By Tobi Soniyi
A former Aviation Minister, Chief Osita Chidoka, has called on the Senate to reject the chairmanship nomination for the board of the Federal Character Commission (FCC).
He said the nomination did not reflect national character and was a violation of the constitution.
In a statement, Chidoka, a former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission, (FRSC) said the nomination of the new chairman from the north (Kwara State) and the Secretary also from the north (Taraba State) was a violation of Section 4 of the Federal Character Commission Act.
The legislation, he said, 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.”
He said that this has always been the tradition that Chairman and Secretary are from the north and south respectively, for which reason the past governments including that of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had appointed northerners as chairmen and southerners as secretaries.
Chidoka said: “When Mr. President 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 Ag, 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- Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which provides in S.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.
He said that S.14(3) of the constitution 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.”
He accused the Buhari government of consistently violating one of the most ingenious and ambitious affirmative actions entrenched in the constitution to promote national unity (federal character), adding that 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 have 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. The coronavirus should be a wakeup call,” he said.
The Federal Character Commission was saddled with the responsibility of promoting national unity, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of the proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government.
Among other functions, 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 service, the public services of the federation and of states and the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.
However, it has been observed that the selection of the leadership of the commission itself is lopsided and at variance with constitutional provisions, because the two principal officers are from the north, leaving no place for one of the principal officers to protect the interest of the south, a strong reason the Senate is advised to not confirm the chairmanship nominee.