The House of Representatives has directed the Nigerian Navy to suspend forthwith the forthcoming pre-screening exercise for the shortlisted candidates over alleged lopsidedness in the exercise.
The House also asked the Navy to provide details of all recruitment from 2014 to date showing the geographical spread.
The parliament said the essence was to help strengthen the federal character law as well as to ensure better and more vigorous enforcement and implementation.
It added that every Nigerian deserved to be treated with dignity and rights irrespective of where they may be located physically in the country.
The resolutions followed the consideration of a motion to “investigate the process of the Nigerian Navy supplementary recruitment of 44 candidates for being against the principle character and in gross violation of section 14 of the 1999 constitution”, moved under matters of urgent public importance at the plenary by Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa representing Ethiope federal constituency of Delta State.
Moving the motion, Igbakpa noted that the Nigerian Navy Shortlisted 44 Candidates for the 2021/2022 recruitment exercise and have scheduled a pre-screening exercise for the candidates before their full induction into the Nigeria Naval Service.
He said that all the successful candidates that were to report for training in 2 batches at the Nigerian Navy Basic Training School Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State hailed from a particular part of the country which, he said negated the Federal Character principle of all-inclusiveness, equity and fair play.
He said: “Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution provides that all appointments must reflect Federal Character principle.
The Section provides thus: “4(3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to promote national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies”.
The lawmaker argued that the underlying purpose of the principle in a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria was to ensure equal participation of the various ethnic extractions in the governance of the country.
“The Principle is also aimed at preventing the domination by one or some ethnic groups in the affairs of the country and the exclusion of other ethnic groups.
In practice, the principle appears to have been observed more in breach. Appointments and recruitments into the various ministries, departments and agencies both at the federal and state levels by successive administrations seems to be treated as a matter of political discretion, and those with the appointment and recruitment powers do not feel a legal duty to ensure an equitable spread of appointments and recruitments into the various government bodies.
“This recruitment Supplementary list of 44 candidates since it became public knowledge has created a lot of tension, apprehension and discourse within the young and old from the deprived section.
“Adequate observance and implementation of the federal character principle will in no small measure allay fears of domination and denial by the ethnic minorities, and invariably foster national unity”, Igbakpa said.
Adopting the motion after securing favourable support of the majority of the members, the House mandated its committee on Navy to investigate the exercise and recommend appropriate measures to avoid similar constitutional violations in all future government recruitment.
The committee was given 12 weeks within which to conclude the assignment and report back to the House for further legislative action.