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South East professionals seek review of service chiefs’ appointment

By Segun Olaniyi, Abuja
17 February 2021   |   3:03 am
Coalition of South East Professionals Network in Nigeria and the Diaspora (CSEPNND) has canvassed full implementation of the federal character principle in appointments into sensitive positions

Coalition of South East Professionals Network in Nigeria and the Diaspora (CSEPNND) has canvassed full implementation of the federal character principle in appointments into sensitive positions to heal the injustice in previous appointments.

The group argued that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) did not include the federal character principle as a mere decorative item, but a prerequisite to sustaining national unity and corporate existence.

They maintained that the Federal Government should ensure that the Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo were reflected in appointments into public offices at all times, saying that would douse tension in the polity.

In a statement issued by National Coordinator of CSEPNND, Prof. Chika Madumere, it cautioned against treating members of any ethnic nationality as second-class citizens, noting that the consequence of such action might be too grave in the long run.

Specifically, it recalled that in July 2015, when President Buhari appointed his service chiefs, upon assumption of office on May 29, 2015, no officer of Igbo extraction was considered for appointment.

It also recalled that other appointments the President made in the leadership of security, intelligence and paramilitary agencies, excluded the Southeast, insisting that the group was compelled to issue the statement after the January 26, 2021 appointment of new service chiefs from which senior officers from the Southeast were also excluded.

Consequently, they noted that no multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation survives what they described as “bare-faced alienation and marginalisation” for too long.

The group, therefore, sought immediate review of the appointment of service chiefs to reflect geopolitical balancing in the interest of justice and fairness.

It reminded the President and other leaders of the American civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jnr’s saying: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

However, following the discontent generated by the sidelining of Igbo in the nation’s affairs, the coalition sued for calm, while urging Ndigbo not to lose faith in the sanctity of the Nigerian project.

Apart from seeking the review of service chiefs appointments, the CSEPNNG also underscored the urgency for President Buhari to address the injustice in the interest of fairness to all segments of the country, amid rising tension in parts of the country, arguing that doing so would calm frayed nerves.

Giving a synopsis of the group, it said: “We are a group of responsible Southeast professionals with the primary objective of ensuring the inviolability and indissolubility of Nigeria.

“As a group with membership from within and outside the country, we have a mandate to defend the Igbo nation in times of need, as doing otherwise will amount to dereliction of moral duty.”

They said the Southeast geo-political zone had not been so marginalised in the national equation than under the President Buhari administration.

“During the inauguration ceremony, the President vowed to uphold and defend the nation’s constitution by implementing its provisions faithfully and conscientiously.

“As a group of educated and informed Nigerians, we are aware that the federal character principle is a fundamental aspect of our national life, especially due to its proportionate representation in appointments into public offices.

“A community reading and understanding of this constitutional requirement, coupled with the oath to uphold same, would have suggested that governance will be administered on equity and justice, which forms the fulcrum of modern society,” the statement added.