*24 Commissioners, Chairman fight dirty, petition Buhari, NASS, ICPC
*We’ll soon resolve differences, says Chairman’s faction
By Ezeocha Nzeh
All is not well at the Federal Character Commission (FCC) following sharp disagreements between 24 commissioners and the chairman, Muheeba Dakaka.
Already , the crises is currently tearing the federal government agency apart, with the commissioners accusing the chairman of sidelining extant rules and acting as a sole administrator, an allegation denied by the chairman.
The AUTHORITY gathered that the crisis had degenerated to a point that 24 commissioners already petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) demanding a comprehensive audit and overhaul of the commission.
Confirming the ugly situation, the Commissioner representing Rivers State, Wokocha Augustine, told The AUTHORITY that the 24 commissioners could no longer stomach the “over-bearing influence and impunity from the chairman”.
Wokocha, who spoke in the company of four other commissioners accused the chairman of running the FCC like a Sole Administrator, claiming that they (commissioners) know little or nothing about the activities of the commission, despite being sworn-in by the President.
“We refer to ourselves ‘Concerned Commissioners’. We used to be Commissioners Forum, but in the cause of agitation for the right thing to be done, a few of us jumped ship and abandoned what we believe, that the right should be done.
“l chair the group of the Commissioners who are in excess of 60 per cent of the number of Commissioners in that board.
“My name is Wokocha Augustin and l represent Rivers State in the Board. My colleagues here are Kayode Bawa Ala, (Lagos), Ginika Tor (Enugu) and Moses Anaughe (Delta).
“Basically, our board is an executive board established by constitution and the Act of the National Assembly. It is made up of Commissioners of all the federating units of the country and a Chairman and a representative of the FCT.
“We have 37 commissioners and a chairman, making us 38. The law setting up the Commission empowers the Commission in section 7, to regulate its activities and determine how it operates, but above all, the law consistently states that the commission shall run the commission, and in the definitions of terms in law the chairman-in-council with all the commissioners runs the commission.
“It did not say the commission is the chairman. It says the chairman along with all the commissioners. The major disagreement that we have with this Chairman is the fact that because a section of the law say the chairman shall be the Chief Executive Officer, the chairman has misconstrued this discretion to mean that she is the Sole Administrator, and that she will act unilaterally on behalf of the Commission, not in accord, requiring the full sitting of the commission to ratify, but as the function of the chairman. That is to say, she sees the chairman, acting alone as the Commission.”
Wokocha accused the chairman unilaterally acting alone, inspite of efforts of the members to draw her attention to the infraction of the law.
“In all, our efforts to make her see the true position of the law, makes her believer erroneously that we are trying to usurp her powers, or trying to undermine her. So, that is the bone of contention here,” he said.
They also accused the chairman of taking over duties of all the committee that was set up,
The concerned Commissioners also accused the chairman of usurping the committees insisting that “the commission should run committee formation, the same way the National Assembly committees operate.
“However, when we came on board, the chairman said she was trying to restructure the place. She said we are going to form 37 committees, but she came up one day and announced the 387 committees and assigned people unilaterally. There was no Committee of Selection.
“She did everything by herself. I am sure that she knows that not even the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria writes appropriation bill all by himself or with the Minister of Finance alone and takes to the National Assembly for approval.
“In the case of the FCC, we only heard that our budget is before the National Assembly. As l speak to you l do not know the colour of the ink that was used in writing it and what the content of that budget is”.
They also accused the chairman of usurping the duties of the commission with respect to recruitment in the MDAs, pointing out that due to her activities, the Federal Character principle were subverted in several recruitments carried out in the MDAs.
He added that issue of waivers by MDAs and subsequent activities for recritiment up to the granting of Certificate of Compliance were usurped by the chairman, to the exclusion members of the commission.
“The implication is that the 37 commissioners appointed by the President of Nigeria goes to work every day, sit down from morning till evening and has nothing doing, but the work is being done by one individual.
“If the President wanted a Sole Administrator to run the commission, he would not have constituted commissioners; he would simply have appointed Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankata, as a Sole Administrator.
“This is the predicament we have found ourselves and we have internally tried to persuade her to follow the law. What we are saying is implement the guiding law of the commission so that this country can be better served and she said we are trying to undermine her by usurping her powers”.
He said the aggrieved group had petitioned the President and also wrote the Senate Committee overseeing the FCC and the ICPC.
Efforts made to get reactions from the chairman, Maheeba Farida Dakaka, failed as she refused to respond to calls put to her by The AUTHORITY.
However, one of the pro-chairman commissioners, who prefers anonymity, blamed the crises on the framing of the Commission’s Act, which he said, gave the chairman executive powers.
He added that the issues are internally being handled promising that it would be resolved soon.