PUBLIC COMMISSIONS ESTABLISHED BY THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTIONS
This post is made with the view to focus on all public commissions that are established by the Nigeria 1999 Constitution.
Nigeria has been operating the presidential system of government since the beginning of the Second Republic in 1979. The 1979 Constitution and the succeeding constitutions of 1989 and 1999 have all provided for a presidential executive in which the President is the locus of federal authority. In the discharge of his functions, the president is assisted by the Vice President, Ministers, Special Advisers, Special Assistants and an array of other staff. The civil service also assists the government in the implementation of its programmes. Beside all these, the constitutions also provide for the establishment of certain federal executive bodies or commissions whose members (except the ex-officio members) are appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The extent and scope of the power vested in the President may be obvious if we consider the objectives and functions of these public commissions which are set up by the constitution. These commissions are now examined in turn.
1. Code of Conduct Bureau
WHAT IS CODE OF CONDUCT BUREAU ??
The Code of Conduct Bureau was first established under the 1979 Constitution. The Bureau comprises a Chairman and nine other members who are supposed to be aged between 50 to 70 years. It is not clear why the minimum age for membership of the Bureau is 50 when the minimum age for the President is 40. The work of the commission, however requires a high degree of exposure and tact.
The main objective of the Code of Conduct Bureau is to ensure accountability and probity in the public service. The establishment of the body by the Murtala Mohammed Government in 1976 may be seen against the backdrop of the retirement of more than 10,000 civil servants by the Federal Military Government in 1975 for reasons bordering on corruption and declining productivity.
The Bureau is required to perform the following functions
a) To receive and keep assets declaration forms completed by public
b) To make the declaration available for inspection by interestedNigerians;
c) To ensure compliance with and enforce provisions of the code of conduct and d) To receive complaints about non-compliance with the code, investigate such allegations and, where necessary, refer such matters to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal is established to punish those who violate the provisions of the code. The Tribunal has equal jurisdiction with a High Court and it comprises a chairman and two members, all of whom are appointed by the President. In 2006, the Tribunal was embroiled in legal controversy about what constitutes its quorum. Both the Bureau and the Tribunal have been generally quiet and not much is known about their activities and performance. There is not much to write home about their performance. They might have been incapacitated by the rules establishing them. There is, for instance, no reason why the declaration of assets by public officers should be a secret affair. Moreover, asset declaration will be meaningful if only it is done before and after taking the officer. But more importantly, the Bureau has to demonstrate a great deal of initiative in the discharge of its functions and operate judiciously.
2. Council of State
WHAT IS COUNCIL OF STATE??
The President is the Chairman of the Council of State which was first established in 1975. It also has in its membership the Vice President (Vice Chairman), all former Presidents and Heads of State/Government, all former Chief Justices of Nigeria, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House Representatives, state governors and the Attorney General of the Federation. Except with the removal of members representing the Council of Chiefs, the composition of the council has not changed since its institutionalization by the 1979 Constitution. The Council of State is purely an advisory body to the President. The President may seek its advice concerning important national issues such as the release of results of population census, maintenance of public order, exercise of prerogative of mercy, award of national honours and the appointment of members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Judicial Council and National Population Commission. The council’s meetings are held at the discretion of the President. Given the importance of the Council, its meetings should have been scheduled and held at regular intervals. The impression has been created that the meetings of the council are usually called to rubberstamp government policies and give the Federal Government political support in times of need.
3. Federal Character Commission
WHAT IS FEDERAL CHARACTER COMMISSION ??
Although the federal character principle was enshrined in the 1979 Constitution, it was the 1999 Constitution that made provision for the establishment of the Federal Character Commission. The Commission has a Chairman and a representative from each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The aim of the Commission is to ensure that every state of Nigeria is adequately represented in all government ministries and parastatals.
The 1999 Constitution defined the objectives of the Commission as follows:
a) To work out an equitable formula for the distribution of all important posts in the public service (federal and state) and in all government institutions including the military and the police but the National Assembly has to approve any formula prepared by the Commission.
b) To promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government and C To Institute legal proceedings or prosecution against the head or staff of any ministry or government institution which fails to comply with any federal character principle or formula stipulated by the commission.
