April 30, 2020

FCC: Appointment of northerners as Chairman, Secretary negates federal character — Chidoka

Osita Chidoka

*Asks Senate to reject northern nominee for FCC chairman

By Clifford Ndujihe & Henry Umoru

A chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Osita Chidoka, has called on the  Senate to reject the nomination of candidates from northern states of Kwara and Taraba as chairman, and secretary, respectively, of Federal Character Commission, FCC.

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.

According to Chidoka, “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 Secretary of the FCC, many thought it was to pave the way for the first southern Chairman of the commission.

He said: “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 Section 13 that;

“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’.

“But 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.”

Still on the FCC appointment, 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 concerning FCC appointment.

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Buhari’s letter to Senate

President Buhari had 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, 2020 and received in the office of the President of the Senate March 24, 2020.

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 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, 2020 asked President Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, reconstitute the Federal Character Commission, saying 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).