By Gidado Ibrahim
The course of history has shown that no matter how hard a government tries to right past wrongs, there will always be those who are bent on pulling down the government. These they do by deliberately misleading people through outright spewing of lies.
Increasingly, it has become clear that the prime mission of some online platforms is to cause chaos and destabilise the President Muhammadu Buhari government. A recent report in the People’s Gazette in which it claimed President Buhari secretly appointed his nephew, Sabi Tunde” Yusuf as an Assistant Director in Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) smacks standing facts on its head.
I have been a key player in diplomatic and governance issues in the international community, which schedules me to visit presidential state houses in the western world. Most presidential principal aides are either from the intelligence or state department. In most climes, it is not unconstitutional or official offence for Yusuf to be a member of the intelligence community.
It is either the author of the said story was on a mission or lacks knowledge of the basic workings of government. In the first instance, what part of the Nigerian constitution forbids the president from appointing relations if they are capable? Are they not Nigerians? May be the People’s Gazette, in its desperation to twist facts, forgot that the immediate past United States President Donald Trump appointed his son in-law, Mr Kushner, who had no prior government experience as a senior adviser.
In fact, his engagement in government was so serious that Mr Kushner negotiated most of the recent Arab-Israel peace deal. The 37-year-old’s previous main work experience was running his father’s real-estate firm. It would also be recalled that Kushner served as Trump’s personal assistant during his campaign. Did the heavens fall because Trump appointed his son-in-law? For as long as he possesses the capacity to deliver, there was no issue.
Perhaps, looking at the examples of the United States where Nigeria borrowed its presidential democracy from would substantiate the basis for this argument. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed his wife, Hillary Clinton, as the head of President’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform created in 1993 by Clinton and chaired by First Lady, Hillary Clinton.
In retrospect, John Adams, the second US president, appointed family members to executive positions. Adams appointed his son, John Quincy Adams, as US minister resident to Prussia in 1797, a position equivalent to ambassador. If it is in Nigeria, the People’s Gazette will accuse the leader of nepotism. Adams also appointed his son-in-law, William Stephens Smith, to the position of surveyor of the port of New York in 1800.
At least six 19th century US presidents appointed family members to positions in the White House or other positions in the executive branch, including James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Buchanan, and Ulysses Grant.
During the administration of Woodrow Wilson, a presidential appointee became a family member rather than vice versa. In 1914, William Gibbs McAdoo, who was then serving as secretary of the treasury and chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, married Wilson’s daughter Eleanor. McAdoo continued serving in both roles, and after the US entered the First World War, Wilson appointed McAdoo to the newly created positions of director-general of railways and chairman of the War Finance Board.
Franklin Roosevelt appointed his son James to the position of administrative assistant to the president in January 1937. Six months later, James was promoted to secretary to the president. In October of that year, James’ responsibilities expanded and he became the White House coordinator for 18 federal agencies.
In October 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed his son, John, as assistant staff secretary in the White House. At the time, John Eisenhower was a Major in the U.S. Army. President John Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert, as attorney-general of the United States in January 1961. Kennedy also appointed his brother-in-law, R. Sargent Shriver, as director of the Peace Corps in March 1961. Drawing from the foregoing, where has President Buhari gone wrong? Is it not within his constitutional powers to appoint anybody he feels has the capacity to deliver?
In an attempt to firm up its lame fact, the online medium, Peoples Gazette, claimed that in an attempt to conceal the appointment Buhari did not announce it. Is it every appointment the president will take the radio or social media to announce? Come to think of it, is it the president that makes such an appointment?
The said report did not stop at maligning the president for performing his official duties but went ahead with bogus and unsubstantiated claims that Tunde, in connivance with the late president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, was involved in a scheme that saw the president taking the management of farmers-herders crisis from the supervise of his vice in order to award N12billion RUGA contract. What can be more irresponsible and preposterous than this? In fact, the activities of the People’s Gazette are almost becoming a threat to national security.
The accusations that Buhari is a sectional leader do not hold water. On assumption of office in 2015, President Buhari appointed Kemi Adeosun as Finance minister. He also followed with the appointment of Gabriel Olonisakin as the Chief of Defence Staff in that order. After the retirement of the Service Chiefs recently, President Buhari once again appointed another southerner as chief of Defence Staff.
The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) is one of the choicest revenue-generating agencies of government. In 2015, the president appointed Babatunde Fowler as the helmsman. President Buhari has continued to demonstrate his statesman posture but mischief makers have continued to be clogs in the wheels of his administration. The path for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has just been cleared. We all witnessed the role played by Buhari towards the realisation of this goal. Is Okonjo-Iweala a Northerner?
For the umpteenth time, I want to reiterate that the president is not an unhealthy subject to nepotism. He did no wrong in appointing Tunde who is a bonafide citizen of Nigeria. The allegations of Tunde being a recharge card seller and N12 billion RUGA contract claims are unfounded and baseless.
Buhari is committed to one Nigeria and that is what he has demonstrated with the construction of the Second Niger Bridge. You will agree with me that there is no bridge in Nigeria like the new Second Niger Bridge. The merchants of mischief should learn to look elsewhere whenever they begin to burn in their unquenchable desire to embark on campaign of calumny because when next they come to the public with unintelligent thoughts and reports like the one sponsored in the Peoples Gazette about President Buhari, it shall remain our duty to continue to remind them of the need to think before writing.
Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, Presidential Support Committee (PSC).
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily