President-elect Bola Tibubu’s assemblage of transition committee members has become a subject of controversy.
The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, was roundly criticized for favoring his kinsmen in appointments over other segments of the country, especially the South-East.
Buhari’s government has no Southeasters in the top security echelon.
Upon assumption of office, Buhari made it clear that his appointments and infrastructural development would be based on the votes he received across the zones.
His administration has been dogged with allegations of marginalization against the south-east zone, fueling the various agitations in the area.
A few days ago, Tinubu released members of his transition committee, with no single person from the south-east.
Nobody from the South East zone made the cut in the committee made up of names such as Bayo Onanuga, Abubakar Kyari, Stella Okotete, Makinde Araoye, Betta Edu, Imam Faud, Donald Wokoma, Samira Saddik, Andrew Abuh, Danladi Bako, and Hadiza Kabir.
Indications are equally rife that the zone will lose out in the contest for the 10th National Assembly leadership.
The outcome of the last general elections showed that the Igbo dominated the Southeast, and the people of the South-South voted massively for the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi.
It is still unclear if the list of transition committee members has anything to do with the voting pattern during the election.
However, even the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the composition of the list.
The outgoing President Buhari was also consistently accused of marginalization and total disregard for the Federal Character Principle.
Among other major appointments by the President, at one point, the South-East had no representation in the internal board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries.
This is despite the zone having two oil-producing states: Imo and Abia. Anambra and Enugu have now joined.
Out of 40 senior management positions within the corporation, ranging from chief operating officers and managing directors of its subsidiaries to general managers’ roles in the corporation, 24 are occupied by Northerners, while those from the South hold 16.
The President also totally left out the South East in his appointments to key offices in the military and paramilitary security architecture of the country. For instance, the Chief of Defence Staff, Leo Irabor, is from South South; the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru (North); the Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Zubairu Gambo (North); the Chief of Air Staff, Ishiaka Oladayo Amao (South West); the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba (North); the Director General of DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi (North); Ahmed Rufai Abubakar-NIA (North); John Mrabure, NCS (South South); Muhammed Babandede, NIS, North; Hameed Ali, NCS (North); Ahmed Abubakar Audi NSCDC (North); Boboye Oyeyemi, FRSC (North); Liman Alhaji Ibrahim, FFS (North); Abdulrasheed Bawa, EFCC (North); Bolaji Owasanoye, ICPC (South West); Buba Marwa, NDLEA (North);
And following Tinubu’s decision to omit the South-East from his recently constituted presidential transition committee, individuals and groups such as Ohanaeze Ndigbo are wondering if the in-coming administration has inherited the perceived neglect shown to the South-East by the Buhari administration.
But speaking to the Daily Post on this issue, Dr. Emeka Nwosu, a political analyst and former Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to ex-Senate President Evan Enwerem, feels it is too early to start making projections based on the formation of the transition committee.
He explained, “It is too early to start to make projections about whether he is going to be sectional or non-inclusive, going by the composition of the transition council.
“I think it is not enough parameters to start to make any conjecture as to what will definitely happen in the next few months and weeks, so let us be positive because when you talk about the transition council, it’s not the appointment of people who are going to mount the different sectors of the economy or serve in the government.
“I think it is a technical group of people who are going to engage the outgoing administration to look at their balance sheet." Let us not start on that trajectory (of whether an Igbo man is on the committee or not).
“Because once you start with that, the question they will now ask you is, "Did you vote for us?" I think the most important thing is that we even allow the committee to do its work. Don’t forget that this matter [Tinubu’s victory] is still in court.
“No one knows what is going to happen tomorrow." For me, this is not the parameter by which to judge anything. It is when the government takes off, by their actions, that we’ll now know whether this government will be run according to the constitutional provisions, because Section 14 is clear.
“You must not run the government in a way that any section of the country will dominate. The last administration did it and got away with it because we had a National Assembly that was incompetent and could not question it either for primordial reasons.
“They are the ones that are supposed to question those things, but when you present those things, they throw them away.
“Don’t forget the way the leadership of the National Assembly emerged." People see leadership as a rubber stamp. We expect that the incoming government must have learned from Buhari’s non-observance of the Constitution.
“What happened in Buhari’s government has never happened in this country, such that a particular religion and a section of the country dominated the entire security architecture, and this created a lot of tension in the country.
“I don’t think Tinubu will toe that line because he is a Democrat while Buhari was a military man. "Going by Tinubu’s record, I don’t think he will allow history to repeat itself.”
Also, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has continued to kick over the transition committee list.
Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the Secretary-General of the Igbo group, in his latest comment on the matter, described the omission of Ndigbo as dangerous.
“We are shocked that among the people enlisted by the President-elect, there was no Igbo person in the transition committee forwarded by Asiwaju.
“This portends danger." We want to believe that those who assisted Asiwaju made a great mistake.
“For such a mistake to come at this hour, it portends danger to the unity of the country."
“Tinubu must ensure that people from the opposition who were sacrificed, from the South, like Wike, Chimaroke Nnamani, Ikpeazu, Ortom, and Ugwanyi, who paid the supreme price by ensuring a smooth transition of power from the North to the South, should be integrated into the government of national unity.”