The concept of Federal Character is Nigeria equivalent of US Affirmative Action provisions seeking to protect the rights of minorities. The following are things we must note:

#1. It was introduced by the 1978, and formed a major part of the 1979 Constitution to correct the ills of tribalism which resulting in the collapse of the First Republic.

#2. When it was introduced initially, it never had an enforcement institution. The Federal Character Commission was formed in 1996 just to monitor its compliance.

#3. It was established to prevent ethnic hegemony in political appointment and to give every ethnic group to have a sense of belonging in the nation.

The following have been noted about federal character:

#1. It will give all ethnic groups a sense of belonging and enhancing national integration. This is true. On the other hand, there are those who argue that it creates the “Cult of Mediocrity and Incompetence” in the public service as a result of its poor application.

#2. It will prevent ethnic domination of other groups by a particular ethnic group by giving all Nigerians equal opportunities to participate in decision making in the country. In reality, rather than prevent ethnic domination, it has created room for ethno-regional godfathers and their allies to exploit state resources without making corresponding contributions through the creation of “power bases” in public sector appointments.

#3. It protects minority interests at the national government. While this looks good, people forget that it only applies as far as “Juicy political appointments” are concerned not in terms of government contract awards and part-time jobs. With the privatization of many government agencies, the talk of federal character doesn’t apply to “privatized” national wealth and no one bothers to share the proceeds using federal character!

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is an independent political risk analyst and strategist. He received his BSc(Politics, Philosophy & Economics) from the Obafemi Awolowo University before getting engaged with The Ready Writers’(TRW) Consult, a research, contents development and digital solutions’ firm based in Lagos, Nigeria.

He can be reached on any of his following contacts details:


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