The Presidency on Monday said the appointment of service chiefs is not subject to ethnic balancing and the federal character principle.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, insisted that his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari has the prerogative to appoint those he feels are competent and can do the job of securing Nigeria against terrorist and bandit attacks.
“Don’t subject security to ethnic balancing, don’t subject security to federal character,” Adesina said on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme.
“In fact, the constitution that prescribes federal character even gives the President some prerogatives that he can appoint on his own.”
The President, who is from Katsina in North-West Nigeria, had been criticised for favouring northerners in his appointments. Last November, during campaigns for the 2023 elections, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, criticised Buhari over what he described as the lopsided appointment of heads of security agencies by his administration, noting that 17 heads of various security agencies hail from the North.
Speaking on the appointments of service chiefs by his principal on Monday, Adesina said security should not be subjected to politics but competence.
He said, “Security is something you don’t subject to politics. Security is you bring your best foot forward.
“Look at the echelon of security agencies still 2015, would you honestly say they have all been from one part of the country? Who was the chief of naval staff in the first term of this administration? Was it not a man from Cross River State? Who was the Inspector General of Police at that time? Was it not a man from Edo State? Solomon Arase.
“Security is something you do based on the best. The best and the brightest because all you want is for your country to be secured. The President usually said unless you have secured the country or even an organisation, you cannot efficiently manage it.
“So, you get the best that can help you secure the country. People who begin to subject the headship of security agencies to where it comes from don’t know what they are talking about.”
Asked whether only the northern region has the best hands to secure the country, he said the President has the prerogative to choose those he feels can secure the country.
“What the constitution requires of him is balancing in terms of each state being represented, in terms of certain positions. Most of those positions are prescribed, security is not part of it.
“A President will always have the prerogative to appoint those he feel will help him secure the country and have the kind of country he desires to have,” Adesina said.
Between May 2015 and May 2022, over 55,000 Nigerians were killed by terrorists, bandits and armed gangs but Adesina said the President has left the security situation of the country better than he met them in 2015.
“The figure has been coming down progressively over the years and it’s a fact of history. Nobody can change it,” he said.