Federal Character Commission: Upholding federal character principle

THE Federal Character Commission, FCC, according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is meant to be the custodian of the principle of federal character and is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that all federal agencies and parastatals in Nigeria respect and adhere to this principle.

History of FCC leadership since 1996

Executive chairmen

*  Alhaji Adamu Fika, Yobe, North-East

* Alhaji Bello Kofabai, Katsina, North-West

* Professor Shuaibu Oba Abdul Raheem, Kwara, North-Central

Acting Chairmen

*  Alhaji Muhammadu Ari-Gwaska, North-Central

*  Alhaji Ibrahim Funtua, Katsina, North-West

*  Alhaji Muhammad Bello Alkali, Kebbi, North-West

*  Dr. Shettima Bukar Abba, Borno, North-East

* .Mr. Abayomi Sheba, Ondo, South-West

*  Ambassador Shinkafi, Zamfara, North-West (two-term tenure ended April 20, 2020

Substantive secretaries

* Mr. A. O Effenga, South-South.

* Mr. O. P Emerhan, South-South

* Prof. Francis Abayomi Durosinmi-Etti, South-West

* Mr.  Rex-Ogbuku, South-South

Acting secretaries

* Mr. David O. Fakeye, South-West

* Mr. Jonas C. Umeh, South-East

Current secretary

Mr. Muhammad Bello Tukur was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the substantive secretary to the Commission in March 2017 for an initial tenure of four years which will end in February 2021. He is from Taraba State, North-East zone.

According to the Principle of Federal Character, as contained in the Act governing the Commission, leadership positions must be equally distributed between zones. This simply means that the chairmanship position should, going by the Principle of Federal Character and as stated in the Constitution of Nigeria, automatically, go to the Southern part of Nigeria.

Why Senate should reject nominee for FCC chairman

The Federal Character Commission by the new nominations would have a chairman from North (Kwara) and Secretary from the North (Taraba) in violation of Section 4 of the subsidiary legislation which states: “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.”

This has always been the tradition that Chairman and Secretary are from the North and South respectively. For some reasons past governments including Obasanjo and Jonathan had appointed northerners as chairmen and southerners as secretaries.

When President Buhari appointed Mohammed Bello Tukur, the Legal Adviser of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria , MACBAN, as the Secretary of the Federal Character Commission many thought it was to pave way for the first Southern Chairman of the Commission. That was not to be. 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.

In the same Chapter 2 of the constitution S.14(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. This consistent negation of a critical national consensus should be resisted and rejected by all well meaning Nigerians starting from the Senate. 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.

Vanguard