The constitution also provides for the establishment of a Federal Character Tribunal to enforce those objectives. Both the Federal Character Commission and the Federal Character Tribunal are relatively new and it will take some time before the imbalances in the staffing of government establishments can be redressed. The commission may insist on strict adherence to the federal character principle at the point of entry (e.g. GL 08) but it can do little about the officers already in the service. There is lopsided staffing in most federal government ministries and agencies, and it would appear little can be done to redress the imbalance at least in the short run.
In a recent scathing criticism of the Federal Character Tribunal, a Special Assistant to the Cross River State Governor lamented that “out of about 90 federal stablishments within the state, it is only in 20 that the state quota has been met.” He added that “in a federal establishment such as the Central Bank office in the state, out of about 80 staff between levels one to six only about twenty are indigenes of Cross River State, but the principle of federal character expects that the host state should produce the officers.
within the bracket of levels one to six” (This Day, December 25,2005). More recently, a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck (later President) revealed that less than one percent of federal civil servants are from the state.
This appears to be the norm in most government establishments. The Tribunal does not have to prosecute all the recalcitrant institutions at the same time, but it should use a few of them as scapegoats for others.
But for now, it is business as usual.
4. Federal Civil Service Commission
WHAT IS FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION??
The Federal Civil Service Commission (FRCS) is one of the oldest public commissions in Nigeria having first been established as the Public Service Commission in 1951 under the Macpherson Constitution. All Nigerian constitutions have since then made provision for the commission. The 1999 Constitution, in particular, provides for the establishment of a Federal Civil Service Commission which comprises a chairman and 15 members. The Constitution stipulates that the members of the commission must be people of unquestionable integrity and sound political judgment.
The Commission deals with the appointment, promotion, dismissal and discipline of civil servants in the federal civil service who are below the grade of Director: It is not clear whether the Federal Civil Service Commission takes notice of basic national objectives in its recruitment drive for it would appear that there is no good relationship between the size of the civil service and its capacity to deliver basic services to the larger populace (Sani, 1999). There is poor service delivery at all levels of the service as basic social services such as good roads, portable water, regular electricity supply and security of life and proper are hardly available.
The former Obasanjo Government had, on several occasions criticized the poor performance of the service. To address the problem, the Federal Government set up a Public Service Reform Commission in 2004 to assist in re-focusing the service. Moreover, the Federal Government has decided to trim down the size of the civil service which is put at 160, 000. About 33,000 civil servants were retired in 2006. The action of the government calls to question the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission. It also brings to the fore the inability of the commission to apply civil service rules without fear or favour.
5. Federal Judicial Service Commission
WHAT IS FEDERAL JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION??
The Federal Judicial Service Commission has been in existence since1954. The Chairman of the Commission is the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Other members of the commission are the President of the Court of Appeal, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, two senior legal practitioners and two non-lawyers appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The body advises the National Judicial Council on the appointment and dismissal of senior judicial officers including the Chief Justice, Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Federal Court of Appeal and High Courts. The Commission also deals with the appointment, discipline and promotion of the support staff of the judiciary including the Chief Registrars, Registrars and Deputy Registrars of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court.
The Judicial Service Commission is one of the most active federal public commissions. It has handled petitions against judges with dispatch and several judges have been dismissed based on its recommendations.
6. Independent National Electoral Commission
WHAT IS INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the body charged with the conduct of national elections under the 1999 Constitution. It was known as Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO} and National Electoral Commission (NEC) under the 1979 and 1989 constitutions respectively. The Abacha regime styled it National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON).
In spite of the frequent changes in nomenclature, the functions of the body main largely unchanged. The following are the major functions of the remain electoral commission.
a) To conduct elections to the offices of President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors and legislators (including members of
b) To register political parties;
the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly);
c) To monitor the organisation and operation of political parties and
d) To arrange for the auditing of accounts of political parties and publish its findings; e) To register voters and maintain a register of voters and To provide the rules for campaigns and monitor the campaigns. The 1999 Constitution provides for an electoral commission which has a Chairman and 12 members who are known as National Electoral Commissioners. Each state and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja also has a Resident Electoral Commissioner. The electoral commission is one of the most criticized and vilified commissions in Nigeria. The government, for example, sometimes expects the electoral commission to toe the line and do its bidding. Sometimes, the government does not release funds to the commission in good time to implement its programmes. On the other hand, the opposition political parties consider the body as a government stooge.
