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3 Mar 2016


An open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari
Let me begin by congratulating you once again on your historic electoral victory last March. Defeating an incumbent president is never an easy task especially in this part of the developing world. That was a clear testament of how much Nigerians saw your candidature as one on a rescue mission and consequently elected you on March 28th 2015. Kudos to you for your perseverance over the years.
Sir, I’ve observed in the comfort of my village, the not so impressive state of the Tiv nation in the scheme of things as regards inclusion in the running of a government they played a key role to help install. Don’t mistake me for an ethnic jingo, I am not one. But there are things that appear to be a convention in politics and when those things seem to be relegated, it is the patriotic duty of those who wish the ruling party/government well to speak up so as to help them right the wrongs - perceived or real. So far, the Tiv people are not getting a fair share of their contribution for the emergence of the government at the centre.
Mr. President, I wanted to tarry a while and see how your next set of appointments would look like before sharing my thoughts openly, if need be. But on a second thought, I reasoned that the time to speak is now because my letter will amount to nothing if the next appointments are announced and it fails to, once again, reflect our expectations. So I write this, conscious of the fact that appointments into your government was not the major reason we voted for you massively, but believing that it is one way to say thank you to a people for their efforts and support.
Now, there are people who may wish to fault my argument. I want them to know that this is the practice across the world even in the refined democracies of USA and Britain. President Obama gave appointments to almost all those who helped him to the White House - the likes of David Plouffe, Rahm Emanuel, David Alxerod and even Hillary Clinton that ran against him in the primaries was made Secretary of State. You don’t sideline a specific group that ensured your victory and elevate those who even worked against you in the name of “shopping for competence”. No tribe in this country lacks competent people, so that argument is watery at best. The Tiv people, within the two zones of A and B, voted 2 out of 2 senators in APC, 6 out of 7 House of Rep members in APC and accounted for about 80% of the over 370,000 votes you got in Benue State. But all the 3 appointments (Minister of Agriculture, Chief of Defence Intelligence, SSA) you’ve made in Benue, so far, have gone to the zone that voted massively for PDP. Is that good enough sir?
History reveals a very robust and good political relationship between the Tiv and Fulani people. In 1979, the Tiv people supported and elected Shehu Shagari as President. For the first and only time, the Tivs had two sons as serving ministers of the Federal Republic – Isaac Shaahu of Commerce and Paul Unongo of Steel. The Tiv people also supported and elected late Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007. His administration also favoured the Tiv nation hugely. We had Minister of Justice (Mike Aondoakaa), Chief Justice of the Federation (Katsina-Alu), EFCC Chairperson (Farida Waziri), NAFDAC DG (Paul Orhii), NEXIM Bank MD (Robert Orya) and several other board appointments. As a good Fulani man, we hope Mr. President, that you will keep this good political relationship alive.
For those who think a good relationship only mean appointments for us, let me tell you this. The Tiv nation has always voted for the ruling party. They voted Shagari’s NPN in 1979 and re-elected him in 1983. When democracy returned in 1999, the Tiv people were on queue to elect PDP’s Obasanjo and re-elected him in 2003. They maintained the trend in 2007 by electing PDP’s Yar’Adua and again PDP’s Jonathan in 2011. For the first time, the Tiv nation took a bold step and voted for an opposition candidate. For them, it was a risk worth taking eventhough many of their sons held key positions in the PDP government. They agreed Jonathan was not good enough to continue. And for that, they deserve to be carried along.
Your Excellency, a situation where a Tiv man has not been deemed good enough to be appointed in any capacity in this 9-month administration, not even as an SSA on anything, but rather having two of them (Orhii and Orya) sacked recently, is simply unacceptable. And the people are murmuring their displeasure already. There is no sense of belonging.
Mr. President, we hope that you will take a hard look at your yardstick for appointing people into office and re-align it to suit present day political realities so that, not only the Tiv man, but any other tribe that is feeling disappointed with the present arrangement, can be proud of the job they did on 28th March 2015. We look forward to your next appointments and steps to address the emerging divide.
God bless you sir.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Shie Aondoakaa wrote from Gboko.
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Item Reviewed: A MUST READ: POST-2015 APC ELECTORAL VICTORY, WHAT IS THE STAKE OF A TIV MAN? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Link Naija