Early this week, we read an unsettling account about the alleged lopsided nature of the recent recruitment into the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
We are sure those concerned will, at their own time, clarify the issues raised in that news report to the Nigerian public.
Ekundayo Bush Alebiosu, spoke with Gboyega Akinsanmi on the plight of Bakassi people as well as diverse issues, including the domestication of treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory.
However, the report led us to decide to take a cursory look at the Federal Character Principle towards a more nuanced understanding of how it has been implemented so far in the Nigerian Federal Civil Service.
THE Federal Character Commission, FCC, has challenged the country’s universities to embrace the principle of federal character in their operations to foster national integration and development, as no unity could be achieved without the practice of equity.
For the sake of clarity, the Federal Character Principle was promoted during the constituent assembly and later was enshrined in the 1979 Constitution.
We think one should rather prefer a balanced federalism if there has to be an addendum to it, which will be equivalent to federal character in our constitution.
It calls (at least in principle) for the equitable distribution of federal appointments to reflect the nation’s ethnic, regional and religious diversity and heterogeneity.
Some scholars suggest that its fore runner is the quota system that seeks to give opportunities in education and employment to disadvantaged groups in the Nigerian federation.
The Federal Character Principle has been distorted to an extent that is simply unimaginable.
As someone who spent almost five years within (of course not with) the civil service, we are prepared to argue that there is no single government policy that has been abused as much as the federal character slogan.
Though many agencies of government dubiously parade themselves as complying with this principle, they do everything within their power to manipulate it to their advantage.
However, we will examine one of the organisations that managed to put the list of their employees ‘transparently’ in the public domain.
Out of the 21 senior staff in that organisation, 12 came from the north the region of origin of the character who led the organisation during the recruitment.
Those who understand the decay in the civil service will know what that deliberate positioning means for such an organisation.
Beyond possessing sticky fingers consistent with their entry style, many of these staff members who exploited the lame environment still carry dodgy certificates even as the docile board kept sealed lips.
Similar stories litter the length and breadth of the Nigerian civil service.
However, by what we could call sheer coincidence, we were spending our last days within the service when that dull and infantile manipulation was going on.
Sadly, it was in the full glare of the representatives of the Federal Character Commission who, themselves, became emergency employment contractors, bringing in names of people who neither had relevant experience nor applied for the job to hurry into stage managed interviews to satisfy their ‘share’ of the federal character largesse.
Many of those who saw the mess early procured ‘Toronto’ certificates and they are now high up in that agency.
That is how a noble idea which had the potential of fostering unity and equity has been converted into a tool in the hands of the unscrupulous.
In 1995, the Federal Character Decree (now an Act) established the Federal Character Commission to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of federal character.
That the existing revenue formula has horizontal inequality, that is against the Principles of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
Sections 14 and 15 prescribe punishment for any person or organisation that refuses, neglects, or wilfully obstructs the application of the Federal Character Principle.
Such a person who commits the offence will be liable to a fine of N50,000 and organisations will be liable for a fine of N100,000.
In the midst of our doubt, we called a high level staff of the Federal Character Commission in Abuja to ascertain from him at least the level of official compliance from statistics available to them.
There are many uncountable policies of government which have been tactically subverted over the years to the advantage of many undeserving characters embedded in the Nigerian civil service.
How can anyone expect efficient service delivery from this group of people.
We call on the NNPC to go public with a comprehensive nominal roll of its senior employees in the last 20 years.
We wish to prescribe a comprehensive federal character audit in all Federal Government agencies.
They are just pretending because of whatever they can get from the Federal Government and other state governors of PDP.
It should help those who want to justifiably situate the compliance of that organisation to the Federal Character Principle.
Igwe wrote from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, vide.
Amy Unwin is a fashion journalist based in Sydney, Australia. Amy has a passion for fashion stories and loves writing about fashion news and fashion opinions that matters most to its audience. Amy spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest fashion industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on Stylerchic.com.