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I want to be the Minister of Abuja – By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo – NNP – July 4, 2011 – It is intriguing and indeed mind-bugling that in the envied history of Abuja, our federal capital and to the best of my recollection, that beautiful and well crested city has never had a Minister from the south and that includes the South-South, South-East and South-West. In other words, and in plain English, no Igbo man (or woman), no Yoruba man (or woman) and no Ijaw man (or woman) has had the honor of being the Minister of Abuja. And in fact, it is even more worrisome to note that of the fourteen men (See List Below) who have held that prestigious office, only two, John Jatau Kadiya, the very first man to hold that office from 1979 to 1982 and Abacha’s right hand man and bosom friend, the Langtang (Plateau) General, Lt-Gen. Jeremiah Timbut Useni, who held that office the longest, from 1993 to 1998, are Christians from the north. The rest, I mean all twelve, my good friends, are Muslims mostly from the core North.

And what then is the import of this that I, a bonafide and proud green passport carrying Nigerian of Ijaw extraction, a Christian from the great oil rich Niger Delta, the enviable south-south cannot become Minister of Abuja in spite of my fine American education and my expansive professional career that spans through international organizations and the corridors of the finest educational institutions in North America.  I am very curious in finding out where in the 1999 Constitution it is written that no southerner can be the Minister of Abuja. Is there a suggestion that only northerners of the Islamic faith are competent to run the Abuja Ministry which by the way is one of the most powerful ministries in the land along with defence, foreign affairs, petroleum and interior? If the answer is no, how then do we explain the utter lack of southerners at the zenith of the ministry’s hierarchy in the last thirty-one years since it was established?  This discriminatory trend is unconstitutional, unwholesome, unethical and makes complete mockery of the campaign for one Nigeria. There ought not to be sacred offices for specific ethnic groups in our polity, what qualifies the Mallam Nasir el Rufais of our land to be honoured with such a title while the same eludes well qualified Nigerians from the south like yours truly and thousands of others who are ready to best the performance of any of the previous ministers.  The constitution specifies that to be a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria, one has to be a Nigerian, with no criminal record, adult and of sound mind. I do not see where it says one has to be a Muslim from the core north.

Ministers of Abuja from 1979 – Present

John Jatau Kadiya Minister 1979 1982 NPN
Iro Abubakar Dan Musa Minister 1982 1983 NPN
Haliru Dantoro Minister 1983 1984
Mamman Jiya Vatsa Minister 1984 December 1985
Hamza Abdullahi Minister 1986 1989
Gado Nasko Minister 1989 1993
Jeremiah Timbut Useni Minister 1993 1998
Mamman Kontagora Minister 1998 1999
Ibrahim Bunu Minister 1999 2001 PDP
Mohammed Abba Gana Minister 8 February 2001 17 July 2003 PDP
Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai Minister 17 July 2003 27 July 2007 PDP
Aliyu Modibbo Umar Minister 27 July 2007 29 October 2008 PDP
Muhammadu Adamu Aliero Minister 17 December, 2008 8 April, 2010 PDP
Bala Mohammed Minister 8 April, 2010 To Date PDP


It is evident that even southern presidents in the persons of Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan were/are powerless and unable to thwart this ugly trend. In eight years in office, Obasanjo never appointed a southerner or a Christian to that position in spite of the fact that he was and still is a southerner and by his own confession “a born-again Christian” – his ministers were Mr. Ibrahim Bonu (1999-2001), Mr. Muhammed Abba Gana (2001-2003) and Mallam Nasir el Rufai (2003-2007), all jolly northerners. And Jonathan clearly lacks the guts or rather the effrontery to jettison this fallacious domination even though his current Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Elder Orubebe, from Delta pleaded to be appointed the Minister of Abuja. Rather than granting this able request and departing from the unjust and callous offerings of the past, Jonathan succumbed to pressure and appointed Mr. Muhammed Bala even when it is clear that Orubebe is better suited to run the nation’s capital.

This utterly nonsensical disposition belies the albatross that is Nigeria and the sheer hypocrisy of the concept of one Nigeria. The fact that Abuja is based in the north central part of the country does not in any way exclude patriotic Nigerians who have toiled and labored for their country to enjoy the perks of the top job at the Abuja Ministry. By now, it is common knowledge that the likes of Mr. Adamu Ciroma, Atiku, Babangida and Mr. Muhammadu Buhari masterminds of the “Born to Rule” theory have brought in no small measure untold pressure on Jonathan not to break with tradition in his appointment of the Minister of Abuja.  They are the same persons that have succeeded in appropriating the plum ministries to their kith and kin to the detriment of other equally worthy stakeholders in the Nigerian project. It is no wonder then that the South-West and South-South-East are livid with Jonathan on his ministerial appointments to key ministries that appear to have eluded those regions.

And what is worse is the alarming fact that since 1979, thirty-one years and counting, and through fourteen male ministers, not even a northern Muslim woman has been appointed to that position let alone a Christian woman from the south.  Not Shehu Shagari and certainly not Jonathan has seen it fit to appoint an able woman in this age where even avid conservative Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh have since elected women as heads of state and a male dominated country such as India has also elected a woman in the person of Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister, but for Nigeria which is yet to realize the wisdom of women (such as Okonjo-Iweala) and their invaluable contributions to national development.

Jonathan should rise above the fray and mount the podium of justice and equity, opening all ministerial positions to any and all qualified Nigerians in the interest of democracy and national development. In this day and age and in the face of technological challenges and globalization that transcend international boundaries, we cannot afford to exclude anyone from any position due to geo-political and religious considerations. I am challenging Jonathan to prove to all Nigerians and indeed the international community that he is a fair and equitable president and should demonstrate this by appointing a southern Christian as the Minister of Abuja…and Mr. President, may I state in no uncertain terms, without reckless equivocation, that I am ready to serve.


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Posted by on Jul 4 2011. Filed under Abuja (FCT), Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, P, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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