By Salisu Dambatta
In a country where the views of high profile individuals who have free access to the media can gain currency through widespread exposure, it is possible for those individuals to use that opportunity for the good of the society or otherwise.
It is in this context that I will express my perspective as a fellow citizen on the recent letter by the Kebbi state-born former Colonel of the Nigerian Army, Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, which mainly focused on alleged lopsided appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari in favour of the “North.”
Many readers may recall that, although Abubakar Dangiwa Umar was not one of the three officers that accosted Major-General Muhammadu Buhari during his ouster as Head of State, he benefitted from the coup when he was sent to Kaduna state as a military governor. To remain in the good book of those who sent him to Kaduna, he had to fall into line and behave as an adversary to Muhammadu Buhari, probably for life.
This is the root of his excessive anti-Buhari obsession, which has permanently blinded his mind from seeing anything good in the leadership role of his former Commander-in-Chief.
In continuation of that blind contempt for everything about Muhammadu Buhari, Col Abubakar Dangiwa Umar was most rabid in opposing Buhari’s presidential candidature. To his credit, he was consistent in his attempt to stop what turned out to be a divine destiny for Muhammadu Buhari. He was twice elected president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Driven by the frustration of the failure to stop a Buhari presidency, it is not surprising to observers that, the retired army officer is now, albeit falsely, accusing Buhari and his administration of favouring the North to the detriment of other parts of the federation in making appointments in his government. Dangiwa’s aim is probably to sow the seeds of discord and precipitate some political instability in a country where fault-lines can easily be converted into emotive triggers of violence.
The Dangiwa trick failed to achieve its goal. People are not so gullible these days. And within hours of his false allegations, a reputable newspaper researched and came out with a detailed data on the appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari so far. That effort exposed the wrong, actually, false and misleading claims, made by the retired officer, who once said he could go into battle blindfolded. In this instance, he went into writing a letter blindfolded. It failed.
The figures reported by the newspaper showed that the three geopolitical zones in the South have a combined 54.2% of appointees, while the three zones in the North, have 45.8% as at the time he wrote his half-baked missive.
At a point in the letter to the President, he expressed his wish for Nigeria thus: “your skewed appointments into the offices of the Federal Government, favouring some and frustrating others, shall bring ruin and destruction to this nation.” God forbid.
He cited the appointment of the only two Service Chiefs from the North, for the Army and the Airforce, as bad for Nigeria simply because they are Northerners. His letter was silent on the fact that the Chief of Defence Staff, the boss of all the service Chiefs, and the Chief of the Naval Staff, are of southern origin.
Had it been Dangiwa is practically committed to promoting the interest of the people of the North, his focus should have been on sympathizing with the victims of banditry in the North West, the devastating damage caused by the Boko Haram in the North East and the sundry crimes that cause sleepless nights in the North Central, which were inherited by the Buhari administration. Beyond that, as a trained security personnel, he should have offered ideas on how to solve these problems speedily.
However, it is evident that, the plight of the people in the three political zones in the North is of no concern to him. He neither has feeling nor empathy for them. No time to even think about them or consider their lot as worthy of his attention, thus his letter missed the most relevant points.
He ignored the effort the government is making and the sacrifices of the troops battling the criminals, probably because he does not want to give credit to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Service Chiefs whose role in tackling the criminals is obvious.
His letter missed another point by failing to pay attention to the contemporary issue of COVID-19, and the effect it has on the country in general and the North he pretends to care for, in particular.
I heard that because he rarely travels to Kebbi state, Dangiwa Umar is only vaguely aware of the contribution of rice farmers in the state to the rice revolution that pervades Nigeria.