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The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, has called on Commissioners on the Board of the Federal Character Commission to uphold national unity and integrity while discharging their duties.

Prof Bolaji stated this at the Opening of the Bespoke Training on Organisational Integrity Management for Board Members of the Federal Character Commission, FCC, held at the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria, Keffi, from 22 – 23 March 2021

According to him, the professional accomplishment of Commissioners, their age and experience was a strength and could also be a weakness. Hence, the need to harness them and to avoid friction. He stressed that while levels of understanding for the various Commissioners may not be equal, we can still make the best of it, provided that we all know where we are heading.

The ICPC Chairman disclosed that FCC was basically established to deal with Affirmative Action, which is designed to help promote justice and equality as well as to close gaps; not to promote mediocrity, not to promote corruption or just to ask for an entitlement just for the sake of asking for entitlement. He emphasized that such entitlements have to be linked to the purpose of governance and of government.      He suggested that in order to play that role effectively, Commissioners are expected to understand what the mandate of the Commission is in the first instance.

He affirmed that, “it was a privilege to get appointed to represent your state or your country, but if you are not prepared for it, you owe yourself and the state or country the duty to prepare yourself for the job”; adding that one of the ways to do that is to go for a training such as this.

Prof. Owasanoye pointed out that, “the role of the FCC to promote national unity and to command national loyalty, implies that the FCC is such a critical organ of unity, cooperation and progress, such that if you don’t get it right, the intentions of composition of the Commission is completely defeated and the evidence will be tension and stories of marginalization”.

He charged the Commissioners to uphold the Pillars of the Federal Character Principle, which prescribes equitable formula for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the public service of the Federation or States or principles of proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government.

However, the Chairman noted with regret that, while there has been a lot of agitations thrown up in the media about marginalization and nepotism, he had not heard of the FCC publishing to dispute the allegations, and clarifying the true state of affairs with regards to the distribution of positions. He observed that a strong statement by the Commission (which is the custodian of the policy and its implementation) in that regard would dowse the tension.

He affirmed that, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, the FCC had the duty to work out the distribution of posts for competent equitable representation. It had the duty to monitor, and take measures to enforce compliance with the federal character principle.

However, he observed that, regrettably, based on media reports and public perception, the FCC appers to the average Nigerian as, “an arm-twisting organization whereby when people want to recruit, the people who work there come and ask for their quota and share, not based on public interest but personalized to those who are there”, he said. He disclosed that this had resulted to tones of petitions received at the ICPC.

He commended the FCC for requesting this capacity building which is much needed; and also applauded Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN) for putting the training together quickly.

He urged participants to come up with actionable recommendations to reinforce the federal character principle.

Also speaking at the opening of the training, the Provost of ACAN, Prof. Tunde Babawale, congratulated the Executive Chairman, FCC and her team for this initiative, and for sponsoring the training programme. He noted that equipping the FCC Board with relevant knowledge and skills in relation to the war against corruption, particularly on setting the right tone to effectively manage the integrity of the Commission, is a very critical and bold step in the right direction.

He said, “it is the belief of the Academy that with concerted effort on training and retraining, Nigeria will be back on track again”. He also disclosed that the Academy operates on the philosophy that, “corruption and related crimes can be controlled through robust training and retraining that are grounded in sound policy formulation, operational efficiency, good management culture, behaviour and communication skills that are required to drive a corruption-free society”.

The Provost disclosed that, the series of lectures put together for this programme have been carefully drawn up to give participants a learning experience and build their capacity to identify corruption red flags and tackle same within their organisations.