Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that the appointment of the heads of security organisations under his government has been based purely on competence and merit.
The president stated this while addressing the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, Zik’s son, Ambassador Emeka Ayo Azikiwe, traditional and religious rulers while on a courtesy call at the Obi’s palace on the sidelines of his campaign visit to Anambra State.
Responding to issues raised by the traditional rulers about marginalisation of the South East states particularly, in the security sector, President Buhari commended the courage of the leaders in speaking their minds.
He, however, explained that he had remained fair to all regions of the country since his assumption of duty as president on May 29, 2015.
He said: “I am pleased that you have the courage to present issues about your constituency but I expect you to be more patriotic in your presentation.
“In the South East, there are five states, in the North, I think there are 18 states. In the South East, out of the five states, I think five members of the Federal Executive Council, are from this region, trade and investment, foreign affairs, labour, science and technology ministers. And seven of the northern states have only minister of state,” he noted.
President Buhari stressed that he had appointed most people into the country’s security architecture without knowing them personally except their professional records.
According to him, “I think I tried to be fair. And you can ask these ministers. I never asked them how they are running their parastatals, their boards. I appointed them and I trusted them. I allow them to work.”
He said the same complaints from the South East have been coming from other parts of Nigeria but that did not reflect the truth.
“I don’t have to tell you what noise the other states are making especially when compared to the votes I got in 2015. So, I think I try to be fair.
“The question about the police. Those of you who were in the military even in the Biafran Army, know that the entry point is the same and you go for basic training until you go to your formations or institutions whether it is Army, Navy, Air Force or the police. The most competent or senior person is the one that gets there.
“If there are half a million soldiers, only one man can be the Chief of Army Staff at a time. This is so for the rest of the troop. In recruitment, we make sure that by states, people are recruited. At least, this is what I do; people are recruited from each state. For those who manage to get recruited, it’s up to them to get to the top if they are professional and work for it.
“The present Chief of Army Staff, the Chief Air Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff even the previous Inspector General of Police that just left, I didn’t know them personally before I appointed them. I follow records,” the president said.
President Buhari explained further that the current acting Inspector General of Police Abubakar Adamu, was also appointed based on merit.
“The same thing with the IG, that one was appointed last week. I don’t think I have ever seen him; I follow records. So, appointments in the armed forces and other law-enforcement agencies depend on individual performance after recruitment not where you think you come. At least between me and God, this is what I do,” he noted.
The president emphasised that his government had done a lot in the provision of infrastructure for the entire South East region including Anambra State.
“On the issue of infrastructure, a lot of you that are here know that the last time the Enugu -Onitsha road was done was during the PTF days and it was also done again from Enugu to Port Harcourt.
He urged traditional rulers in the state to support the government in improving the security situation in the country at the grassroots.
President Buhari who promised that he was committed to the development of the region pleaded for the Igbos to vote him in the February 16 election.
Speaking on the fight against corruption, the president said going forward, he would jail those who have over the years, run down the fortunes of the nation saying that such individuals should not be allowed to go scot free.
He attributed his slow-pace in prosecuting alleged treasury looters in the country to the need to follow due process of the law but assured Nigerians of his commitment to restoring the dignity of Nigeria while he serves as president.
Governor Willie Obiono while welcoming the president thanked him for putting down a total of N30billion for the completion of the second Niger Bridge.
He also commended the president for the government’s intervention on the Enugu-Onitsha road and the on-going work on the second Niger bridge. He further told the president to also work on the Onitsha-Nsukka road.
Present at the brief event were the Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige and the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola among others.