Ordinarily, political appointments, particularly into federal agencies are at the discretion of the President, but constitutionally regulated under the principle of “federal character” for equitable distribution of appointments to guide against marginalization of any section of the federation.

But to many, recent appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari are one-sided – in favour of the North – the President’s region. As a matter of fact, the public perception, especially among people of Southern origin is that the APC-led government is nepotic.

The very recent appointment of Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru as the new Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), lends credence to the argument that the presidents appointments so far are sectional, in violation of the federal character law.

The Presidency had on July 4 replaced Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, 11 months after his appointment as NNPC’s GMD. He was however retained as the Minister of state for petroleum resources. For the Niger Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change, (NDIMRC), Kachikwus’ replacement with Baru, a Northerner was a disservice to the people of the Niger Delta.

“The appointment of Baru by the President is not in the best interest of the nation, but to satisfy the interests of the North. It is unfortunate that the people of the oil-rich Niger Delta Region are being treated this way. Kachikwu brought a lot of changes into NNPC and the cabal in the oil and gas industry never liked him,” the group said in a statement signed by its President, Nelly Emma, Secretary, John Sailor and Public Relations Officer (PRO), Stanley Mukoro.

The members of the movement said Kachikwu’s position as NNPC Chief gave the people of the region the confidence to facilitate the peace deals between the federal government and the restive youths.

The concern is therefore that Baru’s appointment as GMD may spark the already tense restive situation in the oil rich Niger Delta region that is being orchestrated by militant groups including the Niger Delta Avengers that has  resumed attacks on oil facilities in the region in recent months.

Some of their reasons for disrupting the exploration and production of crude oil in the area are alleged marginalization and the environmental degradation of the region that accounts for over 70 per cent of the nation’s revenue. “Can Baru take a trip to the Niger Delta region? As the new GMD of NNPC, can he plead with rampaging militants in the Niger Delta region to give peace a chance and they will listen to him? The choice of Baru as the man at the helm of affairs at NNPC is not the best,” the group stated.

“As an oil monitoring group, we are highly disappointed that the President decided at this crucial time to leave the affairs of the NNPC in the hands of Baru,” they argued in their statement, that : “We are not impressed that President Buhari, in his bid to satisfy the interests  of the north with more juicy positions to the detriment of the oil producing people of the Niger Delta Region, left the affairs of NNPC in the hands of a desperate Baru, who will only sit in the comfort of his office in Abuja without thinking about the pains the oil producing people of the Niger Delta region are passing through.”

But they are not the only group that has become dissatisfied with the lopsided appointments. The President, Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima had while reacting to the issue, said that the President is sectional in his appointments. “It is unfortunate the way the situation is, because one becomes worried. We must be seen to be more nationalistic than sectionalized,” Shettima added: “I am beginning to feel uncomfortable because the complaint is that the appointments are seen to be lopsided. I also do not think that is the intention of the government.”

Maureen Nzeogu
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