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Federal Character Commission And Balancing Of Appointments



In this report ERNEST NZOR, interrogates functions of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) amidst fears that it smooth operation is being hindered by lack of chairman and other board members.

The Federal Character Commission was established with the responsibility to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of the proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government. The Commission is not subject to the direction, control or supervision of any other authority or person in the performance of its functions under this Act other than the President.

The functions of the Commission is to work out an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the President, for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and the public services of the Federation and of the States, the armed forces, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, bodies corporate owned by the Federal or a State Government and Extra‐Ministerial Departments and parastatals of the Federation and States; to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government; to take such legal measures including the prosecution of the heads or staff of any Ministry, Extra‐Ministerial Department or agency which fails to comply with any federal character principle or formula prescribed or adopted by the Commission; to work out  (i) an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the President, for distribution of socio‐economic services, amenities and infra structural facilities;

(ii) modalities and schemes, subject to the approval of the President,for redressing the problems of imbalances and reducing the fear of relative deprivation and marginalisation in the Nigerian system of federalism as it obtains in the public and private sectors;

(e) to intervene in the operation of any agency of the Federal Government, subject to the approval of the President, where in the opinion of the Commission the function of the agency concerned is relevant to the functions of the Commission and the Commission is of the opinion that it is not being effectively implemented;

(f) to advise the Federal, State, and local governments to intervene and influence providers of services, goods and socio‐economic amenities to extend such services, goods and socio‐economic amenities to deprived areas of the country;

(g) to ensure that all Ministries and Extra‐Ministerial Departments, agencies and other bodies affected by this Act have a clear criteria indicating conditions to be fulfilled and comprehensive guidelines on the procedure for‐ (i) determining eligibility and theprocedure for employment in the public and private sectors of theeconomy;(ii) the provision of social services, goods andsocio‐economic amenities in Nigeria;

(h) to ensure that public officersshall, in the performance of their functions, adhere strictly to rules and regulations made pursuant to this Act;(i) to advise the FederalGovernment of Nigeria on the structure and rationalisation of anyMinistry, Extra‐Ministerial Department or agency; and (j)carry outsuch other functions as the President shall, from time to time, assign to it.

The commission consists of a chairman who is the chief executive , a representative from each of the States of the Federation, and a representative of the Federal Capital Territory. The chairman and members of the commission are appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
However in recent times, there are fears that the commission may not be performing its mandates effectively as its board has not been fully constituted.
Already there are indications of a big vacuum at the headquarters of the Commission, as the tenure of the acting executive chairman, Dr. Shettima Bukar Abba, from Borno State, has expired.
Abba, who was appointed as acting chairman in January 2016 for a two year term and whose tenure ended on July 31, 2018, has vacated the office, in line with the law setting up the commission.
However, the absence of the chairman has allegedly caused lopsidedness in national recruitment and appointment of staff from different states of the federation.

Recently, a group, Uchu Development Association (UDA), called on President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the appointment of the former acting chairman, Dr. Shettima Bukar Abba, for working hard in ensuring that all parts of the country are fairly represented in federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The expiration of the tenure of the acting chairman, Dr. Shettima Bukar Abba, without the appointment of another chairman is believed to be hindering the activities of the commission.
The board of the commission has not been fully constituted to exercise its mandate.
Under the Act establishing the Federal Character Commission, the board is made up of the chairman and commissioners representing each of the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

LEADERSHIP findings revealed however that out of the 36 states and the FCT, only Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Osun, Zamfara states and the FCT, have commissioners representing them in the commission with a secretary who oversees the day to day activities of the commission.
The following states have no representation in the board of the commission; “North Central; Benue, Niger, Plateau; North East; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe; North West; Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto; South East; Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo; South South Akwa lbom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta,Rivers; South West Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo.”

There are now growing calls by many Nigerians, especially those aggrieved by the alleged lopsidedness in recent federal government appointments for the constitution of the full board of the commission, so that they can channel their grievances to the commissioner representing them at the commission. All eyes are now on President Muhammadu Buhari, who has the constitutional mandate to appoint the chairman and members of the board of the commission.

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