FEDERAL CHARACTER PRINCIPLE: Why implementation must begin with commission — Chidoka, Akinloye

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•Appointing northerners as chairman, scribe negates principle
•Ask Senate to reject northern nominee for FCC chairman

Buhari lawan

Senate President Ahmad Lawan and President Muhammadu Buhari

By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor

To maintain the Federal Character Principle, the Senate has been urged to reject the nomination of candidates from Northern states of Kwara and Taraba as chairman, and secretary respectively of the Federal Character Commission, FCC.

According to a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Osita Chidoka, and a Legislative expert and Public Affairs Analyst, N.G Akinloye, appointing northerners as chairman and secretary of the FCC is paying lip service to maintenance of the federal character principle.

How? The principle cannot be implemented in other agencies and bodies of the government if it is not upheld in the commission that is supposed to drive the process.

Chidoka urged the Senate to reject President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominations for the chairman and secretary of the FCC Board because they ‘’violated Section 4 of the subsidiary legislation which states that the distribution of position shall be across the zones.’’

Akinolye implored President Buhari to reconsider his nominations because the composition is ‘’unbalanced and unnationalistic.’’

His words: ‘’If according to the FCC Act and the 1999 Constitution, the Commission is to implement and enforce the Federal Character Principle of fairness and equity in the distribution of public posts and socio-economic infrastructures among the various federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, appointing both chairman and secretary of the FCC Board from the North instead of North and South as it’s been before is a clear foulness of The Principle.

‘’It’s of note that the Legal Adviser of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Mohammed Tukur, was appointed and still in office as the Secretary of the FCC.

“It’s of note also that instead of the then outgoing acting Chairman, Mallam Shettima handing over to the most senior Commissioner who happened to be a southerner, he was directed to hand over to Secretary Mohammed Tukur.

“It’s also worthy of note that, another northerner, Abdullahi Shinkafi was again appointed after that as the acting Chairman of the Commission.

“So, the president appointing another northerner as the chairman again, in addition to the secretary position is not only unnationalistic and divisive in approach but negates the principle for which the commission was established.’’

On his part, Chidoka said the nomination violated Section 4 of the subsidiary legislation which states that the distribution of position shall be across the zones.

He said that it had always been the tradition that Chairman and Secretary are from the North and South respectively, for the same reason past Governments including that of Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan had appointed Northerners as Chairmen and Southerners as Secretaries.

“Where the number of positions available cannot go round the states of the federation or the Federal Capital, the distribution shall be on zonal basis, but in the case where two positions are available, the positions shall be shared between the northern and southern zones.’’

The former Aviation minister recalled that when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mohammed Bello Tukur, the Legal Adviser of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, as the secretary of the FCC many thought it was to pave the way for the first Southern chairman of the commission.

“Instead in a rather brazen act the penultimate acting Chairman Mallam Shettima rather than handover to a southern commissioner handed over to the Secretary of the Commission.

“The President in violation of Chapter 2 of the constitution aptly named Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy that provides in S.13.

It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution’ has appointed a Chairman in violation of the spirit and letters of our laws.

“Chapter 2 Sec14(3) expressly mandates that “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

“This government has consistently violated one of the most ingenious and ambitious affirmative actions entrenched in our constitution to promote national unity uniquely named Federal Character,” he said.

Chidoka said the consistent negation of a critical national consensus should be resisted and rejected by all well meaning Nigerians starting from the Senate.

According to him, the seeds of national discord has been systematically sowed over the past five years and should be halted.

“The Senate should emphasise the supremacy of our constitution and the need to build an inclusive state,” he said.
President Buhari has written the Senate requesting confirmation of 38 nominees for the FCC.

The letter was read on Tuesday by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan during plenary.

The letter was dated March 18, 2023 and received in the office of the President of the Senate March 24t 2023.

The letter read: “ In compliance with the provision protection 154(1) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended), I write to request for Confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of the following thirty- eight( 38) Nominees as Chairman and Members of the Federal Character Commission, FCC. Their CVs are attached herewith.

“It is my hope that the Senate will consider and confirm the Nominees in the usual expeditious manner. Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

According to the letter, the chairman nominee is Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka.

All the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT have nominees.

The Senate had on February 25, 2023, asked President Buhari to as a matter of urgency, reconstitute the Federal Character Commission, saying that the acting chairman had been acting as a Sole Administrator since 2015.

According to the Senate, failure to put in place the Chairman and members of Commission by the President would amount to a total breach of the Act establishing the Federal Character Commission and the 1999 constitution (as amended).

Newzandar News News Nigeria.

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