The President Has Not Violated the Federal Character Provision In Appointments, By Okoi Obono-Obla
The allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari has made appointments in favour of the Northern part of the country in violation of the Federal Character provision contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is groundless and baseless.
Indeed, President Buhari has scrupulously complied with the Federal Character provision enshrined in the Constitution in making appointments concerning the Government of the Federation.
Section 171 (1) of the Constitution vests on the President the power to appoint persons to hold or act in the offices and to remove persons so appointed from any such office .
Section 171 (2) of the Constitution specified such offices to, namely –
(a) Secretary to the Government of the Federation;
(b) Head of the Civil Service of the Federation;
(c) Ambassador, High Commissioner or other Principal Representative of Nigeria abroad;
(d) Permanent Secretary in any Ministry or Head of any Extra-Ministerial Department of the Government of the Federation howsoever designated; and
(e) any office on the personal staff of the President.
Section 171 (5) of the Constitution provide that in exercising his powers of appointment under this section, the President shall have regard to the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity.
So that it is not correct for some people to contend the President must comply with the Federal Character principle in all manners of appointments he makes.
Section 147 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that there shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
Section 147 (3) of the Constitution provides that any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:- provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.
Section 14 (3) of the Constitution provide thus: 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 unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.
Accordingly the President appointed Ministers from all the 36 States of the Federation on the 12th November, 2015.
The President also appointed Permanent Secretaries from all the 36 States of the Federation in compliance with Section 171 (2) (d) of the Constitution.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal is from Adamawa State in the North Eastern Region of the country in accordance with Section 171 (2) (a) of the Constitution.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Wilfred Oyo-Ita is from Cross River State in the South/South Region of the country in compliance with Section 171 (2) (b) of the Constitution.
The Chief of Staff to the President is Abba Kyari from Bornu State, North Eastern Region. See Section 171 (2) (e) of the Constitution.
But the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Barrister Ade Ipaye is from Lagos State, South West. He is attached to the Office of the Vice President. See Section 171 (2) (e) of the Constitution.
None of these persons are Fulani as erroneously peddled in some quarters.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal is not Fulani or Hausa.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari is Kanuri not Fulani or Hausa as wrongly peddled in some uninformed quarters.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai and the National Security Adviser, General M. Munguno are not Fulani or Hausa as falsely asserted in some quarters by detractors.
The Acting Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim is not Hausa or Fulani but Nupe. The Current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Mahmud Mohammed and the President of the Court of Appeal, Honourable Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa respectively were not appointed by President Buhari as falsely asserted by some detractors of the present administration. Indeed the duo were appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan on merit.
Recently the President nominated 47 Persons from 32 States of the Federation and sends their names to the Senate for confirmation as Ambassadors/High Commissioners or other Principal Representatives of Nigeria abroad in compliance with Section 171 (2) (c) of the Constitution.
Those who divide the country into North and South are mischievous, misinformed and totally wrong.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is not divided into North and South.
Constitutionally the Federal Republic of Nigeria is divided into 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Section 2 (1) of the Constitution provide thus: Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Section (2) of the Constitution provide thus: Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory.
Section (3) (1) of the Constitution provide thus: There shall be 36 states in Nigeria, that is to say, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
Administratively, the Country is further divided into North East, North West, North Central, South East, South West and South/South.
On the 14th January 1914, the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria were amalgamated to form the Federation of Nigeria.
In 1946, the Federation of Nigeria was divided into three Regions namely Northern, Western and Eastern Regions.
On the 27th May 1967, the regional structure was abolished and the three regions were divided into 12 States namely Kano, Lagos, Western ; Benue/Plateau, North Central, North East, North West, Kwara, East Central, Mid-Western, Rivers and South Eastern States.
In February 1976, the 12 States of the Federation of Nigeria were divided into 19 States.
On 23rd September 1987, the 19 States were divided into 24 States.
On 27th August, 1991, the 24 States were increased to 30 States.
On 1st October, 1996 Ebonyi, Gombe, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Nassarawa and Zamfara States were created to bring the total number of States in the country to 36.
The Constitution did not provide that all classes of appointments made by the President must comply with the federal provisions of the Constitution.
I submit without fear of contradiction that if the writers of the Constitution intended that all classes of appointments made by the President must reflect federal character they will have rightly stated so.