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FEDERAL CHARACTER PRINCIPLE AND QUOTA SYSTEM IN NIGERIA: A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE RECRUITMENT EXERCISE IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Today in Nigeria the use of federal character and quota system has become an instrument for recruitment into federal, state and local government civil service. In most federal system of government, the major issue is usually that of resources sharing among the federal units at horizontal and vertical level. According to Elaigwu (1992) where the sharing arrangements are working well, there are less agitations and citizens have a feeling of belonging and equity. On the other hand where the quota system is not working well the citizen agitates and makes all sorts of demands such as call for national conference, etc. However, in Nigeria, after a series of debate in 1975 the constitutional drafting committee was set up which established federal character commission as a body charge with the responsibility of implementing the federal character principle in order to ensured equitable sharing of posts in the public services. This was also enshrined in the 1999 federal constitution of federal republic of Nigeria.
The federal character and quota system as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria is to ensure equitable distributions of bureaucratic and political roles in the public service at federal, states and local government levels. The objectives of the policy are to foster national unity and give every Nigerian a sense of belonging in the country. In support of this view Usman(2004;117) said that it was an effort to
readdress the unbalanced structure and ethnic domination in government so that national integration could be achieved. The federal character principle which is implemented under the federal character commission is therefore designed and initiated to correct adverse impact resulting from opportunities and resources provided by the federal government to the citizens of the country that appears neutral but have a discriminatory effect on a protected group. The federal character principle is therefore structured to ensure strong and indivisible nation based on justice and fairness, while also ensuring that a sense of belonging of all Nigerians is still maintained. As laudable as the above policy maybe, and the empowerment of the concept in the nation’s constitution, its application has remain a debatable topic to which some critics have claimed that the policy comprise the merit system which will create an enabling environment for those that are only qualified to be employed into the Nigerian civil service, thereby fostering quality service rendering for the development of the country. According To Ekeh(1989) Federal character principle has become a problem instead of solution to problems it was expected to tackle. Bodunrin(2003) also in assessing the Federal Character from the merit perspective, asserts that the federal character principle is counter-
productive. Therefore it is important to note that, efficient manpower utilization is determined through effective credible recruitment. But Idumange(2008) specifically lists two areas where the Federal government has been most
successful in implementing the federal character principle; The National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) and recruitment into the Armed Forces. Thus this ensures Nigerians get their own share of the ‘national cake’ rather than agitations which has prevented another civil war in the country.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is no doubt that every research work must have statement of problem to which this research works is not an exception. There are many cases going on in Nigeria that the federal character principle has been unjustly implemented. Also the annual reports from the publications of the federal character commission shows that a lot of complaint arise as a result of breach of federal character principles by some establishments for example in the federal character monitor, a quarterly publication of the commission (2008:5) accused and summoned the Nigeria communication commission over breach of federal character principles.
More so, the inefficiency of the policy in recruiting manpower potentials into the organization and the selection of employees which is not based on merit but the federal character principles are some of the problems that affect the efficient performance of the Nigerian public service. Furthermore, the poor performance of employee’s discovered by the president Olusegun Obasanjo led administration was traced to poor manpower utilization and poor quality of civil servants, also testify to this weakness. Thus, in view of the above problems, the
need to analyze recruitment process in government establishments are strategic and must be structured properly..
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
and quota system in the recruitment of personnel into the public service.
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of this research work cannot be over emphasized. However, this study intends to examine the application of federal character principle and quota system in the Nigerian public service: jeopardizing the meritocracy of the service, particularly examining recruitment exercise at the FIRS and assess the commission in charge of the application of the federal character principle in the Nigeria public service. Also the study examines and reviews the implication of federal character principle on manpower utilization in public service at federal, states and local government level in Nigeria.
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