The Presidency, yesterday, dismissed criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments into Federal Government positions, saying the constitution does not insist on a Christian/Muslim balance in filling such posts.
Apparently responding to remarks by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Hassan Kukah, to the United States Congress, the Presidency maintained that Buhari, with a southern Christian Vice President and the cabinet equally balanced, could not in any way be accused of bias.
In a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “There is no bias in this government when the President is northern and Muslim, the vice president southern and Christian, and the cabinet equally balanced between the two religions.
“But neither is there anything in our constitution to state that political posts must be apportioned according to ethnicity or faith.
“It takes a warped frame of mind for a critic to believe ethnicity is of primary importance in public appointments. It is yet more troubling to hear a churchman isolating one group for criticism purely on ethnic lines.”
The statement added: “It is unfortunate, and disappointing for citizens of Nigeria to bear witness to one of their churchmen castigating their country in front of representatives of a foreign parliament.
“We are all too familiar with these overseas political tours that opposition politicians take – visiting foreign leaders and legislators in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe. So, the argument goes, if they are heard seriously abroad, then Nigerian citizens, back home, should surely listen to them too.
“But in order to be heard at all, and to maximise media coverage, back home, for their activities, inevitably, these visits involve painting the worst possible picture of our country before their chosen foreign audience”.
“Soon enough we inescapably hear an identical list of racist tropes against northerners, how one religion dominates governance above all others, how the government is doing nothing to address herder-farmer disturbances, and how the government spends money on infrastructure to benefit everyone but the group and religion of the speaker. Of course, in order not to disappoint their western audience, regardless of the fact, the list is always the same-and always slanted for whoever wishes to cross-check.
“Nigerians expect this from their unimaginative opposition – but it is troubling when a so-called man of the Church copies the worst excesses of those seeking personal advancement in public office.”