Prominent Igbo leaders and groups on Tuesday appraised the change of guards at the Nige­rian National Petroleum Cor­poration (NNPC) and lament­ed the exclusion of the South East zone from the organisa­tion’s Board.
They expressed shock at President Muhammadu Buha­ri’s failure to include any indi­gene of the region in the new NNPC’s Board despite the fact that two states from the geo-political zone are in the coun­try’s league of oil-producing states.
President Buhari had on Monday removed the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, as the Group Man­aging Director of the NNPC and named Dr. Kacalla Baru as his successor.
While Kachikwu hails from Delta State (South-South), Baru comes from Bauch State in the North East region.
Of the nine appointees named into the Board, none is re­motely associated with the South East zone. When the news of the appointments broke, some Ni­gerians thought that the perma­nent secretary of the Ministry of Finance (a civil servant who could be moved anytime) was from the South East. They were wrong. The Permanent Secretary in the Fed­eral Ministry of Finance is Mah­mud Dutse, another Northerner.
In a statement issued on Monday, presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said: “Presi­dent Muhammadu Buhari has approved the composition of the Board of the NNPC, as provided for under Section 1(2) of the Ni­gerian National Petroleum Cor­poration Act of 1997, as amended.
“The new board is com­posed of the following: Chair­man - Dr.Emmanuel Ibe Kachik­wu, Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum; Group Managing Director - Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru; the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Finance; Mallam Abba Kyari, Dr. Thom­as M.A John, Dr. Pius O. Akinye­lure, Dr. Tajuddeen Umar, Mal­lam Mohammed Lawal, and Mallam Yusuf Lawal.”
A breakdown of the new ap­pointments showed that six of the nine- member Board hail from the North while three are from the South, with the South East completely shut out.
In separate reactions yester­day, the Igbo leaders declared that ethnicity has taken the cen­tre stage of national affairs under Buhari.
The former President-Gen­eral of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Dozie Ikedife (Ikenga Nnewi) said that the exclusion of a sec­tion of the country in governance is the “mother of all corruption.”
Ikedife said that all well-meaning Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnic and other con­siderations, have been support­ive of the anti-graft war of Pres­ident Buhari.
“But the truth is that corrup­tion stares us in the face on a dai­ly basis, especially with regards to exclusion and disregard to an ethnic group in a matter they are supposed to be key players. I don’t want to talk much, but that is my position. What we are seeing now is the mother of all corruptions,” he declared.
Also, the Chairman of Oha­naeze Ndigbo in Anambra State and Chairman of Chairmen of Ohanaeze in Seven States, El­der Chris Eluemunor, said that the President’s actions are fuel­ling more agitations. He insisting the appointments were made in bad faith.
Eluemunor appealed to Bu­hari to spread his appointments across the six geo-political zones, adding that his lopsided appoint­ments are not helping Nigeria.
He wondered why a north­erner would be made the Man­aging Director of Nigerian Wa­terways and another northerner the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
Eluemunor concluded that Buhari knows that what he is do­ing is not helping Nigeria, lament­ing that “he has removed Ka­chikwu and replaced him with a northerner. I don’t know what to say again because the President has a mission and knows what he doing. I taught the alarm we raised would have touched him and make him adjust but he is bent on having his way…it is un­fortunate for this country …we have been crying…”
The founder of United Pro­gressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, described the lop-sidedness of appointments in NNPC, where the South East was excluded, as a lesson for the Igbo race to rediscover themselves.
Okorie attributed the schem­ing out of Ndigbo from the main­stream of Nigerian politics and lofty political appointments to the second fiddle roles the Igbo pol­iticians of the present times de­cide to play.
He stressed that until the Igbo rediscover themselves in pursuant of a defined political agenda for the South East, they will contin­ue to be neglected and relegated in the system, stating the attitude does not depict the political lega­cies of front line Nigerian politi­cians of Igbo origin.
Similarly, the National Presi­dent of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), Mazi Okechukwu Isigu­zoro, expressed disappointment in Buhari’s style of appointment.
He said that President Buha­ri had again reminded Nigerians that he is only pursuing a north­ern agenda and wondered why he takes delight in excluding the South East from his government.
The OYC helmsman said that Igbo youths had lost confi­dence in Buhari because of his lat­est action which has further con­firmed the suspicion that he hates the South East zone.
In his reaction, a rights activ­ist, Mr. Paul Njoku, described the President’s action as “ very unfor­tunate and an aberration”.
He said it was a calculated at­tempt to sideline the South East zone from the scheme of things, adding that all of Buhari’s ap­pointments so far have been un­balanced and provocative.
“Buhari has never hidden his hatred for Ndigbo but the truth remains that no matter how he tries, he cannot suppress us. By 2019 this yoke will be broken and we will one day be in charge,” he said.
A constitutional lawyer and rights activist, Dr. Anthony Ag­bazuere, called on Buhari to in­crease the membership of the board of NNPC and accommo­date the South East in it.
The Chairman of Umua­hia North Council of Tradition­al Rulers , Eze Philip Ajomuiwe, said Buhari’s marginalisation of Ndigbo will continue to fuel the agitation for Biafra and the mil­itancy in the Niger Delta region.
He wondered why the Pres­ident would continue to mar­ginalise Ndigbo in his appoint­ments and policies and expect the people to support his ad­ministration.
The monarch contended that both Abia and Imo states (in South East) are part of the oil-rich Niger Delta zone and won­dered why Buhari should not consider a slot for South East in NNPC because of the two states.
Dr. Eli Dibia, a political sci­entist and consultant to the Na­tional Assembly, Abuja said: “The appointment of lbe kachik­wu ab initio was a decoy, moving him from substantive GMD to Board Chairman is a demotion. It is like removing a school prin­cipal and making him the Par­ent-Teacher Association (PTA) Chairman. This is another slight on the lgbo by Mr President.”
Another politician, Chief Justin Amadi, asserted that Pres­ident Buhari is not favourably disposed towards the Igbo.
“I am not surprised that he removed Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. Igbo Nation is never in his agenda. All those Igbo clapping in the All Progressives Congress (APC) it is morning time for them, be­fore evening comes he will send them packing,” he said.
A lawyer and former Chair­man of Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State, Chief Enyinna Onuegbu, said: “The problem did not start with President Buhari administra­tion; it is only when you are re­cruited as a graduate staff in NNPC that you can hold exec­utive positions. But the board appointment of NNPC ought to reflect the oil-producing states. It is pure marginalisation, “ he said.
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