The electoralcommission is therefore caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The matter is not helped by the mode of appointment of members of the commission. They are appointed by the President and this raises question about the independence of the commission. The commission too has not helped its own case by its tardiness and incompetence. For example in a petition filed at the Anambra State Election Tribunal by the APGA’s candidate in the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi against the candidate declared as elected by INEC, Dr. Chris Ngige of the PDP, Mr. Obi alleged that Ngige did not win the election and sought his declaration as governor. At the tribunal, INEC stood by its declared position that Ngige won the election. The tribunal, however, ruled against Ngige and declared Obi duly elected. On appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu, Ngige applied that the decision of the tribunal be reversed. But curiously, INEC changed its position and demanded for a re run of the gubernatorial election in Anambra State, a relief it never sought at the Election Tribunal. In its judgment, which upheld the election of Peter Obi as governor of Anambra State, the Federal Court of Appeal condemned the action of the electoral commission in seeking that the gubernatorial election be held again. The commission is also known for its incompetence in the registration of voters and in the conduct of elections. It always has logistic problems as electoral materials hardly arrive on time for the conduct of elections on election days and results are often released late.
But the greatest problem of INEC remains its alleged subservience to the government of the day. This was quite evident in the 2007 elections. The commission unilaterally removed the names of candidates of opposition parties on the eve of the April 2007 elections and this was the basis for the annulment of several gubernatorial elections by the election tribunals. In Kogi State, it cancelled the nomination of the ANPP
candidate for the gubernatorial elections, Abubakar Audu. In Adamawa State the election of Governor Murtala Nyako was overturned because the Action Congress (now ACN) candidate Ibrahim Bapatel was disqualified on the eve of the elections. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua actually admitted that the 2007 election that brought him to power was flawed.
7. National Defence Council
WHAT IS NATIONAL DEFENCE COUNCIL??
The significance of the National Defence Council is underlined by the fact that the President is its chairman. The other members of the National Defence Council are the Vice President who is Vice Chairman, the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff. The Constitution also empowers the President to appoint a few other people to serve on the council.
The National Defence Council has been in existence since 1979 and it advises the President on matters relating to the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
8. National Economic Council
NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL
The National Economic Council first came into existence under the 1979 The council advises the President on economic matters affecting federal Constitution and state governments in Nigeria. The members of the council which is headed by the Vice President are state governors and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. As the meetings of the council are not scheduled and regular, it is difficult to assess its effectiveness in dealing with problems of inflation, poverty, etc. However, the composition of the council appears more representative of political interests than economic interests. Economic issues are technical matters which are better handled by economists and technocrats. More importantly the producers of the country’s wealth (e.. Workers) and civil society organisations ought to be adequately represented on the council.
9. National Judicial Council
WHAT IS NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL
The National Judicial Council is an innovation of the 1999 Constitution. The Chief Justice of Nigeria is the chairman of the council whose membership includes senior judges and judicial officers.
The council performs advisory and executive functions. In its advisory capacity, it advises the President on the appointment, discipline and removal of the Chief Justice, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the President and Justices of the Federal Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court, and the High Court of the FCT, Abuja, the Grand Kadi and Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the FCT, Abuja and the President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of the FCT.
