Buhari Has Not Breached Federal Character Provisions – Member, Federal Character Commission





President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to probe the administration of his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has been described as a right step in the right direction.


While describing Buhari’s action as being in order, a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abayomi Sheba, implored Nigerians not to misconstrue the intention of the president which he said was designed to promote probity and accountability in governance.

The former lawmaker, who is presently Federal Commissioner representing Ondo State on the Board of the Federal Character Commission, in this interview, speaks on the appointments by  Buhari, bail out to states by the Federal Government and the crisis at the National Assembly. Excerpts:

As a member of the Federal Character Commission, what is your reaction to appointments made so far by President Muhammadu Buhari because some people felt the appointments were lopsided in favour of a section of the country?

So far, the President has acted well as an experienced administrator by going for the best hands. The appointment of Service Chiefs were purely based on merit. It was devoid of political considerations and ethnic or primordial cleavages.

He has not acted contrary to the laws of the land because, less than 5 per cent of the available appointments has been filled. Even as it is there is no geo-political zone that is not represented. By the time all the appointments are made, no states in the federation will be left without representation.

Has the President breached any provision of the law on appointments made so far?

Not yet because appointments into all the available vacancies in the present administration have not been concluded. Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states:

“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 states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.

This section was amplified by the provisions in Part 1 (C) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended and made justiceable by the Federal Character Commission (Establishment ,etc.) Act Cap F7 LFN 2004.

The SGF , Chief of Staff , Ministers , Executive Directors, Board members , etc. are yet to be appointed. Consequently it will preposterous to draw any conclusion now.

How can fears of the people be allayed that the President has not shown bias in his actions regarding appointment?

The fears of our people can only be allayed by the President through strict adherence to the letters of the 1999 Constitution as amended and all the extant rules and laws that governs appointment to public office in Nigeria.

As I said earlier, the President is not a novice, he knows the law and I am sure he will apply it as it is and not as it ought to be.

How can the present crisis rocking the National Assembly be amicably resolved?

My appeal to the principal actors and all the dramatis personae in the National Assembly imbroglio is for them to toe the path of constitutionality and respect the supremacy of the Political Parties that sponsored them .

There is no provision yet in our constitution for independent candidacy. Hence the parties must be respected as it’s the norm in advanced democracy.

Take for instance in South Africa, Thabo Mbeki was asked to step down as President by his party, the ANC, and he complied. Parties should be strengthened so that they can maintain discipline.

How can the present crisis rocking the National Assembly be amicably resolved?

The time to work hard is now. They must forget all the bickerings and move on with the job they are elected to do. To whom much is given, much is expected.

There are so much to be done . We need laws to tacklecorruption , insecurity, kidnapping , armed robbery , banditry, etc. The electorates are tired of the infighting in the House. They should get back to the business they are elected to do and that is legislating for good governance and the well being of Nigeria.

What is your reaction to the President’s failure to constitute cabinet more than two months after assuming office?

The President has not breached any law on this. I am sure that he’s taking his time to have a full grasp of what is on ground before assigning roles to people. When Presdent Obama was first elected, it took him almost seven months before appointing his cabinet.

Ditto President Yaradua in 2007 appointed his ministers almost three months after inauguration. It is better to understand fully what’s on ground before constituting the cabinet than coming in with wrong people.

In any case the President has promised to do this in September. So let’s wait for him. Nigeria this time around deserve the best.

The president has dreclared his intention to probe the immediate past administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, what is your view on this?

If we must reckon with what we are reading about the last administration on the social media, I think the era must be probed. How would Ministers be stealing over one million barrels of crude oil per day?

If it’s true, it’s scandalous and cruel. The probe should however be targeted at recovery of our stolen wealth and patrimony. Culprits should be punished according to the laws of the land to serve as deterrent to others.

Salaries and allowances of the nation’s lawmaker has been described as outrageous with some people suggesting a slash in the salaries, what is your opinion on this?

On salaries of NASS members, sincerely speaking nothing is wrong or outrageous with the salaries as proposed by RMFAC. The problem is the bogus allowances injected into the budget when preparing the budget. This must be discouraged by this administration.

Nigeria must rise again, because change has come.

What is your advise to the president regarding the issue of corruption, how can it be checkmated?

We must be able to identify the holes and leakages in the system and plug them. While I urge the President to reward  hardwork, industry and good behavior, sanctions must be meted out  for any act of  impunity and any antisocial acts.

We must also strengthen all the anti corruption agencies in the land, and review outdated anticorruption laws.

The recent bail-out to states by the federal government has been attracting mixed reactions, what is your view on it?

It’s a right step in the right direction. Kudos to Mr President. Even Greece was given lifeline recently by the EU. So nothing is wrong with that. But it’s important that States must make judicious use of the money and it must not be diverted.

It must be used for the purpose which it was granted. States must also diversify their Internally Generated Revenue mechanism so that they will not always go cap in hand to the federal government. (Vanguard)
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