By Stephen Ubanna
President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, and Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service appear to be two of a kind. Many believe that Ali is toeing Buhari style of Administration in running the Customs as he had turned deaf ear to complain s by those who are aggrieved. Analysts claimed that that the duo are allegedly acting out a script of ” northern empowerment”.
Buhari may have proved critics right in his key political appointments which was obviously tilted in favour of the north west, north east and north central geo-political regions while the south-south, south west, and the south east, were said to be afterthoughts in the consideration for Presidential aide appointments .
The President’s appointment of members of the Kitchen Cabinet and Head of the security agencies speaks volume. The roll call shows that, AbbaKyari, the Chief of Staff, Babagana Monguno, a retired Major Genenral, who is the National Security Adviser, NSA, and Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff were from Borno state, Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Federal Government, now replaced by Boss Mustapha were indigenes of Borno state in the north east geo-political region.
Another set of appointees from the region were Sadiq Abubakar, an Air Marshall and Chief of Chief of Air Staff ,Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Federal government , now replaced by Boss Mustapha, former Managing National Inland Waterways Authority, also from the state.
More strategic appointments of the President in the last two years his Administration to actually put the north in the commanding height of the Administration was that of his ADC, Lt. Col. Abubakar Lawal, Kano, Chief of Protocol, Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, Jigawa, Mamman Lawal Daura, Director General, Department of State Security, DSS, Katsina, the President’s home state and Abubakar Idris, Inspector General of Police, IGP, Niger. This is in addition to Rku Morgan, Chief of Defence Intelligence from Benue state in north Ceneral geo-political region and Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The few Southerners among the Buhari Presidential aides were Senator Enang Ita Enang,a Senior Special Adviser, National Assembly Matters,(Senate), Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Commission on Anti-Corruption and Ita Ete Ekwe, Chief of Naval Staff. These political appointees holding strategic positions in the Buhari’s government , according to sources have great influence as they have direct access to him to sway government policies and its implementation.
Many believe that what the President is doing at the Federal level is not different from what Ali, the Comptroller General is doing in Customs in the deployment of Comptrollers to the Commands. He was said to have ignored the Federal Character principle in the deployment of the Comptrollers. There are functional 25 Customs Command nation-wide manned by Comptrollers.
A Document made available to the Magazine shows that the major Customs Formations which generate the bulk of the revenue of the government from non Oil exports and imports from the seaports, Airports and Land border stations are allegedly manned by Comptrollers from the north instead of adopting the Federal Character principle in the posting. Abbdullahi Dikko, the Katsina state born former Comptroller had adopted the Federal Character principle in his postings of Comptrollers that all states were carried along.
Insiders told the Magazine that Ali, who was given the free hand to run the run the NCS, do not care about the Federal Character policy as enshrined in the 1989 Constitution in running Federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
It was learnt that of the 60 officers currently wearing the cap of Comptrollers in the service, Sokoto and Kebbi states could boast of seven Comptrollers each while Kano, the Comptroller General state and Jigawa, has eight Comptrollers each.
The roll call of the Comptrollers from the north holding strategic Commands are Sani Madugu, Ogun. He was moved from Sokoto/Kebbi Command , the home of Smugglers to Ogun, another home base of Smugglers, Mohammed Aliyu, Seme, Nasiru Ahmad, Sokoto/Kebbi/Zamfara, PortHarcourt Area 11, Abubakar BashirPort Harcourt Area 1,Kabiru IsIyaku, Kano Kaduna,Jibril Musa, Apapa , Yusuf Bashar, Tincan Island, Mathias Abutu Onoja, Jigawa/Kebbi, Kaduna/Katsina,Mohammed Ja’afar, and Mohammed Uba Gabar, Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja among others.
While there are states that have six to eight Comptrollers each,there are some without . They are Lagos, Eboyi, Enugu,, Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River,, Delta and Osun states. Also on the list states without Comptrollers under the Ali Administration in Customs are Anambra, Ekiti, and Ondo.
Many believe that Ali is a good student of Buhari and he makes no mistake about it. He confirmed it with the appointment of Comptroller Azarema. A. A, a northerner, as the Coordinator of the Comptroller General Compliance Team. The question on the lips of most people : are there no other Comptrollers from other tribes that head these sensitive positions in Customs?
It would be recalled that Saiad Abubakar, a retired Brigadier General and the Sultan of Sokoto who had taken a close look and analysis of Buhari’s appointments had described it as ”unfair”. He had made it clear to those that care to listen that ”unfair appointments and resource control breed crisis in the polity.
The Sultan’s criticism of the government unfair appointments is a signal to the Customs boss to change his style of Administration and treat every state equally in the deployment of Comptrollers to Customs Formations nation-wide.