National Assembly urged to consider federal character principle when screening service chiefs

Director of Information, National Assembly Abuja, Rawlings Agada, has said the sum of N37 billion, approved for the renovation of the National assembly complex may not be enough for the work.

A Civil Society Group, Coalition of Nigeria Professionals for Peace and Good Governance (CNPPGG), has tasked members of the National Assembly to take into consideration the principles of federal character while screening and confirming the newly appointed service chiefs.

According to the Group, such consideration will enable the Federal Government come to realization of the need not to marginalize any geopolitical zone of the country when making such appointments in the future.

“We are tasking members of the Senators and House of Representatives’ on the urgent need to invoke the federal character principle during the screening and confirmation of the Service Chiefs”, a statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Prof. Abiola Odukoya; National Secretary, Dr. Andy Ifeanyi and National Programme Officer, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Kankara, noted on Sunday in Abuja.

They argued that, as Representatives of the over 200 million Nigerians, posterity will definitely be kind to them, if they drew President Buhari’s attention to the fact that a major ethnic bloc had remained consistently shot out in the Service and security Chiefs’ equation.

The Group also argued that it was not in the interest of national unity and co-habitation for the Igbo nation not to be represented in sensitive military, security and para-military appointments since May 29, 2015 when President Buhari was sworn-in for his first term of office.

“We hasten to commend our amiable and progressive President, Muhammadu Buhari, for the careful selection and eventual appointment of the new set of Service Chiefs, who are coming at a time the security situation in the country is alarming.”

“As professionals in our various fields of endeavors, we note with satisfaction, the choice of Major General Lucky Irabor, to lead the Service Chiefs in his capacity as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).”

“We are confident that General Irabor, having been commander, Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD), as well as commander of the multinational joint task force (MNJTF) – all within the troubled North East general area – knows where to hit the terrorist elements the hardest”, the professionals said in the statement.

Notwithstanding, they have insisted on geo-political and ethnic balancing in the choice of military heads’ appointments, saying the development remained a soothing balm against marginalisation, as ably echoed by Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

The statement said, “Considering our pan-Nigerian outlook, we are inclined to the appeal by South East stakeholders, led by Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for the review of the less- than-a-month-old appointment of Service Chiefs.

“President Buhari will earn himself a prominent place in history, if he gave a passionate thought to the calls for the inclusion of a senior Igbo officer in the team, which we hope will deliver the goods.”

“He must resist ill-advice from certain mischievous individuals and groups, who often cast the Igbo nation in bad light, leading systematic exclusion which, to all intent and purpose, is unacceptable.”

“In the event that our dear President remains adamant, we invite our Senators and Representatives to note this anomaly, and insist on its correction, before screening and confirmation actions are taken on the list of Service Chiefs forwarded for that purpose.”

“As representatives of the people, they must, at all material times, uphold the sanctity of federal character principle, which invokes proportional representation in public governance process.

“While appreciating the fact that all ethnic groups cannot be appointed at the same time, we remind the President that among the comity of major ones, only Igbo has failed to gain his favour”.

The group further stated that they believe that there are also competent senior officers from the South East who can do very well as service chiefs.

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