By Bemdoo Hulugh
Once again President Buhari is under fire for appointing more northerners or what some ignorant people refer to as “hausa people” to work for Nigeria. Some are making the argument that the President’s appointments are suppose to have a national spread to create a
symbol of national inclusion and not give his enemies the room to demonise his government as having a “northern” agenda. For many of these people, the “national character” principle is sacred and the only way to national integration.
Over the years, the “national character” principle has been mostly used by the greedy and selfcentred political elite to bargain political power and nothing more but even this has been observed in breach. It is believed that national character has been observed if the yorubas(south),Ibos(south) and what is referred to as “Hausa/Fulani”(north) are well represented.
As a result of the Niger-delta struggle,the people of the oil producing region became the fourth force to be considered in the so-called national character. Have the champions of national character ever considered the smaller and very tiny ethnic groups in the north and south of Nigeria in this strange idea of national integration?
In an attempt maybe to carry all other ethnic groups along in this principle of national character, it was written somewhere in our constitution that “the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.” This has still not carried along the very tiny ethnic groups in sharing political power. Like in Benue State where I come from, the Tiv, Idoma and sometimes Igede people are always the only ethnic groups considered when it comes to sharing political power that many people born and bred in Benue do not know there are other tiny ethnic groups in the State. This is a perfect example that national integration based on the principle of national character is not realistic.
The architects of Nigeria created regions, states, local governments and constituencies along ethnic lines maybe to please all ethnic groups in other to foster national integration but many tiny and not so tiny ethnic groups have still been left out and the country remain as divided as ever. National character principle is a lie that has been repeated for so long that many now believe to be true. My village has produced a governor, minister, heads of federal government parastatals but our problems are not different from that of any other part of Nigeria. The South-south produced the last President but nothing really changed for the better in the region. The north has ruled this country more than any region but remain the most backward. No region or state in Nigeria today can brag that they have become better of as a people because one of their “son” was given a national appointment. I understand that out of greed many think if someone from their state is given a federal appointment they can benefit from the person directly or indirectly which is most times not the case.
The argument that national spread of appointments will serve as a symbol of national integration doesn’t hold water. Some people from Benue(north) are saying the President has made appointments in north-central but non from Benue state. Obviously they do not feel carried along just because other northerners have been appointed and belive me if the appointment comes to Benue some ethinc groups will still not be satisfied becaue it went to another ethnic group. Many Nigerians will not know this because their voices of protest can never be as loud as the Ibos and Yorubas.
The national character principle has only succeeded in giving us a false sense of national unity. How long shall we continue to embrace this falsehood to be politically correct but remain with the problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality? The discussion about national character as it stands is in favour of the greedy political elites who use it for their selfish motives and not for the struggling masses. It will do us more good to focus on building a Nigeria that anybody no matter his/her ethnic group or the place he/she choose to reside can have a decent shot at life. This is the only way to carry everybody along.
Bemdoo Hulugh is an Active citizen and he writes from Makurdi
You can also interact with him on Twitter @bumy04