inability of the former DG to develop indigenous shipping thereby losing industry operators’ goodwill; failure to curb piracy and armed robbery at sea; and failure to maintain a harmonious relationship with federal lawmakers as alleged. So by appointing Jamoh from Kaduna who could be said to be the second in command all these while in the agency, all the alleged lapses would be ameliorated?

If Peterside failed to achieve what was alleged, was that not an indictment on the top management of the agency including Jamoh himself, or was Dakuku a dictator in the place?

If Jamoh had so much fire to give as MURIC and the rest are insinuating, why did he not unleash it when Peterside held sway at the agency? Or should we believe that he and some other people deliberately withheld their experiences and expertise since he was the executive director Finance and Administration in the same agency under Peterside? So you see the reasons given are as stupid as they are unintelligent.

Why are the operators of this government blind to the obvious implications of their acts? This regime has been inundated with complaints of lopsidedness in assignment of lucrative agencies of government to only a section of the country and even a people in that section. These are factual.

This is not knocking Jamoh as he’s said to have all it takes to run the place but the worry is about precedence. If all the major revenue generating agencies are headed by people from one section of the country then it’s a cause for worry.

Supposing government changes hands tomorrow and another region or people start replaying this music that Buahri and his people have taught all of us, would there be protest or they will be ready to accept it that way?

Despite the agitations, this same impunity is repeated every now and then that the need to change any incumbent whether by sack or expiration of tenure arises. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporationn, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian Ports Authourity, Customs, NCAA, FAAN and now NIMASA among other money spinning agencies of this government are restricted to one section of the country and one people in that section except the CBN which is not even a revenue generating agency.

To the small minds, they may say it is not factual even though they know it is. But let’s even say is it not but what happened to tact?

In all these neptic appointments, the most worrisome thing is this single-minded disinclination to sooth those complaining at least to allay their fears even if they be paranoid. And if these appointments were based on any objective moral principles they could be excusable. Why is the President not making any effort to balance appointments if only to reduce the bitterness in the polity?

Is it really possible not to view the sharing of political appointments and other perks of office in a divided society like ours outside the prism of North/South? Why is General Buhari not bothered about the concerns of the mass of informed Nigerians who are sufficiently convinced that his appointments are at best skewed and at worst nepotic?

Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, there is a limit to which you can bruise the sensibilities of others without getting the repercussion which most times come with grave consequences. The earlier we begin to learn to pretend well that we are one nation, the better for all of us. God bless Nigeria!

(IFEANYI IZEZE writes from Abuja: [email protected]; 234-8033043009)