Since coming to power on May 29th, there are clear indications that those with vested interest have continued to play dominant roles in determining who gets what in the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The Presidency has been inundated with intense lobbying for strategic positions, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Tinubu’s close political allies battle for the spoils of victory.
The allegation is that the administration is high on politics. The priority to settle cronies is very high.
BusinessDay checks revealed that a new set of “Cabal” made up of Wale Edu, minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy; Dele Alake, minister of Solid Minerals Development; Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President; Oluremi Tinubu (First Lady) and Seyi Tinubu, president’s son who was actively behind the father’s electioneering campaign, mobilising several youth groups to key into his father’s election project- these all remotely control appointments in the Presidential Villa.
An assessment of the President’s appointments so far indicates that there has been no clear departure from the old order, a system that promotes “winner takes all.”
The appointments made so far have favoured the South West geo-political zone, where the President comes from.
These appointees include; the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun; the newly nominated Yemi Cardoso, as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Zacch Adedeji, acting chairman, FIRS; Taiwo Oyedele, chairman, Tax Reforms Committee; Tope Fasua, Special Adviser on Economic Affairs, and Bisoye Coker-Odusote, acting director general of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
The President had earlier named Adeniyi Adewale, a Yoruba man, as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service; Kayode Egbetokun as the Inspector General of Police; Folashodun Shonubi, acting governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), following the removal of Godwin Emefiele.
Thirteen out of the 20 appointed first sets of personal aides come from the South West.
Tunde Rahman, SSA (Media); Abdulaziz Abdulaziz is SSA on Print Media, the SSA Political will be handled by Ibrahim Masari, Adekunle Tinubu is Personal Physician, Damilotun Aderemi is Senior Special Assistant (Private Secretary) and Toyin Subair – Senior Special Assistant (Domestic).
Senior Special Assistant (Digital/New Media) went to O’tega Ogra; Demola Oshodi is Senior Special Assistant (Protocol); Tope Ajayi – Senior Special Assistant (Media & Public Affairs); Yetunde Sekoni – Senior Special Assistant; Motunrayo Jinadu – Senior Special Assistant; Segun Dada – Special Assistant (social media); and Paul Adekanye – Special Assistant (Logistics).
Others are Friday Soton, Special Assistant (Housekeeping); Special Assistant (Catering) is Shitta-Bey Akande, Nosa Asemota as Special Assistant (Visual Communication), Personal Photographer, and Kamal Yusuf, Personal Assistant for Special Duties to the President
In an effort to have full grip of the security forces at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President appointed his kinsman, Adebisi Onasanya, a Colonel, as the Commander, elite Guards Brigade, that provides personal protection for the President.
He also appointed Moshood Yusuf, a Lieutenant Colonel, as Commander, 7 Guards Battalion, Asokoro, Abuja.
Others include Auwalu Inuwa, Commander, 177, Guards Battalion, Keffi, Nasarawa State, Mohammed J. Abdulkarim, Commander, 102 Guards Battalion, Suleja, Niger and Olumide A. Akingbesote, as Commander, 176 Guards Battalion, Gwagwalada, Abuja, all, within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs.
Other military officers appointed in the Presidential Villa, include Isa Farouk Audu, (kN/14695), a Major, as the Commanding Officer, State House Artillery, Kazeem Sunmonu (N/16183), a Captain as Second-in-Command, State Artillery, while Kamaru Hamzat (N/14656), also a Major, as the Commanding Officer, State House Military Intelligence.
TS Adeola (N/12860), a Major, takes over as Commanding Officer, State House Armament, A. Aminu (N/18578), a Lieutenant, as Second-in- Command, State House Armament.
On the appointment of ministers, South West also got a chunk.
This includes; Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani; Minister of State, Environment, Ishak Salako; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of The Economy,Wale Edun, and Minister of Interior, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo
Others are the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu; Minister of State, Health and Social Welfare, Tunji Alausa; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake; Minister of Tourism, Lola Ade-John; Minister of Marine & Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola
On the other hand, the South East was allocated five Ministries; South-South Seven, North West, nine Ministers, North East, eight and North Central, nine Ministers.
