Dr. Muheeba Dankaka: Redressing the Lacuna in Our Federal Character System

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The Federal Character Commission (FCC) was established as a statutory body by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is one of the many independent bodies created and established by section 153 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, with its composition, powers, and functions expressly and succinctly prescribed by the constitution and amplified by the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc) act cap F7LFN 2004.

It was expected by the framers of our constitution that if implemented consciously as enshrined, the federal character laws would ensure the even spread of social amenities and infrastructural facilities in all zones and regions in the country thereby reducing the cries of marginalization in the nation.

Prior to the appointment of the present chairman of the commission, the commission was seen as a toothless bulldog that was rather used to play the politics of the north and the south in the country, but since her appointment and her commitments to use the federal character templates serving as a driver driving the political vehicle towards peace and development, our unity in diversity is beginning to see some rays of hope.

Her main aim is to use Federal Character as a pillar, soul and heart of our country. This is essentially true because the Federal Character Commission which she heads is the institution that is empowered to implement this principles that binds the nation together.

The leitmotive of this Amazon since she was appointed by our amiable president, Mohammadu Buhari is seeing basic resources and infrastructural facilities evenly distributed to avoid our country being prone to political and economic stability.

She is today addressing this lacuna because it is very important as most countries today that can boast of national stability are politically, socially and economically stable and Nigeria as the largest black nation cannot be an exception.

Redressing this lacuna through the implementation of a new set of systematic and pragmatically implemented reforms package at the commission by her was to ensure the rebuilding of a nation where every citizen and zones feels a sense of belonging. Hence, avoiding a situation a tribe or ethnic group claims superiority over the others.

She has today practically through her able reforms assuage and doused the often held impression by many Nigerians that the federal character principle sacrifices merits as her reforms had put in place a vivid mechanism that only the best and the most competent from each state and segments of the Nigerian society competes for positions reserved for their states.

Today, we now have a recognizable benchmark that has been set by the commission under her that no one that is not qualified shall not be considered.

She is differently discharging her duties of addressing this envisaged lacuna in the system typifyi g through her patriotic actions that this reforms have come to stay and showing all who care to see that her tenure marks the end of an era where fairness and equity to all geo-political constituents of Nigeria in matter of employments, provision of socio-economic amenities are disregarded in the name of politics, to the beginning of an era where the commission dutifully ensures that employers of labour and providers of services particularly in the public sector, conducts themselves in a manner that promotes equity, fairness and justice, as they perform their duties. During this dispensation where the emphasis is on addressing the lacuna-the reigns supreme at the FCC breachers of the enabling federal character laws are quickly called to order and even sanctioned because the new federal character commission under her is not the old toothless bulldogs because it barks and bites in the process.

The new socio-economic and infrastructural facilities department (SEID), created to operate monitor and regulate the spread of socio-economic amenities and infrastructural facilities through out the country is another innovation that has synergizes the operations of the supervisory mandates of the commission thereby making it efficient and effective.

The main functions of this (SEID) department is the inspections of projects and programmes executed by the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as its main focus to make sure that public infrastructural projects are not concentrated in one region to the disadvantages of others.

This approach by the redressing the lacuna agenda of the chairman, Muheeba Dankaka has surely made it easy to have a data base as the focus of creating this department is to collect all available statistical records of projects and programmes of the public sector for a periodical post-mortem exercise to correct any infractions on the federal character laws for immediate redress.

The commission today has since the introduction of this project monitoring reforms by the federal character commission periodically meets with the director-general’s of the budget office to play it’s constitutional roles expected of it especially with the commencements of the federal government medium-term National Development plans. This is important when the capital estimate is being put in the budget and the location/spread is determined as against the past when it is done arbitrarily by the MDA’s with its locations and spread rigged.

Finally, these redressing of the lacuna efforts by the chairman has systematically blocked all expected loopholes that in the past has guaranteed the lopsided locations of projects thereby creating complaints and protest over maginalization of other zones over another. This reforms has helped to assuage the fears of Nigerians that our unity in diversity can never be enhanced through the present operational ways of our federal character principles.

The implementation and monitoring ombudsman, the federal character commission, to all intent and purposes is now seen by all as living up to its responsibilities and it is today recognised as a strong institution that can indeed bark and bite. Her reforms aimed at redressing the lacuna has re-awakening all the concerned MDAs to their responsibilities in the operations of it’s mandates to spread the socio-economic amenities and facilities in Nigeria. This has been helpful because it has directed focus to more appropriately to the task envisioned in our constitution as a country.

– Musa Wada writes from Abuja.

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