The Nigerian Federal Character Commission & Tribunal
The Nigeria Federal Character Commission (FCC)
Although the federal character principle was enshrined in the 1979 Constitution, it was the 1999 Constitution that made provision for the establishment of the Federal Character Commission. The Commission has a Chairman and a representative from each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Federal Character Commission (FCC) Aims & Objectives
The aim and objectives of the Federal Character Commission is to ensure that every state of Nigeria is adequately represented in all government ministries and parastatals.
The 1999 Constitution defined the objectives of the Commission as follows:
- To work out an equitable formula for the distribution of all important posts in the public service (federal and state) and in all government institutions including the military and the police but the National Assembly has to approve any formula prepared by the Commission.
- To promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government.
- To Institute legal proceedings or prosecution against the head or state of any ministry or government institution which fails to comply with any federal character principle or formula stipulated by the commission.
Federal Character Tribunal (FCT)
The constitution also provides for the establishinent of a Federal Character Tribunal to enforce those objectives.
Both the Federal Character Commission and the Federal Character Tribunal are relatively new and it will take some time before the imbalances in the stalling of government establishments can be redreesed.
The commission may insist on strict adherence to the federal character principle at the point of entry, but it can do little about the officers already in the service. There is lopsided stafiing in most federal government ministries and agencies, and it would appear little can be done to redress the imbalance at least in the short run.
In a recent scathing criticism of the Federal Character Tribunal, a Special Assistant to the Cross River State Governor lamented that;
“out of about 90 federal stablishments within the state, it is only in 20 that the state quota has been met.”
He further added that;
“in a federal establishment such as the Central Bank office in the state, out of about 80 staff between levels one to six only about twenty are indigenes of Cross River State, but the principle of federal character expects that the host state should produce the officers within the bracket of level one to six”.
More recently, a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck (later President of Nigeria – 2010 – 2015) revealed that less than one percent of federal civil servants are from the state.
This appears to be the norm in most government establishments. The tribunal does not have to prosecute all the recalcitrant institutions at the same time, but it should use a few of them as scapegoats for others.