The study critically examined the Effect of Federal Character Principle on the Staffing process in the Nigerian Federal Public Service. Descriptive Survey Design was adopted in the study. A total number of two hundred and eight (200) copies of questionnaire were administered to respondents; while two hundred and three (133) were properly filled and returned for the analysis. Data analysis was undertaken using simple percentage and frequency distribution tables. The study recommended that for the Nigerian Federal Public 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. That if federal character principle is perceived as a necessity in recruitment to public offices, then promotion on its own right in the Nigerian Federal Public Service should be based on performance and not on regional, ethnical, tribal and religious sentiments so as to promote healthy competition.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY:
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 public administration globally (Ayoade, 2000; 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 the public service in Nigeria for even representation is the Federal Character Principle, which “was borne out of the need to ensure even spread of government appointments in all the regions, states and local government councils in the country” (Nzeshi, 2012).
Federal character principle is one of the policies of gaining unification of different ethnic groups in the country. The federal character principle as enshrined in the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria seeks to ensure appropriate equal representation of diverse ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria.
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 post, 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).
The federal character principle was incorporated as an employment policy having taken into cognizance the impervious and insistence demand by each ethnic group, no matter how small numerically, or how poor materially, or how backward educationally for a fair and dignified place in the Nigeria sum.
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 ethics of merit system skill, qualification, and experience through training which are the basic criteria for efficiency. Therefore, the undertaking of this research will analytically assess the Effect of Federal Character Principle on the Staffing Process in the Nigerian Federal Public Service with a special reference to Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM:
The federal public service is expected to be administratively competent, politically neutral and imbued with the spirit of service to the community (Olugbile, 2014 and Sanusi, 2012); hence the need to employ well educated, skilled and experienced people. But unfortunately for political reasons, the federal public service in Nigeria is found combining the administrative ethos of merit and political doctrine of federal character as a recruitment policy that is not necessarily directed towards better service delivery.
The awkward application of the federal character principle tends to pose challenges to administrative effectiveness in the Nigerian public service 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 (Afenifere, 2009).
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.
Okolo (2014) in a study on influence of the Federal Character Principle (FCP) on National Integration (NI) in Nigeria reveals that the FCP and Federal Character Commission (FCC) has not been able to address the obvious imbalances in various segments of the country’s affairs.
Using a stratified random sampling method with a sample of 190 respondents from five federal ministries grouped into four major categories of grade levels, Briggs (2007)’s study onproblems of recruitment in Nigerian federal civil service, he identified federal character principle and lack of independence of the service commission as the prevalent problems affecting recruitment in Nigerian federal civil service. As results of these problems, job description and standard personnel requirements were not adequately used in the recruitment process, especially at the lowest category of grade levels.
Gberevbie (2013) empirical study has shown that no nation can attain sustainable development for the enhancement of the living standard of the people without a properly organized public service to implement government policies. Using secondary data, he observes that the implementation of the federal character principle in Nigerian public service tends to encourage unethical behaviour amongst public officials and circumscribe merit in the area of manpower procurement and promotion. It therefore concludes that for the Nigerian public service to achieve its mandate of facilitating sustainable development there is need for the government to reappraise the implementation of the federal character principle through the enforcement of merit anchored on public service reform initiatives that can galvanize human capacity and governmental institutions for sustainable development.
Although several studies have been conducted on the issue of federal character principle in the Nigerian public service, few scholars have paid attention to the effect of federal character principle on the staffing process in the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). This explains why this study is deemed timely and sacrosanct as it will fill in the gap that exists in the literature.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to assess the effect of Federal Character Principle on the Staffing Process in the Nigerian Federal Public Service. While other specific objectives of this study are:
- To examine the relationship between federal character principle and staffing process in the Nigerian federal public service.
- To investigate the effect of federal character principle on the efficiency of the Nigeria federal public service.
- To examine if promotion is based on federal character principle in the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
- To identify the impact of federal character principle on national integration in Nigeria.
- To identify current problems and challenges of implementing federal character principle in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The undertaking of this research project will beam a searchlight on the following research questions;
- Will federal character principle have any effect on staffing process in the Nigerian federal public service?
- How does federal character principle affect efficiency in the Nigeria federal public service?
- Would promotion be based on federal character principle in the Federal Road Safety Corps?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The under mentioned hypotheses will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.
Ho: There is no relationship between federal character principle and staffing process in the Nigerian federal public service.
Hi: There is a relationship between federal character principle and staffing process in the Nigerian federal public service.
HO: Federal character principle does not have any effect on the Nigeria federal public service.
H1: Federal character principle has an effect on the Nigeria federal public service.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study is primarily concerned with effects of federal character principle on staff process. This study covers the FRSC Abuja. The researcher encountered some constraints, which limited the scope of the study. These constraints include but are not limited to the following.
- a) availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
- b) time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY:
It is believed that the analytical, conceptual and empirical studies will be a furtherance of understanding of salient dynamics, relating to federal character principle in contemporary staffing process of the Nigerian federal public service.
The study will also serve as a useful tool for students of the University of Lagos, who would want to carry out further research in this domain. It would also be useful to public administrators. The study would be significant to policy makers and implementers at large, as they will find this study useful.
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