In the latest set of appointments of 18 Special Advisers in the office of the Vice President, the President named Rukaiya El-Rufai, as Special Adviser to the President on NEC & Climate Change; Tope Kolade Fasua as Special Adviser (SAD) to the President on Economic Matters; Aliyu Modibbo Umar, Special Adviser General Duties; Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Special Adviser on Political Matters, and Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to the President on Presidential
Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and Investments. Others include, Sadiq Wanka, Special Adviser to the President on Power Infrastructure; Usman Mohammed, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration & Office Coordination; Stanley Nkwocha, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Communications; Ishaq Ningi, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Media & Emergency Management; Peju Adebajo, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Investment & Privatisation; Mohammed Bulama, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Political/Special Duties; Kingsley Uzoma, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Agricbusiness & Productivity Enhancement; Gimba Kakanda, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Research & Analytics, and Temitola Adekunle-Johnson, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Job Creation & MSMEs.
Others include; Nasir Yammama, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Innovation; Zainab Yunusa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on NEC; Mariam Temitope, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Regional Development Programmes, and Bashir Maidugu, Deputy State House Counsel (Senior Special Assistant to the President).
He has also appointed 32-year-old Khalil Halilu, as the new Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
Godwin Ehimikuae, a legal practitioner, in his assessment of the Tinubu’s administration, said the President has fallen into the same nepotistic mistake of the immediate past president, by surrounding himself with people from the South West.
“Healing a deeply divided nation like Nigeria, requires that he brings as many people from the different parts of the country as possible into his administration. Unless he does that, it will be difficult to achieve the kind of national cohesion that he wants to build.
“I expect that his own administration will be different because of the recent experience this country has passed through,” he said.
But Lawrence Alobi, FCT Commissioner of Police, pleaded with Nigerians to allow the regime to mature.
“For me, it is too early to begin to assess him based on those he has appointed. The regime is just above 100 days old and no one can fault the quality of the people he has appointed so far.
“He is yet to constitute boards of parastatals and those of the MDAs. So, he needs to be given time to stabilise his administration,” he said
Nigeria’s fragile federal structure is characterised by lopsided and imbalanced access to the “common good.” Based on the above, the purpose of the federal character was to prevent the dominance by any sectional group, be it ethnic, geographic or religious, in the country’s political governance.
To check this, Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution as amended, prescribed and established the federal character system.
According to the section, “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 to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.”
Also, Section 147  of the Nigerian Constitution, mandates the federal government to ensure that appointments of Ministers reflect the number of states of the federation and FCT, to satisfy the federal character of Nigeria in appointments to public offices.
The Igbo ethnic group in South Eastern Nigeria with only five Ministers, said that the zone was not fairly represented in the cabinet.
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, leader of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said the development was bad for Nigeria’s unity.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo believe in one united Nigeria and this can only be achieved in an atmosphere of fairness, justice and equity.
“We, therefore, demand justice, fairness and equity for every ethnic group in Nigeria including the Igbo,” Iwuanyanwu said.
More than half of 27 Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistants announced last week are South-Westerners.
The team comprising seven Special Advisers and 12 Senior Special Assistants will work in the office of the Vice President, while others would work directly with the President as his aides and Advisers.
The development has generated mixed reactions from Nigerians and groups across the country.
Some days ago, the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), said with President Tinubu’s recent approval of the nomination of Olayemi Cardoso to serve as the substantive Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), some 48 hours after appointing Zachaeus Adedeji as the acting chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the president appeared to be pushing an unseemly pro-ethnic agenda
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group said: “That the disastrous, previous administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, rtd, toed a visionless, divisive path, in the overwhelming tribalistic appointments it made, should never excuse this course that fundamentally degrades the legitimate dream of a new, progressive, inclusive Nigerian state.”
The Presidential spokesperson of Atiku Abubakar, Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, Daniel Bwala, criticised Tinubu for lack of fairness in his appointments.
Bwala stated that they have not been characterized by fairness and likening them to extreme nepotism.
He said: “President Bola Tinubu’s appointment is nepotistic and now has earned the status of nepotism pro max 15.
“I’m telling you that I don’t have anything against him. If President Tinubu scores a point, I will be the first, whether in PDP or in APC, to say President Tinubu has done it right.
