By Clement Nnachi

In the past few weeks, and keeping faith with his constitutional mandate, President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded to the Senate, Six Nominees for confirmation as National Commissioners. In performing this constitutional mandate, it behoves on Mr. President to not only appoint men and women of proven integrity and impeccable character but also to be guided by the lofty principle of federal character which provides for all appointments to reflect the nuances of all ethnic and sub-groups in Nigeria.

It must be stated even at the expense of redundancy that the appointment of the nominees follows the serving out of the tenure of some previous National Commissioners representing various zones of the country, and the needs to strengthen the Commission ahead of the 2023 general election. The Senate president, Senator Ahmed Lawan, read the letter to the effect of these appointments on the floor of the senate with names of the nominees as: May Agbamuche (Delta state) representing South-south; Mr. Okeagu Nnamdi (Abia state) representing South-east; Maj Gen A. B Alkali (Adamawa state), representing North-east; Rada Gumus (Bayelsa state), representing another South-south; Mohammed Haruna (Niger state) representing North-central, and finally, Sam Olumekun (Ondo state) representing South-west. Mr. President also used the occasion to Mr. Olaniyi Ijalaye (Ondo State, South West) as Resident Electoral Commissioner.Whereas, Mr. President met the first criterion of both geographical and geopolitical spread of the appointees in the country, a closer and critical appraisal of the composition of these nominees, especially as it affects the south-east zone nominee, reveals a level of imbalance especially when it is understood that each geopolitical zone is made up of six states, micro-zoned into three states each from whereupon a representative is to be appointed from.

Under the first sub-group arrangement for the South-east zone, which comprised Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu respectively, Professor Okechukwu Ibeano who recently served out as National Commissioner hails from Anambra state. Another sub-group from the southeast zone comprised Abia, Imo and Benue states and has Mr. Festus Okoye as her representative. It is therefore both politically and strategically logical and rationale to replace Prof Okechukwu Ibeano who hails from Anambra, and has just finished his tenure (representing the Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi Sub-group in the commission), with a credible and well qualified candidate from either Enugu or Ebonyi.

Certainly, this is in keeping with good conscience, fairness, justice and equity as the cardinal indexes of the federal character principles which Mr. President is known for. What is disturbing to well-meaning Nigerians is not the paucity of the credentials and pedigree of Mr. Nnmadi Okeagu who certainly is least among the towering qualified and crème da la crème from Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi Sub-group who are available to be appointed, but the fact that his appointment has undermined the fibre, strength and the spirit of the loft ideas behind federal character principles as encapsulated in section 14 (3) of the constitution.

This is because his appointment has given Imo, Abia and Benue sub-group undue advantage in the Commission where Barr Festus Okoye is already representing the sub-group. Put simply, and lucidly, in view of the fact that Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra state constitutes one of the subgroup from the South-east, the nomination of Mr. Ukeagu Nnamdi from Abia state has jolted the structural arrangement resulting that the sub-group currently has no representative.As the people of Ebonyi and Enugu states are at pain and agitating against this unfair treatment and marginalization, their cry and yearning is for Mr. President to review and reverse this perversion of justice and consider appointing a well-qualified and credible candidate from the sub-zone of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu.

This sub-zone cannot afford to have less and undignified representative after having such high profile academic and erudite scholar of Professor Okechukwu Ibeano caliber. Doing the needful by Mr. president and his great team of advisers will certainly give the people of this sub-group a sense of belonging and continue to portray our dear President Muhhamadu Buhari as a true father and Statesman for all.

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