House opposes appointment of two northerners as FCC chairman, secretary

3. The House of Representatives yesterday, approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for ongoing external loans to the tune of $8,325,526,537 (USD) and €490,000,000 (Euros) under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan.

The House of Representatives on Thursday frowned at President Muhammadu Buhari’s action of appointing two Northerners as Chairman and Secretary of the Federal Character Commission.

The House said the appointment was a flagrant disregard of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

In a motion on: “Urgent need to address the Constitutional infraction in the Federal Character Commission in the appointment of the Chairman and secretary of the Commission,” sponsored by Hon. Unyime Idem, the House underscored the need for the Presidency to comply with the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Idem said in the motion: “The House is aware that in compliance with the resolution of this honourable House reached on February 25, 2020, the President of Nigeria appointed the Chairman and Commissioners of the Federal Character Commission on April 28, 2020.

“The House is further aware that the current Secretary of the Federal Character Commission was appointed as a substantive Secretary to the Commission in March 2017.

“Although his tenure was expected to end on April 7, 2021, he was re-appointed by the President on April 7, 2021, for his second term in office as the secretary of the Commission.

“The House is cognizant that the current Chairman of the Commission, is from the Northern part of the country and the re-appointed Secretary is also from the Northern part of the country, which is in flagrant violation of Section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

“The House notes that Section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates 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 States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

“The House notes further that the Federal Character Commission is one of the MDAs of the Federal government with the responsibility to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of the proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government.

“More compellingly is the provision of section 4 of the subsidiary legislation which provides inter Alia, “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.

“Unfortunately, these unambiguous provisions of our Laws were disregarded despite the complaints of Nigerians, thus, threatening the continued existence of Nigeria as a united nation; our unity as a nation should be exercised with respect to fairness, equity and justice.

“The House is concerned that pursuant to the Principle of Federal Character, as contained in the Act governing the Commission, leadership positions must be equally distributed between zones. This simply means that the position of Secretary of the Commission should, going by the Principle of Federal Character and as stated in the Constitution of Nigeria, automatically, go to the Southern part of Nigeria.

“The House is worried that the provisions of the enabling laws have been violated as 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.”

Idem also underscored the need for the House to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the unfair, unjust and inequitable contravention of the provisions of the Constitution in the appointment of both the Chairperson and Secretary of the Federal Character Commission from a particular zone of the country (North).

On his part, the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, stressed the need to ensure that all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies comply with the federal character policy in the appointment of civil servants.

In his intervention, Hon. Uzoma Abonta underscored the need for the House and indeed National Assembly to protect the Constitution.

To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Federal Character to ensure compliance within four weeks.

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