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This study examined the application of federal character principle in federal government appointment and its effect on national integration in Nigeria vis-à-vis staffing process in the Nigerian federal public service, issues of nation building, sustainable development in Nigeria, meritocracy and the general problems of applying federal character principle in Nigeria. Descriptive Survey Design was adopted in the study. A total number of ninety nine (99) copies of questionnaire were administered to the respondents during the study, while a total of one ninety seven (97) copies were properly filled and returned for the analysis. Inferential statistics of Pearson Correlation was used to test all the hypotheses in order to determine the relationship between the dependent and independent variables in each hypothesis with the aid of the Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS 20.0). Test of hypotheses was carried out at 5% level of significance. Among other things the outcomes of the result revealed that federal character principle is significantly related to nation building in Nigeria; federal character principle is adhered to in staffing process in the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and that the application of federal character principle affects meritocracy infederal government appointment in Nigeria. The study recommended that for the Nigerian Federal civil service to effectively and efficiently meet its objective of rendering public services to the people, merits and qualification should be given first priority in appointment, recruitment and staffing without primordial considerations of ethnical, regional, tribal and religious belonging so as to promote national integration.



1.1       Background of the study

Nigeria a federation of different nations is the most populous country in Africa with a population of over 160 million people. The country is divided into 36 states and 774 local government areas. The religious, ethnic, and cultural diversities of the federating units no doubt make it a unique one. Otite (1990) in Mustapha (2007), identifies 374 ethnic groups which are broadly divided into ethnic ‘majorities’ and ethnic ‘minorities’. The majority ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulani of the north, the Yoruba of the southwest, and the Igbos of the southeast.

However, the relationship between these groups is characterized by fear and suspicion of domination of one state or ethnic group by another. Meanwhile, this suspicion and fear between groups is historical. However, it became pronounced when Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard began the process of subjecting ethnic groups with a history of mutual distrust and hatred together as one Nigeria. Remarkably, these ethnic groups are not of equal population and hence some tend to dominate others thus exploiting them. Also, political and economic imbalances exist among these various states or ethnic groups that make up Nigeria. These imbalances arose from the nature and character of the post-colonial Nigerian state. In almost all the sectors, state, ethnic or regions, people feel marginalized. These have brought about a choking competition for federal government appointments among the various ethnic groups which have resulted into ethno-regional conflict and tension that characterize Nigeria since 1960.

The emergence of various militia groups in the Niger Delta, OPC in the South-West, MASSOB in the South East and of recent Boko Haram in the North, are all indications of the existence of rivalries between and among the various groups over the sharing of national cake. These ethnic, regional, and religious divides in the country have become so problematic with resultant patterns of inequalities. These inequalities are caused by a complex range of factors, including history, geography, cultural orientation, religious affiliation, natural resource endowments, current government policies, and past colonial policies. Akinola and Adesopo (2011) in Aderonke (2013) support this argument when they posit that, the problem of ethnic minority has been receiving attention of scholars and practitioners of governance and development. This is because ethnic minority is usually sidelined and ignored by the majority in decision making and resources distribution. The consequence of such politics of exclusion has been agitation and demand for social inclusion, which at times results to violent actions.

In a heterogeneous and deeply divided societies all over the globe attempt to manage their diversities and divisive tendencies through one or combination of policy alternatives in the management of their public services for performance and service delivery has been of great concern in politics and administration globally (Abdullah, 2007). Often times, these policy alternatives turn out to be delicate arrangements, but when carefully conceived, crafted and practiced, it provides opportunity for centre-seeking and centre-fleeing forces to interact peacefully and co-habit on agreed terms. One of such policy alternatives adopted for the management of diversities and ensures even appointment is the Federal Character, which was borne out of the need to ensure national integration in the country (Nzeshi, 2012).

The principle of federal character was formulated and put into use by successive governments in Nigeria to address and hopefully mitigate the problem of diversity so as to ensure a peaceful, stable and united Nigeria. As Ojo (1999) persuasively explained, Federal character principle as an integrative mechanism is defined as fair and effective representation of the various components of the Federation in the country’s position of power, status and influence. He however observed that the principle of federal character touches on array of problems in the political process which includes ethnicity, the national question, minority problem, discrimination based on an indignity, resources allocation, power sharing employment and placement in institution, et cetera. It provides a formula for participation in the governance of the country in such a way that a single section of the country will not dominate another or a segment dominating the rest. Federal character principle sought to give “opportunities in education and employment, usually at the point of entry, to disadvantaged groups and areas to enable them compete and catch up with more advanced areas and sectors of the nation” (Ekeh, 1989:38).

Section 14, subsection 3 of the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) also states that:

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 to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.

