By Hosea Yusuf, Abuja
…calls on Southern Region to remain calm, believe in the Nigerian project
Coalition of South East Professionals Network in Nigeria and Diaspora (CSEPNND), have tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on the urgent need to ensure the application of the federal character principle in appointments into sensitive positions.
In a statement, Tuesday, by its National Coordinator, Prof. Chika Madumere, CSEPNND warned against the danger of treating any ethnic nation as second-class, noting that the consequence of such may be too grave to contemplate in the long run.
According to the professionals, the framers of the 1999 Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), did not include the federal character principle as a decorative item, but rather a mandatory requirement for the sustainability of the nation’s unity and corporate existence.
They maintained that at all material times, the President and other leaders occupying positions of responsibility,must ensure that the tripod pon which Nigeria stands – Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo – was reflected in appointments into public offices, saying that development will ease tension in the polity.
Specifically, the South East professional group recalled that sometime in July, 2015, when President Buhari assembled his team of Service Chiefs, upon assumption of office on May 29 of the same year, no officer of Igbo extraction was considered worthy of inclusion.
The coalition further placed on record the fact that other appointments made by the President into the leadership’s of security, intelligence as well as para-military agencies, were devoid of any consideration for the South East.
The concerned professionals said they were compelled to issue this statement after the January 26 appointment of new Service Chiefs, which like others, had no senior officer from the South East.
Consequently, they have noted that no multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation, survives what they described as “bare-faced alienation and marginalisation” for too long.
They have, therefore, in the interest of justice and fairness, appealed for the immediate review of appointment of military heads, to reflect geo-political balancing.
This was as they reminded the President and other leaders of the famous American civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jnr’s quote, which goes this: ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.
In the face of the discontent that has attended the perceived sidelining of the Igbo in the scheme of things, however, the coalition sued for calm, while urging Ndigbo not to lose faith in the sanctity of the Nigerian project.
Apart from seeking the review of appointments, the South East professionals also underscored the urgency in a nationwide address by President Buhari, amidst the growing tension in parts of the country, arguing that doing so will calm frayed nerves.
“We want to begin by introducing ourselves as a group of very responsible South East professionals with the primary objective of ensuring the inviolability and indissolubility of Nigeria.
“As a South East group with membership from within and outside the country, we have the ultimate mandate to rise in defence of the Igbo nation, in times of need, as doing otherwise will amount to dereliction of moral duty”, the statement read.
The professionals alleged that never has the interest of the South East geo-political zone been so blinking in national equation, than under the current administration of President Buhari.
The statement read in full: “During the oath-taking ceremony, President Muhammadu Buhari had vowed to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by implementing its provisions faithfully and conscientiously.
“As a group of educated and informed Nigerians, we are aware that the Federal Character Principle is a fundamental aspect of our national life, especially owing to its proportionate representative nature in appointments into public offices.
“A community reading and understanding of this critical requirement of the Constitution, coupled with the oath to uphold same, would have suggested that governance will be executed on the twin-pillars of equity and justice – the fulcrum of modern society.
“Alas, we are witnesses to how our dear President Buhari, a man known for discipline and professionalism, has applied that extant law in the breach, because of some misinformation available to him from some enemies of Igbos, and we say this without any fear of contradiction.
“As a professional group with interest in the South East, we dare say that the Igbo nation is an equal partner in national affairs, and must be so regarded, notwithstanding whatever biases or prejudices anyone or group may hold against the race.
“It is in recognition of the egalitarian nature of modern society, which Nigeria proudly belongs, that we humbly appeal for an urgent review of the recent assemblying of military heads, to incorporate the interest of the South East.
“We advise that the zone must not be offered a second-class status,as doing so may continue to inflict more injuries on the igbos therefore giving credence to the criminals IPOB which we have since rejected.
“To Ndigbo home and in the diaspora, we urge you to stay calm and focused, while keeping faith with the country’s unity in diversity.
“At no time should the South East be seen to be exploring and exploiting the nation’s fault lines, as many out there are wont to do, thereby setting Nigeria on the edge.
“We will not conclude without appealing to Mr. President to, in the interest of national unity, peace, security and order, make a national broadcast, in a bid to douse the rising ethnic tension which, by all means, is tilting towards a crescendo.