By Gabriel Chy Alonta & Joseph Kingston
Residents of Calabar, the Cross River state capital, have criticized the federal government for allegedly displaying nepotism and jettisoning the federal character principle as enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution, in the recent appointment of commissioners of police across the federation.
Recall that Abuja had, two days ago, made public names of newly appointed police commissioners to the 36 states. While some states have more than three CPs heading state police commands, many others have none. The list indicated that the North-West, for instance, had 12 commissioners of police. Of the 12, four are from Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The North East was given 8 while the North Central has 4 commissioners, totaling 24 for the North. The South had 13 with South West having 7 commissioners; South South 5 and South East was given only one, who is an indigene of Imo state.
The list further showed that 14 other states, including Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Jigawa, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ondo, Oyo and Rivers have none.
Rev. Fr. Christian Umeojilinnaka, Parish Priest, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Nanka, Anambra State, said that the development showed that Igbos are not needed in Nigeria, and that law and constitution meant nothing to the present administration of President Buhari.
Umeojilinnaka, however, said such oppression of the south east would further make them resilient, hardworking and even more resourceful.
According to the clergyman, this tells us that we are not needed in Nigeria, but we are not deterred. Such makes our technological/scientific minds bore into several areas for survival. “They may think such treatments dehumanise us but not at all. It makes us tougher and more creative and innovative. Take Israel for example, they are surrounded by Arab ‘enemies’, yet they have won great prizes on inventions and innovations in science/technology around the world.
“During the Biafran war, we were devastated. After the war, various policies were targeted against the Igbos. But look at the Igboland today, are we the poorest?”, he queried.
He said Igbos remain the developers across all states in the country, stressing that Igbos would continue to stand on integrity and resilience.
“Let us call a spade a spade. We reject vote of mediocrity and will continue to reject it. No kind of ill-treatment will change our mentality of going for the best”, the parish priest added.
Also reacting, Mr. Sunday Okagbue, the Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Polytechnic, Mgbakwu, in Awka North Local Government Area, said such gesture shows great marginalisation of the south east with impunity by the incumbent administration.
He said such does not reflect oneness of a nation which we claim to be.”How can a region like south east have only one commissioner of police coming from there? Our leaders and/or those in charge of the appointment should, as a matter of fairness and equity, do things that will be acceptable to the populace without raising dust.
“Let us remember the famous quote that, ‘In our dealings with human beings, we make sure that justice is meted to all and sundry without fear or favour’. God save us and our country, Nigeria,” he said.
Respondents in Calabar, who spoke on the matter, also described the development as very worrisome, saying the constitution forbids one section of the country from lording it over another.
In a chat, a resident who gave his name simply as Okoro said, “this development is very worrisome. If you talk, they will say it is hate speech. President Buhari has become sinless even in the midst of glaring nepotism practices.
\“I will continue to cry and shout for my beloved Ndi Igbo until justice is done. If that makes me a regional man so be it. I have written opinions in newspapers crying for my people. No regrets. Soyinka said the man died in him who keeps quiet in the midst of injustice.”
Another resident, Usang, quipped: “What the federal government has done is in contravention of federal character principle as enshrined in S14 (3) of 1999 Constitution as amended which forbids domination of one section of the country by the other.
“That section says the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs to be carried out to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty. Now tell me, is this appointment promoting national unity? The answer is no.”
On his part, a constitutional lawyer, Barr Ibor Itam, called on the Police Service Commission, PSC, to push for the implementation of its policy which, he said, demanded that each state should produce a commissioner of police heading a particular state police command at a given time.