Minna – The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Niger state chapter has rejected the first three key appointments; Secretary to State Government (SSG), Chief of Staff and Head of Service (HoS) by the state Governor, insisting that the appointments falls short of their expectations.
Also, some Nigerlites of Nupe and Gwari (Gbagyi) extraction has also picked hole in the recent political appointments by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, describing it as not only embarrassing but will cause division instead of uniting the diverse ethnic nationalities in the state.
The Christians in the state said it considers the lopsidedness in the appointment of the three key principal officers without a single Christian as undeserving alarming and therefore wants the Governor to balance the appointments to favour members of the two major religions in the state.
Addressing a press conference less than 24 hours after the appointments of the SSG, Chief of Staff and Head of Service were made public, the chairman of CAN in Niger state, Rev. Mathias Echioda said it was very unfortunate that no single Christian is among the three.
The appointments of; Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe as the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane as Secretary to State Government and Hajiya Salamatu T. Abubarkar as the Head of Service Niger state (all Muslims), the CAN chairman pointed out said lacked in all ramifications desired inclusiveness.
He said, “It is rather disappointing that despite the overwhelming support Christians in Niger state gave the Governor during the just concluded election, there is nothing to show appreciation by way of recognizing that and considering a Christian for at least one of the key offices”.
“We believe that this is equal to political robbery and we will not take that at all because we contributed to the enthronement of the present administration, we should also be part of the decision making at the highest level in terms of management, policy formulation and policy implementations”.
Christians in Niger state acknowledged the cordial relationship it had with the administration especially during the first four years tenure, but had expected that the second term should have more robust relationship by giving Christians fare share in appointments, Echioda said.
“We have had a very good and cordial relationship with the present administration especially during the first tenure, we appreciate the mutual respect we enjoyed throughout the period and had expected that the Governor should improve on that”.
“We never relented at bringing to the fore on the course of relationship with the state government the need for Christians to be part of the principals and the explanation and excuses we had at that time was that people were appointed based on merit and participation in politics”.
“So with this, we went and addressed our people, we motivated and encouraged them to be part of the politics and political involvements both at the state and at the grassroots level and as much as I know, the level of participation of Christians in politics thereafter increased”.
“This time, we have never had it like this in the past and the question of competence, experience and expertise is not in question, we have our hands full, we know that we have several competent hands spread across the three senatorial zones”, he lamented.
Like every other stakeholder, Christians in the state made their contributions to the overall success of the present government of Niger state but regrettably, “Now that the battle has been won, of course, the dividends are supposed to go round across all the stakeholders”.
Whatever that is meant for every citizen of Niger state should benefit everyone that participated in the elections and we were actively involved and made sacrificial contributions to the success of the present administration hence the need to be recognized and rewarded.
Echioda who said he believed that, ‘to whom much is given much is expected’ insisted that “Christians in Niger state participated very well and actively during the primaries, before, during and after the general elections. I can vouch that the level of our participation has never been like any other time in the state”.
Meanwhile some Nupe and Gbagyi people who spoke to our correspondent on the appointments so far made by Governor Bello observed that the new SSG, Chief of Staff and Head of Service are not core indigenes of the state and therefore wants the Governor to avoid making the mistakes of leaving out the two major tribes.
Salamatu Daniels who said she is particular worried that the people of her zone was not carried along during the first tenure of Governor Bello, accused the Governor of neglecting other zones and favouring zone C in previous appointments.