Seventy-year-old Col Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (retd) has a history of speaking truth to power. He did so under dictatorial military regimes. He has done so under democratic civilian governments. His recent open letter to President Mohammadu Buhari demonstrated his consistency as a vocal social critic.
Umar said “any conversation” with the President “cannot gloss over the chaos that has overtaken appointments into government offices” in his administration. ”All those who wish you and the country well must mince no words in warning you that Nigeria has become dangerously polarised and risks sliding into crisis on account of your administration’s lopsided appointments which continues to give undue preference to some sections of the country over others,” he said.
According to him, “Nowhere is this more glaring than in the leadership cadre of our security services.” He blamed the President for “skewed appointments into the offices of the federal government, favouring some and frustrating others.” He was emphatic that the President’s style “shall bring ruin and destruction to this nation.”
Are these mere allegations or factual observations? Umar is not given to baseless criticism. The attentive public pays attention to him when he criticises power. Indeed, in this instance, his criticism of the Buhari administration is familiar. Other perceptive observers have made similar observations about the President and his approach to governance. The observations are provable.
The question is: Is the President listening? Umar also drew Buhari’s attention to “the pending matter of appointment of a Chief Judge of the Nigerian Court Appeal which appears to be generating public interest.”
This is what he said about the matter: “As it is, the most senior Judge, Justice Monica Dongban Mensem, a northern Christian, is serving out her second three-month term as acting Chief Judge without firm prospects that she will be confirmed substantive head. I do not know Justice Mensem but those who do attest to her competence, honesty and humility. She appears eminently qualified for appointment as the substantive Chief Judge of the Court of Appeal as she is also said to be highly recommended by the National Judicial Council. If she is not and is bypassed in favour of the next in line who happens to be another northern Muslim, that would be truly odd.”
It is not clear what the President will do in this case. But it is clear what he should do. Ultimately, Buhari needs to listen more, and reflect more.
Source: The Nation.