Crisis hits Federal Character Commission 

Posted by News Express | 3 October 2021 | 1,087 times

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The crisis in the Federal Character Commission (FCC) has taken another dimension as three Commissioners in the Commission have allegedly notified the commission of their intention to resign.

The reasons adduced according to a commissioner are due to the irreconcilable differences between the Commissioners and the Executive Chairman, Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka.

According to a Commissioner, the Act that establishes the Commission stipulates that it functions with 36 Commissioners including FCT, the Secretary and Chairman as the head.

The Commissioner, who preferred anonymity, alleged that the Chairman was running the Commission against the Act. He revealed that the two Commissioners that had given notices of their resignation were the Commissioners representing Enugu and Kebbi States.

The Commissioner said: “I had informed the chairman of my intention to resign from the commission too, reason being that I do not serve where my services are not utilised. Since it has pleased the Federal Government not to address the mismanagement of the commission, it will be preposterous to continue to stay in the commission and be getting paid with taxpayers’ money that I have not earned.”

The Commissioners representing Enugu and Kebbi states, Hon. Ginika Tor and Abubakar Atiku Bunu however denied the allegations. When contacted, Hon. Tor said: “Where did you see the allegation because I didn’t see anything on such. Maybe it’s because I am out of the country.

Similarly, her counterpart, Atiku Bunu asked: “From where did you get this false information?” Another source in the Commission also revealed that the Chairman and the Secretary, Mohammed Tukur Bello, were making moves over who should be dropped to reflect federal character in the Commission.

Both the Chairman and the Secretary are from the North, a situation that is said to have violated federal character principle which the staff and National Assembly members had complained against.

A petition by a staff titled: Appointment of two principal officers from one zone in the Commission states: Section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states 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 and also command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”

“Chapter F7, Federal Character Commission (Establishment etc) Act subsidiary legislation part 1(4) states that: “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 the Southern zones.”

The two principles above have been guiding the appointments of substantive chairmen and secretaries into the Commission since its in-ception. However, it was alleged that the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, was responsible for the violation of federal character in the commission by his appointments.

To address the anomaly in the commission, the top officials were said to be undermining each other with the hope that one of them should be dropped. But reacting to the crisis in the Commission, the Director of Public Affairs and Communication, Dr. Chuks Okoli, dismissed the allegations when contacted on September 24.

He said: “For the past two weeks, the Executive Chairman has been on official visit to the South Western States in the company of some Commissioners including the Secretary to the Commission. Is the inclusion of Secretary to the Commission in her entourage a sign of problem? On the allegation that three Commissioners had indicated interest to resign, Dr. Okoli said: “That is not to my knowledge. Plenary meeting was held on Wednesday where all the Commissioners were in attendance and such issue was not raised.” He also said: “The chairman is exercising the powers conferred on her by the Establishment Act.”

It would be recalled that the Commissioners had on November 18, 2020, in a subject matter titled: “The state of the Commission” brought to the plenary raised issues of maladministration against the Executive Chairman. The issues raised include: the sinister misinterpretation and misapplication of section 2(1) of the Establishment Act as well as unwholesome arrogation of power to self by the chairman thereby alienating the Commissioners, plenary and commission from the activities and operation/administration of the Commission as well as the failure to render account of financial transactions to the plenary. The Commissioners reached several resolutions in the internal memo to the plenary in order that the Executive Chairman should run an all-inclusive Commission.

However, responding to the memo, the Executive Chairman said: “Let me make it clear that my decision to explain these issues should not be interpreted as answering your query because it is only my employers that can give me a query on my actions and inactions and not plenary.

“On section 2(1) Establishment Act raised by the Commissioners, the chairman said, Section 2(1) of our Establishment Act is very clear, as to the status of each of the member of the Commission; while the Act describes the Chairman as the Chief Executive of the Commission, the other members are described as representatives of their various states in the Commission to ensure and enforce compliance with the principles of the proportional sharing of bureaucratic, economic and political posts at all levels of government as contained in the preamble to the Act. It is rather a bad interpretation to equate the Chairman with the Commissioners in terms of the running of the Commission.

“Our Establishment Act has envisaged a situation and interpretation of this nature, the reason it specifically describes the status of the Chairman and also allows for another Commissioner representing the state of the Chairman. Had the Act meant otherwise, the Chairman would have been the representative of her state. “The Chairman is not first among equals as claimed in the memo, but rather the Chairman is the Chief Executive Officer and the Accounting Officer of the Commission. Whereas the constituency of members is just one state, but that of the Chairman is the 36 states plus the FCT,” he said.

Courtesy (excluding headline) New Telegraph

Source: News Express

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