President Muhammadu Buhari has justified the alleged non inclusion of people from the South-East into his government and the MDAs because his appointments are based solely on merit, indirectly saying that he did not find qualified people from the region.
Buhari said this in an exclusieve interview aired on AriseTV on Thursday, which was monitored by CHECKPOINTCHARLEY.
The president noted that all his appointments were strictly based on merit and not based on ethnic or regional balance.
When pressed on the exclusion of South-East people from his government, he said he cannot favour those who have spent shorter years in service over those that have stayed longer.
“People who have been there for 18 years or even for 10 years, they trained in Zaria or in Abeokuta, they come through the ranks.
“ And because they served under all the circumstances, the crises and everything and they gradually rise to that status and you think you just pick somebody just to balance up? These positions have to be earned.” he said.
The president has been widely condemned for clannishness and throwing away the federal character principle enshrined in the constitution in his appointments, by allegedly appointing more northerners in strategic positions. But he claimed that he cannot jettison seniority and merit for balance and federal character.
However, the Nigerian Constitution states that major appointments and other privileges should be shared in such a way that it reflects Federal Character, that is balance across the 36 states.
On why he had to sacrifice about 30 qualified Generals for a junior officer from the North for the position of the Chief of Army Staff, Buhari said that he chose Yahaya Faruk because of his background, because he had served in Maiduguri, the epic center of the war against Boko Haram.
“He has fought alongside the soldiers there and they know him and he knows them well.”
The president’s comments would not go down well with majority of Nigerians. People from the Southeast are among the best qualified people in the country, and have proven themselves in almost every field of human endeavour, including the military.