Adelani Adepegba and Olaleye Aluko
Groups and prominent Nigerians including the Ijaw Youth Council and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, on Friday, attacked President Muhammadu Buhari for removing the acting Director-General of the Department of State Services, Matthew Seyeifa.
This came just as the new Director-General of the DSS, Mr. Yusuf Bichi, assumed office at the national headquarters of the service in Abuja on Friday
In separate interviews with Saturday Punch on Friday, the groups and Nigerians criticised the President over the appointment of Bichi as the substantive director-general of the DSS.
A northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said an intelligence service such as the DSS needed competent and professional hands, regardless of their tribe or religion.
He said, “Firstly, the appointment of a person who has retired from the service is in bad fate, confusing and dangerous to the service and to the country as a whole. This is because the DSS is supposed to be an internal mechanism to protect the country against enemies – both foreign and domestic. And it is seen as a service where officers who are experienced and competent are supposed to lead without minding their tribe, religion or region but only efficiency.
“But when you bring someone who has retired to now head the service, it is improper. I don’t have any personal issues with any of them but I believe that the idea of picking people in retirement to come and head a significant intelligence service is in bad shape. I reject it completely.”
It is height of nepotism—IYC
Also, the IYC President, Oweilaemi Pereotubo, said in a release on Friday that Bichi’s appointment and Seiyefa’s sack were the “height of President Buhari’s nepotism and disregard for the national cohesion of Nigeria.”
He said, “Information at our disposal reveals that Buhari’s new DG had finished his term and retired about six months ago and the next six most qualified and senior officers in the SSS are Southerners. But because of nepotism and a deliberate policy of ethnic-based political domination, the President recalled him to the service to replace Seiyefa.
“We expected Nigeria to be a country where all citizens, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or region would have equal access to a public office. With the sack of Seiyefa, it is clear that the Buhari Presidency is parochial and sectional.”
Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, described the action as a continuation of the insensitivity of the Buhari government which he said did not believe in the unity of the country.
“You have 16 of the service chiefs from one part of the country and you went ahead to replace Seyeifa with someone from Kano. This is clearly a negation of the spirit of oneness.
“This shows that the unity of Nigeria means nothing to the President. He has shown by his action that he is for some people and against everyone else,” the group noted.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum said the President had by his action exposed his rabid nepotism, stressing that the nation had not had a more parochial, sectional and tribalistic leader than Buhari since independence.
The SMBLF in a statement signed by Chief Edwin Clark (South-South), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South West), Chief John Nwodo (South East) and Dr. Bitrus Pogu (Middle Belt), noted that the latest appointment showed that the President did not believe that the country is one.
The elder statesmen said, “The ‘I-don’t-care’ and ‘in-your-face’ attitude of the President in restoring Nigeria security architecture to the provocative situation of having 16 out of 17 service chiefs from his corner of the country is a clear demonstration of the fact that Nigeria for General Muhammadu Buhari is no more than his section of Nigeria and the resources and the constitutionally mandatory votes from other sections of the country.”
Speaking in the same vein, a security analyst, Ben Okezie, observed that the President had the right to appoint anyone into any position, but added that Bichi’s appointment was ill-conceived and thoughtless.
Ex DSS director defends President
But a retired DSS Director, Mike Ejiofor, defended the appointment, stating that it was Buhari’s prerogative to appoint anyone into any office, adding that aggrieved Nigerians could express their anger during the elections.
He cautioned against politicising security appointments and warned Nigerians against dabbling into the affairs of the DSS.
“If people are genuinely aggrieved, the only way they can express their grievances is through their votes. We are going into a critical period of our national life, the elections are around the corner, so Nigerians should be careful how they discuss the issue of security,” the security consultant added.
But Nigerians, who are online readers of PUNCH, condemned the Presidency over Bichi’s appointment.
A reader, identified only as Ed, said, “Buhari is the first and only President in Nigeria history to have appointed Northerners to practically all relevant security leadership positions. The dismissal of Daura brought a Southern Christian to head DSS. Abba Kyari and President Buhari saw that as a setback and they called the acting chairman out to humiliate him by recalling the reorganisation that was put in place.”
Another commentator, Atioro, said, “The removal of Matthew Seiyefa is the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The President just demonstrates that the Southern part of Nigeria is inconsequential to him. I have always said Buhari is never a nationalist. The old leopard had just shown he can’t change his spots. Buhari truly removed Seiyefa to pave way for a northerner? I am just speechless.”
Also, Omo Naija, said, “Does it mean that there are no useful, trusted or capable people in the entire south? I am sorry for those people supporting this President.”