THE Federal Character principle enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), has been reduced to an object of ridicule by the very officials mandated to implement it. Instead of concrete action, we see a carnival of empty words and lip service, most likely intended to mislead the public into believing that something is being done to address the serial abuses of it.
Section 14(3) provides as follows: “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 states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has been the chief abuser of this principle, right from day one. At the United States Institute of Peace on July 25, 2015, he made it clear that he would give 97 percent of the dividends of his government to those who voted for him, while those who did not would get five percent.
Apart from ministerial appointments, which the constitution mandates a president to appoint on a state basis, the rest of his appointments in every sphere of his government have ignored the federal character. He has disproportionately benefited people in his region while relegating the South- East and, to a lesser extent, the South-South.
With this bad example set at the top, the Federal Character principle was thrown to the dogs in most of the ministries, departments, and agencies, MDAs, in terms of recruitments, promotions, and appointments to strategic positions. Indeed, President Buhari, contrary to the Federal Character principle, appointed the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission, FCC, and the Commission’s Secretary from the same zone in the North. How could people appointed in violation of the Federal Character principle fight its violators?
The Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC, the Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC; the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, and many of the Federal Government’s uniformed and armed agencies are the worst violators of this principle.
We consider the call by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Secretary of the FCC, Mohammed Tukur, for the prosecution of Federal Character violators as a storm that carries no wind. With six months to the end of the Buhari regime, the damage has already been done. The violation of diversity has robbed the system of loyalty and a sense of belonging. That is why the system has failed.
We wait to see how violators are sanctioned.