THE BUHARI ADMINISTRATION AND THE CHALLENGE OF THE FEDERAL CHARACTER PRINCIPLE
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Multiethnic societies all over the world try to manage their differences and devise tendencies through one or combination of policies in the organization and management of their public services administration; and Nigeria is a typical example of a diversified society (Bodunrin, 2012; Ayoade, 2000; Abdullah, 2007). Most times, these policies turn out to be delicate arrangements; but when properly conceived, drafted and practiced, it guarantees opportunity for individuals from various backgrounds to interact peacefully and co-habit on established and agreed terms.
One of such policy alternatives adopted for the proper administration of the public service in Nigeria for equal representation is the federal character principle, which “was created out of the need to ensure an equal allocation of government appointments in all the regions, states and local government councils in the country” (Nzeshi, 2012). Nigeria comprises of 36 states with a population of more than 200 million people and has more than 250 ethnic groups, which necessitate an arrangement that could accommodate people from the different segments of the country in the public bureaucracy (Gberevbie, 2012).
The notion of federal character presupposes the existence of a federal society. However, being a federal state, Nigeria was faced with the challenge of how to absorb the principle of federalism in practice. As a result of that, the quota system was brought into the Nigerian public service in 1958 by the government “to enable equitable representation of the ethnic groups in the country” (Tonwe and Oghator, 2009).
To consolidate further on the benefits of the quota system, the Federal Military Government of Generals Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo in the drafting and approval of the 1979 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the transition to civilian rule (2010) brought into the Nigerian political and administrative landscapes the principle of federal character (Ekeh, 2012).
Federal character principle tries to give “preferences in acquiring education and employment, usually at the point of entrance, to less privileged groups and areas to enable them compete and catch up with more advanced areas and sectors of the nation” (Ekeh, 2012).
In comparison of the practice of quota system with that of the federal character principle, Ekeh (2012) stated that the latter “demands far more” than the former in the sense that “it changes emphasis from opportunities to disadvantaged and benefits.”
He asserts that federal character principle is legal equipment placed to regulate appointments, promotions, security of tenure and severance in every government administration. The reference to the phrase “less-privileged groups” in the area of educational opportunities means that “special preferences should be given to candidates from the Northern parts and other areas where educational facilities were more lacking than elsewhere” (Gboyega, 2012).
The perplexing application of the federal character principle seems to pose challenges to administrative effectiveness in the Buhari’s regime through the restriction of merit. Such adoption of the principle of federal character in personnel recruitment without due regard for merit is more likely to just efforts in a society.
The formal acknowledgement of the federal system in Nigeria, which was brought into existence with the introduction of the Lyttleton constitution of 1954, signified the importance for representative bureaucracy that could attack the challenge in the composition of the federal public service anchored on effective service delivery (Adamolekun, 2012; Ayoade, 2000; Ikelegbe, 2004). Administration requires a blend of theory with practice.
Max Weber replicated the way forward on how to achieve effective administration through the theory of ideal bureaucracy; and it is doubtful if any past government administrations, can function adequately without adhering to the principle of rationality in appointments and rewards as postulated by Max Weber (Edigin and Otoghile, 2009; Anyebe, 2004).
The characteristics of the Weberian (legal-rational) model are: hierarchy which implies structure; promotion based on professional merit; skills as guide for recruitment; the development of career service; reliance on and use of rules and regulations that are scientific; impersonality of relationships among career professionals and their clientele in the bureaucracy, specialization along functional lines; authority and responsibility; and proper documentation or record-keeping in a formal organizational or nation (Anyebe, 2004; Henry, 2007). Based on the above, the study attempt to examine Buhari’s administration and the challenge of the federal character principle.
- STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Federal character principle seeks to prevent the [pre]dominance of persons from one or a few states or from one or a few ethnic groups in the running of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies.
The task of promoting, monitoring and enforcing compliance with the federal character principle is entrusted with the Federal Character Commission, one of the federal executive bodies established by Section 153 of the Constitution. The powers and procedures of the Commission are spelt out in Part I C of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and the relevant sections of the Federal Character Commission Act. (Federal character commission 2001)
The Commission is specifically empowered to ‘take such legal measures, including ‘prosecution’ of the head or staff of any Ministry or government body or agency which fails to comply with any federal character principle or formula prescribed or adopted by the Commission.’
However, over the years, the Commission has partially failed to live up to its responsibility for promoting, monitoring and enforcing compliance with the federal character principle, largely because of the lack of independence of the Commission, which visibly appears to be a mere appendage of the executive arm of the government.
This has not only resulted in the mind boggling abuse of the federal character principle especially in the recent time, (B. Lawrence 2016) but has also led to the rising threat to the national unity: the very mischief which the federal character principle was invented to curb. This state of affairs has once again brought the issue of implementation and enforcement of the federal character principle on the front burner of our national discourse
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the Buhari administration and the challenge of the federal character principle. Other specific objectives of the study include;
- To examine the extent to which Buhari’s administration is implementing federal character principle in the country’s administration.
- To examine the effectiveness and efficiency of the federal character principle in ensuring equitable distribution of appointments among the citizens.
- To examine the impact of federal character principle on Buhari’s administration.
- To identify probable challenge in the application of the federal character in equitable distribution of appointments under Buhari’s administration.
- To examine the relationship between Buhari’s administration and the challenge of the federal character principle.
- To examine the overall effect of federal character principle on administration.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the extent to which Buhari’s administration is implementing federal character principle in the country’s administration?
- What is the effectiveness and efficiency of the federal character principle in ensuring equitable distribution of appointments among the citizens?
- What is the impact of federal character principle on Buhari’s administration?
- What is probable challenge in the application of the federal character in equitable distribution of appointments under Buhari’s administration?
- What is the relationship between Buhari’s administration and the challenge of the federal character principle?
- What is the overall effect of federal character principle on administration?
- RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
- What is the overall effect of federal character principle on administration?
- : There are is no significant impact of federal character principle on administration.
- : There is a significant impact of federal character principle on administration.
- : There is no significant relationship between Buhari’s administration and the challenge of the federal character principle.
- : There is a significant relationship between Buhari’s administration and the challenge of the federal character principle.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of this research work cannot be over emphasized. The study examines and reviews the challenges of federal character principle on administration in Nigeria. Therefore, this research work is meant to assist both undergraduates and graduates and other future researchers who may find this research work beneficial in terms of planning, researching and rational decision making in regards to administration in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the Buhari’s administration and the challenge of the federal character principle
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Administration: The definition of administration refers to the group of individuals who are in charge of creating and enforcing rules and regulations, or those in leadership positions who complete important tasks.
Federal Character Principle: A principle of representativeness in which recruitment, promotion and distribution of other state resource are aimed at establishing a fair balance of ethnic and regional representation in all federal government agencies and parastatals (Agbodike 2003)
Federal Character Commission: A body charged with the responsibility of implementing federal character principle in Nigeria to ensure compliance with state objectives concerning the distribution of public officers on even basis among the various sections of Nigeria in all federal government agencies and parastatals (Nwizu 2002).
Public Service: Public service is viewed by Akpan (1982) as comprising members of all public institution financed and maintained by the tax payer, and the emoluments of whose member, regularly authorized by the legislature acting in concert with the executive.
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