The House of Representatives has said the ongoing recruitment exercise by the Nigerian Navy is unfair and not in compliance with the federal character principle in the Constitution, asking the military outfit to suspend the process.
The House particularly resolved to “direct the Nigerian Navy to suspend forthwith the forthcoming pre-screening exercise for the shortlisted candidates, with a view to strengthening the federal character law as well as to ensure better and more vigorous enforcement and implementation, knowing full well that every Nigerian deserves to be treated with dignity and rights, irrespective of where they may be located physically in the country.”
Also, the House requested the Navy to provide details of all recruitments from 2014 to date, showing their geographical spread.
Furthermore, the House mandated the Committee on Navy to “investigate the exercise and recommend appropriate measures to avoid similar constitutional violations in all future government recruitment and report back within 12 weeks for further legislative action.”
These resolutions were sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion of urgent public importance to investigate the process of the Nigerian Navy Supplementary Recruitment of 44 candidates “for being against the principle of federal character and in gross violation of Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution.”
Sponsor of the motion, Ben Igbakpa, said all the successful candidates that are to report for training in two batches at the Nigerian Navy Basic Training School Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, “are all from a particular part of the country, which negates the federal character principle of all-inclusiveness, equity and fair play.”
Citing Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the lawmaker noted the underlying purpose of the principle in a multi-ethnic society as Nigeria is to ensure equal participation of the various ethnic extractions in the governance of the country.
According to him, the principle is also aimed at preventing the domination by one or some ethnic groups in the affairs of the country and the exclusion of other ethnic groups.
Igbakpa said, “The House is worried that, however, in practice, the principle appears to have been observed more in breach. Appointments and recruitments into the various ministries, departments and agencies both at the federal and state levels by successive administrations seem to be treated as a matter of political discretion, and those with the appointment and recruitment powers do not feel a legal duty to ensure an equitable spread of appointments and recruitments into the various government bodies.
“The House is further worried that this recruitment Supplementary list of 44 candidates since it became public knowledge, has created a lot of tension, apprehension and discourse within the young and old from the deprived section.
“The House believes that adequate observance and implementation of the federal character principle will in no small measure allay fears of domination and denial by the ethnic minorities and invariably foster national unity.”