When the character is not federal – Part 2
To ensure that public officers shall, in the performance of their functions, adhere strictly to rules and regulations made pursuant to this Act; (i) to advise the Federal Government of Nigeria on the structure and rationalisation of any Ministry, Extra‐ Ministerial Department or agency; and (j) to carry out such other functions as the President shall, from time to time, assign to it. (2) For the avoidance of doubt‐ (a) the posts mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of this section shall include those of the Permanent Secretary in the Civil Service of the Federation or the State Civil Service, Directors‐General in Extra‐ Ministerial Departments and Parastatals, Directors in Ministries and Extra‐Ministerial Departments, Senior Military Officers, Senior Diplomatic Posts, Managerial Cadres in the Federal and State Parastatals, bodies corporate, Agencies and Institutions; and (b) socio‐economic services, amenities and facilities mentioned in paragraph (d) of subsection (1) of this section include those in the sectors of education, electricity, health, commerce and industry, telecommunications, transport and youth development.
(3) Any person who fails to comply with the guidelines issued under paragraph (h) of subsection (1) of this section is guilty of an offence under this Act and liable to penalties specified in section 15 (1) of this Act.
(4) Notwithstanding any provision in any other law or enactment, the Commission shall ensure that every public company or corporation reflects the federal character in the appointments of its directors and senior management staff.
When section 4 above is combined with section 14(3) of the Constitution, the irresistible conclusion would be that Nigeria can never be plagued with issues of tribalism and nepotism, but that is exactly the situation with our dear country, today. If you take a roll call of most federal agencies, institutions and parastatals, there is a dominance of a particular ethnic group to which President Muhammadu Buhari belongs. When you walk into any office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision for instance, your immediate realization is that of an environment dominated by the Hausa/Fulani workmen. It is also possible that this is the case with other tribes or ethnic groups in other establishments but the Buhari government has been very notorious in populating people of his ethnic group in very strategic positions of authority.
Recently, the main revenue agency of the government was said to have been privatized following the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill. Let us take a look into the management staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited. I got a post that circulated over the social media last week and it is very scary indeed. I waited for it to be denied but that has not happened so far so it may be safe to consider the contents as true.
“A review of the top 20 executive positions in NNPC Ltd reads like a Northern Nigeria Petroleum Company.
1. Mele Kyari (GMD), 2. Umar Ajiya (Chief Finance Officer/Finance and Accounts), 3. Yusuf Usman (Chief Operating Officer), 4. Farouk Garba Sa’id (Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services), 5. Mustapha Yakubu (Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals), 6. Hadiza Coomassie (Corporate Secretary/Legal Adviser to the Corporation), 7. Omar Ibrahim (Group General Manager, International Energy Relations), 8. Kallamu Abdullahi (GGM Renewable Energy), 9. Ibrahim Birma (GGM Governance Risk and Compliance), 10. Bala Wunti (GGM NAPIMS), 11. Inuwa Waya (MD NNPC Shipping), 12. Musa Lawan (MD Pipelines and Product Marketing), 13. Mansur Sambo (MD Nigeria Petroleum Development Company), 14. Lawal Sade (MD Duke Oil/NNPC Trading Company), 15. Malami Shehu (MD Port Harcourt Refining Company), 16. Muhammed Abah (MD Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company), 17. Abdulkadir Ahmed (MD Nigeria Gas Marketing Company), 18. Salihu Jamari (MD Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company Limited), 19. Mohammed Zango (MD NNPC Medical Services), 20. Sarki Auwalu (Director, Department of Petroleum Resources).
Only three top positions were allotted to the entire Southern Nigeria. What happened to the federal character? What’s the job of the Federal Character Commission? Do we have a National Assembly? What is wrong with the members of the National Assembly? Where’s the Senate oversight committee on NNPC? Where are the activists?”
This anomaly is not limited to NNPC Ltd of course. Most other revenue agencies of government are similarly filled with the President’s people. Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Ministry of Finance and practically all finance-related entities are manned and controlled by the same forces. This cannot encourage unity in any way at all. As things stand presently, there is nothing federal about the character of Nigeria and unless something is done urgently to address this lopsidedness, the burble may just burst. Let the National Assembly Committees supervising the Federal Character Commission sit up to perform its oversight functions, to audit all agencies and parastatals of government to ensure compliance with all relevant laws. The character of the President has been anything but federal.
Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)