Here Comes Another Quota System COAS!

Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Ozodinukwe Okenwa

President Muhammadu Buhari recently appointed a new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) following the fatal Beechcraft King Air 350i plane crash in Kaduna that killed Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru who until his tragic demise occupied that post. Major-General Farouk Yahaya was announced as the replacement for the ‘killed’ Gen. Attahiru, the circumstances of whose death are still a subject of controversy. Maj-Gen. Yahaya is from Sokoto State, another northerner found worthy to occupy the top Army job even though better and more qualified candidates from other regions existed.

Until his appointment (based more on ethnicity and religion rather than merit) Gen. Yahaya was the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army and the Theatre Commander of the Operation Hadin Kai, responsible for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-East. By this nomination 25 senior and more qualified Generals would reportedly have to go into forced retirement to pave way for Yahaya to assume his new role.

The new COAS is of Regular Course 37 whereas those destined for compulsory retirement including the Chief of Policy and Plan, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Ahanotu from Anambra state, are made up of Regular Courses 35 and 36. Apart from Gen. Ahanotu you have others like J. O. Olawumi from Ekiti, J. O. Akomolafe from Kwara, C. O. Ude from Enugu, J. Oyefesobi from Ogun, M. O. Uzoh from Abia, C. C. Okonkwo from Imo, H. E. Ayamasaowei from Bayelsa, O. F. Azinta from Enugu.

With the new appointment President Buhari has demonstrated yet again his rigidity over nepotism and religious politics. He is adamant and impervious to criticisms trailing his national appointments based more on ethnicity, religion and region. We would have been surprised like most Nigerians if Buhari had appointed a Christian from the north or an Igboman or Yorubaman to the COAS position. He never disappointed when it comes to patronising his region, religion and ethnic origins.

President Buhari’s neo-conservative, neo-fundamentalist tendencies are known globally. Here is a man who as ordinary citizen cum retired General had to travel to Oyo State to harass a democratically-elected Governor for mistreating Fulani herders; a man who as soon as elected President had declared that he would not in good conscience be expected to treat the 5% who did not vote for him as fair as the 95% who voted for him!

Buhari’s parochial primordial mentality dated back decades. It never started today neither would it end tomorrow. We are dealing with a President who champions the cause of cows and herders, himself an executive cow-herder. His ‘nothernization’ or Fulanization agenda is a well-thought-out policy, one whose intents and purposes have seriously damaged the national well-being.

With Gen. Farouk Yahaya succeeding the late Gen. Attahiru there are strong indications that his appointment would lead to the untimely retirement of no fewer than 25 Major-Generals who were his seniors. According to the military tradition in Nigeria the new COAS, who is of Course 37, is junior to these officers and cannot therefore superintend over them. Buhari knows this as a retired General and still went ahead to make the choice in accordance with his agenda for the ’emancipation’ of his backward north.

Many eminent Nigerians (statesmen, patriots and critics) had taken the President to the cleaners for his lopsided national appointments (especially in the national security structure) yet he has remained adamant and true to type. Whenever opportunity presents itself for a national appointment the President never disappoints or deviates from his characteristic tribal religious bias.

For the uninitiated he is at home with his ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ of northern extraction. He trusts them more and see nothing wrong favouring and pampering them even to the detriment of national unity and cohesion!

With organized insurrection developing from one state to another (especially in the south-east and south-south regions), ubiquitous insecurity across the federation demystifying Buharism and rendering his command opaque, grinding poverty hitting more homes and terrorism becoming more intractable (even with Abubakar Shekau gone!) Buhari appears helpless and hopeless.

President Buhari ought to consider his regime to be at the end of its tetter. Resignation, therefore, becomes the next viable available option. But he is not ready to take that honourable path.

In the South-West Sunday Igboho is going strong advocating for Oduduwa Republic, in the South-East Nnamdi Kanu is determined to achieve Biafra — even violently. In the South-South Asari Dokubo is canvassing for a Biafran Republic with his own agenda different from the Kanu approach. Up north jihadist terrorists are carving out their own territories with the federal security forces overwhelmed. With Abubakar Shekau dispatched to the great beyond the explosion of more bloody insurgency is expected soon.

A President faced with these kind of regional uprisings ought to be circumspect in his appointments knowing fully well that non-Fulani/Hausa people read meanings into every appointment made without merit. But Buhari has since lost it!

Daily he hypocritically mouths ‘One-Nigeria’ yet Nigeria as a nation at crossroads cannot be one and indivisible with him at the helm of our national affairs. He preaches peace and unity hypocritically yet disunity and anarchy are our daily experiences. He exhibits criminal lack of empathy and sympathy for the growing list of victims of either state terrorism or injustice perpetrated by his diffident and vacuous regime.

No other President since 1999 had done as much damage to the federal system as the incumbent. President Olusegun Obasanjo was a patriot who was very careful in his national appointments. Ditto ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. While the former appointed the first Igboman, Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo as Inspector-General of Police the latter had an Igboman, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, as his Chief of Army Staff. Both discharged their duties with professionalism.

Anyone counting on the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan or the House of Representative Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, to do the right thing or the needful by impeaching Buhari must go for some medical evaluation. These two legislative rookies are put there to be amenable to the executive. Buhari and the cabal behind him know, for sure, that their executive backs are being watched.

It is unfortunate that Buharism is defined more by mediocrity and clannishness than any other ennobling character of governance. Like Gen. Yahaya, the 22nd Chief of Army Staff, we have other quota system Generals, quota system IGP, quota system Ministers and quota system Buharists. Yet if 2023 were to be tomorrow we would have been happy for it indeed. Alas, it is still far off.

Here comes yet another quota-system Chief of Army Staff! We welcome him with little or no enthusiasm.

SOC Okenwa


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