The Senate on Monday noted that ignoring the principle of federal character in recent appointments by the Federal Government has been causing disaffection among ethnic groups and heating up the nation’s polity.
Not satisfied by the lopsidedness in appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari in the recent past, the Senate charged all stakeholders involved in nominating persons for executive and judicial appointments in this country, to ensure compliance with both the eligibility criteria, as well as the federal character principle as entrenched in the Constitution.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said this has become necessary “in order to avoid unnecessarily heating up the polity and eroding the unity and strength of our country and in the process, weakening the foundation of our country as well as the hope of its federating units.”
He made this assertion yesterday during the screening of Hon. Justice Salisu Garba Abdullahi as the Chief Judge designate of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja, by the committee.
The committee chairman vowed that going forward, the National Assembly will be guided by the provision of the federal character and eligibility in screening Federal Government appointees with a view to strengthening the nation’s unity.
Bamidele said: “we have an extremely bright and exciting future in one indivisible and indissoluble nation that is propelled by unity in diversity and all hands must be on deck to ensure this aspiration is guided jealously.”
“In addition to ensuring that potential appointees meet the eligibility criteria stipulated for the relevant public offices into which they are being appointed, adequate care must also be taken to ensure that the federal character principle established by virtue of the clear provision of Section 14, Sub-section (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) is not undermined,” he maintained”
Bamidele used the occasion to advocated for the review of salaries of judges and justices in the country, stressing that poor renumeration is capable of exposing judges to temptation. He said the salary structure of judges was last reviewed in 2008 through an act of parliament.
He maintained that the salary and general welfare of judges require major review for the betterment of the judiciary and dispensation of justice
He said: “As at that time, exchange rate of naira to a US dollar was N117 as against N467. It is now, clearly showing that judges and even depreciating in value.
“The N110billion allocation to the judiciary is not enough for this important arrm of government. The amount is not up to one percent of the national budget.”