FCT Minister Must Work Hand In Hand With National Assembly And Uphold Federal Character Principles In Appointments Of Political Office Holders In The FCT Administration


Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike

The recent appointment of the Mandate Secretaries by Hon Minister of FCT Nyesom Wike, ought to be a commendable effort but unfortunately has rather attracted critic comments from all corners of the country including the recent ones from the distinguish Senator Ireti Kingibe and the response on her comments by eminent lawyers and Senior Advocates of Nigeria such as Falana and Adegboruwa.
The learned senior legal luminaries with such outstanding performance in the legal profession within and outside the country, their opinions on legal matters and our country’s jurisprudence have been respected by many citizens including my very self. I cannot imagine myself standing before the learned silks particularly Falana but for the law profession which ethics allow a junior lawyer to answer the senior when it comes to expressing views on legal matters where both are involved or engaged as counsels for their respective clients or standing for parties who are before the court. We were taught in the law school that there is both equality and seniority at the Bar. This is the situation I have found myself here that as indigene of the FCT Abuja, following the trend of events in the FCT especially of the recent times on assumption of office of the new Minister of FCT, in person of Nyesom Wike, I find it difficult to answer my learned senior silks but with utmost respect, I found nothing wrong with the statement of Senator Ireti Kingibe telling the Minister to work hand in hand with the National Assembly especially in times of making some special appointments like the mandate Secretaries. My learned senior colleagues with due respect, might have misunderstood and misconstrued the statement of the distinguish Senator as meaning Wike and any other Minister of FCT has no executive powers to exercise. If I might have understood the distinguish Senator Kingibe, she meant in the exercise of the Minister’s executive functions he not only require the approval of the President and in some special circumstances but the National Assembly being the House of Assembly of the FCT going by the constitutional interpretation of sections 299 (a), 302 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Furthermore, I saw nothing wrong with that statement as found by my learned silks. Rather my learned senior legal luminaries erred to adjudge the distinguished senator as being wrong in her assertion. It is pertinent to quote once again the words of the Senator Ireti Kingibe, for purposes of emphasis and understanding of the readers as follows: “You also have to remember that the Minister of the FCT- I’m not sure we have had a former Governor as a minister, I think we have had one. Some (former) governors may think that as an FCT Minister, the minister does not have executive powers. He works hand in hand with the National Assembly and the President to administer the FCT.“ This is the statement that attracted the learned senior silks and condemned her as follows: “The distinguished Senator is wrong. The power of the executive with respect to the FCT lies with the President. Making laws and passing laws for the FCT are the business of the National Assembly.”
I think the learned senior silk misconceived the statement of the distinguish senator and misinterpreted her and concluded. “To that extent, it is very wrong to say that since there is no governor in the FCT the executive powers are vested in the National Assembly; those powers are vested in the President……”
I am not Senator Ireti’s attorney or aide, but my interpretation of her statement could simply mean that Minister of FCT in the exercise of his executive powers must seek approval of the President who is Governor of the FCT and represented by the Minister and like in the instance case, the Minister ought to seek approval of the National Assembly being the House of Assembly for the FCT. I see nothing wrong with this statement, with due respect.
My learned senior colleague, particularly Mr. Falana already had admitted and opined and/or posited on several occasions even in the present circumstance, that FCT Abuja is a state. If that be the case, with due respect, the National Assembly which is the House of Assembly for the FCT have some powers of oversight and/or checks and balances on the executive responsible for the running of affairs of the FCT just like the House of Assembly of a state does on the executive governor of a state.
In the instant case, what Ireti meant which I concur with her without prejudice, is that some special appointments into political offices in the administration of the FCT requires the approval or confirmation of the National Assembly especially the appointment of the mandate secretaries which is the core subject of discussion. The appointment of these categories of political posts have always been done by the past administrations since inception of this nomenclature in 2005 without the approval and/or confirmation by the National Assembly, being the House of Assembly for the FCT like their counterparts in the states of the federation.
It must be noted here that the establishment of these political offices by virtue of Federal Capital Territory (Establishment of Functionaries and Departments) Act CAP F6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Ministry of Federal Capital Territory (Dissolution) Order 1, 2004 was to equate the existence of these mandate secretaries with ministries in the states of the federation and the nomenclature of the Secretaries with Commissioners of states of the federation. My learned senior silks would agree with me that Commissioners in the states of the federation are appointed by the Governors of the states but must be screened and their appointment confirmed by the states Houses of Assembly. So, if that be the case, what is just, fair, reasonable and sensible in the checks and balances of such appointments at the state level must be adhered to in the FCT which status has been interpreted as a state with the President as Governor represented by the Minister.
If the past administration has flawed the required checks and balances and a distinguish senator representing the FCT has found it a point of duty to correct the lacunae or logjam, as expected of a genuine, responsible and effectual law maker in a democratic system of government, and the adherence to the constitutional provisions and upholding the rule of law, what is her offence? She has not sinned, with due respect, rather, she preaches so that the sinners should repent. I believe in her crusade or evangelism. Let the sinners repent and follow due process as enshrined in our constitution sections 14(4); 299(a) and the relevant provisions of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment E.T.C) Act Cap F7, LFN 2004, which has provided for guiding principles and/or formulae for distribution of various posts/cadres in balanced federating units of the country.
In this respect, I wish the Distinguish Senator not to only stand by her position but ensure the appointments of the mandate Secretaries are reversed with immediate effect to ensure equity, fairness and justice in the appointments particularly by spread of the appointment to the six Area Councils of the FCT in compliance with the Federal Character Commission Act and not from the six geopolitical zones of the country as it has always been done in the past administrations and the present one.

James Egah Ndeye Esq; wrote from Abuja FCT.
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