By Deji Elumoye
The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has implored the Senate to reject the nomination of Mrs Farida Dankaka as the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC).
President Muhammadu Buhari, had in a letter dated March 18, 2020 addressed to the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, and read at plenary last week nominated Dankaka from Kwara State as FCC Chairman as well as 37 other board members for confirmation by the upper legislative chamber.
Reacting to her nomination on Wednesday, Afenifere, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, stressed that it will not allow President Buhari to get away with yet another infraction on the Federal Character Commission (FCC) as it did with the appointment of the legal adviser of Miyetti Allah as the Commission’s secretary in 2017.
The group emphasised that the 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.
Afenifere, therefore, called on the Senate, which had since referred the nomination of Dankaka as well as the 37 board members to its Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs headed by Senator Danjuma La’ah for further legislative action within four weeks, to reject Dankaka’s nomination because the chairman as well as the secretary of the Commission cannot both come from the northern part of the country.
According to the group, the Federal Character Commission by the nomination of the new chairman would have a chairman from the 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.”
It added that: “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. The coronavirus should be a wake up call. If the president is not prevailed upon to reconstitute the leadership of the FCC commission to reflect Federal Character, the Senate would be legitimizing the wanton impunity of the Buhari government.”
Afenifere further justified its position saying:
“This has always been the tradition that chairman and secretary are from the north and south respectively for some reason. Past governments including Obasanjo and Jonathan had appointed northerners as chairmen and southerners as secretaries.
“When Mr. President appointed Mohammed 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 the 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 hand over to a southern commissioner handed over to the Secretary of the Commission.
“It was as if the government does not recognize that appointing a MIYETI ALLAH official as FCC Secretary was offensive enough.
“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.”