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Senate moves to enforce federal character in NASS service commission

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The Senate has insisted that the Federal Character Principle must be observed in the employment of workers at the National Assembly, saying that anything short of that would amount to a breach of the Constitution.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator Allwell Onyesoh (Rivers East), made this declaration during the Committee’s interactive session with the Management of the National Assembly Service Commission at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

The meeting of the Senate Committee with the Commission’s Management was to enable the Senators to get brief on the National Assembly Service Commission appointments/ extent of compliance with the Federal Character Principle by the Executive Chairman.

However, while briefing the Committee, the Chairman of the Commission, Engr Ahmed Amshi, told the lawmakers that the Commission had never done any recruitment since he assumed office, noting that the last time employment was done by the Commission was in 2018.

He also told the Committee that the Commission has a staff strength of 3000 with statistical distribution of the number of workers according to zones.

According to Amshi, the North Central has a total of 1,024 workers, which is the largest; South South has 631, South East, 592, North West, 564, North East, 474 and South West, 436.

However, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Allwell Onyesoh, directed the NASC Chairman to provide the Committee with more documents, providing details of how many workers from each state and each local government area of every zone.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Onyesoh said: “We asked for a further explanation because when you lump everything together, it doesn’t answer the question explicitly.

“So, for us to get to the root, we asked for further explanation, by way of more documents breaking it down to states and then to LGAs, because I have a situation where a particular region has 1024 workers in one place out of 3000.

“You will now go home with a feeling that this zone is overrepresented. Then you will be shocked to find out that two or three states in that zone do not have anything, and that one or two states will take everything. That was the reason we asked them to bring everything down to states.

“If you have North Central which has 1024 workers in the National Assembly, break it down to states: Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kwara, Niger. Let’s see how these workers were distributed among these states. Then let’s go further and look at the states because some states are overpopulated with workers.

“Then, when you go to a particular state, you discover that they belong to few of the local governments in the State. And that is not the spirit of the Federal Character Principle.

“The essence of the Federal Character Principle is to ensure that people get what they deserve so that they have that sense of belonging that the country is for all of us.

“It’s for the sense of fairness to be seen. That’s the essence of the Federal Character, and once you don’t keep to it, you defeat the whole essence and purpose of the idea behind its establishment.

“That’s why we asked for further presentation of documents up to local government levels. Bringing it down to LGA is actually going to be the basis for assessing fairness.

“Federal Character Principle is a constitutional issue. It was created to ensure that there is unity and fairness in the country so that everybody will have a sense of belonging and you don’t feel that you are being cheated.”

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