In performing this advisory function, it seeks the advice of the National Judicial Service Commission in the case of judges of the Supreme Court, Appeal Court and High Courts. It also seeks the advice of the Judicial Service Committee of the FCT in respect of judicial officers in the FCT, Abuja. In the same vein, it advises state governors on the appointment, discipline and removal of Chief Judges and Judges of a state High Court; the Grand Kadis and Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal and the President and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal. But the persons to be recommended by the National Judicial Council for appointment to judicial offices in the states must be from the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commission. The National Judicial Council can also advise the President or a Governor on any matter referred to it by them. dispart of its executive function, the council collects, controls and disburses the capital and recurrent revenue of the judiciary. The Council recurren deserves credit for its role in the removal of the bad eggs in the court system, ystem, especially the Chief Judges who compromised the law in the impeachment of state governors in 2006 especially those of Anambra, Plateau and Ekiti states, Perhaps the greatest challenge to the integrity of the NJC arose in 2011 when the president of the Federal Count of Appeal Isa Salami, was suspended. Its recall of the jurist later was ignored by the presidency on the ground that the case was in the court!
10. National Population Council
WHAT IS NATIONAL POPULATION COUNCIL
The 1979, 1989 and 1999 constitutions make provisions for the National Population Council. The basic objectives of the commission council are:
a) To carry out periodical enumeration of the population of the country through sample surveys, censuses, etc; establish and maintain a machinery for continuous and universal
b) To registration of births and deaths throughout the country;
c) To advise the President on population matters; d) To publish and provide information and data on population for the purpose of facilitating economic development and planning and e) To undertake or delegate the appointment and training of its enumerators.
The members of the council are the Chairman and a representative from each state of the federation and the FCT, Abuja. The council is one of the most important executive bodies in view of its role in providing accurate data on the size and composition of the population of Nigeria. Without data, planning becomes a fruitless exercise, and without planning, socio-economic development is retarded. A country that fails to plan, plans to fail.
In the population census conducted from 21st to 27th March, 2006, the usual logistic problems of late delivery of census materials, disappearance of census materials and officials and late payment of allowances to enumerators resurfaced again. It is not clear why these problems keep recurring especially for an exercise that has been in the plan for more than three years. The registration of births and deaths and a regular and systematic enumeration of people provides a good basis for an acceptable census but the system for such an exercise hardly exists. It should be possible also for Nigerians to be able to count themselves without declaring public holidays as was done during the last census. It must have been a big loss to the national economy and private business to close down the economy for about one week. The greatest challenge to the success of the council is the politicization of census in this country. The Council must be commended for releasing results of the March 2006 census at the end of December 2006. The 2006 census has turned out to be the least controversial of all the census so far conducted since 1960.
11. National Security Council
WHAT IS NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
The Constitution provides for the establishment of a National Security Council. The President is the chairman of this council and this shows the importance attached to national security by the constitution. The other members of the council are the Vice President (Deputy Chairman), the Chief of Defence Staff, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the National Security Adviser and the Inspector General of Police. The President can also coopt a few people into the council.
The National Security Council advises the President on matters relating to public security. Thus, unlike the National Defence Council, which deals primarily with external security, the main focus of the National Security Council is internal security. It is, however, difficult to determine what constitutes national security. Is it the security of all Nigerians of status, class, religion or tribe or simply the security of those in power? regardless Does it include food security? If, for example, the state cannot feed its citizens or, there is widespread poverty in the country, then national security may be compromised. This implies that national security shou not be considered from the narrow perspective of maintaining law and order.
12. Nigeria Police Council
WHAT IS NIGERIA POLICE COUNCIL
The Nigeria Police Council was introduced by the 1989 Constitution. The body comprises the President (chairman), state governors, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of Police.
The functions of the council include the following:
a) The organization and administration of the Nigeria Police excluding the operational control of the police and establishment matters;
b) The general supervision of the Nigeria Police, and c) Advising the President on the appointment of the Inspector General of Police.
The functions of the Nigeria Police Council tend to overlap with those of the Ministry of Police Affairs which is responsible for the administration of the police.
13. Police Service Commission
WHAT IS POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION
The Police Service Commission is to the Police what the National Judicial Service Commission is to the judiciary. The commission which has been in existence since 1979 deals primarily with service or staff matters.
It handles with the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of police officers except the Inspector General of Police. There is the need to clearly delineate the functions of the Police Service Commission, as there have been reported cases of conflict between the parent ministry and the commission on one hand, and between the commission and the Inspector General of Police on the other hand. The commission would also need to be creative in dealing with the problem of motivation in the police. Obviously, the officers and men of the Nigeria Police need to be better motivated. They should be properly remunerated, dressed and housed. But more importantly, the entry requirements into the Police should be upwardly reviewed. The police is a civil institution and policemen should therefore have a good understanding of human nature and the causes of human behaviour. As such police officers should be re-trained, re-orientated and given wide exposure on the protection of human rights and the rule of law.
14. Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC)
WHAT IS REVENUE MOBLISATION ALLOCATION AND FISCAL COMMISSION
The Revenue Moblisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) was first established by the 1989 Constitution. It is required to provide a systematic and institutional machinery for gathering data on the country’s revenue and the modalities for sharing the revenue among the different levels of government. This is meant to correct the anomalies of the past whereby fiscal allocation commissions and other adhoc measures were introduced to deal with the recurring problem of revenue allocation in the country. The major objectives of the commission are stated by the 1999 Constitution as follows:
a) To monitor the receipt and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account;
b) To review from time to time, the revenue allocation formulae and principles in operation to ensure uniformity with changing realities provided any revenue allocation formula approved by an Act of the National Assembly is required to be in force for at least five years;
c) To advise federal and state governments on fiscal efficiency and the methods by which they can increase their revenue; and d) To formulate appropriate remuneration package for important political office holders including the President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Special Advisers, legislators, etc.
The Commission consists of a Chairman and a representative of each state of the federation and the FCT, Abuja. The commission has achieved some modest success since its establishment. The remunerations of top government officials are fixed based on its recommendations. Before the expiration of its first five-year term in 2004, the commission submitted to the President its proposals on revenue sharing from the Federation Account. The sharing formula recommended in 2001 had been dropped after the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2002 that only the three tiers of government are constitutionally recognized beneficiaries of the Federation Account (The Guardian’, 30th September, 2004). The National Assembly was unable to act on the proposal and a new one was presented to the legislature in August 2006.
Under the proposed revenue sharing formula, the Federal Government was to receive 47.19 percent, the states 31.10 percent, local governments 15.21 percent and special fund 6.50 percent. Since the Federal Government has the final say on the disbursement of the special fund, it means the Federal Government has the lion share (that is 53.69 percent) of the amount in the Fetion Account). It is not clear how the commission arrived at this formula. But whatever may the case, any allocation system that gives more than half of all national revenue to the federal government in a federal system is not fair to the federating units and may lead to increased centralization of governmental activities. The commission has I also failed to make public its position on the persistent agitation for resource control by the oil-producing states. Does it support 50 percent derivation as demanded by the oil-producing states or 18 percent as recommended by the Mantu Committee of the National Assembly in 2006? The fact however remains that the Federal Government takes more than 50 percent of the amount in the Federation Account as at June 2012.
15. Public Complaints Commission
WHAT IS PUBLIC COMPLAINTS COMMISSION??
The Public Complaints Commission was established under Decree No. 31 of 1975 and incorporated into the 1979 Constitution. As an ombudsman, the major aim of the commission is to check the excess of government officials. In this regard, the commission has the power to receive and investigate any complaints made by any person in respect of an administrative action taken against him by a government ministry, department, parastatal, and any person or servant of any of the aforesaid institution or organization.
In performing its investigative functions, the commission can compel the attendance of any person so required to give evidence, supply information or produce evidence. Any person who fails to comply with the summons may be charged for contempt in a court of law. The Public Complaints Commission cannot, however, investigate any of the following, namely, (a) a case which is pending before the commission or a court that is against a member of the Armed Forces or the Nigeria Police, in which the complainant has not exhausted all available administrative procedures, (b) where the complaint is lodged more than 24 months after the act or thing complained about was done and (c) in which the complainant has no personal interest.
The Chief Commissioner is the head of the Commission which also has a Commissioner from each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The commissioners are required to be persons of unquestionable integrity. Besides, the Chief Commissioner must be at least 50 years old, while a commissioner must not be less than 40 years old. Like many other executive bodies, the activities of the Public Complaints Commission are shrouded in secrecy. It is essentially a dead rubber. The mandate of the Commission is too wide as it has to investigate complaints made against all categories of public agencies and public officials as well as private sector providers.