Dr Muheeba Dankaka and her Federal Character Commission Reforms

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It is generally agreed that the time for reforms at the Federal Character Commission (FCC) is now. President Muhammadu Buhari was mindful of this reformist need when in his wisdom he recruited the best among us to fulfil this mandate of the administration.

It is a known fact that prior to the appointment of Dr Muheeba Dankaka as the chairman of the Federal Character Commission, the agency was notoriously known for the many ugly infraction on the enabling laws that birthed the commission. There was therefore an urgent need for the president to embark on a leadership recruitment drive to recruit a chairman that can reform the agency and turn things around and urgently too.

The drive for a capable leadership paid off when the president appointed Dr Muheeba Dankaka to reform and fulfil on the mandate of making the FCC the place it should be.

Her first reforms that have been applauded by all was the introduction of the processes reforms needs for the agency. Since the inception of the Muheeba Dankaka-led administration of the FCC, she has deliberately introduced key reforms at the commission to put it in tune with the expectation of the president and indeed Nigerians.

Her commitments in making our federal character mandates work through the instrumentality of the FCC has never been in doubt. She has put in place a pragmatic and systematic process of reforms that is today been acknowledged as the impetus needed to achieve its mandate.

Many today sees the appointment of the chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari as the commissions eve of independence. Dr Muheeba Dankaka has always argued that that her time in the agency would and should be seen as a period where the commission would be seen as an agency of laws and not of men and she has simply lived up to this assertion.

Heartwarming echoes even more loudly through the current era, when the administrative state of the commission has eroded many of the structural safeguards designed to protects its targeted rule of law dispensation.

Strict judicial enforcements of the rules of laws and separation of powers and non-delegation has yielded our faith in expert agency to make important governance decisions. This trade offs may be, in the words of Muheeba Dankaka, a necessary concession to an increasingly complex Nigerian society, but it highlights the importance of internal safeguards designed to preserve the rules of laws within the commission.

Muheeba Dankaka must be commended because of her introduction of the process reforms initiative at the FCC.

For this reason, process reforms is importantly Muheeba Dankaka’s legacy as chairman of the federal character commission (FCC) because upon her assuming her office as chairman of the agency, she enpressly named process reforms as a key part of her strategic vision.

She follows through on that commitment over the past one year in office, making much needed improvements to enhance transparency, accountability and robust data-driven decisions making part of the reforms implemented in the agency and in the process strengthening the place of the rule of laws within the FCC.

On the transparency front, these initiatives of hers included a commitment to the release of draft orders to the public at the same time they are circulated internally-a welcome change that reduced the secrecy that encouraged corruption and systemic fraud at the agency prior to her appointment. This, to many, has reduced the powers of the commissioners and special interests to manipulate the system during the period before the FCC takes decisions on important items.

Improvements in accountability including limiting the powers of the commission’s staffs to make substantive edits to agency’s orders and to settle certain investigations without the chairman’s approvals.

These changes helped shifts powers away from the permanent bureaucracies to the more politically accountable agency’s heads.

The introduction of a centralized department of monitoring and implementations has reflected Muheeba Dankaka’s commitments to fulfil on her mandate.

Her data-driven decision making processes is also reflected in the creation of the office of Economics and Analytics, which helped concentrate the FCC’s economics talents and integrate it more systematically into the commission’s operations.

As a result of these and other reforms, the commission is stronger today than it was a year ago but there is to pretence that there remains work to be done.

One hopes that Muheeba Dankaka will help sustain and equally be committed to the rule of laws and principles of the FCC.

– Musa Wada writes from Abuja.

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