To this end the Federal Character Commission (FCC) was established by act No. 34 of 1996 to implement and enforce the Federal Character Principle of fairness and equity in the distribution of public appointment, socio-economic amenities and infrastructural facilities among the federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The provision of the 1999 constitution of section 14 and 153 also empowers the commission to operate in a democratic setting (Samuel et al., 2012). Therefore, the undertaking of this research will critically assess the application of federal character principle in federal government appointment and its effects on national integration in Nigeria.

This research project is set out to examine critically the application of federal character principle in federal government appointment and its effect on national integration in Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the problem

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic state, like many sub-Saharan African States. The Northern part of the country is populated by the Hausa’s, the Fulani’s, Kanuri’s, Igala’s, Igbira’s, Idoma’s and many others. The Southern part of the country on the other hand is occupied by the Yoruba’s, the Ibo’s or Igbo, the Ijaws, the Edos, the Ibibio’s, the Urhobo’s and many other small ethnic groupings. Now each of these groups not only inhabits a particular territory or area but also has a distinct language indigenous to them. It was against this background that, when the colonialists came into the country, they met and saw that there was no common language, particularly between and amongst the major ethnic groups and groupings. Another truism about Nigeria is the fact that, she is also a multi – religious state with a substantial population being adherents of Islam (Muslims) Christianity (Christians) and a host of indigenous religions.

In spite of these glaring and obvious differences, the British government unified the various people under a common administration in 1914, one hundred years ago (century). This so called union has been described by a very prominent Nigerian Political Scientist as a “forced brotherhood and sisterhood” Ayoade, (1998:101) thus, the country has since been confronted with the challenges of accommodating diversities, fostering inclusiveness and promoting national unity amongst its diverse ethnic groups that make up the Nigeria’s nation – state.

A fundamental and striking feature of Nigeria politics is the intense elites struggle for power among thedifferent ethnic groups in the country. These struggles have been between the elites from the North and other Southern counterpart. Often, the reasons advanced behind the tension are the fears in the North that the more educated South would predominate state institutions as well as the concerns in the southern part of the country that the contentious more populated North would have an edge in the electoral contests. The zero – sum nature of political competition amongst the elites precipitated a very bloody civil war between 1967 and 1970 (Adeosun, 2011:2). For Orji (2008:125) the soul - searching that followed the civil war reflected in the quest for elite’s consensus on how Nigeria should be governed to ensure political stability and fairness in the distribution of resources as well as federal government appointments among the various ethnic groups that inhabit, or make up the country (Adeosun, 2011:2).

According to Kwanashie (2002), fear has been constant in every tension and confrontation in political Nigeria. Not the physical fear of violence, not the spiritual fear of retribution, but the psychological fear of discrimination, of domination. He further submitted that it is the fear of not getting one’s fair share, one’s dessert. For some time now, the federal public service has come under criticism because its performance left much to be desired, knowing that the Federal public service is a body without which the business of government would be impossible to operate. Many attribute its inefficiency to the adoption of the Federal Character Principle which they believe negates the administrative ethos of merit system, skill, qualification and experience the very elixir of efficiency.

Moreover, the awkward application of the federal character principle tends to pose challenges to administrative effectiveness in Nigeria through the circumscription of merit. Such practice of the principle of federal character in personnel procurement without due regard for merit is more likely to mire efforts at sustainable development in a society. It is on this premise that this study seeks to explore the application of federal character principle on federal government appointment and its effect on national integration in Nigeria with special reference to the Federal Road Safety Commission -FRSC.

1.3       Objectives of the study

The major objective of this study is to assess the application of federal character principle in federal government appointment and its effect on national integration in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of this study are:

          i.            To examine the relationship between federal character principle and nation building in Nigeria.

        ii.            To investigate the effect of federal character principle on staffing process in the Nigerian federal public service.

     iii.            To find out if the application of federal character principle affects meritocracy in federal government appointment.

1.4       Research Questions

The undertaking of this research study will be guided by the following research questions:        

        i.            Is there any relationship between federal character principle and nation building in Nigeria?

     ii.            Does federal character principle have any effect on staffing process in the Nigerian federal public service?

   iii.            Will the application of federal character principle affect meritocracy in federal government appointment?

1.5       Research Hypothesis

The researcher will test the following research hypotheses in the course of the study:

Hypothesis 1:

Ho:     There is no significant relationship between federal character principle and nation          building in Nigeria.

H1:      There is a significant relationship between federal character principle and nation            building in Nigeria.

Hypothesis 2:

Ho:      Federal character principle has no effect on staffing process in the Nigerian federal         public service.

H1:      Federal character principle has an effect on staffing process in the Nigerian federal          public service.

Hypothesis 3:

Ho:      The application of federal character principle has no significant effect on   meritocracy in federal government appointments.

H1:      The application of federal character principle has a significant effect on     meritocracy in federal government appointments.

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