“We earn the right to point out things that the President and his administration are doing which are not uniting Nigeria, which are not pushing us towards the path of progress.
“I earn the right to speak truth to power because President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is somebody that I, Bwala Daniel, respect with the greatest respect.”
Similarly, the Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Ishaq Akintola, some days ago condemned appointments made so far by Tinubu, noting that they are lopsided and favoured mainly Yorubas and Christians.
He advised the President to ensure balance in the coming appointments.
“We are shocked to our marrow that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been appointing Christians and Yorubas mainly to key positions since the inception of this administration at the expense of Muslims. For instance, five out of eight security chiefs appointed earlier are Christians. Ministerial posts have not been different.”
Kunle Okunade, a political analyst, said nepotism seemed to have become the norm and leadership culture among Nigeria’s presidents in recent time, but stressed that it was a result of faulty democratic system.
He pointed out that only former President Olusegun Obasanjo displayed some level of national outlook in his appointments in his administration.
Okunade said: “Most of the Presidents often tint toward favouring their ethnic extraction when making political appointments. If one could critically evaluate political appointments at the federal level since 1999, it is only Olusegun Obasanjo that could be seen as a nationalist president.
“Others have displayed nepotism, ethnic favouritism and jingoism in the way they made their appointments.
“Although with the spirit of our democracy and leadership culture in Nigeria, it would be hard to distance nepotism from the way the leaders would be making appointments because our political culture promotes tribalism and ethnicity.
“A democracy and democratic culture that is embedded in tribalism and ethnicity, there is no way nepotism would not be the order of the day in its public administration.”
Tope Musowo, a public policy expert and lecturer, said It was too early in the day to accuse the President of nepotism.
Musowo said: “In his ministerial appointment so far, I do not see where he contravened the principle of federal character, all the 36 states of the federation including FCT are represented in the federal cabinet.
“Of course, people are apprehensive about one or two other appointments he has made with the fear that he may be toeing the path of the immediate past president (Buhari) who skewed the appointments to his region without concern for the principle of federal character.
“There are several other appointments to be made; so many agencies and board appointments to be made. We may have to be a little more patient with him before we jump to conclusions.”
Earlier this month, members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) voiced their grievances over what they perceived as a disproportionate number of appointments from the South West region.
The Progressive Change Ambassadors of Nigeria (PCAN), a group within the APC, accused President Tinubu of favouring his ethnic group, the Yorubas, to the exclusion of other qualified individuals from different regions and ethnicities.
Abdulkareem Ubaydah, PCAN Executive Director, and Muhammad Rabiu Awwal, Secretary, in a statement expressed their concerns about the perceived imbalance.
They emphasised the importance of national unity and inclusiveness in government appointments, reminding the President that he serves all Nigerians, not just a specific ethnic group or region.
The group stressed that this inclusivity is essential for building trust and ensuring that all Nigerians feel represented in their government.
“This approach is vital for the development of the nation and the promotion of unity among its diverse population,” Ubaydah said.
The Arewa Economic Forum (AEF) also voiced its concerns over what they termed ‘Yorubanisation’ and ‘Lagoslisation’ of President Tinubu’s government appointments, particularly in the Finance and ICT sectors.
Ibrahim Shehu Dandakata, chairman of AEF, expressed displeasure over the neglect of the North, which played a significant role in President Tinubu’s election, in these crucial sectors. He called for a more equitable distribution of appointments to ensure that all regions benefit from economic development opportunities.
In his published comment tagged, “Yorubanisation, Bob Anikwe, a media practitioner, argued that wherever the President may deem necessary to pick his aides from, what matters most is the result. And that time would prove all things.
“As I said before, what should matter is that the appointees, working in concert, are able to revive the economy and make life easy for Nigerian citizens. If one takes this position, what then is cautionary about the endorsement? The President, through the skewed appointments, is on a gamble. And like every gambling attempt, this can lead- and we pray that it does- to a windfall that will benefit Nigeria. On the other hand, heavens forbid, it could become a spectacular failure that hurts the economy further while inextricably tainting the image of the Yoruba- because of the appointments,” Anikwe said.