As the tenure of the Secretary of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Alhaji Muhammad Bello Tukur ends next week, President Muhammadu Buhari has been called upon to address the constitutional infraction in the commission by appointing another person from Southern Nigeria as the substantive Secretary.
This call was made in a press conference by the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CCSO) Friday in Osogbo on the need to prevent lopsidedness in the appointment of the executives of the FCC.
According to the press release made available to NDREPORTERS, “the call became imperative to prevent the perpetuation of another aberration and imbalance in the distribution of political appointments in Nigeria in the spirit of peaceful coexistence, natural justice and respect of the nation’s diversity which is the fulcrum of the 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria as amended, Section 14 (3).
“Of particular interest is the development at the Federal Character Commission (FCC) where both the Chairman and Secretary are from the North (Kwara and Taraba States respectively). Many civil society groups and pan cultural associations protested this infraction on the Constitution of Nigeria then, but expectedly, these calls fell on deaf ears.”
The coalition revealed that since the creation of the Commission in 1996, the tradition has always been the Chairman from the North and Secretary from the South respectively, adding that the administrations of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Umar Ya’adua and Doctor Goodluck Jonathan adhered to this strictly.
They maintained that the Federal Character Commission, according to Section 153 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended was meant to be the custodian of the principle of federal character and is mandated to ensure compliance with this principle by all federal agencies, departments and parastatals in Nigeria.
While stressing that charity should ordinarily begin from home, they argued that the commission should respect the provision of the law and appoint its Secretary from the Southern part of Nigeria.
According to the Sections of the FCC subsidiary legislation, “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 of where two positions are available, the positions shall be shared between the northern and southern zones.
“Nigerians will recall that at the time of appointing the present Chairman of the Commission, a Pan cultural group, Afenifere protested the imbalance and a letter to that effect was submitted to the Senate, but the injustice had its way then.
“We, hereby, call the attention of the Nigerian Senate to ensure that the Executive totally complies with the Federal Character Commission Act as demanded during the screening and the subsequent confirmation of the present Chairman of the Commission.”
While calling on Nigerians of good conscience to join in the fight against injustice and non-federal character of the Commission, they urged President Muhammadu Buhari to seize this golden opportunity to prove his commitment to equity, fairness and justice for all in Nigeria.
“Alas, in the present administration, Nigerians of good conscience have observed and consistently drawn attention to the inequitable imbalance in appointments into the various agencies, departments and parastatals of the federal government, notwithstanding the obstinate response of the president, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
“It is hoped that this call will not again be ignored, for such injustice has continued to deepen divisions and fuel suspicions among Nigerians”, it added.
NDREPORTERS reports that the current FCC Chairman, Alhaji Muhammad Bello Tukur was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2017