The House of Representatives is moving to make it compulsory for the President to comply with the Federal Character principle when appointing service chiefs.

The proposal is contained in the Armed Forces Act Amendment Bill 2019, which passed first reading on November 5, 2019.

The lawmaker representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, who sponsored the bill, noted that the appointment of the current service chiefs was lopsided.

In an interview with The PUNCH on the bill, he said the lopsided appointment was causing disaffection in parts of the country.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, is from Ekiti State in the South-West; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, is from Borno, North-East; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Bauch, is from North-East; and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, is from Cross River State, South-South.

The North-West, North-Central and South-East geopolitical zones were not represented in the appointments.

Apart from service chiefs, the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (retd.), is from Borno in the North-East. The Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, is from Kano in the North-West. The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, is from Nasarawa State, in the North-Central.

Abiante said, “We noticed that for some time now, Nigerians have complained and called to question the seeming lopsided appointment of the service chiefs. Since what is happening now is happening within the ambit of the law, nobody can really do so much beyond calling to question.

“So, what this amendment seeks to do is to ensure that even in the appointment of service chiefs, federal character should be considered, in respect to the geopolitical zones. If you spread the services, we should be able to accommodate all the geopolitical zones. It is a very simple amendment.

“Federal Character should not only apply when recruiting for the lower ranks or ministries, departments and agencies, it should also apply to the appointment of service chiefs.”


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