Some elder statesmen from the south and parts of central Nigeria have condemned the removal of Mr Matthew Seiyefa as Director-General of State Security Service by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The leaders said Mr Buhari’s action had further shown that he does not believe in a united Nigeria in which state duties are conducted with fairness and equity.
Seiyefa was replaced by Yusuf Bichi from Kano State Thursday night. He will take office on Friday, the presidency said in a statement announcing the changes.
Seiyefa, from Bayelsa State in the oil-rich Niger-Delta, was appointed on August 7 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, who was acting-president at the time, took the decision as part of a disciplinary action against Mr Lawal Daura, who was accused of organising organising an SSS siege to the National Assembly without approval from the presidency.
Seiyefa’s appointment was widely hailed by rights activists and pro-democracy campaigners who largely saw him as fitting for the position based on his antecedent in service.
Although he was due to retire next year, there have been strong indications that Buhari was keen on removing him from office in order to appoint someone he feels more comfortable with ahead of 2019 elections.
Seiyefa was pressured into subservience by Buhari’s Chief of Staff Abba Kyari. Mr Kyari overruled some personnel and administrative changes made by Seiyefa shortly after assuming office, despite strong protest from the top spy chief.
Seiyefa was the most-senior official at SSS when Osinbajo asked him to lead, a development that was widely celebrated at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja and field offices across the country.
It was not immediately clear whether he would be asked to return to his previous position at SSS training school or be compulsorily retired when Bichi assumes office Friday.
Buhari’s action has drawn criticism from leaders in the southern parts of the country, who condemned the president for being too quick to undo the laudable appointment made by Osinbajo, which also placed a southerner in the top national security position for the first time since Buhari assumed office in May 2015.
The leaders in their statement said Buhari has dismantled all precedents that engendered a united Nigeria in order to satisfy his sectional inclinations.
They said Bichi had retired from service but was only brought back because six most-senior officials at the SSS who should have led the agency based on hierarchy are all southerners.
Buhari has been accused of glaring lopsidedness in his appointments, especially into security and law enforcement agencies. He often pushes back against this claim by pointing to some appointments he made from the south.
Read the full statement bellow:
Appointment of new DG-DSS: Buhari’s vote-of-no-confidence in One Nigeria.
The outright disregard for the conditions precedent for a united Nigeria and an inclusive country which President Buhari has become well known for was taken to a new height this evening with the removal of Acting DG of DSS, Mr Matthew Seiyefa and replacement with Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi from Kano.
The I-don’t-care and in-your-face attitude of the President in restoring Nigeria security architecture to the provocative situation of having 16 out of 17 service chiefs from his corner of the country is a clear demonstration of the fact that Nigeria for Buhari is no more than his section of Nigeria and the resources and the constitutionally mandatory votes from other sections of the country.
Since 1960, Nigeria has never had a leader more sectional, narrow, parochial, and tribalistic like the current President who went on a global stage to divide Nigeria into “97 % and 5%”.
We have looked critically at the profiles of the Acting DG who was removed and the one Buhari just appointed and it is crystal clear that Bichi does not come with any experience close to that of Seiyefa.
The only qualification for this appointment is therefore only the rabid nepotism of the President which has seen him always masking personal and sectional interest as “national interest.”
Besides, Bichi is an out-of-the -system man drafted by Mr Lawan Daura in the days of his nepotism rule at the DSS.
The next six most senior persons in line of succession at the DSS after Seiyefa are, from our findings, all southerners which may explain why the President picked a man who already retired from the DSS to lead because of ethnic affinity.
That the President went ahead to deep himself further into the cocoon of ethnic irredentism in making this insensitive appointment shows clearly that he does not care a hoot about the unity, cohesion and oneness of Nigeria.
We reject this appointment and we do not shy in telling Mr President that he no longer pretends that the country is one under him.
In the last few days, there have been fears coming from the international community about the dangers that would come the way of Nigeria if Mr President returns for another term.
With his latest action, we add that the country is not safe in the remainder of his first term.
Lastly we ask Mr President: Are we still one county?
E.K Clark, SOUTH SOUTH
Ayo Adebanjo, SOUTH WEST
John Nwodo, SOUTH EAST
Bitrus Pogu, MIDDLE BELT.