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A one day sensitization meeting with Management and stakeholders of the host communities of Federal Institutions in the old Aguata Division of Anambra State has ended with a resolve by participants to abide by the guidelines establishing such Federal Institutions in the area.
The event with the theme, “Location of Higher Institutions in Nigerian Community and Application of Federal Character Principle” was held at the Orumba North Secretariat, Ajalli.
Declaring the town hall meeting open, Governor Willie Obiano noted that because Federal Character Commission (FCC) exists, Nigeria has remained one united entity as their guidelines and principles has prepared grounds for justice and fair play. Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, Governor Obiano stressed that the quota system has helped those Federal Institutions, as to who gets what.
He noted that the issue of federal character and its proper implementation makes the country an ideal nation, adding that the fact that an institution is located in an area should not mean that all staff of that institution must come from that area. “Federal Character is a constitutional matter that runs from the federal to the states and the local government levels,”
Earlier in an address of welcome, the Executive Chairman of FCC, Dr. Shettima Barkar Abba regretted that the issue of recruitment often leads to squabbles between the management and community leaders, which, he noted, should not be the case because there are laid down guidelines on employment. Abba, who was represented by the Commissioner representing Ekiti State in FCC, Comrade Bunmi Ojo warned that the lopsidedness observed in the staff disposition of some federal institutions, would no longer be tolerated, adding that henceforth, Chief Executives of defaulting institutions would be held liable and accountable for any anomaly.
He said: “The federal character principles as contained in Section 14(3) and (4) of the Nigerian Constitution as official state policy is to ensure that Nigeria stayed together as one entity. The application of this principle as a way of achieving national unity in a heterogeneous society like Nigeria is not entirely a new phenomenon in our socio-political life.”
He further stressed the importance of host Communities’ protection of Federal projects and institutions in their location, noting that in case of continued tension and rancour, the Federal Government reserves the right to relocate such institutions, which is not in the Communities’ best interest.
In a paper presentation, the resource person and Director SAPAD FCC, Mr. Vincent Onobun, appealed to participants to support the people by complete attitudinal change for social justice and inclusion, saying that Communities’ clamour for what belongs to all can be disastrous.
In his words, “It was an adopted practice from other plural society with similar characteristics such as diversity in ethnicity, religion and culture. Thus, it was in recognition of this that the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference recommended the establishment of a permanent executive body to be known as Federal Character Commission to coordinate, monitor and enforce compliance with the federal character principle.
“The aim is to foster national loyalty in order to promote national unity. This is done by providing guidelines and formula that guarantee fairness and equitable distribution of public posts, socio-economic amenities and infrastructural facilities among the federating units.
“With the increasing misunderstanding between the management of federal institutions and stakeholders of host communities, the Commission decided to embark on a nationwide public enlightenment programme to educate the general public on the application of federal character principles in recruitment in federal institutions.
“Host communities should see institutions located in their areas as establishments for promoting national unity and cohesion, rather than an organ for quarreling over employment.” According to him, the issue of federal character principles borders on equity and social justice.
In attendance at the workshop were heads of the two federal institutions in the area, namely Prof Godwin Onu of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko and Prof J.O Ogbuagu, mni, of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, as well as Traditional Rulers, President Generals of town unions among other stakeholders.