*Appoints two most senior officers from same region
By Olajide Fashikun
We had a matter we wanted to take to the Federal Character Commission on protest and biased appointments. The letter had been completed. Who do we address it to? The Chairman or the Executive Secretary. This search revealed the gaffe therein.
Both men are from the same region. Was it a slip or just the ‘what will anybody do’ syndrome? It could not have been an error. In a Federal Character Commission? How will people who are supposed to seek the intervention of the organisation feel?
For instance, the chairman of the Commission, Dr. Shettima Abba was born in Bama in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State on 8th February, 1950. He has been acting for more than one year in that capacity. He was to act for six months in the first instance. After the expiration, he was simply forgotten there and he is illegally occupying the seat for a third term of six months each!
The Executive Secretary is Barrister Mohammed Bello Tukur, a politician who was elected Senator for the Adamawa Central constituency of Adamawa State, in the April 2011 federal elections. He ran on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform.
Tukur was Governor Boni Haruna’s deputy up to 2007. He became Deputy Governor due to the influence of Vice President Atiku Abubakar. For the 2007 elections he left the PDP and attempted to become the Action Congress candidate, but after failing to win the primary, he returned to the PDP as a supporter of Professor Jubril Aminu and Admiral Murtala Nyako. As Governor Nyako’s Chief of Staff he wielded considerable power, which did not always make him popular.
Of what use is the Commission: The Federal Character Commission (FCC) in ordinary parlance has failed to play its watchdog roles over the years. It is most times described as a toothless bull-sheep. The commission was established in 1996 and given the power to work out an acceptable formula for the sharing of posts and services, to demand and review data on staffing, to monitor and enforce compliance with its directives, if necessary, through legal actions.
Its origins could be discerned in one of the declarations of the 1978 Constitution Drafting Committee: ‘There had in the past been inter-ethnic rivalry to secure the domination of government by one ethnic group or combination of ethnic groups to the exclusion of others. It is therefore essential to have some provision to ensure that the predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups is avoided in the composition of government, in the appointment or election of persons to high offices in the state.’
Root of the Commission in the Constitution: It was in order to remedy this that Section 14 of the constitution stated 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 states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.’
The constitution gave the commission wide-ranging powers to design an equitable sharing formula for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the public service of the Federation and of the states, the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force and other government security agencies, government-owned companies and parastatals of the states.
In addition, among other provisions, section 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act provides that the commission shall have power to formulate and provide guidelines for government agencies and other employers and providers of services and socio-economic amenities, and then monitor and enforce compliance with the guidelines and formulas at all levels; and, in doing this, it reserves the right to demand and receive returns on employment and socio-economic indices from all enterprises or bodies corporate and penalise non-compliance.
It shall also have the power ‘to institute investigation into any matter relating to any institution or organisation where the institution or organisation concerned fails to comply with the demands of the commission, and the institution or organisation shall be required to bear the cost of such investigations; and it has the power do anything which in its opinion is incidental to its functions under this Act.’
Where the Commission commits hara-kiri: Its guiding principles provides that: ‘each state of the federation is to be equitably represented in all national institutions and in public enterprises and organisations; that the best and most competent persons are recruited from each state of the federation to fill positions reserved for the indigenes of that state; that once a candidate has attained the necessary minimum requirement for appointment to a position, he/she should qualify to fill a relevant vacancy reserved for the indigenes of his/her state.
‘But where the number of positions available cannot go round the states, then sharing should be on zonal basis; but in the case where only two items are available, they should be shared between northern zones and the southern zones. And if the indigenes of a state are not able to take up all the vacancies meant for them the indigenes of other state(s) within the same zone should be given preference in filling such vacancies.’
Now who penalises the rape of the Constitution now? With the clear serial breach of the Constitution now, who remedies this anomaly? The policeman is caught stealing. Who arrests the thieving law enforcement agent? This is the question agitating the minds of www.gongnews.net
The commission is clearly in contravention of the principles that set it up. The people who recommended the two senior officials into the organisation must be members of the boko haram, otherwise, they must be blind, hate this government and simply don’t care what anybody feels. This certainly was no mistake.
By rule, the Commission is expected to work out an arrangement such that the indigenes of any state should not constitute less than the lower limit or higher than its upper limit; and in the ideal situation, ‘posts to be distributed among the indigenes of the states and Abuja on the formula of equality would be 2.75% for the indigenes of each state after reserving 1% for the indigenes of Abuja. If these guidelines have been followed strictly, it will not have compromised merit.’
A feeling of despair in the Federal Character Commission: Our checks in the organisation revealed that staffers of the organisation are aware. Being the civil servants, we have no voice. We cannot be heard. We realised this error but it is not our duty to complain but we knew that our fundamental objectives have been defeated ab ignitio with this error, if it was an error,” said one of the staff who spoke to us.
We took a choice not to speak to the beneficiaries since they were not appointees of themselves. Efforts to get the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) was as slippery as catching an ell with bare hands.
Why federal character in the first place: All arrangements like this is done in order to create a sense of belonging to the polity in a particular set of people who have been victims of marginalisation or inculcate in them a feeling of pride and a sense of participation in their own affairs, or bring home to them the reality of the unity of the nation state.