Perhaps a sincere way to assess the impact of the Change Agenda of the Buhari administration is to hold the mirror of change across ministries, departments and agencies.
The Federal Character Commission, (FCC), hitherto plagued by lopsided placement in its senior cadre, has embraced equity with the appointment of Honourable Abayomi Sheba as the executive chairman.
Up until last month, officers from one geo-political zone occupied both the positions of executive chairman and secretary. Now with the appointment of Sheba, a new impetus has arrived at the Federal Character Commission.
The FCC was established by Act No 34 of 1996, now cited as FCC Act. Cap F7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, which mandates it to implement and enforce the federal character principle and formulae to ensure equitable distribution of public posts, socio-economic amenities and infrastructural facilities across the country.
When the federal character principle appears in national discourse, many are wont to limit this mandate to mere distribution of positions and offices. To be sure, the principle mandates FCC to ensure that “each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory shall be equitably represented in all national institutions and in public enterprises and organizations.”
The principle of equity and fairness, in the Nigerian context, also applies to provision of physical facilities such as roads, bridges, hospitals and even provision of potable water. This is more so, where the federal government has increasingly become engaged in providing basic infrastructures that ought to be the responsibility of states and local governments.
Indeed, the commission is yet to fully sensitize Nigerians on its core mandate which transcends distribution of posts and offices. This mandate includes providing an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the President, for distribution of socio-economic services, amenities and infrastructural facilities; formulate modalities and schemes subject to the approval of the President, for redressing the problems of imbalances and reducing the fear of relative deprivation and marginalization in the Nigerian system of federalism as it obtains in the public and private sectors.
So what magic is Sheba bringing to bear on the activities on the FCC? The Ode-Irele-born politician parades enviable credentials in service to the people, having represented the interest of his constituency since the return of democratic rule in1999 when he was elected to the House of Representatives.
He distinguished himself not just as a member but was appointed the chairman, committee on poverty alleviation and community development for the four years he served at the National Assembly. That was when he led a team of his committee to the Peoples’ Republic of China to understudy poverty reduction mechanism of the Chinese Government. He also served as a distinguished member of the Presidential National Core Team that drafted Nigeria’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
After the sojourn at the National Assembly, Sheba briefly represented Ondo State as a director on the board of Nigeria Wire and Cable Plc and subsequently supervised the State Liaison office in Abuja. In 2009, he was first appointed a federal commissioner at FCC. After nine years of meritorious service, he was last month elevated as executive chairman of the commission.
The task of the Commission requires deliberate planning and delicate handling owing to Nigeria’s complexity; a vast territory of diverse cultures, orientation, religion and opportunities. Emergent challenges of insurgency, climate change and economic deprivation have widened the seeming cleavages in the country, leading to agitations and sensitive debates on the gaps in socio-economic development indices. All these should compel the Federal Government to pay more than a casual attention to the operations and efficiency of the commission.
Staffers at the commission are enthused on Sheba’s appointment. Indeed, they are looking forward to a very vibrant organization leading government’s desire to achieve equitable development in all geo-political zones.
–Kareem is a communication specialist based in Abuja