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5 Mar 2018

Southerners And Christians Are Biggest Beneficiaries of Buhari's Appointments - Osinbajo Says

Following criticisms trailing President Muhammadu Buhari's political appointments, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has defended him.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has claimed that Southerners and Christians have benefitted more than Northerners and Muslims in President Muhammadu Buhari's cabinet.

Osinbajo said this at the weekend while dismissing allegations of nepotism and clannishness levelled against President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to ThisDay, Osinbajo argued that in the South-east, for instance, four of the five states have substantive ministerial portfolios, while the seven states of the North including the president’s state, Katsina, do not have substantive ministerial positions.

From the South-west, the vice-president said for the first time in Nigeria’s history, only one person holds three ministerial positions of power, works and housing, in addition to two other major portfolios of finance and communications held by the region.

He also insisted that his home state of Ogun, for instance, has the highest number of chief executive officers of agencies of government, adding, however, that in the area of appointments into the security agencies, the president has promised to take a second look at the appointments.

“Look at the cabinet, for example, from the point of view of religion, it has an equal number – 18 Christians, 18 Muslims. But we have the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the Head of Service who are Christians.

“So, we have 20 Christians to 18 Muslims; that’s the structure of the cabinet. So, if you take that narrative you may argue that perhaps the Christians have the upper hand. That’s a possible narrative.

“Let us look a little deeper into that, so there are those who may argue, for example, that the North has the upper hand or perhaps one section has the upper hand in the cabinet as one narrative.

“The South-east, for example, has five states. Four of the South-eastern states have senior ministers; all of them, except one, who is Minister of State for Education.

“In assigning particular portfolios, all these were looked at. In the North, seven Northern states have no senior minister, including the president’s home state, Katsina. So, it’s a narrative, depending on how you want to run it.

“I will give you another example: I am from the South-west and there are people who will say ‘I am from the South-west, the North has everything’.

“But the South-west, for the first time in the history of this country, has one minister who is in charge of three ministries: Power, Works and Housing. The Ministers of Finance and Communications are also from the South-west. These are critical ministries. So, you can run the narrative in whichever way that you choose.

“There are those who will say, for instance, look at the number of CEOs of agencies of government; the highest number of CEOs in our nation today comes from Ogun State, the state has the largest number.

“There are those who will say that this is his (vice-president) state. So, you can run the narrative, depending on how you want to run it.

“The president has admitted that, yes there are situations where you can find certain things as true and he intends to have a look at that.

“For instance, you’ve given the example of security positions and he said he is going to take a second look at it. I believe that is the way to go because you can run any narrative that will suit the figures you are showing. And that is where we have a legal process.

“There are people who don’t know that the number of CEOs from Anambra State is more than the number of CEOs from Katsina State or anywhere else, except Ogun,” he stated.

On the 2018 budget, the vice-president said the government kept its own part of the agreement with the National Assembly to return the country to the January-December fiscal calendar by submitting the budget early enough, insinuating that the delay on its passage was caused by the National Assembly.

“We have a democracy that has, as you know, three arms. The two relevant arms for the budget passage are the executive and legislature. If you recall when I was acting president, I signed the 2017 budget and, at that time, I made the announcement with the full consensus of the National Assembly that from 2018, we are going to have a budget that is going to apply in January and end in December the normal financial year.

“We agreed that we will submit our proposal in good time, and we did that in the first week of November. The president did so. We fulfilled that part of the agreement. So, the budget is now with the National Assembly and there is very little we can do to control that. That’s the system that we have," Osinbajo explained.

Also, on the rampant killings in various parts of the country, the vice-president described the situations as tragic, pointing out that no degree of condolences that could compensate for the loss of human lives.

“Let me say it first that no amount of condolences can compensate for the loss of lives, whether in Calabar, Mambilla or Benue or where people were killed, or in Adamawa or Zamfara, any of these states.

“The Benue killings were one set of killings far too much; there is no amount of condolences that can compensate for that. And I want to say that it’s a massive tragedy.

“But the question that you seem to ask and I’ve been to Zamfara, I’ve been to Adamawa after the killings took place: There are those who said, ‘Oh, why don’t you visit the Fulani settlement, why do you visit only where Christians are?’

“I even visited Benue in September where there have been killings before, then I visited them when the floods took place and we looked at all the issues and tried to address many of these.

“There have been several of these issues in different places, more recently Dapchi. We have expressed condolences, but no amount of condolence would do.

“So, we have to address the security question in a much more robust way; that the police are able to do their jobs effectively. We have deployed the military to Kaduna – two battalions to Kaduna. In the Benue and Taraba axis, we have the 93 Battalion and we have 72 Special Forces. We also have full concentration in Taraba and all of that, and by the way, the military is fighting in most of the North-east.

“So, there is a situation where the military is overstretched. So, I think that the most important thing is first of all to ensure they actually address the security of the people,” he observed.

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